The shaman Anni rebels against Nergal and his ruthless tribe as she begins a quest to determine why the Earth is so upset with humanity that it has begun to actively kill them. Will she be able to find the reason for the Earth’s acts of violence or will she fall victim to one herself? Is it good?
Book of Death: Legends of the Geomancer #2 (Valiant Entertainment)
Fred van Lente and Juan José Ryp craft a fast-paced adventure that never slows down. The issue starts off exactly where the debut issue left off with Anni leaping into a horde of Nergal soldiers, her battle axe arcing through the air.
Ryp’s artwork is gritty and flows extremely well with blow-by-blow panels, making it easy to follow the action. Nonetheless, there was one confusing panel during this action sequence where it looks like an earthquake is attacking the Nergal soldiers. It is a little unclear, however, whether it is an earthquake causing the mayhem or it is due to Ryp’s inclusion of two giant boars, one of which appears to be charging through the soldiers. This gives the appearance that it might not be an earthquake, but the boar causing the tremors with its massive weight.
In addition to the great panel layouts, Ryp’s artwork is very detailed from the bone necklace around Nergal’s neck to the dirt on Anni’s exposed skin as she wrestles to fend off Nergal. There are even little pieces of spit spewing out of Nergal’s mouth as his rage builds up.
Ryp is also able to transition these intricate character details into sweeping spans of breath-taking geography. The glacier and the separated puddles leading up to it truly evoke the power of nature vs man, especially when he uses a bird’s eye view depicting Anni and company as ant-like figures.
Jordie Bellaire makes excellent use of the coloring to detail the heat of battle with a combination of bright and deep oranges to denote the fury of the combatants. There was one error where she colored Nergal’s skull helmet with what appears to be blood, but later on in the combat sequence the blood and red on his skull helmet are no longer there.
Bellaire’s use of lighting is extremely well done during the campfire scene, putting all of the focus on the characters and removing any distractions we as readers might have. She also uses the light in the closing scene to draw the reader’s eye instantly as they flip the page. Her inclusion of this light adds to the sense of mysticism surrounding the Geomancers and heightens the tension.
Finally, Van Lente’s story is exciting as well as mysterious. The dialogue in the combat sequences especially for Nergal is great; there is even a little bit of humor mixed in with the rage. The humor continues through the character of Cuth, but it is morbid humor that may not appeal to some, but I found a smile on my face as I read his dialogue.
The characters themselves are developed quite a bit. Van Lente reveals certain attributes to each of them and how those attributes have affected their lives. He also builds camaraderie among Anni’s companions as they have philosophical discussions on the behavior of the gods and actions humans take from one day to the next.
There was only one big issue with the dialogue and it was Van Lente’s use of “lying me into a trap”. I understand where he is going with this line, but it just reads awkwardly. I kept wanting to change it to “leading.”
Is It Good?
Book of Death: Legends of the Geomancer #2 is an exciting adventure beginning with a thrilling fight sequence that ends up taking Anni and the rest of her followers on a journey to discover why the Earth is upset at humanity. The pacing is excellent and I was actually hoping I could continue reading once I got to the end; it was that engrossing of a story. Ryp’s artwork was gorgeous to look at from the sweeping terrains to the intricate detail of Nergal’s jewelry. Jordie Bellaire adds to the beauty with her gritty browns and reds in the steppe locations to the calming blues of the glacier and its surrounding puddles.