Review by Ian Keogh
Radiant 3 ended with the shock of Seth meeting the brother he never knew he had, and a conversation between them opens Radiant 4. However, there’s still much in the way of unfinished business on the floating city of Rumble Town, where the controller of the Nemeses remains active and outclasses the opponents she faces in Grimm and Mélie.
Among numerous other skills, Tony Valente is excellent at pulling rabbits from hats, making it seem as if there is no hope until the point that something incredible happens. He uses this technique in the first chapters, but never by being inconsistent. We may not have seen what Grimm does, for instance, but his confidence throughout indicates he has something up his sleeve, and his actions are believable within the range of what we’ve already seen him do. He’s a fascinating character, with a definite agenda, but his motives still not entirely disclosed. Seth’s brother Piodon also has his uses, dropping a bombshell about why Seth’s control of fantasia (magic) isn’t all it might be.
Every volume of Radiant starts with a few colour pages before switching back to the standard black and white, and because the colour brings out Tony Valente’s artistic skill still further, it’s a shame there’s only a handful of these pages. For the standard black and white art it’s the mixture we’ve become used to, some traditional manga with figures surrounded by action lines and some very detailed costumes and locations. Late on he devises a great visual representation of someone seen in Radiant 3, but only briefly, providing status, but with no indication as to power. That’s now sorted!
As more people become aware of Seth’s potential, he’s repeatedly asked about whose side he’s on, Valente conveniently providing a list of powerful clashing ideologies, and that dilemma plays over a good portion of the book. Must Seth choose a side when he disagrees with aspects of the policies all pursue, or can he remain an individual true to his own instincts? It’s drama played out with chaos continuing all around, although dragged on a little too long. A couple of items of note occur in the final chapter, showing Valente’s innovation. The first is Grimm explaining himself, to a degree anyway, using panels from Radiant 3 to excuse the misunderstandings, and the second is the mention near the end of a Sorceror’s Tournament. It’s suggested Seth could benefit from entering and doing well. It’s the sort of device commonly used in manga, in some cases a several volume diversion that really moves nothing forward. Valente’s way of handling it is great. More surely to be found in Radiant 5.