I have said in the past that Valiant has done many ambitious titles, but Psi-Lords truly is one of their most ambitious. Usually you kind of knew what you were getting yourself into, but this book was one where you had to really sit back and allow the surreal sci-fi fun to sweep you away. Once you did that and everything came into perspective, they pretty much had you. Psi-Lords #4 brought clarity to a lot of things, though more than anything else it took that next step forward to genuinely begin laying the foundation for everything to follow.
With the start of this issue we jumped right into the trial of these astronauts turned cosmic beings. What followed here instantly grabbed your attention because we were finally seeing what made things tick for these branded. It was almost like cosmic Game of Thrones, and on a smaller level. They wasted little time showing who had the active voices of these branded, and where everyone stood on the laws which kept them afloat. Now it didn’t actually take too long to understand why this was going to turn into a cosmic trial by combat. When we came to understand the true intention of the trial, it really became anything goes. The cool thing about this scene was how much we learned about the inhabitants of the Gyre through the combat portion. Just about all of them made their presence known, and through their actions we got a good grasp of how power was distributed among them. We also came to see how they kept in this cycle where none of them asked the big questions which kept them in trapped around the vampire star.
One of the bigger takeaways from this issue was getting to know another character, though this time more in terms of their life before taking on this mission to space. This was a big reveal that we got, and I’m glad that Fred Van Lente is taking his time fleshing out each one of them. Right now there is no rush at all when part of the appeal of the story is the unraveling of the mysteries. The most crucial of course being that of the lives of these characters prior to their transformations.
Doctor Patience had an interesting part to play in this issue. Since his first introduction, he has done nothing but create questions about the alignment of these Psi-Lords. For as little as we know about these Psi-Lords, it is easy to assume anything about their purpose. The only thing we truly had to work with was the manifestation that we got from Ravenrok who assisted one of them in a way that turned the tides of their situation. For this chapter it made a big difference to match what we saw with our own eyes, versus what came out of the mouth of Doctor Patience. He played a clever game and made a fascinating choice in who he was willing to use in order to get what he wanted out of these branded.
It was through the art that you genuinely could experience that surreal sci-fi fun. With a book like Psi-Lords, Valiant once again establishes that the sky is the limit for their creativity. For everything that you have already seen in this universe, there is always the opportunity to run into more unique creations for the different races and species that exist in their cosmos. That Renato Guedes introduced most of them in this issue through action was refreshing too. In contrast to our main characters, their appearances better matched what kind of power they wielded. Some are drawn to be more feral, more brute force in stature, glowing with a psionic aura, the list goes on. Right now, I couldn’t imagine being as immersed in this story if they kept to the same art style they were using before. Like I said before, it wasn’t bad. Though it also did not fully allow for us to embrace these characters and settings in the detail we could have. Especially when Renato Guedes does so well with clear strokes of his pencil. Something else I feel that I have neglected to address is the work done with the lettering. It is appreciated that Sharpe puts the effort into distinguishing the voice of these different crews.
Who could have guessed that through the course of one trial, everything could suddenly fall into place for this story? I talked about finding clarity in the direction of this story before, but Psi-Lords #6 laid all the cards on the table in a brilliant way. You look for that one milestone for the story progression, and this creative team nailed it.