By Fred Van Lente, Juan Jose Ryp, Jordie Bellaire
The Geomancers are a lineage of mystics with a special affinity with the earth, capable of speaking to and for it. One Geomancer serves the earth at any given time and is protected by the Eternal Warrior. When that Geomancer dies, a new one is called. The concept of Geomancers was introduced to readers in Valiant’s Archer and Armstrong series and was the focus of the storyline of The Valiant. The result of that particular storyline has affected the Geomancer lineage and is the focus of the new Book of Death miniseries. Book of Death will expose the future fates of various Valiant heroes. Conversely, Legends of the Geomancer, a companion miniseries, takes readers back to the beginning – where the Geomancer legacy began.
Legends of the Geomancer is a four book retailer incentive miniseries. Similar to variant cover practices, each book will be printed in limited numbers and available to retailers based on their orders for the main Book of Death series. This makes the book harder to obtain, but the secrets of the Geomancer legacy will make these sought-after books.
Written by Fred Van Lente, Geomancer has been teased as revealing the story behind Anni, the first Geomancer. Van Lente wrote fan-favorite series Archer and Armstrong and is currently helming Ivar, Timewalker. Known for deftly weaving humor into his adventures, the tone of Geomancer is a departure from those titles. There is no build-up to the action or an introduction to any of the characters – readers are thrust into the middle of an event and will find themselves quickly engrossed. Van Lente does a great job of establishing character, creating a memorable Anni as well as some additional characters who won’t be revealed for spoiler reasons. Readers who follow the Valiant Universe as a whole will be delighted by a surprise appearance as well as an implication to another well-known family. Anni’s physical appearance along with the description of her abilities will remind readers of yet another Valiant character, making one wonder about another possible connection.
Although this tale doesn’t lend itself to wisecracks, Van Lente does inject some funnier moments into the seriousness of Anni’s predictament. As a companion piece, this book is shorter than a standard comic, but it never feels rushed. How Anni came to be in this spot is not important and therefore not told. The why is the real meat of the story, and it is teased out to us in morsels. Van Lente has given us a taste but left plenty of mystery. The action of the story combined with well-placed character exploration makes this an engaging read.
Asthestically, artist Juan Jose Ryp creates a memorable look that captures the spirit of the story. He skillfully portrays both sweeping landscapes and the nuances of character expressions. There are some wonderful character interactions in this story, and Ryp’s ability to make these characters “act” lends credibility and makes these moments more poignant. The sense of place is strong and helps keep the reader immersed in the world Van Lente created.
Colorist Jordie Bellaire lends her talent to Ryp’s creation. Her work lends to the sense of realism in the landscape and the overall primitive feel to the environment. The tones are often earthy and natural, but there is a sense of vividness as well. There seems to be a significance attached to the use of warmer colors. Artistically, the book comes together seamlessly. The details of the art and the purposeful use of color will leave readers feeling the grit and dirt of Van Lente’s world.
Book of Death: Legends of the Geomancer #1 explores the origin behind one of the Valiant Universe’s most powerful legacies. The immersion into the Geomancer world and the epic quality of the tale promise to make this series into a legend of its own.