The Forgotten Queen No. 1 review: War-Monger is back


The newest Valiant Comics series, The Forgotten Queen, sees the return of War-Monger who wreaks havoc on Genghis Khan’s army.

The Forgotten Queen No. 1

Writer: Tini Howard

Artist: Amilcar Pinna

The Forgotten Queen No. 1 cover (Credit: Valiant Comics)

The Forgotten Queen is the newest series from Valiant Comics and it begins with an innocuous deep dive research expedition. As happens with any underwater scene in popular media, the dive goes south almost immediately. One diver returns traumatised, and the other… doesn’t return at all.

That still isn’t enough reason for research patron Sarnai Oyuunchimeg to end the mission. She has her eyes set on an artifact, and she isn’t going anywhere without it. Even if it means she has to dive in herself to find it.

Juxtaposed with these present-day scenes are those set in 1200AD. A mysterious witch shows up at Genghis Khan’s camp bearing gifts. This witch is none other than Vexena the War-Monger. She claims to be here to help, but her brand of assistance takes some getting used to.

The first issue of The Forgotten Queen rapidly skims over War-Monger’s history, which is quite a feat given she is immortal. Most likely, the creators have left more to be explored over the coming issues, but for now it is evident that she is known for sowing the seeds of chaos and bloodlust among people. While those around her perish, she survives. But what remains of her legacy?

Valiant Comics’ ever-expanding universe of characters is being given a jolt of new life in 2019. Several new characters return to headline their own titles, including the Eternal Warrior in Incursion and now War-Monger. It’s difficult to say how well they fit in with the known Valiant-verse, or if their stories are gripping enough to keep readers coming back.

For all intents and purposes, writer Tini Howard and artist Amilcar Pinna are passionate about giving War-Monger her day in the sun, but The Forgotten Queen No. 1 is filled with questions that frustrate the reader rather than tantalise.

It is apparent Sarnai Oyuunchimeg is connected to War-Monger’s story, but is it because she is War-Monger in present-day, or the queen whom Vexena meets later in this issue? Then there’s the question of the titular ‘queen’ of the series – does it refer to Vexena or the actual queen from the past? We see an image of a woman underwater who is referred to as the ‘queen’ but it isn’t really apparent who or what she is meant to be. Whether she is even real or not is another question that will play on readers’ minds.

Panel from The Forgotten Queen No. 1 (Credit: Valiant Comics)

One other perplexing move made by Howard and the editors is the over-indulgence on drawing out the scenes between War-Monger and Genghis Khan’s camp, only for that plot line to go nowhere. It’s suggested at one point that War-Monger teamed up with Genghis Khan for a reason, but all these panels felt simply like page-fillers till the writer got to the real meat of the series. The meat only turns up on the final page of this issue and didn’t really have a preamble to it. Structurally, The Forgotten Queen No. 1 could have been written better.

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We received an early working copy of this issue, which looked almost finished. The art is par for the course, but nothing quite as spectacular as the many battles shown in this first issue deserved. There is, in fact, one panel of War-Monger that is so uncanny in its drawing that it borders on disturbing. Sometimes, an attempt at hyper-realistic art is just that – an attempt.

Much of the confusion over the characters stems from how similar they look. Sarnai, Vexena, and later, the queen and some of her subjects, are all drawn the same way – tall, slender, tan women with ramrod straight, black hair. They are indistinguishable from each other. Whether this is the intent is not yet known, but it makes for a confusing and often vexing read.

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That being said, not many complicated female characters with the urgency for disorder get to headline their own series, so The Forgotten Queen is certainly a novelty in that aspect. Even Sarnai is unlike most other woman characters written in popular media and one hopes that the series creators will continue to flesh out these personalities over the next three issues.

Valiant Comics’ The Forgotten Queen No. 1 is out on February 27.