By Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt and Paolo Rivera w/ Joe Rivera
It’s hard to keep writing about The Valiant; not because it’s bad and trying to be nice would be too much of a lie, or too difficult, quite the opposite. It’s because there are only so many ways to explain just how great this series really is, especially if you take into consideration the feelings of every other comic creator out there right now. Okay, screw it. Screw feelings, let’s get into this series and if you haven’t been reading, maybe this will clue you into just what you’re missing.
Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt are superstars in their field, and that’s not even based just on these three issues. It’s based on their creator-owned work to their work-for-hire stuff, they’ve absolutely been two separate storms building up and biding their time for the right moment to crash to the shore and destroy everything in sight. Their creator-owned work is original, unique and absolute gems and their work-for-hire stuff has been top-notch and amongst the best at those companies. But as soon as Kindt jumped to Valiant, things started to change. Every single thing he’s touched has been as near perfection, or better, as you can get so when Lemire was announced on The Valiant with Matt Kindt it was literally like getting a perfect, mega-storm warning.
Their collaborative work on The Valiant is hands down their best work to date, and that’s being said with the utmost respect for all the work that has come before it. The vast majority of it (admittedly not caught up on everything) has been amazing and certainly has set them apart from the crowds, but this… this is something else entirely. This is the ground work for something that’s going to ripple through the Valiant Universe for years to come; this feels like Valiant Entertainment’s (VEI) very own Unity event—the series from the original VH1 (the first Jim Shooter Valiant run) that brought the universe together and really launched them into one of the best companies of the early 90s—or maybe something even larger.
Maybe Paolo Rivera isn’t Jack Kirby, because there’s only one King, but he’s the kind of artist that deserves to be right up there amongst the industry’s greats. You only need to look at his consistency in his characters, the details of literally everything on the page and particularly the work he does on expressions to begin to get the idea. His work with Kay is uncanny, and everything about her character and her personality is expressed so perfectly through Rivera’s line work that you don’t need Kindt and Lemire to explain how she’s feeling. From beef jerky ecstasy to the classic “nice try” look, Rivera’s work shines in the subtly of expression.
Then, of course, you get to see his twisted side. There are some breath-taking panels and spreads here. The kind of thing you might get maybe once an issue, and The Valiant #3 has half a dozen or more. Most, if not all, of those pages consist of some of the Valiant Universe’s characters’ worst nightmares becoming real—much like what Mr. Flay did to Kay in the last issue—and I don’t know if any of it is for the faint of heart. There is some sick, twisted awesomeness on these pages, and Rivera gleefully skips between them and the deeper, more character-focused moments between Bloodshot and Kay.
The Valiant #3 is an issue full of emotional swings, intense moments, staggeringly beautiful art and expansive groundwork for the future of the Valiant Universe. Lemire, Kindt and Rivera are, without a doubt, the top creative team in comics right now and The Valiant is the BEST BOOK AVAILABLE—capitals, bolded, with underlines, just for good measure—right now because of all the reasons above and more. It’s got everything from artistry and creativity and has such a spark of something great, of something that is going to mean so much down the line, that the excitement is hard to bear. Maybe it’s similar to what people felt when books like Amazing Spider-Man #1 (the actual one, not the one that’s actually ASM #701) and Fantastic Four #1 came out, but there’s something in the air over at Valiant. It really is superhero stories done right… you know, forget this. This is comics done right.
The only downside of The Valiant #3 is there’s only one issue left.