The GeeksverseValen The Outcast #1

Valen The Outcast #1
Published on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 by

Published by: Boom! Studios
Written by: Michael Alan Nelson
Art by: Matteo Scalera
Colored by: Archie Van Buren
Lettered by: Ed Dukeshire
Cover Art: A- Liam Sharp; B- Cary Nord w/ Dave Stewart; C- Ale Garza w/ Blond; D- Trevor Hairsine w/ Blond; E- Chad Hardin w/ Juan Manuel Tumburus; F- Trevor Hairsine; G- Ale Garza; H- Joe Jusko
Assistant Editor: Eric Harburn
Editor: Matt Gagnon

Zombie Conan. That sums up Valen The Outcast pretty well. And who wouldn’t be interested in that?

Well, normally I wouldn’t. I’ve had my fill with zombies and it takes something really different to interest me where the Undead are concerned. But I’m a big fantasy fan so I figured I’d give this a shot. I was interested in seeing how Nelson would make a zombie work in a fantasy setting.

So far I’m not seeing anything that interesting.

Really, for the most part, Valen is more Frankenstein than zombie. He has his full intelligence, strength and fighting skills but he’s undead. He can be stabbed through the body and keep on going. The only evidence of his being undead is his color and the ability to be stabbed through the body. There’s a couple comments and that’s it. Talk of having his soul removed and wanting to get it back. But beyond that, we don’t really get much in the way of explaining just what undead means in this world.

Also, apparently, it’s somewhat normal for an undead like Valen to be walking around as the townsfolk are scared, but they don’t seem surprised. Even the innkeeper remarks that seeing one of Valen’s kind around means people are going to start dying. So how many abominations like Valen are there in this world?

The pacing is really off with this issue. It opens showing how Valen got killed and then cuts to him breaking free from the necromancer’s control. What happened in between? We never see him get turned into an undead. We get a couple of flashback like images, done really well by Scalera and the colorist, but never his time as a zombie or even how he was able to break free.

And just who is the woman?

Nothing is explained. We don’t even get a look at Oakhaven, Valen’s kingdom. Was he a good king? Kind king? Well loved by his people? Why are they being attacked?

There are a lot of holes to be filled and undoubtedly Nelson will fill them later, but as a first issue, this has alot to be desired. It’s patchy and the pacing is jumpy. It’s hard to follow in parts, because we don’t have enough of a feel for the characters and the situations. There’s just to much left unknown.

The art by Scalera is decent. It’s got a nice feel for a fantasy setting. He does good with the details. But I think the style would work better with a swashbuckling tale than a barbarian style. The art loses it during the fight scenes, which well they are chaotic are just really hard to follow the flow. They’re rough in layout, which makes doesn’t help the pacing of the story.

As mentioned, the flashback panels are a highlight. The images are all black and shadowed with a blue necromatic energy outline. Very striking imagery.

Valen The Outcast #1 receives
3 out of 5

A decent attempt at a new zombie story, but the pacing and chaotic art make it hard to get into the story.

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