Pullbox Reviews: Fallen World (trade paperback) – The post-apocalyptic future of the Valiant Universe…

Retake your future

In the year 4002 AD, the cyborg samurai called Rai will face an impossible battle for the fate of humanity. In the wake of his rebellion against the tyrannical A.I. that created him, Rai has renounced the way of the sword and works to build a new life for the refugees of the fallen nation of New Japan on the surface of the shattered Earth they once dwelled so far above. But Rai will find his commitment to walking the path of peace tested like never been before as new enemies arise from out of the wastelands and agents of the old order threaten his people from within…

See the fallen rise again as mastermind writer Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy) and astonishing artist Adam Pollina (X-Force) forge an all-new beginning for Valiant’s 41st-century epic of freedom and rebellion right here in FALLEN WORLD.

In 4001, Rai brought an end to Father’s rule over New Tokyo, and Heaven came crashing down to Earth. With the massive orbiting city/state brought to ruin, the surviving citizens gathered together and tried to rebuild something resembling lives, with the Sontaku Sector their rallying point. Its people divided in their ideology but united in their dependence on Rai– the human/positronic hybrid who had defeated Father and “freed” New Tokyo- Sontaku has come to a turning point. To survive what’s coming, they’ll need to overcome differences and prejudices aplenty.

Father is coming, and he’s bringing hell with him.

Like all great computer networks, Father has backups and a lot of them. Copies of himself lie in the ruins of the fallen satellite city scattered across the globe, and if he can gather these remnants he can return to his fully functioning glory. The first copy is found, accidentally and tragically, by Ray Garrison- the nanite enhanced super-soldier known as Bloodshot (coming to a theater near you in 2020!). As Father’s A.I. invaded Bloodshot’s form, corrupting and enslaving his systems, the next great war was about to begin…

Nature abhors a vacuum… a concept that seems to be whole-heartedly embraced by the people over at Valiant Entertainment. Not at all content to complacently allow the current Valiant Universe to coast on its success, they’ve hit the fast forward button and jumped ahead a bit to see how things might be playing out down the road. Starting with the cyberpunk fueled sci-fi intrigue found in the pages of Rai, they’ve brought us a sweeping story of religious zealotry, post-apocalyptic conflict, & nature’s fury given form.

Pretty cool, hey?

No stranger to any of those themes, Dan Abnett (Warhammer 40K, Guardians of the Galaxy, Legion of Superheroes) rolls it all together and in five relatively short issues creates beautiful chaos. The elements essential to a story like this are all here: Rai, the positronic samurai fighting for peace; The Eternal Warrior, Gilad Anni-Pada, and his charge the young Geomancer Karana; War Mother, militant leader of the Green. This is a title that starts rolling and doesn’t stop until the last page… and then it sets up the next wave with a promise of much more to come. Abnett does it all with flawed, layered characters, attention to the details that have made the Valiant Universe a force to be reckoned with since its earliest days, and bits of much-needed levity to keep it all moving. What may very well be his boldest move, Abnett takes the ever popular Bloodshot– soon to be featured in his own major motion picture starring Vin Diesel– and subverts him, turning him into nothing more than a host for Father to use (hopefully Garrison will be able to reassert control at some point, cuz this was just embarrassing).

Another element that’s been the hallmark of Valiant’s titles is some damn stunning artwork. Enter artists Adam Pollina & Juan Jose’ Ryp, with colors by Ulises Arreola & Andrew Dalhouse. One could pretty easily jump to the conclusion that this a pretty complicated story to tackle, visually, and one would be dead on correct! Think about the elements involved… armies of cybernetically enhanced zealots coming together against hordes of savage animal-men, fighting over the remains of orbital platforms crashed to Earth, while immortal heroes struggle find the key to stopping the unstoppable Father. I’m no artist, but it seems to me like this would be a pretty major project. Pollina & Ryp set the groundwork like champions, with Arreola & Dalhouse coming in to put polish to the stone. The end result is a densely packed book, every page holding more visual appeal than can be taken in with a single reading. I read through the entire collected book in one sitting, and then had to go back just to look at it again. “Gorgeous” and “stunning” are words that I don’t generally use together in a single sentence, because I’m not pretentious like that, but “life changing” seemed just a little over the top.

Not wanting to leave anyone out, I have to give a big nod of respect to letterer Jeff Powell. It can’t be said enough that a good letterer is essential to the success of any comicbook. They bring the dialogue to life, and the very best will do it in a way that doesn’t overshadow or interfere with the art. I’ve said before, if you’re unaware of the value of a good letterer, it’s because you’ve been blessed with having never seen an example of bad lettering. Powell manages to invest the various inhabitants of Fallen World with unique qualities in their speech, using lettering that displays their differences without getting overly stylized to the point that it becomes unreadable.

Among all of the Valiant Universe’s awesome roster, Rai & the Eternal Warrior have always been among my favorites (while I missed the inclusion of Archer & Armstrong here, I fully understand why they might not have fit into this particular story). As a glimpse into what’s on the far horizon for these characters, Fallen World pulls out all of the stops and leaves nothing off of the table.

Final Score: 10+

If you want to check out Fallen World – buy the trade here

Okay, top of the page… is Bloodshot making with the violence, or is he rocking out a sic guitar riff?
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