In my last review of Valiant’s Eternal Warrior, I wondered whether this series would begin to rely too much on cliché, and apart from the introduction of a few pretty exciting concepts and a cool ending twist, I think my worries are unfortunately proving to be founded. What this issue does right is its measured approach to “world conflict-building.” Its grand stage is really starting to look fascinating, particularly with the burgeoning mythos behind the ongoing, generational battle between the Houses of the Earth, Wheel, Wild and its new player in the Dead. It sort of reminds me of the recent hostilities between the Green, the Red and the Rot over at DC, with various avatars and worships vying for dominance in a battle over world balance and/or dominance. That kind of shit cranks my proverbial tractor, and I can’t wait to see more of these different forces converging upon each other, like the Wheel and the Earth begin to do this issue.
My problem is that the setup Pak is using to get us to that point doesn’t exactly ring my bell. Much of this issue is spent giving us a look back at what the feisty, temperamental ... oh, let’s just call her what she is: “misguidedly murderous” Xaran has been up to since offing her brother some six thousand years ago. In that time, she followed in her now-retired and jaded daddy Gilad’s footsteps, becoming the Sword of the Earth, before switching to Team Wild and then back ... which, again, didn’t stick.
What follows sees Gilad and Xaran join forces to find those that would do her (and I guess the Earth) wrong, in the process spitefully enlisting their old Geomancer guide, Buck, who Gilad wants to use to end this millennia-old conflict at the source, by killing the shit out of each House’s god, starting with the Earth. I personally hope this will lead to the inevitable Eternal Warrior / Captain Planet crossover, but that’s just me.
I never read the original Eternal Warrior series, so maybe these concepts predate the titles I’m about to mention, but to a new reader, this book is quickly becoming a sort of Highlander meets Swamp Thing meets Buffy-type story, and while that doesn’t sound too bad in theory, there’s something that feels already well-trodden about it.
Also, while it’s great to see how these immortal beings shape the myths of humanity and the evolution of their urban legends, it’s equally annoying to see them talk about how great this century is because you can buy guns from Walmart. That kind of attempted levity feels worn out or cheap to me, while the action that follows feels similarly hollow.
In terms of characterization, the only ones who I feel have a unique or distinguishable voice are Xaran and the collective House of the Wheel, whose homicidal sense of compassion will be great to see (hopefully) developed further, but was here cut off unnecessarily sharpish. Even with its flashbacks and hints to greater things, the story itself feels somewhat straightforward right now. Also, while I did like the twist at the end in the introduction of what will almost certainly be the series’ biggest (if not most emotionally-charged) baddie, I dunno, it all just feels a bit too familiar.
Artistically, this issue thankfully came out further from the dark shadow under which I felt it languished previously. Hairsine’s stone-cut figures allow an exposition-heavy story some very cool character moments that for me weren’t as well expressed in the issue’s writing. At the same time, though, it doesn’t feel like he is doing much to set the look of this world apart from any similar story, or make anything especially fresh. The God of the Wild, for example - who I take to be the spirit of all living things - just looks inexplicably like the devil, while all the other character designs look similarly basic and, in my opinion at least, unimaginative.
I guess I just want more out of Eternal Warrior, which already promises some very interesting concepts. It’s not that I don’t think it will deliver, which is why I’m going to stick with it, but at the moment, it’s not presenting anything that I think could be called original or indeed, eternal.
Writer: Greg Pak Artist: Trevor Hairsine Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/20/13