Rapture is a Valiant omnibus collection of issues 1-4 to collect the entire story arc written by Matt Kindt and drawn by Cafu. I loved the artwork for the most part, and the story began well enough, but events quickly began to feel too rushed and too slightly developed, making for an overall disappointing read, though it’s possible those more familiar with this world and these characters might have a more positive response.
The story opens with a young girl, Tama, working her way in the Deadworld through a series of traps and riddle tests and the like to converse with a demon named Amy (yes, Amy) in order to find out more about an impending end-of-the-world scenario. She learns that a Big Bad named Babel is trying to reuse his tower (yes, that one) to pierce the Liveworld, which would destroy Earth. She gathers a kickass team, made up of Ninjak, Shadowman, and Punk Mambo, each of whom have their own special skills/powers. It turns out the tower is now home to a tough barbarian ruler (a friend of Tama’s), whose army was pretty wiped out by Babel, especially by Babel’s trio of special minions — the Bereavers — who can kill with a word. The team makes its way to the tower and attempts to stop Babel’s plan, though they have to overcome a betrayal in order to do so.
To start with the positive, I absolutely loved the artwork throughout. At times panels were a bit small/crowded, but outside of that minor and infrequent complaint, the artwork was consistently wonderfully vivid, active, colorful, and clear. It’s some of the best work I’ve seen in the (admittedly few) graphics I’ve read the past few months.
The other positive is the opening story involving Tama, who has an engaging, welcoming voice, a nice touch of humor, and a habit of turning the story in unexpected ways. Her story takes its time, we get to see her personality via her narration and her interaction with several other characters. It’s a strong start.
Unfortunately, things go downhill once her original mission — find out just how the apocalypse is coming — is over and she starts collecting the team. The addition of new characters in such a short creative space means there is little development of characters or storylines moving forward. It doesn’t help that big chunks of exposition start flying, often as interruptive flashbacks. The Bereavers never get a chance to live up to their name, the heroes subdue bad guys too quickly, inner conflict happens fast and then is delved a bit more into via an anti-climactic flashback. The ideas here are interesting, but they are just given no space to develop, to engage, to provide richness of plot or character.
If the rest of the story had moved at the same pace as the first part of issue one, I really believe Rapture could have been an excellent story, especially supported as it is by such strong artwork. But as is, it felt rushed, slight, and frustratingly short of its early promise.