If you’ve read my reviews of this series previously, you might be mistaken for thinking I’ve been giving Valiant’s Eternal Warrior a hard time. And look, here’s the thing, I don’t hate this book, I just don’t think it had yet, in its admitted nascency, lived up to the greatness of its premise, nor the full potential of its creative team in Greg Pak and Trevor Hairsine. However, after reading its fourth issue, I am happy to report that those feelings of misgiving are, unlike Gilad Anni-Padda, the series’ titular immortal man, not eternal. This issue sees Gilad and his estranged (and similarly-eternal) daughter Xaran keep their word about attacking their old boss-goddess, the spirit of the earth. Equipping themselves with the only known weakness of deities (bazookas), the two find a tenuous peace together as they, quite literally, fire the first salvo of their war against the gods.
The end goal of all this is not just to end the gods’ indiscriminate tyranny over mankind, but also to free Gilad’s other child, the once more reasonable Mitu, from the thrall and service of the god of death, Nergal. Now, according to Wikipedia, Nergal was a legit Mesopotamian god whose “emblem was a cock and [name] means a ‘dunghill cock.’” Nothing like a good ol’ cock in your nergal, am I right, Bastards?
Eternal Warrior #4 brings to the fore a few elements I thought were lacking from the series previously, breaking away from the expected with the surprisingly explosive move by our “heroes” at the end of the book, and stretches out a fresh road that feels narratively less travelled. It also more concretely establishes its cast of characters and their motivations, principally the family of quarreling immortals.
Not only did the flashback that introduces this issue provide greater depth to the characters of Xaran and Mitu, as well as Gilad’s individual relationships with them, but the art, too (I believe from Diego Bernard), was great in capturing an outwardly more innocent time.
While we’re on the subject of art, I thought Hairsine’s stuff here was truly exceptional of the series so far (especially when cast against Bernard’s work) as the lacerated granite realism of the dark times of today. It was also much less cast in shadow, allowing his art, even when rain-drenched or swathed in night, to shine through more clearly.
Together, these two do an outstanding job in telling visually the anachronistic bedlam at the heart of this story. Props too must go to colorist Guy Major, who turns out some exceptional work here, not only in helping to distinguish the tone between times, but also between levels of existence. His treatment of the goddess at the end of this issue is absolutely stunning on the page, and a great example of how well he is able to establish contrast.
I do, of course, have to address the few things that still bother me about this issue, though they are much fewer than in preceding issues. Maybe the most measurable amongst these is the scene in which Gilad rails against his old partner, the terran sorcerer, Buck. Look, I get that Gilad is an overflowing bounty of hostility right now, but his petulant punch party just comes across as bad comedy, ruining with a sort of slapstick approach what I think is an otherwise pivotal bit of characterization for Gilad and his family, which is something the team worked so hard at establishing earlier on in the issue. It also makes him look crazy weaksauce that he can’t easily lay out Uncle Buck.
The above is a relatively small complaint in what is an otherwise great issue, which has really turned me back on to the series as a whole. Good timing, really, since the end of this issue [SPOILER] teases a significant shunt into the future. I’m a sucker for when stories do that, and in general couldn’t be happier to be back on-board with this book!
Writer: Greg Pak Artist: Trevor Hairsine and Diego Bernard Colorist: Guy Major Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/18/13