By Fred Van Lente, Tomas Giorello, Brian Reber
War may be Hell, but Valiant’s War Mother is divine.
The much anticipated 4001 A.D. War Mother #1 hits shelves August 3rd. War Mother is part of Valiant’s 4001 A.D. summer event which features the heroes and villains of Valiant’s future. While the title does fall under the event’s umbrella, this book stands solidly on its own. This rich tale easily could be made into its own ongoing or miniseries. Fans are likely to demand it.
New Japan has been jettisoning its sectors, condemning its inhabitants to a crash landing on earth. The dramatic action in this book revolves around this wreckage – the physical and political fallout that it causes. This is the book’s strongest link to the overarching 4001 storyline. For all other intents and purposes, War Mother reads like a solo piece that takes place during that time period.
The titular character Ana, aka War Mother, is a fantastic new character and an integral part of what makes this book so darn good. Courageous and intelligent with a strong moral code, War Mother embodies the concept of “hero.” She’s instantly iconic thanks to artist Tomas Giorella, who fashions a visage as strong as her spirit.
Writer Van Lente’s fresh take on the state of the Earth will have fans buzzing. Much of what we’ve seen of Earth in the various event titles suggests a cataclysm changed life as we know it. Warfare has made an indelible mark upon the world, but Van Lente proposes another viewpoint: evolution. Giving an example here will spoil the reveal, but there is a solid argument for this point in Ana’s community. It’s a refreshing perspective on the traditional post-apocalyptic story.
There’s much to enjoy in this story. Van Lente accomplishes quite a bit of world building, creating a complex society amidst the wilds of a future Earth we can only imagine. He provides a rich tapestry of environment and society that will whet readers’ appetites to learn more about the state of things. Where Van Lente truly shines is in his character development, particularly that of War Mother, Ana. “War Mother” is her designation within her community, and Van Lente seems to be purposefully obscure in explaining the meaning behind that moniker. Meanwhile, he develops Ana into a valiant and nurturing character, a natural protector who is not invulnerable to her own misfortunes. There’s a scene involving her interplay with New Japan wreckage that at first seems humorous, but as readers will discover later in the story, her reaction has more poignancy once we are privy to her history. There’s more to her than meets the eye. Ana has a unique ability that directly affects her environment, though she may view it as a curse. There’s some parallels between another character in the universe that Van Lente previously wrote about; it will be interesting to see if there is a correlation or if it is coincidence.
We can’t discuss characters without acknowledging Ana’s sentient weapon, a gun with a positronic targeting system that she calls “Flaco.” Van Lente uses the interaction between Ana and Flaco as didactic dialogue for the reader’s benefit, but it works well within the storyline. Their partnership is evolving, promising for interesting reading in additional chapters.
That’s right. Further chapters. Nothing has been announced, but if Van Lente’s final word in the story holds true, the end is the beginning.
Valiant-exclusive artist Tomas Giorello debuts his first full story interiors for the book. It’s a beautiful piece with thoughtful and expressive characterizations. Even the minor characters in the background have readable expressions that convey the mood of the scene. His pencils are highly detailed with exquisitely fine lines that add dimension and texture. Giorello handles the dramatic action scenes deftly, making the physicality believable while still drawing the reader’s eye through the story. Parts of the story lend themselves to horror, and his detailed monsters will haunt you. Giorello’s finished pencils have so much detail that the inking process would likely take away from his art. Instead, colorist Brian Reber painted his magic directly onto the pencils. Reber uses a muted palette of natural tones to emphasize the earthiness of the environment. It brings warmth and relatability to a future that is both familiar yet alien. His work never obscures the fine details of Giorello’s pencils; instead he creates additional depth. His subtle tonal changes reinforce the action of various scenes, helping to show rather than tell the reader when something is withering.
4001 A.D. War Mother #1 should be on everyone’s required reading list, regardless of if you are reading the summer event. Van Lente and team have gifted us with a terrific new hero.