Prince Valiant Vol. 22: 1979-1980

Prince Valiant Vol 22 1979 1980 cover

Val, deprived of his Singing Sword, is enslaved in the Berber salt mines. A deathwatch has begun for the bedridden King Arthur, and the monarch’s half-brother Mordred plots to usurp the throne. Aleta investigates a murder in Cornwall. This volume includes a tour of Prince Valiant’s England by Vanity Fair and The Atlantic editor Cullen Murphy, John Cullen Murphy’s son, who begins his long tenure as the strip’s scriptwriter with this volume. Plus: Todd Goldberg’s examination of the historical reality behind the Prince Valiant strip continues.

Prince Valiant Vol 22 1979 1980 interior 1
Prince Valiant Vol 22 1979 1980 interior 2
Prince Valiant Vol 22 1979 1980 interior 3

With this volume Prince Valiant moves into his sixth decade and forty-fourth year. An astounding testimony to Foster and to Fantagraphics for continuing to produce these highly polished collections.

Val continues to take a back seat to the adventures of his children. Last time Arn had a lot of the spotlight, and he continues to do so, but we also see Galan come into his own and experience a few adventures as he takes a job. This volume moves from light-hearted to serious and everywhere in between with nary a hiccup. The short tale of King Arthur and his brother took us completely outside of the norm and allowed Foster to stretch.

Foster is so well established in this strip from a writing perspective that it can feel antiquated. But then take a step back and recognize that loyalty, bravery, and doing the right thing no matter the circumstances is timeless.

Prince Valiant Vol 22 1979 1980 interior 4
Prince Valiant Vol 22 1979 1980 interior 5
Prince Valiant Vol 22 1979 1980 interior 6

Murphy gives it his all throughout. This volume moves across Europe and Africa and we’re treated to detailed backgrounds and researched environments. Lots of great colours that really pop.

The production is excellent. Every page is well presented and looks exceptional; no restoration issues whatsoever. The book’s design follows the standard established for the series: a colour for the cover header and end papers and gold or dividers.

The introductions and essays have covered a great variety of Foster’s life over the years, and this time around they captured my interest. Goldberg’s “The historicity of Prince Valiant, Part II” covers people and places in the strip versus their historical counterparts and is quite engaging and make me go back to reread part one.

Prince Valiant Vol 22 1979 1980 interior 7
Prince Valiant Vol 22 1979 1980 interior 8

After so many volumes it’s hard to separate Prince Valiant from Foster’s artwork. He’s still writing, but there’s a real sense of loss when reading the strip and not seeing his art. Murphy is an excellent artist and after a few volumes I’m adjusting to the difference in styles, but it’s quite a difference. Foster art was tight and detailed, with Murphy having a looser and softer style. Seeing the Foster art in the extras only reinforces the feeling.