“The Covenant” #1 is the sort of comic that I want to like. I appreciate that Rob Liefeld and Matt Horak are working on a book set in biblical times, with the Israelites and the Philistines poised for all-out war. However, the best intentions can’t automatically carry a book, and “The Covenant” #1 underwhelms from start to finish.
The biggest problem with “The Covenant” #1 is that Horak’s art never feels consistent. Characters often look squat and deformed in one panel, then tall and leggy in another. These are some seriously unattractive characters, but not by design. The opening sequence in the comic has a few random trees thrown into the panels, but otherwise it’s a brown featureless plain and a sickly yellow sky that fills up most of the panels. The lack of backgrounds here is hard to ignore, as it makes the weak character designs stand out that much more. There’s just very little here that’s visually appealing and, with comics being a visual medium, that’s extremely unfortunate.
Liefeld’s story isn’t able to carry the comic on its own either. It’s very thin and predictable, with the Philistines being raving maniacs and the Israelites coming across stoic one moment and then tender the next. It’s all a bit of a cliche, to be honest; none of these characters seem particularly well-rounded or with any sort of actual character trait to latch onto. In a book that doesn’t grab the eye, the characters need to carry the weight and, so far, I don’t see that balance of storytelling occurring here. So far, there’s nothing that stands out as memorable in terms of writing.
I appreciate that Liefeld wanted a historical epic comic book, and it’s nice that he, Hovak and Image Comics were willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, their ambition has outreached their skills; it’s just not clicking, either in writing or in art. It’s a good idea, but the execution sadly lets it down.