Written by Andy Diggle and Alex Paknadel
Art by Doug Braithwaite, Jose Villarrubia and Diego Rodriguez
Lettering by Marshall Dillon
Published by Valiant Entertainment
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Valiant Entertainment’s latest event serves up an expansively fun debut in Incursion #1. Helmed by one of the current major voices at Valiant Andy Diggle and rising star Alex Paknadel, this debut issue sells the stakes and antagonist of this looming event by showing us just what she is capable of in all its necromantic glory. And speaking of glory, X-O Manowar artist Doug Braithwaite, supported by the rich colors of Jose Villarrubia and Diego Rodriguez, imbues this debut with a grand scope and appropriately epic stage direction. Though it take a few dings for playing it safe as an opener, Incursion #1 still stands as an entertaining and handsome-looking debut.
Something dark stirs out in the expanse of space. Something that has turned its hungry eyes toward Earth. But Incursion isn’t about just some run-of-the-mill alien invasion — instead, writers Andy Diggle and Alex Paknadel have something much, much weirder in mind for this new event. Enter Imperatrix Virago and her childlike second-in-command Syntilla, two brand-new villains set to terrorize the Valiant universe. Wielding a connection to the Deadside (Valiant’s answer to Marvel’s Hel), the pair roam from world to world, infecting each planet with their necromantic powers and slowly consuming them in a quest for the Geomancer, the key to Virago’s continued immortality.
Now I know that sounds a little dense for the average layperson, but Diggle and Paknadel’s focus on Virago and her power set really amps up the creepiness for this debut and stonily establishes the “rules” for this particular event. Better still, the dark pairing of Virago and Syntilla are set up as a powerful parallel between the Eternal Warrior and his latest Geomancer charge, Tama. While the evil Imperatrix and her ward work to consume planets, Gilad and Tama work to form a stronger bond with the Earth and each other. It is a touch frustrating that the actual plot of this event doesn’t really kick in until the final page of this first issue, but Diggle and Paknadel’s attention to establishing the stakes and the cast this first round is much appreciated and gives Incursion a leg-up on the usual invasion narratives we usually see from big event titles.
I would also go so far as to say Incursion #1 doesn’t look like normal event titles either, thanks to the burly work of Doug Braithwaite, Jose Villarrubia and Diego Rodriguez. Much like his work on X-O Manowar, Braithwaite here leans into the operatic and far-out tone and scope afforded to him by the “Valiant Universe.” Melding space opera set design with impressive monster design, Braithwaite, along with the textured, 2000AD-inspired colors of Villarrubia and Rodriguez, opens this issue with expansive spaceways and an alien world in the death throes of Virago’s necromancy. From there, the team moves into detailed and striking character shots of our main cast, allowing the design of the new villains to shine alongside the team’s expressive, brooding take on the Eternal Warrior and the Geomancer Tama. Again, this stuff might not have the pop that readers might expect for an opening issue — it’s largely action-free aside from a tense chase that makes up the issue’s cliffhanger — but the visuals provide a nice and satisfying opening, laying a groundwork for the future issues and laying it very well.
The Imperatrix is coming for Earth, and Incursion #1 makes it look and read a lot better than that sounds. Armed with a vast scope and some intriguing new villains, Andy Diggle and Alex Paknadel take their time with this opening issue, giving us just enough of what we need to keep us on the hook for the rest of the looming event. Working in tonal harmony with the pulpy, beautiful artwork Doug Braithwaite, Jose Villarrubia, and Diego Rodriguez, this team delivers a weird but entertaining opening gambit for Valiant’s newest event.