Dynamite Entertainment has teamed with King Features Syndicate to bring the adventures of Prince Valiant to the comic pages… and nothing happens!
Previously in Prince Valiant: Prince Valiant first appeared in 1937, and for the longest time the art blew my mind each and every Sunday when I read the comic section of the newspaper. For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you a single story of the hero except there were lots of battles, bookended by long stretches of nothing.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PRINCE VALIANT
For those that have been reading the King series from Dynamite, you know that most of these tales focus on the aftermath of Ming’s attack on Earth. For Prince Valiant, this adventure won’t happen for hundreds of years, so you don’t need to read Kings Watch to know what is happening. In fact, you don’t even need to be that familiar with the character at all. Nate Cosby kicks this tale off with “the light at the end of the tunnel” asking Val to tell it a tale. Through the flashbacks, readers get to see the fire in the heart of the young lad, but in the end, nothing happens. I say that sarcastically as the confrontation at the end gives us something to ponder while we wait for the next issue. Is this god? a fiend that destroys everything? The final thoughts of a hero about to slip away from this plane?
There seems to be enough setup in this issue to encourage readers to return, but there seems to be similar structure in the storytelling from the newspaper that is a bit of a turnoff for me in the end. I’m willing to check out the next issue for no other reason than to see if my suspicions are confirmed, or if Nate Cosby used this opening issue to give us a Valiant story we expect before flipping the table and surprising us with Val’s next move.
When it comes to the art of this issue, Ron Salas deserves a standing ovation for immediately breaking with the vertical convention of comics, in what I can only guess is an homage to the horizontal nature of the newspaper comic. The layout does return to something more familiar during the flashback sequences, and Salas gives us a Val that is also very familiar. Though the art doesn’t have all the detailed ink work seen in the newspaper, it is still very well done, and feels “worthy”. Those who have seen the artist’s previous work know what to expect going in, and it is a treat.
Luigi Anderson takes the pencils and ink over the top with his colors. There are panels that feel like they are out of the past, and the light rendered with golden hues in the castle is perfect. The color work is one of the things I always remembered from the newspaper series, and it is something that stands out here as well.
BOTTOM LINE: THIS IS A TOUGH ONE
There is really nothing to hate about this issue – there is a major fight scene, a king who puts the hero in his place, and a life or death encounter with the unknown. I just wish it moved a little faster and gave readers something more. The double page/full page panels give the artist a chance to really show off, and bring a little bit of the newspaper format to the comic book page, but it also eats up pages (13 pages are single or double page spreads), which only increases the desire for more story. This issue is a good place for new readers to jump onboard, but ultimately I think this issue is going to have the greatest appeal to those who are already fans of Prince Valiant.