Writer: Nate Cosby
Pencils: Ron Salas
Color: Luigi Anderson
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Cover: Darwyn Cooke
Dynamite’s recent relaunch of King heroes is finally here. This week’s title is Prince Valiant. While I’m not familiar with Valiant, author Nate Cosby, or even artist Ron Salas, I did find an emotional hook here that is incredibly distinctive. This comic book has a voice that is all it’s own employed early on in the very first scenes. The prose within the tale is written with a swagger and efficiency that’s unlike anything I’ve seen in a comic of this nature.
“Once, there was a boy. He had a burden. Ever present and persistent.”
This first installment is full of similar language that can alienate the reader at first, luckily Cosby is spinning a yarn that fans should be familiar with regardless of previous exposure to the Prince Valiant character. Cosby pulls from Greek Mythology in telling the story of an arrogant God that has to figure out how to cope with everyday life. Think of a mortal version of young Thor.
The bottom line is that when Valiant falls, he takes a massive descent resulting in him being cast out of his own land. This is the story of how his reckless abandon can be redeemed through later pursuits. Deeper questions lie within this comic than that of Valiant’s own morals. The plot thickens at the last page featuring a cliffhanger notable in it’s own sheer ambition. This surprise spins the story in even more new directions, and perfectly bookends the tale through following up on a story weaved within the first pages of the comic. One of the only negative aspects of this story is how the language provides some distance with readers at times. It’s hard to decipher exactly what point these characters are trying to illustrate with each other in the dinner scenes, thankfully that’s where the art of Ron Salas comes in.
Salas’ art in this comic book story is abstract in it’s versatility. The story has a slight independent vibe supported by the colors of Luigi Anderson. At times, the fluid motion can be slightly lost in how the panels connect to each other. There are several styles employed within this comic, with the aforementioned dinner scene sporting a minimalist spark that is extraordinarily different than the detail in the framing scenes earlier in the story. There is great potential here, and hopefully Salas can just be slightly more consistent with the plethora of different styles at play throughout the course of this issue. The penciller definitely deserves some praise for the highly unique layouts and experiments in the form on display throughout the issue. The layout featuring negative space seen in preview pages should engage fans on a craft level. The caves soaked in darkness evoke just the right shade from Anderson.
One word to describe this entire affair is subversive. Through engrossing language, deft characterization, and the last twist throwing readers for a loop towards the end of this comic, Prince Valiant is something that should stay on your pull list – especially if you it was never on your pull list in the first place.