As with most team books, writers Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt are saddled with a lot of setup in “The Valiant” #1, but it’s nonetheless a fun story on a grand scale, spanning the world and millennia in a variety of battlegrounds all bloodily captured by Paolo Rivera. It’s an all-star lineup of Valiant Entertainment’s time-spanning heroes as told by an all-star lineup of creative talent, who lay out a pretty strong introduction to a potentially epic four-issue mini-series; an introduction that brings The Immortal Enemy and Geomancer to the forefront of the Valiant Universe.
The Immortal Enemy, being a foe who takes different monstrous forms, gives Rivera good reason to exercise his creative muscles, which he masterfully does for each horrific form the character takes. The ancient Norse lands are rendered just as convincingly as the modern day south Pacific, not to mention the smoking lounge where the latest Geomancer Kay McHenry discusses her insecurities with an ever-imbibing Armstrong.
Rivera introduces Kay in a single Kevin Maguire-esque nine-panel page that allows Lemire and Kindt to establish the nature of her character. It’s the job of Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, to protect her, and the inexperience and lack of confidence the writers drench her in make it more than evident that she’ll definitely need protecting, just as the Geomancers before her had. As also established by the writers in the first several pages, that’s a task that has not always gone so well for Gilad over the past ten thousand years. It’s millennia worth of failure that’s brutally envisioned by Rivera, and cruelly marked on the face of Gilad by his eternal foe.
Ten pages spent on nothing but Gilad’s failures, though, seems a little unfair to the character and implies a pretty severe degree of ineptitude that doesn’t exist; his success rate over one hundred centuries constitutes a pretty impressive batting average that doesn’t really get acknowledged. Inadvertently, Lemire and Kindt imply that Gilad himself is a failure and therefore needs to put together his team of warriors to bolster him for the impending return of the Immortal Enemy; a sufficient reason instead simply could have been the availability of allies in the present day that had not been in the past.
While the issue has a lot of background to establish and ends up diminishing its presumed lead character, “The Valiant” #1 is still a pretty good lead-in that’s setting up a promising and tense confrontation.