Review: ‘Valentine Vol. 1: Ice Death’

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A solid effort in combining horror, adventure, and fantasy, Valentine Vol.1: Ice Death steadily shows promise of an epic narrative and visual style. Each chapter delivers on the cliff-hangers, twist after twist, taking the narrative in surprisingly different directions. Valentine, originally published as a digital comic, is now available in print, collected as a trade paperback from Image Comics.

WRITTEN BY: Alex De Campi
ART BY: Christine Larsen
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $24.99
RE:EASE: October 10th, 2012

The greatest army in the world dwindles because of the Russian winter storm of 1812. Lost in the raging blizzard, a young soldier finds himself being hunted by ravenous red-eyed monsters. For some time now, demonic creatures have been passing dimensions because magic is being drained from their world. Now, Earth has become an intense battleground between humans and demons.

This is an interesting coming of age tale about protagonist Valentine Renaud. In the beginning, Valentine is uncomfortable stepping into battle, and he yearns to go back home. During his travels with the immortal Roland, Valentine learns much in the way of battle and becomes a true soldier. By the end, Valentine rises to the occasion, unafraid to draw blood with his glowing sword and moves without hesitation. Just when you think you know where the story arc is going, De Campi caps off each chapter with a nice plot twist to keep the story from becoming too formulaic. But, De Campi brings in elements of time travel to kick-starts the narrative. In a new time period, Valentine suddenly discovers automobiles, cell phones, and bullets.

Christine Larsen’s artwork establishes the dreary and moody atmosphere. Larsen illustrates large-scale wide shots with never-ending coldness, covering the page with snowy grounds and white skies. In the middle of nowhere, with the snow blurring the background, Larsen eerily depicts the demonic soldiers with red eyes as they rise from the shadows. Each chapter is given a distinct look and color scheme. Using historical references, Larsen is able to add little details to the guns, the clothing, and the swords, drawing out the 1812 time period. Rich in brightness and green hues, the land of magic is surrounded by fairies and elves, reminiscent of “The Hobbit”. When Valentine arrives in modern times, the vivid colors are washed away by dark red and purple tones.

“Valentine” delivers a nice balance of action and horror, without going over the top. The swordplay sequences, such as when Valentine slashes everyone around him, are always aimed for excitement, rather than shock value. De Campi and Larsen take the hero quest up a notch, adding time travel and horror to the fantasy genre. With a great starting point, Valentine’s continuing journey has the potential to build to an epic status.

Rating: 3.5/5 skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis