While Shadowman was MY most anticipated one-shot tie-in for Valiant’s summer event, 4001A.D., War Mother seems to have reigned supreme for that podium in Social Media. And with good reason. Fred Van Lente on scripts, Tomas Giorello on-line art, and Brian Reber on color, who could ask for more? Not I.
Fred has really outdone himself here, giving birth to an entirely new piece of folklore in the Valiant Universe. New creatures, a new concept on “the apocalypse”, new technologies, and, most importantly, a brilliant new hero. It really brought back that magical feeling of being thrust into a whole new universe, especially with the way that Fred introduced it all. It is all too often that I see a writer engulf an entire page with terse exposition that really has no purpose outside of trivial knowledge. Fred, on the other hand, explained the world through the banter between the hero, Ana, and her sentient gun, Flaco; and he only did so when it was necessary to push the story further. In fact, he even took the time to throw in some entertaining dialogue, poking fun at this traditional method of exposition in comic books. Methods that I constantly ping writers for in my own reviews.
With this strong presence of a well constructed world, thought out character developments, and an interesting relevance to the 4001 A.D. event, I have to admit that I was completely enamored. Which is why the ending came as such a surprise to me. For as amazing as the rest of the book was, the conclusion was lackluster. A villain was introduced last-minute, and without warning, which is fine, but then Fred killed him off almost immediately. Immediate, I guess that is the word I was looking for. The ending felt so immediate. There was conflict and then there wasn’t. The one great aspect was that there was a hint to this becoming a mini-series. Something that I hope happens very much. I also hope that both Tomas and Brian are kept as the artists.
The line work for this issue was absolutely outstanding. For a little one-shot I could not believe how much detail was squeezed into every panel. The backgrounds were rich with life, and the characters moved flawlessly from panel to panel. One scene, specifically, that comes to mind is when Ana forces her way through a door made of a living membrane. It is amazing how Tomas was able to mimic the sense of touch; I really could feel the tension of the door and its slimy mucus. All of which was made even more tangible through Brian’s colors.
As a colorist myself, I usually spend most of my time studying techniques being used in any given book. Sometimes it is easy to see what is done, and sometimes it is damn near impossible. Brian’s work in this issue is the latter. I have read this issue about three times, and I sill cannot get over how fantastically rendered this book is. He seamlessly switches from bright blues and greens to deep magenta’s and purples. All while somehow keeping focus on Ana. It is truly beautiful.
Which actually can be said about this book as a whole. Like all of the other one-shot tie-ins for this event, War Mother could have easily stood on its own. Fred’s world-building, dialogue, and story were incredible. Along with Tomas and Brian’s gorgeous artwork. Valiant does it yet again with another stellar tie-in to this summer’s best event. 4001A.D. Definitely a buy for me. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4001 A.D.: WAR MOTHER #1
Written by FRED VAN LENTE
Art by TOMAS GIORELLO