A king turned undead looking for redemption? Sounds like the makings of a great Critical HIt Dungeons and Dragons Podcast campaign. Until that happens (hint: it won’t in the near future), at least BOOM! Studios has you covered with some fantasy world goodness.
VALEN THE OUTCAST #2
Writer: Michael Alan Nelson
Artist: Matteo Scalera
Colorist: Archie Van Buren
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Valen the Outcast: The mighty King Valen has fallen to the evil necromancer Korrus Null, and has been resurrected as one of the undead. Now, thanks to the help of a sorceress and a thief, Valen is out for revenge… REVENGE! And to get his soul back.
BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
Though Valen wants to slip into The Black Court of Vohl as quietly and quickly as possible, it seems everyone knows what he is up to, including Korrus Null. The undead lord dispatches his minions to track down Valen Brand. Last issue we got a glimpse of a young fighter, who might be a big problem or a big solution come the end of the series, but the character gets little development in this issue.
One of the problems with being an undead is that everyone living wants you dead… deader?…most dead?, and when Valen and company encounter two warring nobels, he’s trapped, only to be used as a pawn in their war games. But Valen has a plan, and it plays out perfectly as the abomination earns the respect of some villagers, and if all plays out in the long run, he just may be the first undead king the kingdom respects.
This installment was paced well. I like how Nelson gives us a protagonist that isn’t simply a hero-type on steroids with a one track mind – he’s able to bring life to a character on the page (and one that is undead too). I liked Valen’s solution to keeping arrows from piercing his heart, and I wasn’t expecting the final page reveal, but now that one of the companions has been “turned” to serve the dark lord, the next issue should be very interesting. I would have liked to have seen more of Zjanna in this issue, but I think we’ll get to see plenty of her in the coming installments.
ART OF YE OLDE TYME FANTASY STORY
One of the things I really enjoyed about reading books like Tellos and Battle Chasers is how great the art looks with the right coloring set in a medieval time. Scalera brings that same feeling to Outcast. The character designs fit the fantasy setting without going over the top, and since most of the story takes place at a captured bridge, he’s able to keep the setting consistent from panel to panel. And even when day turns to night, the artist does a wonderful job making sure that it looks and feels like the same location.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTH IT
There are a lot of sword and sorcery comics on the stands right now, and this mini-series continues to be at the top of the stack, bringing entertainment with each issue. Though I would like to see more progression toward the end goal, BOOM! has a hit on its hands with Valen the Outcast. Valen the Outcast #2 is worth picking up, and earns 4 out of 5 Stars.[rating;4/5]