This is my first foray into the Valiant universe of comics (if you don’t include a few issues of that Deathmate crossover from the 90’s, and you shouldn’t) and I have to commend them for getting top industry talent to put out some great work. I was completely unfamiliar with the Eternal Warrior character going into this mini-series, and I’m coming out of this issue a newly minted fan.
It’s okay if you haven’t read any Valiant comics before, Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel does a good job introducing us to the main character, Gilad Anni-Padda, the Eternal Warrior. Gilad is an immortal who has fought in numerous battles throughout history at the behest of the Geomancer, a character we only see here in the form of a talking crow. The Geomancer can speak to the Earth and knows where Gilad should go and who Gilad should fight. But Gilad is beginning to question his faith in the knowledge of the Geomancer, and his faith in mankind. His mission this time is to save the Franks from the Magyar invasion, but to do so he is charged with finding and protecting a baby that bears the mark of the savior. Gilad reluctantly sets out on his quest.
Peter Milligan’s script really gets to the heart of the character and shows his growing internal struggle with faith. Mostly though internal monologue, we get a good sense of who Gilad is and why he is suddenly questioning if battling countless enemies for centuries is actually making a difference in the world.
Similar to characters like Marvel’s Thor and Conan The Barbarian, Eternal Warrior lends himself well to this type of action/adventure stories. He is shown as a capable warrior, and Milligan takes advantage of Gilad’s immortality to place him into a time period where he is free to make the most use of his fighting abilities. He is also shown as the world-weary traveler, prone to the fits of moodiness only an invincible immortal need bear.
Another plus for this comic is that the supporting characters are interesting and don’t detract from the story. It would be easy to just have Gilad wrecking people for 22 pages, with nothing more than cardboard cutouts reacting in the background, but Milligan takes the time to flesh out the cast a bit and the story is better for it.
Cary Nord’s art is great in this issue. His illustration is clean and the action is clearly represented. Brian Reber’s color work is evocative and vivid and makes the battle scenes pop. Nord’s pencils and Reber’s color together also does a good job setting the mood, especially the scene where Gilad notices the blood moon. You feel as awestruck as he does in that panel.
One criticism I have with the art, though, is that there are a few too many panels of Gilad walking straight at the reader. It’s not really bad per se, but I noticed it was happening and it became comical to me. He looks cool while doing it every time, but it’s like a running gag after a while.
This is a great introduction to the character of the Eternal Warrior. I went in to this issue completely cold, and it made me want to read more about this character. The exploration of the themes of losing one’s faith and purpose, paired with the great looking art make for a great read. If you like the sword (or axe) swinging adventure of Thor and Conan, definitely pick this one up.
CBH Score: 4.0 of 5.0
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