“A verbal agreement was settled between us. To meet that man at that place, should I be alive, and before that New Year little time now remains; And I would face that man, if God would allow me, more gladly, by God’s son, than come by great wealth…”
―Sir Gawain & The Green Knight, 14th-century
Valiant Entertainment’s Immortal Brothers: The Tale of the Green Knight #1 is a stand-alone story (featuring characters from Archer & Armstrong / Ivar, Timewalker and Harbinger / Faith) that is a character driven, compelling, and enjoyable spin on the 14th-century Middle English chivalric romance Sir Gawain & The Green Knight (author unknown). Writer Fred Van Lente is completely in his element with this story, which will likely be both refreshing and well received by readers and fans of Archer & Armstrong (2012 version) and Ivar, Timewalker (2015). Lente is always at his very best when working on these titles, and it is quite difficult to find another writer who understands the mood and feel of these iconic characters as well as he does.
The story is a blend of the classic Arthurian story with several plot elements and characters from the Valiant Universe. This effort results with a well written tale that does not require an extensive background with Valiant to understand or enjoy. A casual reader who has not even heard of Valiant can walk into a local comic shop, pick this book up, and enjoy the artwork and story.
Eisner Award winning artist Cary Nord and the ever brilliant Clayton Henry team up on this book to create pages of pure magic. The story occurs in two time-periods; the present where the story is told (drawn by Henry) and the past where the story unfolds (drawn by Nord). This artistic choice works to great effect for a number of reasons. The first being that Henry is on a very short list of artists that can be counted on to draw Archer, Armstrong, and Faith as they (debate with some no doubt) should be drawn. He is the perfect artist (outside of perhaps Pere Perez) to handle Archer, Armstrong, Ivar, and Mary Maria (who is not in this story, but still awesome when done “right”). Henry is well-known for possessing some of the most professional and cleanest artwork in the industry with a high level of consistency. He refrains from hyper-detail while instead focusing on accurate movement, proportion, and placement. Henry’s “less is better” approach allows colorist Brian Reber (who will be discussed in a moment) a tremendous amount of artistic freedom.
Nord is best known for his work on Conan The Barbarian and X-O Manowar. As most events in Immortal Brothers: The Tale of the Green Knight take place in the past, Nord’s style of artwork is a perfect fit. It is mythical and magical in a sense, filled with mysterious castles, shadowed dragons, and purple tree-wielding giants. Nord adds a touch of character and emotion to each panel (to include Gilad’s horse) as well as a bit of comical humor and expression as needed. Nord’s style employs heavy contrast with shadows and shading, which are a recognition staple of his artwork. Additionally, Nord uses hatching and cross hatching to create depth and lighter shading.
Artist Mark Morales inked over Nord and Henry’s pencils as seen in the image provided. This is a vital part of the artistic process as the inks and colors are what are seen in the final published product. A surgical and consistent inker like Morales is required or much will be lost once all is complete. Placement is everything, and Morales does a phenomenal job bringing additional contrast to each panel and page with clean inked lines of consistent thickness.
Colors are provided by Brian Reber who can do no wrong. He brings everything together and then to life while matching the mood, tone, and style of both artists with an appropriate color palette for each. Reber employs a color ramp for virtually every panel to ensure characters and backgrounds share a vibrant a textured appearance.
Immortal Brothers: The Tale of the Green Knight #1 is an enjoyable tale rendered by one of the best art teams in the industry. It is a Valiant take on a familiar story that is perfect for both new and old readers to equally enjoy.