THE FORGOTTEN QUEEN #1 / Writer: Tini Howard / Artist: Amilcar Pinna / Colorist: Ulises Arreola / Letterer: Jeff Powell / Publisher: Valiant / Published: February 27, 2019
The Forgotten Queen represents a double deep dive—one into the depths of the ocean, another into history—both looking for a better understanding of Vexana, aka War-Monger. This two-pronged approach provides a comprehensive introduction for readers, as Vexana is a new player to the current Valiant universe. How does a woman who effortlessly stirs people’s bloodlust disappear from history? How did she end up on the ocean floor? And who, exactly, is the eponymous forgotten queen?
Time Traveling Visuals
First of all, hats off to Amilcar Pinna and Ulises Arreola for visually portraying all the non-linear scenes from Vexana’s timeline. The visuals hop between relatively bright, blue-tinted scenes from today to a variety of scenarios from world history, including numerous battlefields, the Biblical sibling rivalry between Cain and Abel, and the desert army of Chinggis Khan (you might know him as Genghis).
Tini Howard’s script bounces from scene to scene. Each return to the present builds with intensity, matching the growing threat Vexana represents to the researchers deep-diving around her. We get clues to her past, but her motivations in the briny present remain a mystery. This is well and good, because there’s already plenty of information in this first chapter to found a new mythology. She may have debuted back in Unity, but readers can comfortably meet her here without missing a beat.
With the exception of a page devoted to the researchers holding a meeting at sea, this issue moves constantly; something new happening on every page. That may sound obvious for a comic taking place within a superhero adventure universe, but the effect of so many dynamic scenarios makes this introductory debut an effortless read. The constant swimming, fighting, and dying keep the story from sitting still, and Arreola’s aforementioned palette changes keep the issue feeling fresh with each transition. The action, far from mindless or gratuitous, builds up an impression of Vexana that makes her bright-eyed desire that much more palpable.
The Forgotten Queen #1 reminds me of how the early arcs of X-O Manowar hopped between genres. They shifted between science fiction aboard alien crafts, present-day conflicts with governmental representatives, and ancient history among the Visigoths. Vexana may not reside in outer space (yet), but she shows the same promise as Valiant’s other sword-clangers, Aric and Gilad. Her crossover potential as a troublemaking, lesbian Ares is off the charts, and I’m excited to see how the world reacts once she emerges into public view. On the other hand, her story with the forgotten queen is also compelling, making Vexana the star of her own two-in-one.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 women with swords
Thomas is a teen services librarian who reads way too many comics. He can be found gobbling pancakes at the nearest diner with Jessica Cruz, Forsythe Jones III, Jane Foster, and Hellboy. He reviews media for the public here and graphic novels for librarians at No Flying, No Tights.