I have been stoked to read this book and I was finally able to pick it up on Wednesday. The Eternal Warrior and his young ward, the geomancer Tama, are on the run from pretty much everyone. Everywhere they go disaster follows and the only way to find out what’s causing it is through the Book of the Geomancer. Does Book of Death #1 live up to the hype?
Writer Robert Venditti opens the book by introducing us to a new character, David, about a month in the past. However, we don’t learn much about him except for the fact he can somehow communicate with animals. Venditti leaves us hanging with David and quickly transitions back to the present with a Special Forces team investigating a small town in Wyoming. None of this really grabs you. It is actually rather confusing and David is pretty forgettable.
Luckily, the Special Forces happen upon an extremely disturbing scene in Wyoming and this draws you in. Your mouth will be hanging open in shock and disgust while your brain attempts to process what you are seeing. The biggest question will be: What could have possibly caused this horrific scene?
Venditti sets about answering this question and introducing us to a number of the key players in the Valiant Universe including Neville Alcott, Colonel Jamie Upshaw, and X-O Manowar. The dialogue between X-O Manowar and the Eternal Warrior is really fun. Without ever having read any X-O Manowar books, you can feel the passion and companionship the two have for each other even though they have reached an impasse.
The best parts of the dialogue are Gilad’s (the Eternal Warrior) interactions with Tama. The two definitely have a father-daughter relationship. It shows a soft side to Gilad. He is not just an unyielding warrior. He is patient and caring, but also determined to find the cause of their problems.
Robert Gill and Doug Braithwaite’s artwork is great. The aforementioned full spread depicting the massacre in the small Wyoming town makes your gut wrench. They use a number of different camera angles to depict the conversation between X-O Manowar and the Eternal Warrior. The different angles allow you to transport yourself into the desert and imagine yourself standing next to them.
My favorite panels are the depictions of what is to come according to the Book of the Geomancer. There are a number of team panels depicting numerous characters from the Valiant Universe preparing for an against-all-odds battle. What is really unique is the amount of time that takes place between each panel. They are sequential, but there are large gaps of time taking place between each panel. We are only getting snapshots and the enemy they are combating is never fully revealed. It is an excellent use of building suspense and intrigue around the villain.
Gill and Braithwaite also do a terrific job of capturing the characters’ fears, especially Tama and Gilad. Being able to see their fear translates into your own fear of them perishing. To Venditti’s credit he takes this fear and builds on it. He pushes it to its limit where he then relieves it, allowing you to breathe and rub your hand across your forehead and whisper, “Whoo, that was a close one.”
Book of Death #1 is what you want out of a Superhero book. It had strong character moments. It introduced a number of characters and didn’t get out of hand. However, the introduction of David was a little forgettable. Venditti’s script brings you to the emotional brink, fully connecting you with the heroes and their plight. He creates a lot of mystery and intrigue around the villain, going so far as to hide the forces the Valiant Universe is combating. Gill and Braithwaite’s artwork is phenomenal from the massive full page spread depicting the massacre in Wyoming to the team future vision panels. Book of Death #1 delivers.
- Excellent character moments between Gilad and X-O Manowar as well as the Eternal Warrior and Tama
- Excellent use of emotional build-up and release
- Maintaining a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounding the villain
- There was one panel where Gilad and X-O Manowar looked very stiff and unnatural
- David’s character is forgettable during the confusing opening pages