Annotated Book of Death #4
So it was written. So it shall be. This week sees the releases of the fourth and final issue of Book of Death and what a ride it has been. With a new issue, it’s time for the final installment of our Annotated Book of Death, our in-depth look at what happens in this last issue. If you want to catch up, be sure to check out the previous three installments (here, here, and here).
Be aware that this column is full of spoilers, so if you haven’t read be sure to catch it at your local comic book store today!
When we left Gilad and Tama at the end of issue #3, the two were on the run in the forest and they had discovered where David and Master Darque were hiding. Issue #4 opens with our heroic duo in search of the book’s villains through North Carolina. While they aren’t being chased as the book opens, the two are frightened at what they may find.
Tama is concerned that Gilad and her attempts to stop “the corrupted one” will not be enough to prevent what is coming as the Book of Geomancer predicts that not even the combined might of all the heroes of the world is enough to stop him. Gilad asks Tama to recite the final prophecy of the book. Tama is hesitant, but she agrees and we see another glimpse of the future.
“The Earth was a husk. Barren. Devoid. All was the domain of the corrupted one.”
What we see appears to take place well into the future, much later than anything we have glimpsed so far in this miniseries. Darque appears to have finished destroying the world and taking all of its energy onto himself and is readying to return to the Deadside after decades and centuries of being on Earth. Throughout his life, Darque has been stuck in either the world of the dead or the world of the living, but now that he controls all the power of the Earth, he can easily slip between worlds at will with no one to oppose him. Even though nothing remains of the world of the present and the Earth appears to be completely obliterated, there is still some hope of life as we see a single leaf sprouting from a dying tree.
The reading from the book continues telling us that as the corrupted one leaves, the Earth will once again begin to renew her energy and new life will sprout. Interestingly, we learn that all this has happened before and will happen again and again throughout time. A new geomancer will be born and Gilad will be there to guide them.
As we return to the present, Tama informs Gilad that this final prophecy is where the Book of Geomancer ends and there are no further prophecies. “One way or another, the future will be written today,” Gilad says. He has lived through countless generations of war and struggle and he is determined to make a change. Gilad and Tama arrive at their destination.
Focus shifts to Master Darque’s underground lair and he is seen holding David, and taking him to an altar. Darque is disappointed with David as he has not been able to kill Tama and Gilad and his failures have lead them to Darque’s location. Darque knows that David still holds great power even though he may be weak. Darque uses his powers to guide his minions to hold David down while he uses his necromantic energies to corrupt David’s powers further and take control of the Earth.
Attention turns to the Love Boat, the mobile headquarters of G.A.T.E. (Global Agency for Threat Excision) and home base of the Unity team. As you may recall from previous issues, Neville Alcott, head of MI-6, has enlisted the help of Punk Mambo to find the location of Gilad and the Geomancer whom they believe to be the cause of all the death and destruction which we have been witnessing throughout the miniseries. Ninjak isn’t too happy about having someone that turns human skulls into “glue” involved in their efforts. Aric is ready to head first into battle, but Colonel Capshaw commands the team enter into battle together aboard GIN-GR since the last time they faced each other, Gilad took care of the entire team on his own. Ninjak seems to be meeting Punk Mambo for the first time although they fought together in The Valiant #3, but likely had little time for pleasantries during that encounter.
As Darque continues to absorb David’s energies, we can see just how interconnected everything has become. Tama can sense David’s pain through her connection with the Earth, and Punk Mambo can feel it through her connection with necromantic forces.
The Earth begins to open up and Darque emerges controlling a large group of beings comprised of the necromantic energy at his disposal. The beings are huge and angry, akin to demented blue zombies eager to feast on the living. Gilad is not afraid and jumps directly into battle, thrusting a sword towards Master Darque. We saw blue ghouls like this before in the opening pages of Shadowman #1, being commanded by Darque then too. The character design hasn’t changed much from the way Patrick Zircher drew them. From Shadowman #4 describing them: “These ghosts are what remain when you strip people down to that which you can’t destroy. When all that is left is the urge to gorge, to be filled again.”
While we haven’t seen much of Tama’s abilities throughout this miniseries save for a few times when she attempted to thwart David and Darque’s attacks, it is obvious that she has learned how important this mission really is. She lifts a giant piece of Earth and hurls it at Darque, but his power is great and he effortlessly throws it aside. Gilad lunges to fight the zombie/ghost/nasty things horde which Darque has unleashed only to fall into a giant hole which has opened in the ground in front of him.
Seeing Gilad disappear angers Tama. Darque is as sure of his power as ever and knows exactly who Gilad and Tama are, but is not amused, even after having read of Gilad’s adventures throughout the ages. He finally introduces himself – Nicodemo Darque. Gilad appears to be losing the battle against Darque’s minions and Tama grows ever more angry, her power growing with each panel, but still apparently not enough to do any damage to Darque who once against effortlessly thwarts her attack.
We finally get some exposition from Darque as to what has been happening. It appears that Darque regrets having found David instead of Tama because her power appears to be so much greater, but of course, we know that had it not been for the events of The Valiant, then Tama would not have appeared in our timeline as it was Gilad who sent her back from the future. Darque is convinced that he will be triumphant in this battle.
“Life is but a distraction. Death is the natural state of all things, even for your Eternal Warrior.”
Darque grabs Tama by the throat and tells her that he will take all of her power and unify it with David’s power in order to get full control of the Earth. We see Gilad on his knees, barely holding his axe, blood surrounding him. Could this be the end of Gilad?
If there is one thing we have learned of Gilad throughout his history, it’s that he never gives up, and even as he is dying he uses the last bit of his energy to continue fighting Darque’s hordes. Gilad fights his way to the altar where David still lays, apparently powering some sort of necromantic portal through an amulet. Gilad flings his axe and energy ceases to flow from it – Darque’s minions lose all power and fall to the ground, freeing David from the grasp of Darque’s clutches. Gilad falls.
The action shifts back to the fight between Tama and Darque. Tama appears to be doing a good job at holding her own against the dark sorcerer, knocking him down. “I cannot be defeated,” he says, but Tama recognizes his weakness is his ego. She uses her powers to sprout a plant from the ground which impales Darque’s foot, growing into his leg, through his body, and emerges from his mouth. Darque has angered the Earth and Tama is focusing that anger to finally put an end to Darque’s reign of terror…
…turning Darque into a tree – the living embodiment of the Earth itself. “Bye,” she says. Interesting that of all the many tattoos Darque has, the forehead one is the only one that remains on the tree.
Gilad has been severely beaten, but he finds enough strength within himself to gather David from Darque’s underground lair and bring him back to the outside. “I’m going to close my eyes for a little while,” Gilad says, and Tama tells him that the Earth thanks him for his service and dedication to protecting the line of the Geomancers throughout the millenia…
…and with that, Gilad dies.
The Unity team aboard GIN-GR has arrived, but it is too late and the fight is over. Punk Mambo reflects upon what Tama has done to Darque, while Aric mourns the death of his teach and friend. Tama assures Gilad not to be sad as the Earth has finally released Gilad from his duty and he is finally able to live his own life – free.
The art switches to Braithwaite here because Tama is writing new entries, and a new future, into the book. David is returned to his mother where he returns his power back to Tama. She is finally the Geomancer, the sole owner of all the power of the Earth. David was but a vessel, and all memories of what has transpired have been erased from his memory so that he may live a full and normal life.
The book cuts back to Gilad overlooking a canyon full of fire and brimstone. Could he still be alive?
Tama sits alone by a river, for the first time since her introduction to the Valiant universe, unafraid of what may be next for her. She is hopeful that she can create a new future for herself and the rest of the world. Gilad’s sacrifice has made the world a better place.
And so concludes the fourth and final issue of Book of Death. As always, big thanks to the staff at Valiant and All-Comic, and Joshua Eves for his insight, and be sure to check out the Valiant Database for more information.
What did you think of this final issue and this miniseries as a whole? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to check out All-Comic.com’s Valiant Central section for all things Valiant.