So it was written. So it shall be. Welcome once again to part three of our Annotated Book of Death, a monthly guide annotating Valiant Entertainment’s universe-changing summer event. We are already two installments in (part 1 and part 2) and what a ride this book has been so far. In this third issue of Book of Death, the focus shifts directly to Gilad and Darque as we start to see this truly as a fight between good and evil.
Be aware that this column is full of spoilers so if you haven’t read Book of Death #3 be sure to catch it at your local comic book store today!
The first page of the story opens up with a quick follow-up to the opening scene of the first issue. Here we see David on the ground in his backyard playing with the same animals he was playing with in that first issue as his mother tries to get them off herself and she is subsequently bitten by a snake. A gloved hand rings the doorbell and David’s mother runs to the door seeking help thinking her son is being attacked. This first page serves as a good recap for what has already transpired and fills in some gaps as to what happened in David’s life between the opening scene of the miniseries and his coming under the control of Darque over the previous two issues.
We now see Master Darque in a full-page panel in a white suit tipping his hat to David’s mother and crows flying in the sky behind him. He intends to help he says, but we all know what has really been happening over the previous two issues. It’s interesting that Darque is surrounded by crows because in the third Eternal Warrior trade we see the Geomancer speaking through a crow.
Darque sends David’s mother through the back door of her home and she lands directly in front of David who is still playing with his animal friends. David stands on guard as Darque approaches and explains to David that he has been chosen to be the new Geomancer and that they have much work to do. Of course, we now know that the work they must do is Darque’s bidding as he wants to take over the power of the Earth for himself. Anyone who knows Darque from the original Valiant universe knows that this is a common tactic for Darque. Often he tried to take control of the Geomancer, or former pupils of the Geomancer.
Focus shifts to the Love Boat, the mobile headquarters of the Global Agency for Threat Excision known as G.A.T.E. The Unity team is inside in the infirmary trying to recuperate from their battle with Gilad in the previous issue. Livewire is seen on a bed with a doctor overseeing her condition. Ninjak and X-O Manowar are seen at the forefront and X-O is communicating with his armor, Shanhara, to heal his wounds. This is a weird moment because Aric seems far too agreeable to letting Shanhara heal him despite the fact that if he continues to let this happen, there will be very little of himself left.
Colonel Capshaw and Neville Alcott are seen discussing Unity’s failed attempt to stop Gilad and retrieve Tama, the Geomancer that Gilad is protecting. Alcott tells Capshaw that while the team is recuperating, he has tasked someone with the task of using divination to find the whereabouts of Gilad and Tama – Punk Mambo! She was last seen in The Valiant tossing some Molotov cocktails at The Immortal Enemy and, of course, before that in the one-shot Punk Mambo #0.
Gilad and Tama are seen camping out at the base of a hill or mountain near a forest. Tama is pretending to sleep, but Gilad urges her that now is not the time to sleep as they have much work to do and she must read from the book so that he can figure out who is following them and what it is that they want. Tama refuses to read from the book as she believes that the book offers no clues and tosses it into the fire. Can fire, an element, destroy the book? Gilad apologizes to Tama and explains to her that the reason he is so adamant in her having her read from the book is that the book foretells the future and he wants to use its prophecies to find “the corrupted one.” He then explains that the book isn’t important because of the answers it holds within, that the book is the answer itself. Gilad believes that there is a connection between Tama, the book, and the death and destruction that has followed them since they embarked on their journey (see The Valiant #4). The connection lies in the fact that Tama is a Geomancer but not of our time and so the Earth would have found someone to succeed the previous fallen Geomancer (Kay McHenry, again, see The Valiant #4). The fact that there are two Geomancers connects them and David can only connect with Tama’s location when she reads from the book. When Gilad explains this to Tama, and the fact that no one can get hurt since they are in the middle of nowhere, she agrees to once again begin reading from the book and the story shifts to Darque once again.
Darque is seen in a secret, possibly underground location, talking to his minions about his plans. He must kill Tama if he is to truly have the power of the Geomancers for himself. He senses that David is using his powers to try to seek help by communicating with a plant, assumingly in the hopes that Tama will hear his call for help. Darque catches David as he attempts to call for help and smacks him across the face, dropping him to the ground. Darque grabs David by the neck and warns him that if he doesn’t help in finding Tama that David will never see his mother again.
In this page we see a great juxtaposition of all the parties involved. Tama reads from the book as Gilad stands in thought. Darque stands over David forcing him to continue divining Tama’s location.
TAMA: “Never chosen to be a Geomancer, the corrupted one instead took the mantle through deceit and cruel magic.”
DAVID: “The usurper doesn’t belong here. I’m the rightful Geomancer.”
TAMA: “In all of Earth’s existence, this had never happened before. The line of the Geomancers was spoiled”
…and we flash forward, to the future.
Darque comes down from the skies, his tattooed arms and head glowing in the darkness. We hear more from the Book of Geomancer explaining that the power of the Earth has always been about life and abundance since the beginning of time, but the “corrupted one” had other plans for the Earth. The land was made infertile, and the seas were “boiled to dust” at his hands. As we see the flashback, we also see a flash of the present as Darque is slowly sucking in David’s powers.
As Tama continues reading from the book, Gilad is preparing for an attack. He now understands that Tama and David share a connection and he will do everything in his power to find out who is behind all of this for he is the protector of the Earth, its Fist and Steel. We see hundreds of animals – wolves, deer, raccoons, birds and owls – gathered together running through the woods in the direction of Gilad and Tama. As Gilad prepares for a fight, Tama urges him to stop – she knows that the animals aren’t running at them but rather away from something.
As the animals disappear past our heroes, we see what they are running from – demented and decrepit animals, a bear, a moose, wolves and rats, all under Master Darque’s control and ready to kill. Gilad lunges into battle.
Tama continues reading. We see a flash of a team of Armorines dead on the ground with separated limbs and exposed innards. Take a closer look: That’s a dead Gunnery Sergeant Lewis lying dead on the ground. Read his name tag. Definitely the Armorines, and a conformation that Lewis (an original Valiant Universe character) will be a member of the team. This also marks Lewis’ second appearnce in VEI, with the first one being in X-O Manowar #32. Gilad continues fighting the zombie animals from the previous page as we see Darque continuously sucking the energy out of any piece of living or recently deceased life forms. We see what appears to be London flooded in a sea of blood. We see Darque triumphant, looking ominously over all the death and destruction he has caused:
The living world is temporary. Its rulers more so. But death can be ruled for eternity.
Gilad continues to fighting the zombie animals as we get another glimpse of the future – as Darque leads a horde of the undead forward, no doubt to continue his path of destruction.
The earth cried out. No one listened. For there were few truly alive to hear.
As Gilad places the killing blow on the last of his attackers, he asks that Tama continue reading from the book. Gilad has realized that in order to find the corrupted one he must keep the connection between Tama and David open and allow Tama to divine David’s location. As David realizes that Tama is trying to make contact, Darque knocks him unconscious, severing the connection.
Gilad buries the bodies of the zombie animals he just fought. Tama has figured out where David is hiding based on this brief connection and Gilad states that he is ready to do whatever it takes to prevent the future that is dictated within the Book of Geomancer from taking place – he must kill the corrupted one.
And so concludes the third issue of Book of Death. As always, big thanks to living Valiant database, Joshua Eves for his insight. Join us next month as we conclude this series and take a look at the final issue of this miniseries. Don’t forget to check out All-Comic.com’s Valiant Central section for all things Valiant.