Review: Eternal Warrior #5

Valiant’s Eternal Warrior is one of those series I’ve been grappling with in its still-young run. It didn’t, for me, command a staggering first impression, but I have to admit that its recent issues have been more successfully wooing me. Issue five confirms it: I’m now officially both-feet in bed with this book! If you haven’t been reading along, this issue sees the story’s timeline shunted forward from present day to 4001 AD, in what appears to be a tech-bereft, dystopian, tribal society, one clan of which our immortal hero Gilad has ruled over as benign emperor for generations. We learn through vague interactions with this new community (after Gilad saves it from a cyborg beast, though not without human cost), that he may have succeeded in the god-culling mission he set about in the past (our present / last issue).

Unfortunately, however, something clearly built his attacker (which hides a lethal secret), so whether the whispers are true and the gods are back, or this is just some attack by the hands of Man, Gilad’s gonna find a bitch. And then Gilad’s gonna have to choke a bitch.

It’s interesting to see “The Immortal Man in the Future” aspect here, as of course someone with Gilad’s experience would be a survivalist leader of men in a post-apocalyptic scenario. It feels natural, and it’s cool to see him already adapted in a completely different, almost pleasantly familial environment.

That shift is why I think this book should remain nomadic in nature, taking a sort of approach we’ve seen at the start of Jason Aaron’s Thor run, by ducking and weaving through various precarious eras, but telling a nonlinear yet concise story at the same time. Saying that, such a direction may throw the next thing I like about this book into disarray, so what the fuck do I know?

EW_005_COVER_CRAINI really enjoyed the characterization of Gilad this issue. He seems less altruistic than before, and overall, it’s been great to see his attitude and ethical reactions to things develop throughout the years this book has so far spanned. For example, it’s interesting here to see him smile and tussle the hair of his young “granddaughter,” praising her for a healthy vengeful spirit after she expresses interest in hotwiring the Cyberffalo (as I lovingly refer to it) and then sic it on her attackers.

That’s quite a difference from the Gilad we originally met, or the one at odds with his daughter for acting too viciously, or even the petulant “Punchy McKnuckles” Gilad we got last issue. Not just in the landscape, evidently, have the years been unkind, and in looking back, Pak has done a commendable job in expressing that character shift through the ages subtly within his story.

{SPOILERS} Holy shit. That ending. If you didn’t already think Gilad was swinging the biggest dick around, this pretty much cements it ... which I agree is a weirdly mixed metaphor. “That’s a city. And I’m gonna kill it” is basically the gist of this thing, right? And you know what? You fucking believe him; not simply because new artist Robert Gill draws the absolute hell out of Grandpappy Asskiller’s crazy eye, seething with measured rage, but because in the issue previous, this mother fucker right here killed a god. What is a city to a man like that?

Speaking of Gill’s art, his style echoes well the visual tone of the series thus far, but I’d say he even adds to it. There are more than a couple pages that really stand out here - Gilad charging a charging monster or bodies exploding in midair - and although it gets slightly quick-handed when there’s a rabble about, otherwise, this is damn good work and I’m looking forward to getting to know Gill’s stuff. I know it’s been around, but I haven’t, until now, officially encountered it.

Of course, much of this issue’s success is again thanks to colors from Guy Major, whose lighter (yet no-less ominous) palette allows Gill’s work to literally shine. Relying less on shadow than in the series’ early-going has really helped coax the now better-by-the-issue story into the light for me. Thanks to all these elements as a whole, I’m completely invested in this new arc and pretty goddamn pumped to see where it leads.

Now, the solicits call issue five a “good jumping-on point” in the series, and while I’m inclined to agree, I’d also call it a great “keeping-on point” for regular readers, as it’ll be interesting to see how the creative team fills in the rather large time gap left between issues, and how it effects the heretofore and hence.

For me, Eternal Warrior #5 stands out as possibly the series’ best, whether seen through fresh eyes, or ones more well-acquainted with the story. Pick it up, Bastards!

Score: 5/5

Writer: Greg Pak Artist: Robert Gill Colorist: Guy Major Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/22/14