Picking up a year after the 4001 event, the dystopian future of “Fallen World” is more than just a simple reminder that decisions and consequences have a permanent effect on the universe of the Valiant comics.
Written by Dan Abnett
Illustrated by Adam Pollina
Colored by Ulises Arreola
Lettered by Jeff Powell
“Fallen World” #1 is the follow up to the events of the 4001 story arc which ended in 2016. The human race has left the Earth behind for orbital space stations that are all part of a new government called New Japan. These stations, run by an A.I. called Father, begin to break down into an oppressive class system. Father had far too much control and his cybernetic son, the samurai Rai, rebelled and brought the entire space station system crashing back to the planet. The consequences of both his and Father’s actions run deeper than anyone could know or imagine.
Although this issue is the beginning of a miniseries that is essentially a culmination of everything that has come to pass in the Valiant universe, so far, it stands surprisingly well on its own. As it is also serving a purpose as a launch pad for all future based Valiant stories, it has a lot riding on it. The first few pages are full of necessary exposition that brings long time or casual readers up to speed on this story. Even if you have never read a single Valiant issue, you are given enough information to understand this living, breathing world to jump right in here. You know more exists, but what is shown here is more that satisfactory in getting you comfortably acquainted with the characters and story. Dan Abnett’s script is so well executed that even his retelling of backstory is beautifully realized and truly moving. Using an emotionally potent inner monologue was the perfect decision to start of this story. Specific wording choices and pacing make for some of the best writing in the issue.
As the plot progresses we get many long time characters coming together to help propel the story forward, and in some cases, in shocking directions most will not expect. With the amount of characters sharing panel space for the majority of the issue, there are times where dialogue bubbles are so numerous and text heavy a few moments do begin to slow down. However, Abnett’s talent for this type of story keeps things afloat and moving right along. It can be daunting to not only continue multiple plot threads from previous comics, but to create a new one that is a culmination and a sequel to those threads and he is up to the task.
Adam Pollina’s artwork is another standout in this issue. The plot and set pieces of this story are wild. Cyborgs, and Bloodshot, and raptors, oh my! Like a glorious blend of Frank Miller’s “Ronin,” Rick Remender’s “Seven to Eternity,” and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, his illustrations along with Ulises Arreola’s color work is a breathtaking and adrenaline fueled concoction that is perfectly suited for this story. Writer and artists are in perfect unison.
Character designs are fluid yet strong. They feel like they will flow and bend to his will, but are still solid human beings, grounded in reality. Set pieces such as the space station laboratory or Father’s lair are wonderfully alien for being human made. It is a nice take on where future Earth technology could take us. And future Earth is a wonderfully bizarre lost world. Odd creatures, dinosaurs, and prehistoric looking flora are just some more of the great touches in his designs.
This future Earth has some odd weather and mishmashed temperate zones. Seeing deserts and snow covered mountains close to each other is just more proof that this is not our Earth and it in terms of storytelling should not be treated as such. Though, for as strange and alien as this far off future is, the feeling of home is palpable. These characters are looking to make sense of the home they lost and the one they are currently inhabiting.
Arreola’s colors are superb and each character is made up of a palette that is tied directly to their psyche. Stark contrasts between skin tones and clothing, and between characters and their surroundings. He plays with how light and shadows move across varied surfaces and textures and every page is gorgeous. Powell’s lettering changes between characters, moods and settings. His work on this book should absolutely be praised. As lettering mostly goes unnoticed in most comics, especially when it comes simple dialogue, it is a real treat when we get something fresh or used in a slightly different, yet truly creative manner. He knows how to purposefully and subtly change things up.Continued below
An action-packed and plot-twisty page turner from start to finish leaving us with an exciting cliffhanger, “Fallen World” #1 delivers on its world building and excellent story that will leave readers begging for issue two. It is incredibly refreshing when you can get sci-fi that is both intelligent and kicks ass. What it gets right is done so well it is easy to ignore any faltering moments. Fans of cyberpunk and Valiant will find so much to love with this premiere, it is going to make the wait for each subsequent issue tortuous.
Final Verdict: 8.5, A beautiful and smart cyberpunk action-adventure that integrates excellent science fiction with a perfect dose of futurist horror.