It’s a race against time as Gilad brings back a cure for Tama, and Imperatrix Virago moves in for the kill! How does it all work out? Find out in this review of Incursion #4 by Valiant Entertainment.
Writer: Andy Diggle and Alex Paknadel
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colorist: Diego Rodriguez and Leonardo Paciarotti
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 22, 2019
Previously in Incursion: Imperatrix Virago is on the attack even as her health is failing. Her armies of undead invade, and there are massive crop failures across Earth. Gilad pleads with Syntilla to heal Tama. Even though she, herself, is a slave to Virago, she will not agree. Virago’s favorite fighter Kotila arrives to take Gilad out, but he leaves just in time. He makes his way to the demon he spoke with earlier, apparently to make a desperate bargain. On Earth, Virago’s forces reach Dr. Mirage’s house, and she holds them off single-handedly until one of them sacrifices himself – and Imperatrix Virago appears in person!
THE BATTLE FOR THE HEART AND SOUL OF EARTH
As Incursion #4 opens, Dr. Mirage fights desperately to ward off Imperatrix Virago, and they fight not with magic, but with swords. Virago wounds Shan badly and looms over her, asking what other defenses she has. Wounded she may be, but Shan is not out of the fight yet. She spits in Virago’s eye and grabs hold of her weapon again.
Inside the house, Gilad returns from the Deadside, bloodied and missing one hand. Hwen is keeping guard, and Gilad can see him! – a side effect of the Deadside. They become aware of the battle outside, but Gilad’s concern is for Tama. He pulls out a carrion bloom, and Hwen immediately asks where he got it (which is “from a demon.”) That’s bad enough, but Hwen sees it as something entirely different from a flower. It is seething with necromantic energy and looks like some kind of creature. There isn’t time to quibble, and Gilad feeds the flower – or creature – to Tama.
Dr. Mirage is still holding Virago at bay when Gilad joins the fight, which is bloody and brutal. Even though there are two of them, even though her strength is ebbing, Virago holds them off and runs Gilad through, taunting him with her plans for bringing him back as part of her army. So focused is she that she does not see the dead trees near them coming back to life, and when Gilad falls, he falls into a bed of living plants that reach out for him. Tama has come back into her power, and she is angry.
I really like this next part because of just how emotionally honest it feels. Gilad has brought Tama back, but at what cost? Virago almost instantly understands and she laughs. Hwen fully understands then that the magic of the carrion bloom is necromancy. And Tama is ready to kill them all. Her geomancy does wipe out Virago’s army and at this, Virago falls to her knees and pleads to be allowed to leave Earth alone forever. Tama’s power builds and she refuses to show any mercy. She is only prevented from killing Virago by Gilad’s striking her down first. And after this, she is shaken and upset at, well, pretty much everything. Gilad tells her his job isn’t just keeping her safe – it’s keeping her human. This is a really nice touch that brings the worldwide battle right back down to the very personal level. Tama may be incredibly powerful, but she is young and also incredibly vulnerable.
Tama recovers further, with no hint yet of what the carrion bloom may have done to her. Both she and Gilad have come to grips with the fact that hiding out away from everyone isn’t what’s best. If she has to protect Earth, she needs to understand it and to be a part of it. The carrion bloom just leaves us with enough questions that we wonder what the future will have in store for them. It’s a good way to end a story – life, after all, does not neatly unfold chapter by chapter.
The look of Incursion #4 is incredible. There’s great use of asymmetrical and angled panels, especially for the fight scenes, which adds to the feeling of chaos and action. We see the blows as they fall, and can almost feel when they hit. Virago is larger than human-sized and is wiry as well, and plainly fighting against her is no easy task. Everyone involved looks so beaten-up and downright exhausted. Now that’s great fight-scene art.
The scene where the battle is raging and the trees are coming back to life is really well done. It starts out with a twelve-panel page, which is a lot of panels, but the action is clearly framed and when we figure out what’s going on with the trees, it builds a sense of anticipation to see if Tama is making an entrance. The drama is further heightened by Gilad’s fall and Virago’s realization that the growing plants do indeed mean that Tama is not dead. So when she makes her entrance, we aren’t surprised by that anywhere near so much as we are to see her own single-minded focus to take out Virago.
BOTTOM LINE: A POWERFUL ALLEGORY DRAWS TO A SATISFYING END
There’s a lot of story to wield here, and Incursion #4 ties up loose ends and brings things around to a conclusion that feels final and hopeful. There’s no huge sense of triumph – this is a battle fought and won in secret. I like bringing this into the Valiant universe with Dr. Mirage and Hwen, and utilizing the Deadside as the location of a necromancer’s citadel is brilliant.
There’s a lot of story to wield here, and Incursion #4 ties up loose ends and brings things around to a conclusion that feels final and hopeful.