Book of Death: Legends of the Geomancer #4
By Fred Van Lente, Juan Jose Ryp, Jordie Bellaire
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” – Newton’s Third Law
“Wow” was the first thing I said after finishing LotG #4. The final installation of the miniseries is the best yet. Starting with a large-scale battle, the book builds excitement and steam as the fate within its final pages are revealed.
Legends of the Geomancer is a four book retailer incentive miniseries that reveals the origin of the Geomancer mythos. Written by Fred Van Lente with art by Juan Jose Ryp and color by Jordie Bellaire, this companion series to the Book of Death functions as a prequel, but still packs plenty of surprises.
The overarching story of the Geomancer books focuses on intriguing new character, Anni, a shaman who bonds with the earth and becomes its speaker. The first in a long line of Geomancers, her transformation from Book One’s embattled tribesman into a strong matriarch in Book Four has been an interesting journey. Other central characters to this tale are her former tribesmen and new allies, Padda and Cuth. Representing physical strength and strength of mind, these two are interesting in their own right, especially the clever Cuth.
Nature can seem cruel and without reason, beyond human understanding. As the speaker for the earth, Anni becomes the personification of nature. She was granted the power to both nurture life and to eliminate it. We witnessed this power in LotG #3. Power this great, coupled with decisions beyond human understanding, will have those that abhor it. LotG #3 ended with a disillusioned and repulsed Padda promising Anni that she would be made to answer for her actions.
LotG #4 flashes forward a great many years. Civilization has grown. Humanity has flourished. But so have war and strife. Anni’s former tribe, Nergal, despite its namesake’s death, has grown its flock. Nergal is a name that keeps coming up in the Valiant Universe. The 2013 Eternal Warrior series highlighted its long history of battle against the Eternal Warrior and the Geomancer. The tribe of Nergal consider themselves death, the end of all things. If this philosophy puzzles you, the conclusion of this book will make it all clear.
As shown in the cover art, readers are treated to young versions of characters that form the very foundation of the Valiant universe – the three immortal brothers. Their interaction was the most fun in any of the books. Of course, this is before they are immortal, but as shown in Archer and Armstrong, the brothers were not without special talents. As their name implies, the Anni-Paddas are direct descendants of Anni – Anni, who in this book, has greatly aged, but is still the Geomancer. Alongside is her trusted advisor, an equally-aged Cuth.
Given the growth of civilization, it would seem that Anni has performed her duties well. She has served the earth, and with great insight, realizes that she must pave the way for others to follow. What transpires next is a page-turning confrontation that boasts an epic reveal. Some sharp readers may have noticed an interesting choice of words used by Anni back in Book Three – we see this come to fruition. Readers may have suspected who might be leading the opposition, but the reasoning why will be a shock.
As with the previous books, artist Juan Jose Ryp and colorist Jordie Bellaire create a vivid world for the tale. Great attention was given to the characters’ expressions and gestures, turning them into true actors. There are some subtle nods to the future in the art as well, such as three tell-tale blood splashes across the face of a young Gilad. Innovative panel layout also added to the emotional tension as well as led the eye. In the last issue, Bellaire shifted the color palette to reflect the rebirth and growth in Anni. This time out, the colors seem more intense, reflecting a world that has blossomed. Humans are no longer churning in the dirt, but living in civilized developments. Opulent colors match this more modern age.
Book of Death: Legends of the Geomancer #4 is a must-read. Exciting and revealing, this issue is a page turner until the very end. It is not only about the birth of the Geomancer, but also the reactionary birth of something quite the opposite.