By Ales Kot, Adam Gorham and Michael Spicer
Dear Valiant Entertainment creative team; please do not allow writer Ales Kot to work on anything under the Valiant banner again — EVER! Kot might very-well be a polarizing figure in comics, but he is not needed by Valiant, and possibly has created some of the most frustrating to read and/or enjoy Valiant books released since the 2012 re-launch. We can only hope that Valiant will release a statement soon with words to the effect of:
“We sincerely hope that fans and readers alike enjoyed Dead Drop. Please understand that this mini-series was only intended to be a one-shot story that occurred outside of the actual known Valiant Universe which fans have come to both love and respect. Dead Drop is in no way to be considered Valiant canon.“
Dead Drop #4 (and honestly the entire Dead Drop mini-series) was, in a word, bad. It’s hard for me to say that, but it needs to be said. There was much hope and potential for this book, but writer Ales Kot proved over, and over, and over again that he has zero clue who these characters are, how they act, or what they do. It was a parody of a parody of a promising story; a turducken of bull$%^& that seemed to thrive on extinction-level absurdity! The issue is not the artwork or the colors (will address that in a bit) but 100% a failure in the characterization, writing, and overall premise.
A poll was conducted to see how the writing Dead Drop stacked up against Cheesasaurus Rex (a story about a macaroni-eating orange dinosaur), Super Mario Bros, and the Adventures of TheO (a story about a Spaghettios noodle hero) in-terms of the most painful-to-read Valiant story. While a margin of error clearly exists, and the results are far from academic, at the time of writing, more than 60% of polled respondents cited Kot’s Dead Drop as the most painful (with Cheesasaurus Rex surprisingly receiving the least amount of hate on this poll! Who knew?).
Many readers (myself included) really wanted to like Dead Drop; wanted it to work, and to be great. However, by the time Dead Drop #4 hit comic shops those hopes had been crushed into sea salt and rubbed into our fractured hearts with each text bubble. Taking into account that Kot doesn’t understand the very characters he is writing about (which is quite clear), it is further not clear if Kot understands how the world even works! Elite-hacker/parkour-enthusiast/idealist teenagers from New York City do not steal “alien virus capable of taking out the planet” in the Valiant Universe. City cops do not go in alone to save the earth. That’s not how it works. Cyborgs do not talk repeatedly about how they can fax paper. Aric the Visigoth (X-O Manowar) does not reason with beat cops on the street or chase teenagers like a lame episode of Scooby Doo; he burns worlds, conquers nations, and blasts human heads through the bodies of other soldiers (see Unity #1)! A suspension of disbelief is needed to make a story somewhat believable. True story.
Archer was completely unrecognizable in speech, action, or ability. X-O was reduced to a all-but useless character despite a weak attempt in Dead Drop #4 to correct a widely-debated “flight issue” that occurred in Dead Drop #1. Beta-Max (basically the Jar Jar Binks of this story) is so poorly written and designed that nothing further can be said.
Artistically, Adam Gorham handled this book (and the series) quite well. He was limited only by the source material, and it might be interesting to see his work on another title. Several prominent Valiant art collectors (myself included) own covers and pages of Gorham’s Dead Drop work; I own the original cover art for Dead Drop #1 (Gorham Variant), and it quite is detailed, clean, and of an unmistakable quality that captures the intended urgency and emotion of Dead Drop. Gorham’s pencils and inks should not be overlooked. Colorist Michael Spicer is a good match for Gorham, and compliments his work well with vivid color blends in the right places to bring this story to life. Each and every page is rich with textured color that you can almost feel. Much like Gorham, it would be great to see what Spicer is able to do (possibly with Gorham) on another title.
Not really sure what Kot should do. Until he learns what Valiant is all about (and also the characters) we can only hope he is not allowed anywhere near a Valiant book again. At least not with the unchecked character destructive freedom he was given on Dead Drop.