Monday, November 8, 2021

Valor #20

Valor #20 (June 1994)

title: "Sudden Death Overtime Part 1: Ahead of His Time"
writer: Kurt Busiek  special thanks to Mark Waid
penciller: Colleen Doran
inker: Dave Cooper (Colleen inks page 11)
letterer: Bob Pinaha
colorist: Dave Grafe
associate editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Stuart Immonen (signed)

reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage 

Wave Rider, The Linear Men

Descendants of Braal

Valor is on the Dominator Prison Camp planet, Delthon, releasing dissenting Dominator scientists. As he goes about doing this, he remembers (for our benefit, thanks) that all of the feats that he is legendary in the Legion's time for accomplishing *now* must be done within the next 10 hours, or the time-stream will be irreparably damaged. So....yeah. Get cracking, man! 

Elsewhere (and elsewhen?), the Linear Men and Wave Rider argue over whether Valor will succeed in doing all that his legend has him do, or not. Time remaining, for those of you not counting: ten hours.

Valor frees the first batch of prisoners, who happen to be from Braal, destined to become Cosmic Boy's ancestors. They are supposed to be weakened from years spent in captivity and go meekly to a planet to re-populate it as Braal. That is what is *supposed* to happen. 

However, because Valor is doing all of his legendary work on a compressed schedule, he has let them out from captivity before he had in the alternate time-line. So THESE Braalians are NOT weakened yet. Instead of going meekly back to re-populate their planet, they decide to stay in the current galaxy and to fight the Dominators. 

Valor tries to talk to their leader to convince them to "go home," but he refuses. Valor and the Braalian leader fight, and Valor is knocked unconscious. We literally don't have time for this! 

When Valor awakens, he finds that the Linear Men are there to escort him into the time stream. His time is up! 

Russell's comments: 
First of all, I want to make this perfectly clear that I have NO IDEA who or what the Linear Men are, or why they are in this story. Throwing in characters for dramatic effect without making it clear who or what they are diminishes the drama, oh, maybe 100 percent? Maybe the 1994 readers knew who these characters are (I doubt it), but that still doesn't explain the editorial laziness inherent in not explaining in some throw-away caption what it is they do. 

Other than that....this issue is a mess! Haha. Don't get me wrong, the idea that Valor only has a set amount of time to get all of his legendary feats accomplished is great. But then what do we get? A story that moves at the speed of molasses. Are we supposed to think that Valor is young and in completely over his head? Done. Are we supposed to think that maybe he's just a bit unable to handle the responsibility that he was given? Also Done. 

I expected a more "take the bulls by the horn" type of characterization here. I expected more of a "take no prisoners" type of gusto that I imagine would be required to, you know, create a whole brand new presentation in less than a day. I don't know about you, but I have been under extreme pressure before. You can believe I didn't act as laid back and cool as Valor does here...! 

So Valor's time is up? It's not a good thing when the reader's thought is, "Oh, is next issue the last one?"

As for the art, it's good. Colleen Doran has gotten much better since she took over the book. Just look at the level of detail she included in the pages I reprinted above. I especially like the battle page, where the POV starts far off and then gets progressively closer and closer until we're literally on Valor's chin, where the Braalian's punch is landing. We can argue that Valor should not BE in this situation, but we can't argue that it's drawn well. 

This series has never been reprinted. And it probably won't be until Valor gets out of the Phantom Zone.


  1. The layouts are great, but personally I feel like Cooper wasn't the right inker for Doran's pencils.

  2. Russell, how hard is it to crack the internet regarding the Linear Men? They were time cops, supposedly responsible for finding and fixing temporal anomalies. One of them facilitated the "Time and Time Again" storyline in the Superman titles; and the group featured prominently in the Zero Hour event that set up the first Legion reboot -- with obvious repercussions in the Valor title.

    I can't remember if it was ever spelled out specifically, but "Hunter" was assumed to be Rip Hunter, the "time master" from the late '50s-early '60s (whose time sphere was part of the backstory for Booster Gold -- another Dan Jurgens creation, along with the Linear Men). Waverider, still another Jurgens character, was the locus of the 1991 annuals' "Armageddon 2001" theme (which irreparably ruined the Hank Hall Hawk character).

    Busiek and Waid made noble efforts, but there was no rescuing the Valor books. The first dozen issues were dreadfully conceived and executed, portraying Valor as an aimless and gullible neophyte, with stories that went nowhere. Readers wanted to see a legend in the making (in keeping with Valor's Legion history), not the insecure stumblebum depicted in this title.

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