Creating the first installment of a series is tough. You need to find the perfect balance between exposition and intrigue. Introducing the main players, expressing their personalities and having a catalyst set events in motion are essential to convince a reader to return for issue two. I read a lot of comics that do little to persuade me to read on. Although I can say safely say that Green Valley #1 does all of this and then some.
Green Valley #1 is the new creator-owned series by Max Landis and Giuseppe Camuncoli. Both creatives have been ‘killing it’ recently, Landis with Superman American Alien and Camuncoli with The Amazing Spiderman. Green Valley is a medieval-fantasy tale with an incredibly vague description. “The Knights of Kelodia are the finest in the land, but they’ve never faced a power like the one that resides in the Green Valley…” Nor are the events in this issue the most original, that’s why it’s so great that the comic delivers in every other conceivable way.
We are introduced to the four knights as they take on an entire barbarian horde. It’s not an epic battle scene that sets the tone but the dialogue. It’s fast, witty and hilarious. Our heroes are arrogant but also insecure and good-hearted. Their personalities make them instantly likeable, and as the plot delved into slapstick territory, I came to like them even more. Landis created the perfect set-up because when tragedy struck, I felt the knight’s pain.
Camuncoli’s art is realistic even when the events he has illustrated are comical. His style is consistently good throughout. The plot progresses from a barbarian battle to a crowded dining hall, romantic lakeside picnic and more without Camuncoli ever missing a beat. Each important character has recognisable features that successfully add emotion to the dialogue. The environments are immensely detailed from the sprawling hillsides to crowded castle grounds. The bright colours and scope of the scenes are both familiar and mysterious, a must for any medieval-fantasy epic.
The cliff-hanger ending was to be expected following the massive amount of narrative crammed into the 29-pages. The ending didn’t feel cheap. It was earned. It also sets the next issue on a path in a different direction which will subvert any expectations. Even Landis said so himself. From this slice of the story, it looks like Image Comics have another winner on their hands.
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and co-editor of PN2. He’s on Twitter @DrVane