Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup. This week, we look at a duo of series premieres.
THE OLD GUARD #1 (Image Comics)
(W) Greg Rucka (A) Leandro Fernandez (C) Daniela Wiwa
Over the years, different writers develop different reputations. With Greg Rucka, that reputation boils down to “write awesome stories with strong, well-rounded women in the lead role.” From Wonder Woman (both times) to Stumptown to Black Magick, it’s a sure thing that if Rucka is writing it, the leading women will be portrayed in a manner that is anything but a male power fantasy. That trend continues with the launch The Old Guard with artist Leandro Fernandez, which sees a group of immortal warrior lead by Andromache of Scythia.
“Andy” and her team, for an unexplained reason, cannot seem to die. As warriors, they’ve perfected their skills throughout the ages. Now in modern day, they use their refined skills (and inability to die) as mercenaries to make a living while remaining firmly entrenched in the shadows. Between flashbacks and their main mission, there is plenty of action. However, what is most interesting is the little quirks Rucka gives the characters in order to flesh them out. When Andy is trying to figure out how to use a smartphone, she laments the loss of action buttons on a smartphone.
The art by Leandro Fernandez and Daniela Wiwa makes this book not only an engrossing read, but a beautiful one too. The heavy use of blacks and earth tones is reflective of the characters’ nature, setting the tone for what looks to be another instant classic from Image.
VALIANT HIGH #1 (Valiant Entertainment/Comixology)
(W) Daniel Kibblesmith (A) Derek Charm
Valiant has done a lot of things right, but it has always neglected younger audiences. As a fan of the publisher, I like the fact that their titles are geared towards an older audience. However, as a fan of the medium, seeing the publisher fail to invest their energy in younger readers (and the future) has been disappointing. Evidently, Valiant was aware of this flaw. The result is this Comixology-exclusive digital release by writer Daniel Kibblesmith and artist Derek Charm which places the major players in the Valiant Universe in a universally relatable setting: high school.
Valiant High is a far cry from the publisher’s other titles, such as Bloodshot or even Faith. Instead, this feels more like the Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani’s works at DC and Dark Horse (Superman Family Adventures, Tiny Titans, Itty Bitty Hellboy) – a kid-friendly read with plenty of easter eggs older fans can appreciate. Each character is tweaked to fit the high school setting, but maintains the characteristics that have defined them through the years. Aric Dacia is the star football player, Toyo Harada is the principal, and Ninjak is the mysterious new kid. Charm’s artwork is… charming, The character designs and settings create a welcoming environment to readers both young or young at heart, an equal match to Kibblesmith’s tightly-paced and humor-packed script.
Perhaps the biggest thing that makes Valiant High stand out from the rest of the publisher’s titles is its lead. For years, readers have begged for a headlining role in a title for Amanda McKee (Livewire), not only because it would greatly diversify the publisher’s line, but also because she’s a genuinely interesting and badass character. And while this isn’t quite how most were expecting her to step into a leading role, it’s still worthwhile. Valiant High #1 is a great start to this 4-issue miniseries. Hopefully, it’ll see a print version that can be handed out to kids. Until then, they’ll have to read it on their parent’s iPads.