by Thegreatmagnet on August 23, 2017

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Stephen Segovia
Color Artist: Elmer Santos with Andrew Dalhouse
Publisher: Valiant Comics
It’s very clear that Valiant considers War Mother to be a major new character. When they originally announced last year’s 4001 event, her title and all details were initially kept “classified” and revealed the following month, perhaps in order to give the unveiling additional impact. They repeated this approach when they announced this year’s slate of titles, wherein War Mother was the only new title that was kept classified. The reception last year was tremendous, perhaps partially due to the debut of powerhouse artist Tomas Giorello. However it’s clear that fans were responding to this character and heavily anticipating her return in a lengthier story. This is a strong first issue, although admittedly I’m not entirely sure where the story is heading. They do a great job of balancing action, killer art, and weighty character moments, while introducing the next chapter in War Mother’s story.
There’s no doubt that Ana  (aka War Mother) is a compelling and likeable character. She’s an incredibly tough female character, the only member of her tribe able to venture out into the perilous jungle, and she can easily defend herself against packs of vicious and hideous mutant monters. However, she is simultaneously very feminine and maternal. She is tender with her adopted children, and she isn’t too busy for their feelings. She’s also a patient and loving parent to Flaco, her newly-created sentient rifle targeting system (more about that later). On top of all that, I would argue that she’s always played a motherly role to the people of her village, the Grove. She ventures out into the jungle to scavenge the few essentials that the Grove cannot naturally produce, like a mother bird bringing food back to the nest. Although she is a fighter, her violent actions are always for the purpose of defending her loved ones and her people. Her maternal leanings are made even more compelling when viewed through the lens of feminism. I was very struck by the by the conflict in this issue between Ana and her lover Ignacio, wherein he seems to be jealous of her heroism and status. This certainly has the trappings of a male partner who feels inadequate next to the accomplishments of his mate, and it adds to the richness of a strong feminist character. Ana is a mother, a fighter, and a provider in equal parts; she is the modern woman, who wants to have it all.
For my money, Flaco, Ana’s sentient rifle targeting system is perhaps the most interesting narrative element of the entire story. He is seeing the world with new eyes and he is constantly asking Ana questions, just like a typical human child. Most strikingly, he is discovering his own morality, which is perhaps something that the society of the Grove had hoped to avoid when they made the now obsolete rule that targeting system musts be deleted after each mission. Flaco is a weapon, but he has an element of free will and he often asks Ana to contextualize the people and things that he must kill. He seems to have genuine human affection and loyalty for Ana and her tribe. At the same time, Flaco makes a very interesting comment that he is glad he is not human, so I am curious how they will differentiate his personality from a typical human consciousness over time.
War Mother is also a fabulous treat with respect to world-building, especially in the 4001 timeline. After five years of publication, we still have less than ten issues depicting the Earth in 4001; the majority of 4001 storylines have taken place on New Japan (an artificial and parasitic satellite of Earth). The 4001 timeline is a nearly virgin sandbox for the inventive Valiant creator to make his mark with. In this issue, Van Lente introduces the Urbanites, a bunch of pterodactyl-looking monsters that are driven to “gentrify” decaying urban environments while screaming about “super predators”. This is just a taste of the absurd and sublime quality that Fred Van Lente can bring to a project, and I hope that it’s an indicator of things yet to come.
On the art, I have to say that Segovia does a brilliant job filling Tomas Giorello’s shoes. One of the most widely discussed acclaims of last year’s War Mother one-shot was the electrifying art by Tomas Giorello. I would not envy anyone trying to follow that transcendent performance, but Segovia does as good a job as anyone could hope for. In fact, it even looks like he may have emulated certain aspects of Giorello’s shading style in places, which adds an element of continuity with the previous incarnation. Ana is a striking character, and this issue boasts one of the steamiest sequences in the history of Valiant. The colors in the issue are also fabulous, especially as featured in the many explosions and slanting afternoon sun. This is top notch art for an important book.
I’m pretty happy with what we get here as a first issue. Admittedly I’m not yet sure where the story will go, but that’s often a positive attribute in a #1. It seems that a trap has been laid for the people of the grove, but it’s unclear if the Greenlings are behind it, or some unknown force. There’s certainly no shortage of strong character development and action, so I’m optimistic that the plot will follow in due time. I’m loving everything I’ve seen from Ana and Flaco, and their fantastic future backdrop.

Our Score:


A Look Inside