The best comic book team-ups involve strange pairings. Valiant’s latest miniseries, Dead Drop, focuses on a disparate group of heroes, with each headlining his or her own issue. The first installment focuses on X-O Manowar, as he rushes around New York City to stop someone in possession of a deadly alien virus. With Ales Kot and Adam Gorham on board, this series promised to be unlike anything else Valiant has released thus far.
A mutated strain of Vine virus is now in the hands of a secretive anarchist group. Thanks to the use of dead drops, strategically placed locations where objects and information can be traded covertly, this organization has obtained the virus and passed it among their operatives. Neville Alcott, the MI-6 liaison known for his work with the world’s heroes, dispatches X-O Manowar to retrieve the capsule holding this deadly organism. Sadly, the NYPD has been duped into believing Aric is the villain at hand, and will make it difficult for him to complete his mission.
Writer Kot is known for placing characters in strange situations; in this case, his story involves a sentient virus that could spell the end of all humanity if it is released. This is an interesting idea, which is further augmented by an issue that is told entirely as a chase scene; the pursuit aspect is aided by Gorham’s artwork, which helps set the frenetic pace and draws the eye through scenes in such a way as to suggest the hasty movement of Aric and his quarry.
Furthermore, the miniseries promises to bring in some of the less well-known Valiant characters in future issues; the idea of a team-up of characters that don’t interact regularly is certainly welcome, but sadly we only have this idea suggested in the first issue. Still, it’s unsurprising, as cramming too many individuals into one issue would hamper the story, and furthermore leading off with Valiant’s best known property (X-O Manowar) is a solid way to launch a miniseries.
Dead Drop #1 also succeeds in illustrating Aric’s character in a short space of time. Even as Neville yells in his ear about the fate of the human race and the inevitability of collateral damage, Aric risks his life and time to save a mother and her child from a speeding car. New fans unfamiliar with this character can quickly latch onto him, and understand his motives, personality, and appeal.
Alas, Dead Drop #1 possesses a few shortcomings. While this series is new-reader friendly, mentions of The Vine and a lack of explanation about Neville Alcott’s position and the properties of the Manowar Armor may leave newcomers confused. Alternatively, this could provide impetus for them to check out Valiant’s other amazing series, but I’d have liked it if the character profiles were placed at the start of the issue, rather than the back.
Character posing also suffers in certain scenes. This is most notable in the final leg of the chase and the splash page that ends the issue, where body positions offer a distraction from the story. Even so, Gorham’s art succeeds more than it fails in this comic.
Dead Drop #1 is certainly not what I expected, and that’s a good thing: I’m glad Valiant is willing to test new concepts with their properties, and allow for new creators to experiment with stories. It’s not the strongest debut from the publisher, but it is still worth checking out, if only for the amazing chase scene that persists throughout the comic. If you like this issue, it’s probably worth continuing to read the series, which is something I certainly plan to do.
-artwork fits the frenetic pace of the issue-long chase scene
-strong illustration of Aric’s characteristics
-strange character positioning in certain scenes
-discussion of concepts like The Vine make this not as new reader friendly as first expected
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