Rapture tells the story of Babel, a being obsessed with burrowing into the Liveside (think Heaven…) which will unleash Chaos on Earth. He is explained to be an ancient Mesopotamian evil with an ability to bring death with just a sound. He is a Satanic-type creature with a story that parallels what we think of as a ‘Fallen’ character. His occasional backward speech is used to great effect to invoke the occult law of reversal and to show the reader how he uses occult principles to his advantage. Tama, the powerful Geomancer with the knowledge of “The Book of the Geomancer”, has assembled a team including Ninjak, Punk Mambo, Rex the Razer, and Shadowman to stop Babel.
This issue tells Babel’s backstory and how he gained the ability to control and harness the abilities of the Loa and amassed his disciples. We are shown why he was cast out and spent his time exiled in the Deadside beneath the tower he built. It explains his motivations for wanting to open a pathway into the Liveside. He believes he and Shadowman crossed paths for a reason and he attempts to use Shadowman with the promise of freeing him from his Loa. Will Magpie/Shadowman get the release/redemption he is looking for?
Matt Kindt’s work here is of his typically high standards. We get a nice mix of backstory and action inside this issue. The pace is brisk. Once I had completed reading this issue, I wished it were longer since I was having such a fun time with this non-conventional team and the overall theme of the book. Characters read and act as you would expect them. As has been expected, Shadowman is a focus for this series. The villain has familiar, but intriguing motivations for his actions and we also get nicely timed moments of levity, typically when Rex is involved.
Roberto De La Torre appears to take over for art duties during the flashback scenes and the art takes a gritty, sketchy, sepia colored look to it that is an interesting contrast to the art in the rest of the issue, which is clean and colorful, true to its fantasy aspirations. (CAFU) Carlos Alberto Fernandez Urbano’s art in the present time portion of the issue is absolutely beautiful. It is clean and detailed and masterfully combined with incredible lighting and shading effects. Panels are cinematically framed, but characters never come across as artificially posed. Magic effects cast onto objects and torches, etc. cast realistic shadows on characters. This is a showcase of how to use color and modern effects to enhance the art in a story. As good as CAFU and De La Torre are, Andrew Dalhouse and his coloring work come across as the MVP. I was effortlessly sucked into this world by the superb art.
The cover is also a beautiful work of art and captures the mystical, adventure quality of the book. It looks like the type of cover you would see in a fantasy RPG book of the 1980s. It’s also striking in how it positions our heroes laid out on the ground. Only Tama is left standing (or hovering) to battle Babel. I love everything about this cover.
I give this issue 4.5 out of 5 stars. I wasn’t sure of the premise when I heard of this series and I initially picked this up on the names of Kindt and CAFU. I haven’t been disappointed and this series has exceeded my expectations. It’s yet another high-quality Valiant title that is a solid buy if you are into deep, mystical adventures with engrossing writing and a solid mix of story and action. The knockout color and art will keep you smiling all the way through. My main criticism is that this issue feels short and it’s hard to review this without taking into account the entire series as a whole. This is very much the penultimate book in a series that is meant to be read in full. I’m sad we only have one more issue after this one.
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by CAFU with Roberto De La Torre
Coloring by Andrew Dalhouse
Published by Valiant Entertainment