Writer: Andy Diggle & Alex PaknadelArt: Doug Braithwaite Publisher: Valiant Comics
I’m a bit late (sorry Alex) to getting my thoughts on this 4 issue mini series out into the world. Issue 3 just hit shelves (this past NCBD April 17th) so if you’ve been sleeping on this you’ve got time to make it right as I finally have. Alex Paknadel has been setting pages afire with his writing and INCURSION is just fanning the flames of his inferno of work. Given his works before INCURSION I was very interested to see what Alex could do with what would be considered a classic comic endeavor. The Eternal Warrior couldn’t be a more perfect fit to marry what Alex excels at with what the comic book medium can provide. I’m going to do a brief aside here but it’s to illustrate the power with which Alex executes his books. When Valiant relaunched several years ago I was beyond ecstatic and couldn’t have looked forward to their books more than I did. XO, Harbinger, RAI, Shadowman … they were all back and the concept that made them so popular originally was in full swing. Everything mattered and every book was a piece of a bigger picture. They weren’t gimmicky and weren’t doing restarts/reboots/quick change garbage every few months. They laid out their books and just made good damn comics. A couple years in they shifted. They got away from themselves and started to fall in line with what the “big” pubs were doing. I hated it, and them for it. XO and Harbinger ended PHENOMENAL runs for, honestly, no good reason. We got limited after limited and event after event. YES, some of them were FANTASTIC … but the point was lost and everything that there was to love about them had been stripped away. Fast forward a few more years and they’re regaining themselves. This is where Alex and INCURSION come into play. Immediately upon reading the synopsis I got vibes of the Book of Death mini the company did four years ago. It was just vibes though as this story plays to a different theme of life vs death. Honestly, this one SHOULD have been what Book of Death was about. In INCURSION we get the absolute best of what Valiant has brought to comics for years. The ENTIRETY of the universe that is created often interacts and even collides with itself. There are no bubbles of existence that reside outside of everything else. Here we’re getting all of it in a big heaping dose. The worldly realm, that of life and death, cosmic levels, and so on down the line are all converging on themselves as the embodied fight between life and death (through way of the alien Imperatrix Virago) seeks to harvest the life energy of Earth. Why? Well, this is where Alex shines. Representation. Whether it’s the vanity of it, the power, the validation, or just the ‘why the hell not’ of it the alien life force monger shows us an ugly side of who we can be. Honestly, there’s not much worse than taking life and turning it into death energy so you can live. A being that takes the most precious gift and turns it into a form only they can use in order to bear out said most precious gift? It’s in the vein of a Galactus but this is much, MUCH more personal. While the appearance is on a larger cosmic scale we’re really getting an unfiltered look in the mirror. Paknadel is the current unquestioned master of peeling off our own skin to reveal the truth of what sits beneath. Our true forms are his playground and INCURSION is giving us an internal battle about life and death as well as the perception of each concept and the struggle between the two. For me I’m seeing two representations of the cycle of life’s eternal struggle. There’s layers though seeing as how we’re witnessing the last of a species in the form of the “evil” aliens. BUT, what really makes one evil? Is it intention or is it action? Is it evil of the act is a necessary one for life? There are plenty of questions to ask and much to reflect on in INCURSION and I won’t spoil that for you. The juxtaposition and both similarities and differences between the “evil” pair and “good” pair in this book is flat out brilliant. You are given an introspective look into not only the characters (our Eternal Warrior especially) but yourself. The other theme permeating INCURSION is that of choice. For as long as Gilad had been the Eternal Warrior for Earth he has been so out of his duty to protect. The relationships with the Geomancers was born of a duty. INCURSION brings this relationship under a new light by changing the dynamic for Gilad. This dynamic was previewed in Book of Death but it is purposeful here in INCURSION. This is what brings about choice. Is it merely duty driving Gilad? What about when he finds out the truth about the “evil” cosmic death that threatens all of life? Even more so how do the choices change you? Gilad does something that I’ve never before seen in issue #3 (and don’t think has been done before with him … or anyone with a certain ability of his, to my knowledge) that makes you go “HOLY $h!t” INCURSION is also a down right gorgeous book. For a story that entails as much as this one does it needs to look every bit the part. Doug Braithwaite delivers and then some. The grand scale of the story is given an equally grand scale visually. Epic Conan sagas and Starlin-eque sagas from the stars could easily be done with the art brought out with INCURSION. If you slap this baby in the larger 80’s fantasy mag formats that loomed over the bookstore shelves it’d be right at home, but in awe inspiring color. Jose Villarrubia (issue 1) and Diego Rodriguez do an excellent job of furthering the tone from script, to art, to final visual presence. Marshall Dillon’s letters bring the nuanced flair that make reading the tale the affair it is supposed to be and is noticed when it should be. The entire visual package molds this book into a modern epic arc. Issue #3 just hit the stands so go grab it and catch up. You’ll be extremely happy you did.