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Tag - Matt Kindt

4LN Comic Review: X-O Manowar (2017) #1

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Tomás Giorello and Diego Rodriguez
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Comixology:

Born under the oppressive thumb of the Roman Empire, Aric of Dacia learned warfare at an early age. It was amid such violence that he was abducted by an alien race. Forced into slavery, he survived where others perished. His escape would come from bonding with a weapon of immeasurable power: the X-O Manowar armor. With it, he returned to Earth…only to find himself stranded in the modern day. But that was a lifetime ago.

Now, far from home on a strange and primitive new world, Aric has begun a new life. Liberated from his past, he tends to his crops. Free from war. Free from violence. Free from the armor.

But the machinery of death marches his way once again. Conscripted into an alien army and thrown into an unforgiving conflict, the fury inside him finds voice as he is forced to embrace the armor once more. With it, he will decimate armies, topple empires and incite interplanetary warfare as he rises from SOLDIER to GENERAL to EMPEROR to VISIGOTH. They wanted a weapon. He will give them war!

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Robert Venditti’s X-O MANOWAR (2012) was the title that helped Valiant Entertainment launch itself into the modern era.   His take on X-O Manowar was poignant, and over the course of its fifty issue run, he transformed the raucous, Visigoth warrior into a king and peacemaker.  It was a fun journey, with all sorts of twists and turns, memorable villains and memorable fights.  After Venditti stepped away, I was slightly worried about who would eventually step in and take the reins of Valiant’s flagship character.  Lucky for us, Valiant superstar Matt Kindt was announced as the heir to the throne.

If you put all of the Valiant titles up on a wall and threw a dart at them, the chances of your dart landing on an issue Kindt worked on is fairly high.  During his time at Valiant Comics, Kindt has written UNITY, which happened to feature X-O Manowar, RAI, NINJAK, THE VALIANT with Jeff Lemire, and DIVINITY.  What I am trying to say is Matt Kindt is Valiant’s cleanup hitter.

In X-O MANOWAR #1 we find a more stoic Aric.  Tired of war and death, Aric left Earth behind and found another habitable planet where he could live in peace.  After burying his X-O armor, he finds solace tending the land and growing a sweet beard.  Unfortunately, war finds him even here, and he is forced to serve as cannon fodder in a war he has no interest in.

To me, X-O MANOWAR #1 feels like a mixture of RAI and the fantastic western “The Quick and the Dead”, with Aric playing the role of retired gunslinger forced to fight.  Matt Kindt, like we’ve come to expect from his work on RAI, tells an epic science-fiction tale, with plenty of good dialogue and just enough backstory to get you headed in the right direction without bogging you down.

Another high point in this debut is the art.  I can’t think of another book off the top of my head that looks quite like what this art team pulls off.  It sort of reminds me of the kind of art that in on the cover of old pulp science-fiction novels, and I love it.  The line work and colors just mesh together in a really cool way that matches the epic nature of the story.

Ultimately, X-O MANOWAR #1 is one of the most action packed debuts I’ve seen.  After the first few pages, the action picks up and keeps on going till the last page.  Kindt’s epic story-telling ability is on point, and this art team is just killer.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve never read a single Valiant comic before, this book is spectacular – a definite 5 out of 5.

X-O MANOWAR #1 hits the stands March 22, 2017, and you need it in your life.  Now here are some preview pages:

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EXCLUSIVE Interview with Chance Butler, Valiant Cover Artist

If you haven’t been reading Valiant’s 4001 A.D. event, you really need to. It has been spectacular thus far, and the hits just keep on coming.  Each main issue has a plethora of fantastic covers, and one in particular has been gaining some attention.  I am speaking, of course, about the 4001 A.D. Action Figure variants designed by our good pal Chance Butler from ComicCollectorLive.com.  We were lucky enough to sit down with Chance to talk about where he gets his love of comics, what it’s like to have his cover art published by Valiant Comics, and what goes into creating the fantastic Action Figure variants.  Enjoy!

 

4LN – When did you first get into comics?

Chance Butler – Well, my dad has always been a collector so it was pretty much decided for me at birth! Before I could read I would flip through his Amazing Spider-Man collection and look at the pictures. I always thought it was interesting. As I got older I started reading and started collecting my own comics. I really liked to collect Ben Reilly when I was young… I think it was that sweet costume.

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4001 A.D. #1 CCL Variant

 

4LN – Do you recall any specific moment that you realized you had a talent for art?

CB – I do actually! I remember grabbing a Star Wars coloring book and a blank sheet of paper and trying to draw Yoda just like the coloring book had him printed. I finished my (somewhat crude but good for a 6 year old) Yoda drawing and proudly presented it to my parents who then hung it up on the fridge for everyone to admire (pretend to like).

4LN – Was comic book art something you were always interested in doing?

CB – Well, as I got older comics stuck with me. I would spend my time in school doodling superheroes and working on anatomy instead of paying attention. That didn’t really help my game in high school much. Turns out girls don’t like drawings of Spider-Man… but now I’m just rambling.

I certainly loved drawing comic characters. I never really anticipated being able to draw for an actual publisher, it was just something I did in my free time. I always wanted to be a graphic designer so it was really cool to get to do these action figure variants. I got to kind of merge my graphic design and art skills.

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4001 A.D. #2 CCL Variant

 

4LN – The covers you’ve designed for the Comic Collector Live variants of Valiant Comics’ “4001 A.D.” are the first time you’ve worked with a major publisher. What has that experience been like for you?

CB – It’s definitely been a positive experience, and I’m thankful for the opportunity that Comic Collector Live gave me. Working with Valiant is awesome, they’re a bunch of geeks and you can tell they really care about their fans and the content they produce. Discussing ideas with them is very akin to a bunch of guys sitting in a living room eating pizza and talking about how awesome it would be for X-O Manowar to be a deluxe giant sized figure in a big box. And then someone’s mom walks in and asks us to please put our drinks on coasters for like, the fourth time. And she just stands there while we remain silent because we don’t want her to call us lame for talking about action figures. At least that’s how I imagined it in my head when we were emailing back and forth.

4LN – What kind of effort has gone into designing the covers? Have you had to re-familiarize yourself with any of the Valiant characters for inspiration?

CB – The covers are a two-step process really. Half of it is trying to create a realistic looking action figure box, and the other half is producing the art to go in/on that box. The most effort goes into the portraits. I learned something new with each one, and this fourth one sure is puuurty!

You know, I’ve been a big Rai fan for a while now so I was pretty confident with him as the first cover, but X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, and Eternal Warrior are new to me! I enjoyed researching the characters and learning their quirks. I have to say, since doing these covers I have become a pretty big Bloodshot fan!

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4001 A.D. #3 CCL Variant

 

4LN – Two of your “4001 A.D.” covers are officially out, the third one will drop in July, and the final cover will hit comic shop stands in August. Do you have other work on the horizon we should be on the lookout for?

At the moment, no. But I don’t think you’ll be seeing the last of me just yet! Do keep an eye out for my ad for Comic Collector Live. It’s in every DC title for the month of June!

 

Lightning Round:

4LN – What is your favorite single issue of a comic?

CB – Uncanny X-Force 35. That whole run was great but that one issue gets me.

4LN – What is your dream mode of transportation?

CB -Flight! But not the lame plane kind, the cool “I have wings” kind!

4LN – What’s your favorite way to kill time?

CB -PC gaming!

4LN – Star Wars or Star Trek?

CB -Star Trek. The Holodeck is way too cool for this world.

4LN – Finally, if you could own any movie prop, what would it be?

CB – Gotta go with the Deadpool movie mask. Animated eyes and all.

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4001 A.D. #4 CCL Variant

 

I’d like to personally thank Chance for taking the time to chat with us.  You can find his Action Figure variants here!

The Valiant Summit 2016

From Valiant Comics:

As revealed today during the #ValiantSummit 2016 event live from New York City’s renowned UCB Theatre, Valiant Entertainment is proud to announce “THE FUTURE OF VALIANT” – an all-new wave of ongoing series, prestige format projects and standalone events from a star-studded roster of some of comics’ most visionary talents. Beginning in July with the first, much-demanded ongoing series for the breakout hero of the year, FAITH, “THE FUTURE OF VALIANT” will extend throughout 2016 with a total of seven epic series – each introducing an innovative array of new concepts and characters…and firmly establishing Valiant’s place as the premier publisher of creative storytelling in comics today:
  • FAITH #1 by Jody Houser, Pere Perez & Marguerite Sauvage in July
  • GENERATION ZERO #1 by Fred Van Lente & Francis Portela in August
  • BRITANNIA #1 (of 4) by Peter Milligan & Juan Jose Ryp in September
  • BLOODSHOT U.S.A. #1 (of 4) by Jeff Lemire & Doug Braithwaite in October
  • HARBINGER RENEGADES #1 by Rafer Roberts & Darick Roberston in November
  • SAVAGE #1 (of 4) by B. Clay Moore, Clayton Henry & Lewis LaRosa in November
  • DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #1 (of 4) by Matt Kindt & Trevor Hairsine in December

“With ‘THE FUTURE OF VALIANT,’ Valiant is entering an ambitious new phase – one that will challenge not only the size and scale of the stories we choose to tell, but even the very notion of what a Valiant comic can be,” said Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani. “In just a short time, Valiant has established itself as the industry’s best reviewed publisher and a creative force to be reckoned with. Now, with ‘THE FUTURE OF VALIANT,’ we’re taking the mission of creating the best comics possible even further, and expanding with astonishing new concepts, a bold line-up of new characters, and one of the most talented rosters of creative talent working anywhere today.”

“Within the past year alone, Valiant has made unprecedented strides by bringing some of comics’ most celebrated characters to the fore. But DIVINITY and FAITH were just the first salvos,” said Valiant Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons. “In ‘THE FUTURE OF VALIANT,’ we’re about to witness the next great Valiant heroes of tomorrow come roaring out of the gate with GENERATION ZERO, BRITANNIA, and SAVAGE. And we haven’t even revealed the full extent of what’s coming for BLOODSHOT U.S.A. and HARBINGER RENEGADES, let alone the universe of new ideas that is DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE… For new fans or old, this is a phenomenal time to find out why Valiant has succeeded in building the most acclaimed and accessible line of comics on the shelves.”

Rewatch all of “THE FUTURE OF VALIANT” announcements on Twitch HERE with an exclusive live stream of today’s #ValiantSummit 2016 event, or find complete details on each series individually below:

FAITH #1
Written by JODY HOUSER
Art by PERE PEREZ and MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
Cover by KEVIN WADA
ONGOING SERIES | BEGINNING JULY 2016

AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES! The high-flying hero that captured the imagination of the world is back with a colossal new comics milestone!In a city under siege by robots, aliens, monsters and even worse… celebrities, there is only one woman the people of Los Angeles can count on: the stratospheric superhero called Faith! Aspiring reporter by day and dedicated crime-fighter by night, Faith has tackled every obstacle in her path with confidence – like those crushing deadlines at work, the long-distance boyfriend half a world away, and the missing back issues that plague her comics collection! But, unbeknownst to her, Faith is about to collide with the one force she never saw coming: an up-and-coming super-villain bent on snuffing her out once and for all! But who is lurking behind the mask of her new foe…and could they just be the one person capable of rendering Faith powerless?

Jump on board now to find out why Valiant’s one-of-a-kind hero is inspiring a whole new generation! Be here as FAITH moves from her sold-out mini-series…and into the history-making debut of her first-ever ongoing series!

GENERATION ZERO #1
Written by FRED VAN LENTE
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA
Cover by STEPHEN MOONEY
ONGOING SERIES | BEGINNING AUGUST 2016

Because you demanded it! Exploding out of the pages of HARBINGER WARS comes AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES starring GENERATION ZERO from New York Times best-selling writer Fred Van Lente (IVAR, TIMEWALKER) and blockbuster artist Francis Portela (FAITH)!If you have a problem… If your parents won’t help… And if your cause is worthy… Log onto network #ZERO…because Generation Zero is listening.

Years ago, the children of the experimental strike team known as Generation Zero were taken from their families by Project Rising Spirit, a private weapons contractor, and raised to be psychic soldiers. After years of taking orders, they have fought for and won their freedom. Now, the world’s most wanted teenagers have pledged to protect each other tooth and claw, while using their extraordinary abilities to right wrongs for a generation without a future… To fight for kids, just like them.

One of those kids is Keisha Sherman, whose boyfriend just turned up dead after a suspicious car crash in Rook, Michigan – a newly booming tech town that sprang from rags to super-riches seemingly overnight. When Keisha makes a desperate plea into her webcam, the local high school suddenly finds itself with several unusual new students… But as word of Generation Zero’s presence spreads rapidly through the halls, this volatile band of teenage upstarts is about to discover that they’re far from the most extraordinary thing lurking behind Rook’s stainless-steel facade..


BRITANNIA #1 (of 4)
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by JUAN JOSE RYP
Cover by CARY NORD
PRESTIGE FORMAT LIMITED SERIES | BEGINNING SEPTEMBER 2016

On the fringes of civilization, the world’s first detective is about to make an unholy discovery…Ruled by the Fates. Manipulated by the Gods. Commanded by Caesar. In the year 65 A.D., one’s destiny was not his own. At the height of Nero’s reign, a veteran of Rome’s imperial war machine has been dispatched to the farthest reaches of the colonies to investigate unnatural happenings… In the remote outpost of Britannia, Antonius Axia – the First Detective – will become Rome’s only hope to reassert control over the empire’s most barbaric frontier…and keep the monsters that bridge the line between myth and mystery at bay…

From comics mastermind Peter Milligan (X-Statix, Shade the Changing Man) and incendiary artist Juan Jose Ryp (NINJAK, Clone) comes a psychological journey into terror, temptation, and bloodshed – presented in an all-new prestige format limited series!

BLOODSHOT U.S.A. #1 (of 4)
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by DOUG BRAITHWAITE
Cover by KANO
STANDALONE EVENT SERIES | BEGINNING OCTOBER 2016

In Bloodshot we trust! Project Rising Spirit – America’s greatest exporter of classified weapons technology – has achieved a breakthrough: a contagious, airborne nanite dispersion prototype that can turn the population of any city into an army of indestructible soldiers. A doomsday virus capable of destroying an enemy nation from the inside out. A machine-made pathogen that can completely rewrite human physiology…and hardcode every man, woman, and child with the same cutting-edge technology that created their greatest weapon: Bloodshot.

But now…Project Rising Spirit’s top-secret contagion has been released onto the streets of America’s greatest metropolis: New York City. As mayhem engulfs Manhattan, Bloodshot must lead the most dangerous invasion ever waged on American soil and keep a runaway pandemic from toppling armies and governments…and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

In the tradition of THE VALIANT, the Big Apple turns blood red in pivotal new standalone comics event from New York Times best-selling writer Jeff Lemire (BLOODSHOT REBORN, Extraordinary X-Men) and superstar artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS, Justice)!

HARBINGER RENEGADES #1
Written by RAFER ROBERTS
Art & Cover by DARICK ROBERTSON
ONGOING SERIES | BEGINNING NOVEMBER 2016

Anyone you know could become a psionically powered “harbinger” with the potential to reshape the course of human history. Your neighbor. Your boss. Your best friend. Your kids. Six months ago, a secret team of renegade whistleblowers leaked the existence of these extraordinarily dangerous individuals to a stunned world. Today, all across the country, crude, DIY psiot activation attempts have left hundreds brain damaged…or worse. The emergence of a new psiot in a community often leads to riots and mass violence. Gun sales are through the roof.

America is terrified of what could happen next.

With this revolutionary upheaval now in motion, Kris Hathaway, John “Torque” Torkelson, Faith “Zephyr” Herbert, and Peter Stanchek are about to discover their calling. Together, the HARBINGER RENEGADES are moving from town to town, building their ranks, and subverting authority one mind at a time…and setting out to prove once and for all that behind their power, there has always been a purpose.

This November, the most fearless superteam in comics is going underground for AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES from rising star Rafer Roberts (A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG) and superstar artist Darick Robertson (Happy!, The Boys)!

SAVAGE #1 (of 4)
Written by B. CLAY MOORE
Art by CLAYTON HENRY and LEWIS LAROSA
Cover by LEWIS LAROSA
PRESTIGE FORMAT LIMITED SERIES | BEGINNING NOVEMBER 2016

Fifteen years ago, the world’s most famous soccer star and his former supermodel wife – pregnant with their unborn child – disappeared without a trace. The world believes they are dead… But, in reality, their private jet crash-landed on a mysterious, unknown island ruled by by prehistoric creatures from another time…This is the story of how they lost their humanity.

This November, acclaimed writer B. Clay Moore (Hawaiian Dick) and explosive artists Clayton Henry (HARBINGER WARS) and Lewis LaRosa (BLOODSHOT REBORN) present a relentless epic of survival in a cold-blooded land ruled by instinct alone as SAVAGE makes his brutal entrance into the Valiant Universe!


DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #1 (of 4)
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by TREVOR HAIRSINE
Cover by JELENA KEVIC-DJURDJEVIC
PRESTIGE FORMAT LIMITED SERIES | BEGINNING DECEMBER 2016
Earth has a new god. The world you know is gone. Welcome to the Stalinverse, comrade.
So there you have it folks! All the great new Valiant series’ to get excited about through the end of the year and beyond! Most of these series were teased in the Valiant 2016 Free Comic Book Day preview comic, but there are two significant absences… Psi-Lords, and Shadowman. Both were also teased with full page ads in the FCBD issue but were not mentioned during the summit so I guess we’ll just have to keep a lookout for info on those in the future. There’s still much to be enthused about with what was announced though, so let us know in the comments below which newly announced Valiant series you’re most excited about! ¡Viva la Valiant!

4LN Comic Review: 4001 A.D. #1

Series: 4001 A.D.
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Clayton Crain, and David Mack
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Comixology: “In the tradition of BOOK OF DEATH, ARMOR HUNTERS, and HARBINGER WARS, Valiant’s most ambitious crossover event yet starts here! At the dawn of the 41st century, the future of Earth will be decided in the stars. This May…the rebellion begins in 4001 A.D.! One hundred years from today, Father – the benevolent artificial intelligence that governs the island nation of Japan – will gain sentience. To defend its borders, Father will take drastic action by launching Japan into space…where its people will thrive in isolation, away from the overpopulated and resource-deprived planet below. Over the centuries, as New Japan orbits our increasingly unstable world, it will become a model society – one built on peace, prosperity… and Father’s control. A thousand years from today, Father will create the first Rai, founding a lineage of technologically enhanced heroes engineered to defend New Japan and sworn to protect it from all enemies. For hundreds of years into the future, the Rai will single-handedly enforce New Japan’s justice well…and serve Father without question. Now, at the dawn of 4001 A.D., the latest Rai is about to inherit the dark truth behind the origin of his kind…and discover the sinister secret at the heart of Father’s existence. For New Japan to live, Earth must die…and as Rai challenges his former master for the first time in more than a millennium, the lone guardian of New Japan will be cast out of his own Father’s kingdom… Exiled from the only realm he’s ever known, Rai now walks the ravaged world of 4001 A.D. in search of forgotten heroes like himself… on a mission to collect the last surviving legends of a broken planet…and to forge a rebellion with the power to bring the most advanced civilization in history crashing back down to Earth.”

4001 A.D. #1

Valiant is the archetype for modern comic events. The “Big 2” can try, and try, and try, but they will ultimately fall short of accomplishing even half of what Valiant does in (some cases) double the time and (without a doubt) triple the amount of issues. Let’s look at numbers, shall we? Ok, so, DC’s Convergence event only ran across a two month period, but it ran or 8 issues by itself, with countless limited series and tie-in’s along with it. Marvel’s Secret Wars event from last year started in May, almost 1 year ago to the day, and ended in January OF THIS YEAR. And that was only a 9 issue run. I feel like “WTF!?!” is appropriate here. 4001 A.D. will be a total of 12 issues. That’s it. No more, no less.

Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Why are you comparing them? If Valiant’s method is so great wouldn’t it stand on its own without this paralleling?” The answer to that question is, yes. I don’t HAVE to compare them to express how great Valiant is at this, but it helps if you understand the massive difference. I don’t really need to compare why living on Earth is better than living on Jupiter, but it might persuade you more if I tell you about the differences in oxygen levels and general habitability. (Also, NASA has recently discovered large, reptile-like creatures with a thirst for human blood living in the vast sea of liquid hydrogen that makes up Jupiter so…)

If this first issue of 4001 A.D. is any indication, you won’t need any more convincing as to the validity of my point.

4001 A.D. #1

So what makes it this series great? Well, let’s start with Matt Kindt, comic writer and professional juggler. (I may or may not have made up the fact that Matt can juggle.) 4001 A.D. spins out of Valiant’s Rai series, which Matt has also been writing. I didn’t start reading Rai until after the second story arc, even against the recommendation of close friends who swore by the series when it first dropped. Once I did start it though, I was hooked. This issue is just another entry into the “How Many Genius/Crazy Future Things Can Matt Kindt Create With His Imagination?” log. (That’s a real thing. I Googled it.) Matt has an understanding of how to write futuristic sci-fi in a way that almost makes you think he’s been there and knows what happens. Professional juggler? Maybe not. Amateur time-traveler? Almost certainly.

I also love that he never loses important character development along the way. There are characters that you’ll see here who’ve been evolving since the first issue of Rai that even if this is the first thing you read, you’ll still be able to connect with and understand what they’re going through and why they’re doing what they’re doing. Matt can write a character, or situation, so well, that you don’t have to already be personally invested to care about it if you jump on in the middle. He’s THAT good.

4001 A.D. #1

The artwork in 4001 A.D. is phenomenal. Clayton Crain, who has been working with Kindt on Rai since the very beginning, is such an amazing artist that I can’t compare him to any other artist. Seriously. He’s that remarkable and unique. His pages aren’t just a collection of comic panels, they’re paintings that none of us are worthy to gaze upon and we should thank whatever forces keep our existence perpetuating that we’ve been blessed to witness his talent. (I swear he didn’t pay me to say all of that…)

Just look at that cover! There is so much detail and yet so much fluidity. It’s insane to me and I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. There’s a beautiful panel in this issue that shows a broad view of a section of New Japan and I just stared at it for several minutes. It’s so flawless that it’s almost unfathomable.

Helping out on art in this issue is Mr. David Mack. He does the artwork on the opening pages that give you a run down on what took place in Rai prior to this issue. It is beautiful and refreshing. The style, based on my research, what I believe one would define as, or similar to, Ukiyo-e. (I apologize if my uneducated assessment is incorrect.) It really is a splendid way of presenting the background story, and it gives you all the information you need to read 4001 A.D. if you haven’t read Rai (or any Valiant series for that matter) up until now.

4001 A.D. #1

If you are completely turned off by comic book events, then I urge you to give 4001 A.D. a chance. I hate comic events. I refuse to read damn-near all of them. When Valiant puts one out though, I make it point to read all of it because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will be worth my time and money. More than any other publisher, Valiant cares about their readers. That care is evident in their business practices, their maintaining a constant connection to their fans through social media, and their ability to work close with their creative teams without dominating the work and compromising the integrity of the writers and artists.

4001 A.D. #1 is a 4 star book. Or a 5 star book. Or however many stars is the most you can give it. You don’t need to have read any Valiant comics before this to be captivated by it, but afterwards you’ll literally want to read them all.

Music Pairing –

I picked them once before, when I reviewed Tokyo Ghost #1, but I’m choosing Crossfaith as the best musical accompaniment to 4001 A.D. They’re a great Japanese metal band, and their track “Eclipse” is the best example of why they partner so well with this comic… Exciting, futuristic chaos. Need I say more?

4LN Comic Review: Divinity II #1

Series: Divinity II
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn, and David Baron
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary:

The much-anticipated follow-up to the five-time sold-out series that The Onion/A.V. Club calls the “Best New Superhero of 2015” is here! The acclaimed creative team returns for a perfect new jumping-on point into the expansive sci-fi saga that shook the world!

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union – determined to win the Space Race at any cost – green lit a dangerously advanced mission. They sent three cosmonauts farther than anyone has gone before or since. Handpicked orphans with no connections to Earth, trained as devout Communists, and restricted from having families, they became lost in the stars and encountered something Unknown… Something that changed them.

Long thought lost and erased from the history books, Abram Adams was the first to return. The few that have been able to reach him believe him to be a deity. They say he can bend matter, space, and even time to his will. But, even with limitless powers, he is concerned only with the secret love he hid away from his superiors and the unborn child he never met.

Now, Miska, the female co-pilot of the group, has also returned to Earth…but, unlike Abram she had no secret family. Unlike Abram, she still believes in the Communist ideal. And, unlike Abram, she intends to play a very real role in the return of Soviet glory.

Earth is about to meet a new god. And she’s a Communist. How long can it be before the nations of Earth bend before DIVINITY?

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In the first DIVINITY, Abram Adams, a Russian cosmonaut, reaches the end of the known universe and is basically imbued with powers that establish him as a sort of benevolent god who can control space and time.  In the end, love for his family (that he wasn’t supposed to have) outweighed his love of Mother Russia, and he abandoned the other two cosmonauts and returns to Earth where he ultimately enters a self-imposed isolation after a brief run in with Unity.

DIVINITY II #1 provides an interesting antithesis to that story.  Unlike Adams, Mishka puts nothing above the Soviet Union.  She sees Adams abandonment as treason against the USSR.  In her return to Earth she discovers that the Soviet Union has fallen, and decides to use her considerable powers to help restore the Motherland to its former glory.

I’m not going to lie… I had a hard time understanding the first DIVINITY.  I think if I had read it all at one time, it probably would’ve made more sense to me.  Matt Kindt is a brilliant writer and is simply much, MUCH smarter than me – and that’s okay.  With that being said, DIVINITY II made more sense to me in the context of the first one.  The world had already been built.  Instead of trying to comprehend the mind-bending journey that lead to Abram Adams extraordinary powers, I am asked to understand absolute loyalty to one’s ideals and the feeling of betrayal.  This book was really good.  The DIVINITY books have always been on the trippier side, and this one is no exception, as you will see from the previews below.  The art team, consisting of Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn, and David Baron, pulls off some insane panels and makes it look easy, while Matt Kindt, as always, writes a strong, character driven story.

It will definitely be interesting to see where this series goes.  I love the idea that Adams is this benevolent deity that just wants to keep to himself, while Mishka wants to help Putin rebuild the USSR.  Her belief that Abrams is a traitor also sets up an interesting confrontation between two incredibly powerful Russian-cosmonauts-turned-deities.  One thing is for sure, Valiant is putting together the best shared universe in comics, and the introduction of DIVINITY II adds another element to the mix.

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4LN’s Favorite Comics of 2015

Cam Clark

Star Wars (all of them)
My pull list is relatively simple – all the Star Wars titles mixed in with most of the Valiant titles, and very little else (What can I say, I have a comic budget and it isn’t all that large due to other things like mortgages and diapers).  When it came time to choose my favorite comics of the year, I had a hard time deciding which book in the Star Wars line I should pick.  I mean, Jason Aaron’s work on Star Wars is brilliant, but so is Gillen’s work on Darth VaderKanan was surprisingly good and made me a fan of the show Rebels, while Lando, Chewbacca and Princess Leia were also very well done.  Shattered Empire shows the aftermath of Return of the Jedi and also showed Luke Skywalker really grasping what he could do with the Force.  Additionally, the Vader Down event is shaping up to be an incredibly successful event.  If I HAD to choose, I might select the main Star Wars title… but I don’t have to choose, so I choose all of the titles.  If you aren’t reading them and are a fan of the Star Wars you are missing out on some great stories.

Ninjak
Although Valiant Entertainment is a small publisher, they are putting out some magnificent work.  Now that we are a few years in to the shared universe of Valiant, it can be kind of intimidating trying to test the waters for a newcomer (although they have great prices on their trade paperback collections so you have little excuse).  Luckily Ninjak by Matt Kindt is a great jumping on point.  The story is mostly a standalone story that follows Britain’s number one super-spy/master assassin, Colin King (think British Batman with a sprinkle of 007-particularly the “license to kill” part).  During the main story of each issue, there are a few pages of flashbacks that give you backstory into his childhood, and each issue ends with a couple page story of his previous exploits prior to becoming the badass that is Ninjak.  So in essence you get two awesome comics for the price of one.  The first volume is already available in trade paperback, and you can find it available on Amazon and in most local comic shops.

The Punisher
I have a confession to make, I used to dislike the Punisher.  His anti-hero antics involving merciless retribution on the criminal underworld rubbed me the wrong way.  It all changed when I read Nathan Edmondson’s Punisher. Holy crap is it good.  Edmondson really focuses on Frank’s military background and expert tactical skills as he deals with Cartels, the Howling Commandos, and – the most dangerous of all – Los Angeles.  While he is still merciless, Edmondson’s writing and Mitch Gerad’s art made me a believer.

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Bill Clark

Marvel
Very similar to Cameron, I have been pulling every Star Wars book. But, out of all the books, I had a favorite. I personally like the Darth Vader solo book the most. I think Kieron Gillen does a fantastic job capturing the spirit of everyone’s favorite Sith lord. From the first issue, this book had my full attention. Now, I am slightly biased. I love Gillen as a writer, and I have a Darth Vader tattoo, so of course I’m going to love a comic solely about Vader. And, this book has two of the greatest assassin droids in Star Wars history, BT-1 and 0-0-0. If you haven’t read this book, you are really missing out. Go pick up some issues and fall in love with it like I did.

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DC
If you have ever read any of my reviews, you know how I feel about Scott Snyder and Batman… I F**KING LOVE THEM. And, because of my love, I am unabashedly biased about that book. When the Robot-Bat-Bunny Batman was announced Cameron dropped the book and Stephen Andrew eventually lost interest in it. But, here is the thing: it was awesome. The book had been in such a dark and serious place for so long that the creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo decided to have some fun with the book. They introduced a super dark villain, but were still able to make the book fun and a bit lighter. Since I wouldn’t stop talking about the book, Cam and Stephen decided to give it a shot again, and wouldn’t you know, they loved it. Stephen even wrote an apology. Batman was seriously the best book DC was putting out all year.
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Archie Comics
When the all new Archie was announced I was pretty excited. I had never read an Archie comic before, but man was I hyped AF for this new book. Mark Waid and Fiona f**king Staples? How could one not love that? It would be the greatest sin. Now, I typically stay away from teen centered books. It’s just not my cup of tea, but this book changed that. From the very first issue I was instantly drawn into the lives of Archie, Veronica, Jughead and Betty. Mark Waid is able to strip everything down, give us raw real people, and make us extremely interested in the break up of Betty and Archie, and how that affects the entire town of Riverdale. Everyone knew Archie and Betty as “Archie and Betty,” so what does their identity look like without each other? Well, that’s what Mark Waid is trying to explore, and he’s doing a fantastic job at it.

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Stephen Andrew

Unlike Cam and Bill, I’m terribly irresponsible and have like 87 books on my pull-list. Obviously that’s an exaggeration, but in all honesty it’s not by much. I read a lot of comics, and that makes compiling this list much more difficult for me. I can’t just pick like 3 or 4 books so I’m gonna try to break it down by publishers, and attempt to keep it brief. I said ATTEMPT. I make no guarantees…

DC
I’m starting here because it’s the easiest one. Harley Quinn still is, and will remain my favorite DC title. In fact, it’s the only one I still currently read. The work that Amanda Connor & Jimmy Palmiotti have been doing on that series is unprecedented. They get away with jokes that probably no other mainstream comic ever would. Even though Harley is my maniacal mistress, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the new Deathstroke run and might pick that back up because it was pretty intense and brutal. But, for now, I remain wholly committed to that adorable minx in red and blue clown paint. *swoon*

 

Marvel
Being that I’be always been a Marvel Guy, this section could potentially be more difficult to narrow down. But while thinking about it, It actually became pretty easy. The Marvel comics that stood out most in my mind as I thought about the year are Howard the Duck, from the creative team of Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinones, and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, from Ryan North and Erica Henderson. Both series has been consistently well written, and I laugh out loud every single time I read a new issue. I already love Chip as a writer so I anticipated that I would love Howard, but I was honestly surprised at how much I ended up loving Squirrel Girl. Ryan North is an endless well of funny, and I’m gonna keep on drinking from his bucket. (Did that sound weird? I feel like it sounded weird…)

Valiant
I only read about 4 Valiant series. Bloodshot, Ninjak, Rai, and now the new Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. I just picked up Rai this year and I’m really glad I did because it’s great. Eternal Warrior is off to a solid start, and Bloodshot always delivers. I have to agree with my good pal Cam though, that Ninjak is by far the the best series being published over at Valiant right now. The writing is A-game material, and the artwork is always high grade, professional quality. It’s like they said, “How do we make the best comic?” and then just made it.

Image
Image Comics is my jam. I’d say that it at least ties with Marvel making up like 45% of my weekly pull list. All of my favorite comics are from Image. Outcast, Southern Bastards, Black Science, Deadly Class, East of West, Spread, Bitch Planet, etc. I could go on an on about the Image series’ that I love but I’d like to put the spotlight on two limited series they published this year. Airboy, from James Robinson & Greg Hinkle, and Big Man Plans, from Eric Powell & Tim Wiesch. Big Man Plans I chose becasue it was the most brutal and fearless series I read all year. Literally nothing was off limits. It reads like the storyboard for a Quentin Tarantino movie. If you can stomach the relentless ferocity of it all, then you should definitely pick up the trade.

Airboy really had a big impact on me. It’s essentially a parody of Robinson’s semi-autobiographical, debauched story of self-destruction that spirals him into a drug & alcohol induced fever dream into the world of the title golden age comic book character, Airboy. Among other things, he deals with things like his crumbling marriage, extreme substance abuse, and his insecurities and perceived failures as a writer. It’s all wrapped up in a brilliant and hilarious story of two guys just trying to motivate themselves to write and draw a comic book but falling into a shared hallucination… or dream… or f***ing nightmare. If you’re familiar with Robinson’s career then you owe it to yourself to read this series, but also if you just like comic book stores that aren’t afraid to be mercilessly honest and transparent.

4LN Comic Review: Ninjak #10

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Doug Braithwaite & Juan José Ryp, with Brian Reber
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Comixology: ALL-NEW JUMPING-ON POINT! A SPECIAL FOUR-ISSUE EVENT! “OPERATION: DEADSIDE” STARTS HERE! In December of 2015, a covert military intelligence unit sent a team of 20 agents and one special operative into a parallel dimension. Only one came back. The purpose of their mission was classified. Now, out of options, MI-6 has recruited their most elite operative – codename: NINJAK – to follow the doomed mission’s sole witness back into the dimension called Deadside…and bring her missing teammates home. What will they find there? And who will be waiting for them? Jump on board here as New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (DIVINITY) and superstar artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS) reunite for a terrifying journey into an unknown plane of existence…and bring NINJAK head-to-head with SHADOWMAN in the all-new, four-part epic “OPERATION: DEADSIDE”! Plus: an all-new chapter of “THE LOST FILES” begins, featuring explosive artwork by Juan José Ryp (Clone)!

Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

Ninjak is, without a doubt, one of the absolute best comics being published right now. Since the launch of the series earlier this year, the story has been exciting and captivating, with some pretty amazing twists along the way. This brand-new story arc “Operation Deadside” kicks off with a blast. Literally. A secret MI-6 facility is attacked and a villain previously captured by Ninjak is taken to the Deadside, somewhere Ninjak has been before but isn’t really in a hurry to get back to. I mean, he’s going back, he just doesn’t want to. He’ll have some help this time, though, from the obdurate and incomparable Punk Mambo. They go together about as well as… well… about as well as an anarchist hippie and an agent of the state.

click for super-sized previews of Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

For me, personally, Ninjak has been my favorite of the new Valiant comics from 2015. Don’t get me wrong, I like pretty much everything that they put out, but Ninjak just has something about it that makes it stand out. It’s more accessible than a lot of other current comics. What I mean is that you can very easily jump into Ninjak and it’s even easier to get sucked into the story. “Operation Deadside” picks up sort of where the previous story arc ended, but not in a way that requires you to read it. However, you should read it because Matt Kindt has been crafting an absolutely compelling plot-line that leads you all the way up to here. The way Kindt writes Colin King (Ninjak) reminds me of a mix of Bruce Wayne and Danny Rand. He’s wealthy, classy and headstrong, but still sarcastic, and even a little reckless at times. Not imprudent, just a tad careless; in a “let’s see what happens when I do this” kind of way.

click for super-sized previews of Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

Moving on to the art… It’s phenomenal. Doug Braithwaite is a fantastic artist who has an incredible talent for drawing detail without being overly complex with his panels. A lot of artists today try to be too complicated and/or too abstract and that can make the story hard to follow. Braithwaite does not suffer from that misguided philosophy. He draws damn good comics and that’s that. Additionally, each issue of Ninjak includes a Lost Files bonus story at the end of the main story that all connects. Previously the story had been about the origins of Colin as an agent but Operation Deadside changes that and seems to be about a new Shadowman. Now, Shadowman is definitely in my top 3 favorite Valiant characters so I’m eager to see how that side story develops and connects to the larger plot, but the thing I’m most excited about when it comes to the Lost Files story is that the art is done by Juan José Ryp. I freaking LOVE his style. It’s super detailed and kind of gruesome at times. It’s just so incredible and I’m really glad that he’s doing it.

 

click for super-sized previews of Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

If you’ve been looking to jump into a Valiant published comic, this is a great jumping on point. Hell, if you just want a really great series to jump into PERIOD, this is one I highly recommend. The writing is high caliber. The art is top notch. There’s nothing to dislike about Ninjak, and I stand behind that statement 100%. Ninjak #10, the beginning of the “Operation Deadside” arc, is a 4 star book if I’ve ever read one. Head down to your local comic shop and pick up a copy today!

 

Music Pairing –
Well if you’re gonna jam something while you read a Valiant comic, then you HAVE to make that jam A Sound of Thunder. And while reading this particular issue, that specific jam NEEDS to be the track “Punk Mambo” from their new album “Tales from the Deadside“.

4LN Comic Review: The Valiant #4

Series: The Valiant
Written by: Jeff Lemire & Matt Kindt
Art by: Paolo Rivera
Publisher: Valiant Comics

The Valiant #4: Digital Exclusives Edition

Overview-
I’ve been waiting for this book since The Valiant #1 hit the shelves. The previous issues have been terrific, but I had no idea how it would end. Will the combined strength of the greatest heroes of the Valiant universe be enough to save Kay, the Geomancer, from the Immortal Enemy? After millennia of fighting will Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, finally succeed in putting an end to the Immortal Enemy’s reign of terror? Is Bloodshot as big a bad-ass as he appears to be? And, most importantly, will we finally find out what’s in the box? This book answered all of these questions in a book that was a great ending to a great, universe changing miniseries.

click for super-sized previews of The Valiant #4: Digital Exclusives Edition

Highs-
This story was awesome from page 1 issue 1 to the end. The writing team, Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt, put out a phenomenal story that didn’t pull any punches. They did a great job of highlighting the best aspects of some of Valiant’s most popular heroes while putting them in one of the bleakest situations I’ve seen in the current Valiant books. This story was complemented perfectly by Paulo Rivera’s fantastic art. There were some seriously epic scenes throughout this series, and the finale was no exception. His sets and fighting sequences are tremendous, but his work really shines with his characters. The Immortal Enemy is terrifying, Ninjak looks awesome, Gilad (both the bearded and unbearded versions). There isn’t a single panel in this miniseries that seemed rushed or thrown together.

Bloodshot answers the question of whether or not he’s a bad-ass with a resounding yes. The run-and-gun fight between Bloodshot and the Immortal Enemy was terrific, but his interactions with Kay in this issue show that there is more to him than just a partially invulnerable amnesiac killing machine. It also appears to have set up Lemire’s upcoming Bloodshot Reborn really well.

click for super-sized previews of The Valiant #4: Digital Exclusives Edition

Lows-
Surprise, this miniseries is terrific, especially if you are a fan of the Valiant universe. The only problem I have with it is that it’s finished now.

click for super-sized previews of The Valiant #4: Digital Exclusives Edition

The Final Say –
This book was a great ending to a great miniseries. If you are unfamiliar with the Valiant universe this series is a great jumping on point (although I would recommend going back a reading a majority of the current stuff, it’s worth it). I give this issue, as well as the entire miniseries, a 5 out of 5. It answered all the questions it asked and provided a great story with equally as great art. Go to wherever you get your comics and buy it, or just wait for the trade paperback which will hit the stands in May.

4LN Comic Review: Ninjak #1

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Clay Mann and Butch Guice
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Valiant Entertainment:

For the first time, Ninjak’s past and future collide in the pages of an all-new ongoing series from New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (Rai, Mind MGMT) and superstar artists Clay Mann (X-Men: Legacy, Gambit) and Butch Guice (Captain America, Action Comics)!

Then: Meet inexperienced MI-6 recruit Colin King on his first mission in the field as he learns the basics of spycraft and counterintelligence, and develops a volatile relationship with his first handler.

Now: Colin King is Ninjak, the world’s foremost intelligence operative, weapons expert, and master assassin. And he’s hunting the Shadow Seven – a secret cabal of shinobi masters with mysterious ties to his training and tragic past.

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Overview-
Outside of Star Wars, Ninjak has been at the top of my “Most Anticipated Book” list since it was first announced.  Maybe it’s the fact that he is like a cross between Batman and 007, or maybe it’s the fact that he is a freaking ninja working as an operative for MI-6, but this character just embodies awesomeness.

After reading a majority of the current Valiant catalog, Ninak (aka Colin King) quickly became a character that I wanted to know more about.  All of this anticipation lead to much higher expectations than I usually have heading into a series.  So did Ninjak’s debut hit its mark, or was it cut down by a swarm of anticipatory arrows?  Let’s start with the high points.

Highs-
Matt Kindt does a great job working back-story into the main narrative without it being distracting, and the back-story is… darker than I expected.  The primary storyline follows Ninjak as he tracks down Ruko (think Leelo from the Fifth Element, if Leelo was an genetically enhanced assassin), and attempts to take down the Shadow Seven.  This is made all the better by Clay Mann’s impeccable artwork.  There is one fight sequence between Ruko and Ninjak that is so good it feels like a movie instead of a comic (before I read it, Stephen called me just to tell me how awesome it was).

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The second part of the book follows Colin on a mission before he was an apex killing machine, which gives good insight into what made him the man he is now.  This was written by Kindt with art by Butch Guice.  The art style is startlingly different than Mann’s, but the shift in style does a good job noting this as a flashback.

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Lows-
Long time fans might not like the way he gets his name in the current Valiant universe.  As a newer reader, I couldn’t find much wrong with this issue.  Ninjak is a really cool character, and they did a good job laying a foundation for a new ongoing series.

The Final Say-
Very rarely do highly anticipated books live up to the hype, but this one does for sure.  Kindt is becoming one of my favorite writers, and Ninjak #1 was a fun read.  Valiant is putting out some great stuff with their current Valiant Next initiative, and I encourage anyone reading this to head to their local comic shop and pick up a a copy of Ninjak.  I give this one a 5 out of 5.

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Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera Mark the Last Stand of THE VALIANT #4 (of 4)

After ten millennia and three sold-out issues, the battle for the heart and soul of the Valiant Universe is about to reach its gut-wrenching conclusion!

Valiant is proud to present an advance preview of THE VALIANT #4 (of 4) – the long-awaited final chapter of the four-issue epic from New York Times best-selling writers Jeff Lemire (BLOODSHOT REBORN, Descender) & Matt Kindt (NINJAK, RAI) and Eisner Award-winning artist Paolo Rivera (Daredevil)! Be here on March 25th as Lemire, Kindt, and Rivera bring the magnum opus of 2015 to a universe-spanning climax that will leave everyone it touches forever changed in its wake!

The Immortal Enemy has all but won and only Bloodshot and the Geomancer are left to stand against his darkness. Are they willing to save humanity even if it means losing their own…and each other?

Everything has led to this…and, on March 25th, the darkness is now! Don’t miss the shocking last stand of the series that Entertainment Weekly calls “a great introduction to the wider Valiant Universe” as Bloodshot, Geomancer, and the rest of the world’s most formidable heroes confront unthinkable evil head on in THE VALIANT #4 (of 4) – featuring covers by superstar creators Paolo Rivera (Mythos), Jeff Lemire (Trillium) & Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT), and Francesco Francavilla (Afterlife with Archie)!

The first series to be released in the VALIANT PRESTIGE format, THE VALIANT #4 (of 4) comes complete with deluxe matte-laminate card stock covers, custom-designed end sheets, and exclusive creator-curated back matter – all with no advertisements and a standard $3.99 cover price!

It’s not too late to find out why fans and critics are heralding THE VALIANT as the ultimate introduction to Valiant’s award-winning cast of heroes and villains:

A blockbuster that still feels personal, a big comic book story stuffed to the gills…shepherded by acclaimed creators doing fantastic work.” – Entertainment Weekly

[THE VALIANT] has the potential to become a true superhero epic.” – The Onion/A.V. Club

This is a high point for Valiant as a publisher and as a universe… [THE VALIANT] is on track to be a classic.” – Comic Book Resources

An event book with a beating heart… A near-perfect introduction to an ascending cosmos, and more importantly, a damn fine comic.” – Paste Magazine

Kindt, Lemire, and Rivera are creating a must read comic together… [THE VALIANT] is a striking introduction filled with action, humor, and some of the best storytelling in superhero comics. If you’re not reading Valiant comics, this is the place to start.“– ComicBook.com

If you’re looking for a gateway into Valiant’s growing comic book universe, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better than THE VALIANT… [It’s] one of the most visually stunning comics on the stands.” – IGN

THE VALIANT is awesome and it deserves your attention, people… It’ll be your proper introduction to this universe.” – Comic Vine

Plus: don’t miss each essential new series from VALIANT NEXT! In the aftermath of THE VALIANT, VALIANT NEXT continues with five blockbuster new series, starring Valiant’s biggest, most-demanded heroes alongside all-new, never-before-seen characters, throughout 2015: • IVAR, TIMEWALKER #1 by Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry in January • DIVINITY #1 (of 4) by Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine in February • IMPERIUM #1 by Joshua Dysart and Doug Braithwaite in February • NINJAK #1 by Matt Kindt, Clay Mann and Butch Guice in March • BLOODSHOT REBORN #1 by Jeff Lemire and Mico Suayan in April

For more information, visit Valiant online at Facebook.com/ValiantComics, ValiantEntertainment.Tumblr.comTwitter.com/ValiantComics, and ValiantUniverse.com.

For Valiant merchandise and more, visit ValiantStore.com.

 

THE VALIANT #4 (of 4) [VALIANT NEXT]

Written by JEFF LEMIRE & MATT KINDT

Art and Cover by PAOLO RIVERA (JAN151658)

Interlocking Variant Cover by JEFF LEMIRE & MATT KINDT (JAN151659)

Variant Cover by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA (JAN151660)

$3.99 | T+ | 32 pgs. | VALIANT PRESTIGE | ON SALE MARCH 25 (FOC – 3/2/15)
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