March 9, 2012

BOOM! Reviews: Valen the Outcast #4

Valen the Outcast #4
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Michael Alan Nelson
Artist: Matteo Scalera (cover “A” by Khary Randolph)
Colorist: Archie van Buren

Valen Brand used to be the beloved King of Oakhaven until the necromancer, Korrus Null, stole his soul and left him an undead thrall. Valen’s old friend, Zjanna, helped free him from the necromancer’s control and now they, along with their drunken guide, Alexio Cordovan, make a long and perilous journey north toward Wraithendal in order to face Korrus null and reclaim Valen’s soul.”

That is the solicit for this series, and it is perfect because it’s a great overview of the first couple of issues. A lot has happened so far in this great series, but this issue really upped the stakes! Last issue, we saw Zjanna snapped out of her trance, and then the trio made their way to a city, looking for safe passage to Korrus Null’s kingdom. Upon entering this city, Cordovan was arrested by an underground police force of sorts. This ruthless lot is unafraid of Valen, and tells him that if he tries to rescue his friend, they’ll out him and everyone in the city will be after him. Valen agrees to back off, and Zjanna thinks they should let him rot. Valen convinces her otherwise, and the two make a daring rescue attempt that ends in a confrontation with Korrus Null’s number one henchman, Ivo.

Nelson has done it again! He’s totally proved to me that he can deliver again, with no slowing down at all. Typically after the first two or three issues of a series, things tend to get a little sluggish. Not here, not by a long shot. And this isn’t just an action book, either, so the argument of it being just that is invalid. There is a great relationship between these three characters, and especially with Valen and Zjanna. Either something has happened between them in the past, or they both have feelings for each other but have not acted on them yet. Cordovan is hiding a secret, and it’s one that we don’t really have any clues to yet, but it’s an angle that I’m very interested in. Not all this withstanding, there was a HUGE teaser on the last page that left me extremely excited for next issue. Bravo, Mr. Nelson.

Scalera is on point with the artwork, which is no surprise after pumping out three previous issues that were also solid. I really took notice to Cordovan more in this issue for some reason. He’s really sneaky looking, and maybe that was a plant to get you thinking he was/is a traitor, and maybe it’s not. Only time will tell on that one, and I hope he isn’t, but again, this issue really had me wondering, and Scalera had a lot to do with that. There also has been no shortage of great covers for this series. First off, Ale’ Garza – the dude is a beast, and every one of his covers (#4, below) have been great! Secondly, Khary Randolph, the cover artist for the “A” cover, is a guy that I first noticed through his work for Aspen (Charismagic), and he’s another solid dude that always brings it. And if that wasn’t enough, you also get a Joe Jusko variant to be the icing on the cake. Definitely give this series a try if you love action/adventure type books, because you won’t be disappointed. Rating 4/5

Billy Dunleavy



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