Valiant Entertainment 2019
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Ramón F. Bachs
Coloured by Stéphane Paitreau
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
How many lives must the lethal assassin Roku take in her first series? Killing her way around the globe, the deadly weapon called Roku will face a challenge she can’t simply execute.
Being bad has never been so fun.
Roku made a huge splash when she was introduced and that made me wonder would she be able to carry her own book? Well Cullen took up that challenge and here we are with the first issue of her very own book. I am intrigued by the concept here and from what we've already seen of her and her origin, which is tied so closely to Ninjak's, I am excited to think what could be in store. From the first page I was totally no-holds-barred in for this book. The opening here is sensational and what I really like about it is that it made go off-script when comes to Roku's hair. We can make all the Medusa jokes or comparisons and they may have some legitimacy to them but Roku is also a telepath and she's been made to be this way. So I went off-script because we know her hair can look normal, be utilised as sharp, razor sharp, instruments and with her martial arts training it's a very offensive weapon. So with all that can it be utilised defensively? We may not know because when is she going to be in a position she feels she has to use it that way?
The story & plot development here is fantastic and I like seeing her in action with her own narration that takes us through what she's doing. I have to say I am utterly impressed with what we see too. The way we learn information through her narration and actions is superbly done. The character development as well is intense and extremely well rendered. There are a number of times throughout this issue the point towards where her personality and knowledge are somewhat lacking or open for investigation. I look forward to seeing where Cullen decides to take this because I find it extremely interesting in those moments that she was essentially closed off or unaware. With the way the pacing comes into play here we see the twists, turns and that huge final revelation come into play and I have to tell you that the way this is structured and the overall ebb & flow is utterly marvellous.
So I briefly hinted on the visuals earlier and that opening page with Hong Kong's buildings and then the club that is as tight as tight gets when it comes to the linework and the imagery an the colours. That pardon my French is putain incroyable! The one thing I will say is that I am slightly disappointed by the lack of backgrounds that we see, especially during action sequences. This kind cheapens in a way because I see it the thought of the action is that's important but then we lose that sense of size and scope of the place it's happening. Otherwise they utilised to enhance the moment and do bring that sense of size and scope and it's beautifully done. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a really solid eye for storytelling. The colour work is gorgeous throughout and there some moments that truly stand out from the crowd. I like seeing how a colour is chose and then to see the various hues and tones utilised to create the shading and shadows are well done.
What Cullen manages to do is make this feel like a debut. Not just a first issue but the debut of a character and considering that we've met her and she's established is nice little trick. It just showcases the level of storytelling this man is able to achieve. Valiant is very quietly continuing to put out some of these amazing titles utilising these dynamic and diverse characters as the book lead. I look forward to seeing where this creative team takes things as well seeing what I saw play out down the road. Roku is not longer a streaming stick or television it's now the hottest new character in comics!