As I dove headfirst into reading Green Valley (no, not the Puscifer track), it made me remember all those self-made millionaire successful types who kept advising people to do something that scared them once a week. My results greatly vary, because for me, this new series has too much valley and not enough peak.
Okay, it’s still early days, and we’re only talking about a debut issue in this review, but from what we’ve been given, I think I’ve seen enough. Am I being overly critical about this tale of the knights of Kelodia? Do I not know enough about Dungeons and Dragony things and medieval mythological quest comics to be able to offer something positive in what I’m about to say? Have a heart and hear me out, because despite all the beautiful artwork presented here, readers might find themselves wondering what the requirements are for a comic script to be deemed print-worthy at the hallowed halls of Image Comics.
Now I’m no expert on the colloquialisms of the medieval age, but I can differentiate between a post-millennial punk from a baby boomer just by the words they choose to use. This was one of the first sticking points I had with Green Valley – the dialogue. Characters seem unstuck in time, using language that seems far too alien for a medieval fantasy drama. The artwork is lush and exquisite, very easy on the eyes, especially the horse drawings, the landscapes and all the colouring effects. If they could get all that nearly flawlessly, why was there such a dissonance in the writing? The cover and the artwork led me to expect a lot more in terms of dialogue. The characters aren’t some six-year-olds, so why the need to make them speak as if they were? I would’ve expected something a little more Shakespearean. Don’t tell me they didn’t have space to work it in, because those panels are big and roomy enough for a bit more polished language. The dialogue between Sir Bertwald and Ralphie made me think that they were actually in a sort of simulation or video game, a la Westworld or something similar. Why? Their complete lack of seriousness despite being in the presence of Brutus Gargus of Pendergast, the Barbarian Lord, the Warrior King. Despite being outnumbered a hundred to one, and despite the massive salvo of arrows the knights of Kelodia displayed no sense of urgency. So, are they superpowered? Going by the clues writer Max Landis has left us with, we have no real idea. Maybe they wield a persuasive shield, which sadly didn’t persuade me to be excited for the next instalment in this 9-part mini series.
The inconsistencies aren’t limited to just the words however, with some artwork completely defying character dialogue in the earlier scenes of the comic. Later, we also see a throwback to Joe Madureira’s Phalanx, which might be intentional, but I don’t think so. Meanwhile, the Knights are lauded as “the greatest warriors of the earth,” but what warrants this? The fact that a wimpy self-proclaimed Barbarian Lord ordered his 400-strong army to retreat after having only his ear shot? Sorry, not buying it. Maybe this book is a study on the warped perceptions of people, just as Bertwald moans about being misinterpreted by his closest friends. Was this book also meant to feature scenes of comedic greatness? If the beehive scene was an attempt in that direction, I would’ve welcomed a harsher editor. Which has to make you wonder – did the editors over at Image Comics decide to let Landis enjoy free rein on this because of his acclaimed Superman: American Alien or his screenwriting accolades? If it is so, my response mirrors that of Amalia unguarded and alone outside the city walls: “Drat! Drat!” Unlike her, I would be forgiven for using those words, since I’m probably closer in time to when that phrase was actually coined.
If the writer was deliberate in his inclusion of gay overtones, weak, inconsistent character backstory, and a shadow of a Jax and Tara scene from Samcro, then hats off to him. Don’t even get me started on the whole one sleeping sentry that led to the Warrior King’s successful vengeance on the city, its king, castle and countrymen. This book just doesn’t give a shit about numerical probability. I also wondered whether the writer was a closet Bollywood action film fan, going by the way he allowed Amalia’s body to smoke and smoulder even in death while Bertie is unclad, but largely unhurt.
In his address to readers, Landis promises in strategically used uppercase letters that we really have no idea what lies ahead, and the optimist in me wants to believe him. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder whether some readers would even care after reading the debut issue. Other reviewers have been a lot more graceful in their reviews, which can only lead me to think that there is something wrong with me and what I want in the comics I read. But if I’m flawed, does my admitting it therefore absolve me of my sins?
Writer – Max Landis
Artists- Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cliff Rathburn, Jean-Francois Beaulieu