When you’re fighting for your soul, does standing for what is right, and saving your friends in their most difficult time say a lot more about the makeup of a hero than the end goal? Valen gets a chance to prove his worth once more in the latest installment from BOOM! Studios.
Previously in Valen the Outcast: Valen and Cordovan narrowly escaped the blade of their companion Zjanna, who had been put under the spell of Ivo, Korrus Null’s chief henchman. Though the trio did manage to escape, it was out of the frying pan and into the fire as the moment they arrived in Hoarswright, Cordovan was immediately arrested by the group known as the Order.
A SOUL FOR A SOUL
It’s been a while since I last read this series, and it took a few moments to remember what had happened before, and why the Order wanted Cordovan. Turns out it takes the better part of the issue to discover they reason, but the story leading up to it is filled with characters in turmoil, soldiers losing their heads, and someone drinking from a chamber pot.
Just like the last issue, Valen refuses to abandon his friend in their time of need, and he’s willing to fight the entire Order in get his friend back. Before he gets the chance, Ivo’s army invades the city and it is an all out blood fest as Valen and Zjanna attempt to find their friend. It’s not a walk in the park for Cordovan either, ashe’s being tortured for feeing a bunch of orphans from the Order, and they want him dead – in a real bad way. He’s forced to swallow a hideous worm, that once inside starts to eat its way out. It looks like curtains for the rogue, until Zjanna shows up to free him. And that’s where the drinking from the chamber pot comes in. Down goes the poop, up comes everything in Cordovan’s stomach, including the disgusting worm thingy. Valen would have been there, but he was too busy fighting Ivo through the streets of Hoarswright. It’s a pretty good fight, but ultimately Ivo falls, and the trio escape…
It’s a pretty simple chapter, featuring a lot of the fighty-fighty that usually occurs in the fantasy genre. I like how Zjanna and Cordovan come to terms with one another, and I like that the former king stands behind his traveling companions when his end goal will ultimately put them in real danger. The fight sequences are interesting, but there are times when camera continuity gets out of whack, leading to some confusion as to who is fighting whom.
One might think that Michael Alan Nelson would have little to surprise us with in this issue, but he ends up throwing two big reveals at the reader, that one has to wonder what really is going to happen when two mighty forces come face to face. One of the big reveals is that the orphan Cordovan saved long ago, is indeed the young boy working for Korrus Null. The other big surprise… well let’s just say it is the card up the sleeve that will set Valen back a couple of steps when the trap is sprung.
WHY ARE THERE HANDS HAMMERED TO THE DOOR!? WHY, OH WHY!?
Matteo Scalera once again delivers up some nice art in this issue. From exploding undead and slimy snakes, to deep dark dungeons, and cities set afire, Scalera has something to offer in each panel. Save for the fight sequence issue mentioned above, the art here is very well done. The style seems to have evolved slightly from the previous issue, as the characters look like they were under a heavier inker than before, thus de-emphasizing certain characteristics of the characters that make then stand out in a crowd.
BOTTOM LINE: STILL WORTH IT
I really liked the two big reveals in this issue, and of all the books offered up for an early review, this was the one I gravitated to. The characters are allowed to grow in spurts which sets up the next big conflict, in a story that is one big fight sequence after another. And to be honest I really don’t mind that. Scalera’s art seems different than the last issue and there are a few places things get muddy, but overall, Valen the Outcast #4 earns 3.5 out of 5 Stars and is still worth picking up.