By Fred Van Lente, Stephen Segovia, Roberto De La Torre, Andrew Dalhouse
War Mother keeps getting better and better. Van Lente and company take full advantage of the strong debut to craft a compelling story that ratchets up the tension and our expectations.
Ana is one of Valiant’s most complex and nuanced characters since Shan Mirage. She’s a hero whose flaws and shortcomings make her relatable, and in turn, make her actions that much more admirable.
Writer Fred Van Lente gives this issue multiple story threads that are compelling on their own. Ultimately they will intertwine with a potentially dynamic result. One of the enjoyable aspects to this book is that there is no direct route from point A to point B. The plot relies on suspense more than the typically straight path of the thriller, and its air of mystery keeps readers theorizing motives. This allows Van Lente to slip in some surprises for his characters and the readers. And there are plenty of surprises, but we won’t spoil them here.
War Mother gives readers a high stake adventure with sinister overtones. The largest part of the story is about Ana as she encounters the dangerous unknown in her captivity. Here is where Ana shines; we’re shown exactly the stuff she’s made of, and Van Lente uses the story narrative to tease out the relationship between Ana and her symbiotic AI weapon, Flaco. This relationship is new territory for Flaco and Ana as well since prior to this his memory was erased after each mission. They are discovering, right along with the reader, the intricacies of the bond and the effects of not erasing his memory. Whether this new relationship will be their saving grace or downfall remains to be seen. It’s an interesting relationship to watch develop in the meantime.
Despite the tangible perils that Ana faces in her underground captivity, the Machiavellian plots of her own tribe will be the largest threat of all. Readers will undoubtedly be feeling anxious waiting for what happens next in this foreboding subplot.
Artist Stephen Segovia illustrates the majority of the book with Andrew Dahlhouse providing colors. This is a gorgeous book, with intricate depictions of Ana and her elaborately adorned foes. The panel layout keeps the action exciting and emphasizes Ana’s mental state at times. The secondary plot, taking place in another location, is illustrated by Roberto De La Torre. The change in artists here helps the reader shift gears. Readers familiar with De La Torre’s work on the Doctor Mirage miniseries will recognize and enjoy the emotional drama that his work lends to this piece. Despite the horrors that Ana faces, this part of the story is the most terrifying, and De La Torre’s work ups the creepiness factor tenfold.
War Mother #2 is so, so good. Excellent writing and beautiful depictions make this a standout. Declare “war (mother)” on the mundane and pick up this stellar issue.