by Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Paolo Rivera

The much-anticipated final issue of this universe-spanning event has arrived, and the best summation is this: GAMECHANGER. Because of this, please note that this review is pretty much spoiler-free.

I have loved this miniseries from the get-go. From the prestige-format presentation to the content, everything about this series has been top-notch. The combination of Paolo Rivera’s emotive and compelling artwork with writers Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire’s adventure saga has made this Valiant Next series into a Valiant Essential.

The Valiant has been the best event to date. Although it is a story made up of supernatural creatures and superhuman characters, at its heart, it is a touching tale of humanity. Superheroes who fall prey to their own human fears. Gifted individuals plagued with insecurity. Warriors desperate to not fail. Finding inner strength. Endings and beginnings. Without spoiling the issue, I will say that this issue affected me, as I suspect it will all those who are emotionally invested in these characters. I especially enjoy that Kindt and Lemire have taken an underused character, Geomancer Kay McHenry, and fleshed her out, staying true to her flaky former self but allowing her to come into her own.

The sense of urgency that has been steadily building throughout the series reaches a boiling point in the final issue. With the time changes, the mystery box, and the nearly the whole of the Valiant universe converging, it’s easy to forget that all of this is happening within one day. Despite all of the separate factors at play, the plot is never confusing. All of the threads weave together in the end.

Book One of The Valiant opened with a historical piece set in the past. Book Four opens in a future setting. Both openers focus on the struggle between Gilad and the Immortal Enemy, a battle that will apparently rage throughout time. But this isn’t just Gilad’s story. It’s the story of the Geomancer and Bloodshot, and the outcome will affect the entire Valiant universe going forward.

Though they’ve only had a short time together, Kay makes an impression on Bloodshot. He proves that he is capable of caring beyond his duty to protect her. The effect that she has upon him, both physically and emotionally, will take him in a new direction in the form of Bloodshot Reborn.

The issue also adds new dimension to Gilad. As of late, he’s been emotionally weary and struggling in his role as the Eternal Warrior. One of his faults is his resistance to change, which is ironic considering how much the world has changed around him. Book One illustrated how his tactics against the Immortal Enemy were always the same with the same disastrous outcome. Book Four shows him considering an alternative despite his instinct to continue the fight as is. The final act of the story opens up new possibilities for him. I’m looking forward to seeing how these changes unfold.

The countdown to the opening of the enigma box is the swan song for the Valiant Universe as it was. When the timer hit zero, the landscape changed. It will be a time of new beginnings.

Remember this: happy endings are a matter of perspective.

I want to take a moment to praise the work that Paolo Rivera has done on this series. His Immortal Enemy is truly frightening. You can almost hear the ichor dripping off its façade. He also does a beautiful job of expressing emotion. There’s never any doubt as to what the characters are feeling due to his detailed expressions.

Other than one grammatical error, this book was nearly perfect. I loved it. The story’s tension and urgency will make this a great read in trade format. It will also serve as an excellent introduction to the Valiant universe.

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