On paper, a comic book crossover is everything you ever wanted and just a little bit more. It gives readers a chance to see dissimilar characters team up in unique ways. As well as this, it allows audiences to enjoy larger than life epics where the stakes of good versus evil have never been higher.
However, in reality, the crossover in the comic book industry has become more synonymous with a cash grab than a timeless masterpiece. These days the average crossover is more concerned with generating the attention of new readers and bringing in a temporary boost in sales. However, not all crossovers are so unabashed to economic frivolousness; there are still some that take care to tell good stories.
Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera’s The Valiant is a story which brings together all the heroes of Valiant Comics against a millennia old adversary who threatens the safety of the whole world. While this crossover has its share of fun and heartfelt moments, it ultimately leaves readers wanting more — and not in the good way.
The story follows the Eternal Warrior, an ageless guardian to the Earth who has been locked in a tumultuous feud with The Immortal Enemy, a force of nature out for destruction. After centuries of defeat, The Eternal Warrior dispatches the help of every hero available to end the conflict once and for all. What ensues is a battle for the ages — except not really.
Just when readers are starting to get settled in for an action-packed comic equivalent to a blockbuster popcorn flick, the story ends just on the precipice of gaining momentum. The saying often goes that less is more, but in this case of The Valiant, there were hardly enough scenes in the story’s entirety to justify a conflict, never mind an epic crossover.
The Valiant is in a lot of ways like the first Avengers film. It features a ragtag assortment of heroes all coming together to save the world. The only difference is that in The Valiant, considerably more characters are present, and even less backstory is given to those with important scenes in the story. There is just not enough time dedicated in the story to allow audiences to grow any attachment to the ensemble of heroes.
Paolo Rivera’s artwork is perhaps the one true constant in this action-packed graphic novel. Well-constructed pencils bring to life the characters and setting of The Valiant in a really visually stimulating manner. Rivera shows a magnificent amount of versatility as he draws scenes of the story from all kinds of different historic timelines. Above all, though, Rivera’s art achieves a perfectly harmonious balance; it is visually exciting and easy to consume, but still heavy with exposition and well-characterized mannerisms.
The Valiant is an action-packed miniseries with its share of cool characters and badass moments. However, the story suffers ultimately by being too short. The Valiant could have been foreseeably more entertaining if the conflict had been stretched out to focus on more of the main characters and supporting cast.