Although I’m relatively new to the Valiant fan club, I would be lying if I didn’t admit how much I’ve truly enjoyed the publisher and its ever-expanding universe in the past year. You see, when it debuted in the early nineties, I was too young to read, let alone handle the grown-up content. Then, when I entered the wide world of comics, I rarely travelled outside of Marvel’s impressive continent of content. I had a very limited knowledge of comics as a whole actually until becoming a Comic Crusader. After consuming as much as possible in my time as a reviewer, I can say with certainty that Valiant has the most comprehensive universe outside of the Big 2 (Side note: Dark Horse’s Hellboy-centric “Mignolaverse” and early Image round out the top 5 for me, but IDW’s Hasbro work and Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales are extensive as well). That being said, I was not at all surprised to see that this comic features only one Valiant character I recognize. What did surprise me was how much I enjoyed seeing the diversity in storytelling, personalities, and thematic elements within these pages.
Rapture is an event book starring MI-6 operative Ninjak, geomancer Tama, voodoo queen Punk Mambo, and the cursed Shadowman (aka Magpie). I entered this as a clean slate, so I had no idea what to expect. I received a tale in two parts. The first is a dark version of a fantasy quest (think Labyrinth or Return to Oz without all the sidekicks) in which Tama and her companion T.A.D.D. must journey across the Deadside in search of an imprisoned demon with the final clue to uncovering the source of impending doom. Overcoming all sorts of obstacles and guardians, she is able to decipher an ancient scroll telling the true story of the Tower of Babel and is informed she is already too late to prevent the crisis. The shorter second part is a gathering of heroes with experience in the Deadside to fight against the rebel attempting to rip a hole in the fabric separating the planes of existence. Ninjak uses his connections to recruit Punk and a reluctant Shadowman to return to the Limbo-like dimension and fight Babel’s forces. This comic basically lays the groundwork for an action-packed mystical thriller with high stakes and dark costumes.
Matt Kindt is no stranger to Ninjak, having been writer of the solo series for some time now, so this is somewhat in his wheelhouse. The elements of dark magic and voodoo are also treated quite well though, despite the separation from the “superhero” narrative, and I’m sure that no matter what direction the title takes Kindt will absolutely deliver. I especially loved the dialogue during Tama’s adventure which did more to build her character than any description could. Speaking of the Deadside, this is also where Cafu shines as an artist. The fantasy world he creates is simply wonderful, incorporating nature in a way that one could easily take for granted. Major kudos to colorist Andrew Dalhouse for the lighting and shadow work. You’ll notice I didn’t compliment the latter half of the comic much. Aside from the cool effects of Punk Mambo and Shadowman’s abilities, there was nothing terribly noteworthy about this section. Yes we get Ninjak, but only in a passive role that is forgettable and boring.
This comic has a lot going for it, mostly frontloaded into the solo journey of Tama. I believe the section about assembling the team was vital to the story, yet lost some of the momentum building up. Now that our heroes are all in the Deadside, I’m confident another dip won’t occur unless there are pointless scene changes to present-day earth. If the rest of this series just keeps with the standard set by the first several pages, it’s sure to be a hit!
4 out of 5 Stars
RAPTURE #1 (of 4)
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by CAFU