Writer Matt Kindt first introduced the character Abram back in 2015’s Divinity, the first part of what would become the Stalinverse Trilogy. Calling to mind David Bowie’s iconic Major Tom character, Abram is a cosmonaut who obtains omnipotence as a result of events that take place while in space. Since Abram first appeared the Stalinverse has recently wrapped with the last issue of Divinity III, now Kindt is laying the groundwork for the next chapter in the life of this intriguing and imaginative hero. In issue #0 we get a glimpse of the long-reaching ramifications brought on by the events of the three limited series and how the overarching narrative has effected various characters of the Valiant Universe as a whole. While this issue is a perfect jumping on spot for new readers to explore the Valiant Universe it is by no means a hard reboot, therefore just about everything that has transpired since Kindt and creative partner Jeff Lemire have occupied the driver seat at Valiant is still in play. In fact I would certainly recommend at least reading the Stalinverse Trilogy if nothing else, but the current X-O Manowar series is an extremely well done book the same can be said of Lemire’s recent work on Bloodshot. Valiant has quietly been publishing first-rate comic books for some time now so I hope this current push to gain a much deserved larger readership is a rousing success.
The narrative of this issue is really an overview of the Valiant Universe, specifically its main characters and where they find themselves in the aftermath of the Divinity events. Abram pays a visit to each of them individually in turn allowing us to either be introduced to them or re-acquainted with them. In essence this book serves multiple purposes; first as an introduction to Abram for those who haven’t read the first three Divinity limited series, second as a kind of foundation or starting point for the Valiant Universe from here on and lastly to remind us just how fantastic these characters are. Admittedly the issue can feel a bit thin in places for those of us completely up to date on events but, Matt Kindt keeps the pace brisk and the narration is so engrossing and entertaining that it really is an enjoyable read. The strongest element here is Kindt’s further development of Abram as a key player in events to come. The character work is masterful as Kindt sets Abram firmly upon a path that winds through the entire Valiant Universe and touches each of the characters we have already come to know so well through the years.
Now we come to the real star of this issue, Renato Guedes. His art is nothing short of mind-blowing. Every page stands on its own merits as a complete work of art. From his dramatic use of lighting to the innovative layouts and page designs this book has the feel of a gallery show. Guedes is a master painter going far beyond any perceived boundaries of the medium to bring us a work that is cinematic in scope and while the narrative is not action packed, the visuals just jump from the page. As poignant as they are exciting these images stay with you long after you read the final bit of dialog. I mean this as no slight to Matt Kindt as I count myself among his fans, but this issue would work almost as well as a “silent” issue, that’s how good the artwork is in this book.
All things considered, most zero issues aren’t really that big a deal and offer little to get excited about, but here we have a creative team that really raises the bar. Matt Kindt and Renato Guedes give us a story we can sink our teeth into with art that is a feast for the eyes. There is ample content to hold returning readers attention and to pull new readers into a world that is full of original characters and creative stories as well as some darn good storytellers, as is evidenced here. 4/5
Writer- Matt Kindt
Artist- Renato Guedes