By: Robert Venditti (Writer), Cary Nord (Artist), Moose Baumann (Colorist)

The Story: Aric tests his connection to the Shanhara armor and defends the Visigoth settlement against the vine.

The Review: As the Planet Death storyline went on, I had problem with the pacing and the characterization of Aric, being bored at his stubbornness and his general attitude toward his goals. The comic had some good idea, but seemed to spin a bit on its own wheels as some new elements were being introduced, but not thoroughly explored in a satisfying way.

Here, it changes a bit for the better, as we get a bit more out of the Visigoths, the vine, their religion and the divide it might cause for their people. We get to understand a little bit more just how the different groups in the Vine might perceive the armor of Shanhara and how they perceive Aric as a result. While it had been hinted at throughout most of this comic’s existence, we do get to see how some people of faith see the fact that Aric has command of the armor, as represented by the priest who sees him as some kind of saviour, someone who will, without a doubt, change the Vine however he sees fit. In opposition, the army people had always seen it as a weapon instead of an object of religious cult, as they see the fact that Aric has been deemed worthy to wear it an abject aberration that needs to be corrected. This whole representation of faith and war has been pretty interesting and I sure do hope it will lead to bigger moments further down that storyline.

Another element that did get better would be the presentation of Aric, who had been shown as some kind of unstoppable warrior throughout the beginning of this storyline. Here, as we see him without the armor for a bit and with the surviving Visigoth, we do get to see how he analyzes all of this around him. Delving a little bit about his character, we get to see some of his past and his reaction toward the death of other Visigoths, which does bring him more as a deeper character than the way he was just attacking everything like an angry madman in the previous issues. Here, he is shown as brave, a bit more understanding and perhaps a little bit crazy, which makes him a bit more likable to read.

What’s much more likable here would be the pacing, as now Venditti gives us more revelation and more advancement in the plot, as we get to see how connected Shanhara and Aric are, which leads to a pretty great action scene. The stakes are high, the explosions big and it does give us what a lot of people want to see in fights like these: importance and a sense that everything seems much larger than life. Aric, against a whole army of Vine and their war machines, to save a settlement of ancient Visigoths that had been captured by aliens known as the Vine to act as their slaves. That’s rather more like it, just like the big final development in this issue that does promise big things to come.

What’s also much better here is Cary Nord, though I cannot say if it might just be me who got used to his style or if it’s genuinely better in this issue. The result, though, is pretty much the same either way as he now seems to have a much better handle on the emotion of his characters, as he has Aric and the others having more than apathy or just anger as expressions. The action is also quite excellent, especially the big battle in the second half as the armor goes back to Aric. The way it goes back to him and reattaches itself is very cool visually, as it is the perfect opening for an action scene that does have a lot of impact. Each swing of his energy sword, the explosions, the death around him are all felt throughout the panelling as it gets more intense with each panel. It’s lovely stuff that any action buff will want to see more of, that’s for sure.

However, the sole credit of the art and its beauty cannot be solely attributed to Nord, as Moose Baumann gives us some astonishing work here as well. The explosions, the forest, the alien world, the fire and close to everything that is affected by light are superbly done, thanks to his degradation of warm colors. The colors here are very important and Baumann rise to the task exceeding expectations.

The Conclusion: Big action, huge events and just full of plainly cool moments, this is more like the title that made me want to try out Valiant in the first place. If it can keep up this level of quality, we are in for something quite memorable as Planet Death continues.

Grade: B+

Hugo Robberts Larivière