War Mother #4
By Fred Van Lente, Stephen Segovia, Andrew Dalhouse
The final chapter of Valiant Entertainment’s War Mother miniseries arrives this week. Action-packed and illuminating, this book firmly cements War Mother’s status as a hero and one to watch in the Valiant Universe.
Writer Van Lente brings this tale to a satisfying conclusion. Ripe with adventure and intrigue, this sci-fi influenced story’s appeal is due to the humanism of its excellent core character. In an unforgiving and hostile environment, “War Mother” Ana emerges as someone special, a character who unselfishly works for the greater good and is passionate about her people thriving. Though some of this is due to her genetic modifications – Ana was engineered to serve as War Mother – her emotional intelligence is that of a natural protector, a true mother over her flock. She puts the tribe before herself, though there are suggestions that not everyone believes this to be true. The reveal of her children’s parentage and even the origin of her relationship with her husband puts a bit of a mar on the image, but just how implicit Ana may have been in the situation is not known. Personality-wise, she strikes a balance, being neither a Mary Sue nor a conniving or malicious individual.
Ana begrudgingly became the tribe’s leader and finds the politics of leadership more of a minefield than the dangers of the vast jade. It’s apparent that she takes a certain joy in her “work”, sharing these experiences with her sentient weapon as opposed to another member of the tribe. This solitariness is practical, but it also demonstrates her need for autonomy. The “jade”, the forest where her tribe lives, functions as its own character in the story, offering up mysteries and the unexpected.
This is more than a “man versus the unknown” story. The simultaneously futuristic yet primitive environment of Earth in 4001 is interesting, but it’s the human drama – including the relationship drama with sentient objects – that make this story rewarding.
Over the course of the miniseries, secrets were revealed about Ana and her tribe. Ideas that were teased or hinted at in earlier books come to fruition finally. The mystery of the Montana, its nature, and its inhabitants is solved, and the fate of Ana’s tribe is addressed. We’re also treated to some interesting character turns that are gratifying and ring true.
War Mother #4 effectively closes the book on this particular conflict, but Van Lente leaves an opening for further possibilities arising out of the ramifications of this story.
The War Mother character has only appeared in miniseries, never headlining an ongoing title, much like Valiant’s other fantastic femme, Doctor Mirage. While these characters are deservedly fan favorites, whether they can successfully carry an ongoing title at this point, or if those titles fit in the current plan, can only be speculated upon. Both characters add much to the shared universe. It is very likely we will see War Mother again, perhaps even as a tie-in to Bloodshot in 4002.
Artist Stephen Segovia and colorist Andrew Dalhouse work their mojo to bring the story to life. Segovia’s line work is gorgeous, making War Mother an iconic-looking character. The action moves fluidly, as do the panels, making for a story that flows easily from page to page. Segovia’s character work is top-notch, highlighted by character expressions that speak volumes as well as realistic physicality, an essential quality in a book with heavy action. Dalhouse’s colors effectively reinforce the story. The cold, hard colors of the tech goo contrast with the warmth and vitality of Ana. The greens and golds of the forest make for a beautiful setting. Also notable are the effects of the battle, such as the cold blue ionic blasts and the hot colors of explosions.
War Mother #4 answers lingering questions and handily ties up the story, delivering a satisfying ending wrapped up in a pretty bow made of Segovia’s artwork. If you haven’t been reading this miniseries, go pick them all up. This Valiant femme is collection-worthy.