With The Valiant, Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt finally introduce one of the Eternal Warrior`s greatest adversaries, The Immortal Enemy into the new Valiant Universe, this time more a force of nature and evil than a man. The creature has one goal in mind every time that it reincarnates and that is the death of the Geomancer. Three times has the beast risen and three times has Gilad failed to save the Geomancer with those failures marked plainly across his face in the form of scars, a courtesy of that very monster. After each such occurrence, the Earth has faced what has come to be known as a Dark Age as a civilization fell and if one were to look at it in one perspective – that too could ultimately be blamed upon Gilad and as such, he refuses to fail again and let a Geomancer die. To that effect, he has assembled a team around him consisting of Unity, Bloodshot and almost every other hero that could possibly be called upon.
Unlike many of Valiant`s books, which often feel adventurous or suspenseful or what have you, this particular story has an epic quality to it, no case in doubt because of the generational aspect of the plot and because of how big it feels. It is not so much a quest as it is a mission that Gilad has set himself and it is one that he is determined to complete no matter the consequences. With a creature that can never be killed, Gilad and the heroes have their work cut out for them and if they fail, then consequences there will indeed be. As Kindt and Lemire eventually reveal to the reader, Gilad does indeed have a plan, though it is nothing that you expected whatsoever. The plot device they use has been seen many times over by many publishers, most famously by Marvel with their X-Men, but the writers use it here to great effect and do so by creating a real sense of urgency around it. Once the story begins, the pace is relentless and it tears you along from one moment to the next until it is finally brought to that unexpected climax.
Aside from Shadowman, Valiant rarely dips its toes into the realm of horror and the supernatural and they do so here with the introduction of the Immortal Enemy. It is not only a fearsome beast, which seems to be the body that it favours most, but it can change shape into whatever the situation calls for and it does so a couple of times by taking the form of a Jack the Ripper-type character. It darkens the atmosphere of the book greatly whenever said Enemy is present and gives the story a bit of a harder edge because of it. One question that does persist is why does the beast only appear every so often? Is it a force for chaos set to balance the scales when good or order get too powerful, or does it need to rest and regain its strength after expending it after each occurrence? Whatever the case, The Immortal Enemy is a fantastic addition to the growing legion of villains at Valiant.
When the latest incarnation of Valiant began, it built itself upon the back of X-O Manowar and centered their universe around him accordingly. As time has passed and more books have been rolled out with every passing year, that focus seems to be shifting towards Gilad Ani-Padda. Perhaps it is just perception, but Gilad`s world is expanding and is starting to be felt in most corners of Valiant’s universe. The Valiant is a great example of that, not to mention just a really good story told by two masterful writers and illustrated quite wonderfully by Paolo Rivera. So with a win under his belt finally, you have to wonder just when the Immortal Enemy will rear its head once again and if Gilad and the Geomancer will be ready.
4.5 out of 5