Current Reviews


Killraven #4

Posted: Monday, January 20, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Alan Davis
Artists: Alan Davis (p), Mark Farmer (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens with Killraven able to free one of his allies from the crushing tentacles of the monster that attacked them at the end of the last issue, and she is able to return the favor. After Killraven & friends make quick work of this creature, we see they continue into the Martian base, where they manage to get a hold of the bounty hunter Mint Julep, who quickly sees the wisdom in telling Killraven where Volcana is being held. We then see Killraven is quick to rush to Volcana's aid, when he discovers her Martian captors are performing painful experiments upon her. However, this rescue serves to raise an alarm within the complex, and in a bid to create enough confusion to aid in their escape, our heroes convince Mint Julep to set loose every genetic monstrosity that the Martians created in this massive lab. As the place erupts into utter madness, we see Killraven's group is able to escape, and we see Volcana is ever so thankful toward her rescuer. What's more we see Killraven's interest in rescuing Volcana was largely driven by his own feelings toward the beautiful pyrokinetic. As the issue ends we see the Martians have come to realize Killraven is a larger problem than they had thought, and they recruit the man who trained Killraven to hunt him down.

It took four issues for me to finally come to the realization that Killraven is as dull as dishwater. I mean, obviously Alan Davis sees something about this character & the environment he has his adventures within, that speaks to him as a creator, and perhaps if I made an effort to track down the earlier material I would join him in his enthusiasm for this character. As it stands however, I only have this miniseries to form an opinion of the character, and two-thirds of the way in I find myself completely disinterested in this character, as he basically he comes across as little more than your basic highly trained warrior with a heart of gold that one can find in pretty much every fantasy adventure ever written. I mean honestly what have we learned about this character since the beginning of this miniseries? We have learned he was taken captive by the Martians when he was a child & rose through the ranks of gladiator combat to emerged a highly trained one-man fighting machine. This in turn allows Alan Davis to offer up the battles where it's clear right from the outset that Killraven is going to emerge as the winner, and as such we aren't even afforded the luxury of entertaining battles.

There's also the simple fact that the plots that this miniseries have come up with are pretty much lacking any sense of adventure, as Alan Davis has come up with a world that is population by moments that are overly familiar (e.g. the monster that thanks it's slayer for putting it out of its unending torment), and action that manages to make the Martian invaders about as dangerous as an army of target practice cutouts. I mean where's the excitement in the battle when Killraven takes on the Martian tripod, when he enters the battle knowing where it's weak spot is. I also have to question the logic of any battle armor that places its weakest area, right in the dead center of its body, but then placing it in a more difficult area to reach might've resulted in a more challenging battle, which this miniseries seems quite happy to avoid at all costs. There's also the sudden appearance of the super powerful cannons that Killraven discovers off panel, and when ever the mystery solution a hero comes up with is the bring out the bigger guns, I have to ask the question of why am I suppose to be entertained by this material, when the writer is going out of his way to utilize the most unimaginative solutions he can think of.

Alan Davis' art on this miniseries has been fairly impressive though, as while the outfits the characters have been saddled with are quite goofy, I'm willing to look upon them as the product of their time, and I'll respect Alan Davis' decision to not to modernize the look of this book's cast. This miniseries has been a pretty solid display of Alan Davis' ability to deliver visually exciting art, as while the battle are far too abrupt for my liking they do have a high energy feel, and the impact shots have a nice sense of power to them. The art is also quite strong when it comes to its facial work, as Killraven's anger when he witnesses Volcana being struck down leaves little doubt that her tormentors will pay, and the look of terror on Mint Julep's face when her slave collar is removed does a great job of showing her abject terror over being freed. There's also a pretty harrowing nightmare that Killraven has that involves his getting a look at the Martian's home, and this teaser imagery did leave me hopeful that the final two issues will be more exciting than what we've seen thus far. I also have to make mention of the pages where the pens are opened, and the panels are flooded with all manner of beast, as the art capture the chaos of this sequence quite nicely.

Final Word:
There's been moments where I can see what Alan Davis would find so engaging about Killraven's world, as the idea of a hero rising up to save his conquered world is a tried & tested formula. However, what Alan Davis has failed to do on this miniseries is convince me that Killraven is bringing something new to the table, as to be perfectly honest it reads like it's simply recycling ideas that have been handled far better elsewhere. The book is also doing a very poor job when it comes to developing Killraven into a compelling character, as we are now four issues into a six issue miniseries, and I've suddenly noticed that beyond the surface details, and a brief bit of back-story, Killraven is little more that the standardized, square-jawed hero that I've seen hundreds of times before. Heck, we even get the standard clichés, like the abrupt romance that develops after the damsel is rescued by her knight in shining armor, and the monster who is revealed to be a tortured soul.

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