Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Trade Paperback Tuesday: BOOK OF DEATH

The Book of DeathTrade paperback Tuesday is an initiative of Previews World, a comics and associated paraphernalia magazine/catalog/online news resource which promotes the hottest trade paperbacks newly collected and published in the comic book industry. I'm borrowing the theme to focus on regular reviews of my favorite trades and/or comic story arcs.  

Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Robert Gill, Doug Braithwaite 
Published: 2015 (singles) / 2016 (trade publication)
Contains: Book of Death (mini-series) #1-4

The Valiant heroes. X-O Manowar. Bloodshot. Ninjak. The Harbinger Renegades. Unity. This is how they lived. This is how they died. Now we know. The Book of the Geomancer has recorded it all. But only a young girl the last in a line of the enigmatic mystics who protect the Earth known as Geomancers has seen this future come to pass, from the coming cataclysm to the dawn of the 41st century. Alone with her sworn protector, the Eternal Warrior a soldier battle-forged across five thousand years of combat the duo must defy their allies to stop the Dark Age that now threatens to eclipse our world. Together, they are the number one target of every hero and villain on Earth. Either the Eternal Warrior hands her over or they take him down. But can even he single-handedly protect one child when the entire Valiant Universe wages war against him?

My thoughts
Reading this story in monthly increments doesn't do it justice (the trade isn't out until next year) - the pace seemed off and the middle issues (#2 and #3) felt like set-up issues rather than crucial center pieces to the Darque/Geomancer conflict. However, read in a single sitting the Book of Death's pacing, plotting, and overall feel of is so much more enjoyable.

The reader gets a true sense of the impending doom, death and destruction the world over is to experience should Darque not be stopped. Standing in his way is the Eternal Warrior, protector of the Geomancers throughout time, and Tama, the Geomancer from the future. 

Despite all the ripples of time and outcomes of the Valiant heroes glimpsed in these beautifully drawn pages by Robert Gill/Doug Braithwaite, Book of Death is Tama's story, plotting her growth from a timid and semi vulnerable girl to someone brimming with confidence and a true protector/speaker of Earth. The title may center around death yet it's life that prevails as the story reaches its satisfying conclusion. 

There are a number of enjoyable cameo's too with Punk Mambo's brief appearance in #3 and #4 a perfect set up for the upcoming Ninjak arc (Operation Deadside). While Unity don't get actively involved in the Darque conflict, their battle with the Eternal Warrior is crucial to the outcome of the book and paves the way for the future look of the team (The Unity ongoing title ends at #25 and I hope we see more of Valiant's answer to the Justice League/Avengers).

Perhaps one of the most pleasing aspects to Book of Death is the subtle shift in the Eternal Warrior's character, from being pure brawn to battling with heart and emotion. Each battle is full of tension with the outcome hinging on his selflessness and genuine desire to be the protector of the Earth. 

Book of Death reads as though it was written for trade and that's he way it should be read to fully appreciate what this creative team have come up with. I'd rate this a solid 4.5 out of 5 - Valiant sure know how to write 'event books'.  

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