(W) Andy Diggle/Alex Paknadel – (A) Dough Braithwaite – (COL) Diego Rodriguez – (LET) Marshall Dillon
The conclusion to the hit limited series from Valiant!
Unlike another hit series, that has just ended with a whimper rather than the bang it should have, Incursion goes beyond satisfying in wrapping up the story it has been telling. We’ve been given an unfiltered look at ourselves (as I previously stated in the #1-3 wrap up) through our villain Imperatrix Virago. Everything has meaning (and have you checked out what the literal translation of her name is, btw) and as always there are layers to peel of with who we’ve got writing this tale. Her name alone is a statement but her drive, or true nature of why she does things is where the layers are. I previously begged the questions about Gilad and this story bringing about the angle of choice, for him. In this final issue I can’t help but feel the same type of angle for I.V. as well. It isn’t overt, but with the rest of what has unfolded I can’t help but feel that it is either implied, or purposefully left out there to be discovered.
I circle back to choice as this final confrontation, and closing chapter, bring three very distinctive takes on this very human aspect. Our Eternal Warrior is clearly the “good” aspect of choice. Being dutiful, on the side of life, selflessly serving a greater cause, or however you’d like to frame it, Gilad’s choices are our conceptual embodiment of “right.” Clearly the antithesis of this is Virago. As we’ve been shown, her actions are born of necessity. Quite literally she has to destroy life to have it herself. Does she have to do the things she does in the manner in which she does though? Does the entirety of her existence have to be an overbearing violent and lashing out spectacle? Can she or can she not choose? Then we’ve got the Geomancer. Here we’ve got a representation of one who doesn’t have a choice in their fate. Most often we’re given the “two sides of the coin” in these struggles and everything else is collateral damage. With the Geomancer though it’s not about what purpose they have or bring, what their intentions are, or what they choose. The fate of the Geomancer lies with the choices of others. This angle shines a light on yet another arena of choice we all face time and time again. What do our actions really matter if their results and our fate are decided by others anyway? Is there a purpose at all if it is our own actions that don’t write the final line of our stories?
As has been his rapidly defining M.O. Alex Pakandel demands readers and characters in his stories to take hard, deep looks at themselves in order to facilitate the experience.
One of the best things about this mini-series is that it has been inviting to new readers of the Eternal Warrior and Geomancer characters while at the same time staying true to those of us that have been reading about them since their introductions over two decades ago. Even while introducing a brand new villain and other characters the draw and connection to the Valiant Universe is made by way of supporting characters such as Dr Mirage. The whole or Unity concept of the Valiant Universe is used to its fullest effect in this mini-series. That has always been one of the biggest draws about the Valiant approach. This is a prime take on how and why this approach makes meaningful stories.
Of course, the final chapter looks just as wonderful as it reads. Braithwaite and Rodriguez have combined to give us the images the story demands. It isn’t just that the characters and physical environments look stunning (they do), but the pacing and framing of the story and encounters that unfold. Below is the perfect example of this:
The blood tinged sword acting as panel lines as well as directing the reading/action encapsulates the mastery of work this art team has done through this series. We, as readers get a literary and visual treat all throughout Incursion. The team brings the goods in the finale as they have throughout the entire body of work. Not to be lost in it all is Dillon’s lettering. When it has needed to feel expository, it has. It’s also ebbed and flowed with the emotion involved in the tale as well as the battles.
I’m not spoiling the ending but I will say that there was a very neat bow put on what this mini-series was doing. I’m not saying you’ll feel all puppy dogs and rainbows about it, but you certainly won’t feel cheated about how it ends. This story certainly does not fall flat. In fact, the outcome leaves opportunity to re-explore these characters further. That is the sign of a great piece of art. GRAB THE CONCLUSION THIS #NCBD MAY 22!