When I first started this ongoing review, I qualified it with the admission that I wasn’t into “barbarian” books. That pretty much remains true; for example, and with respect to the character’s fans, I still have zero time for the likes of Conan. However, I think it’s safe to say at this point that after what was an initial bout of consternation, I have completely warmed to Valiant’s Eternal Warrior by Greg Pak and current artist, Robert Gill; it’s a book that has defined itself (after a somewhat tepid start) as a great bit of storytelling. This is an affirmation I didn’t come to lightly, and is in no small part, I must admit, to the series’ shunt in time to the year 4001 A.D., a perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by aging technology, outmoded ideas of governance and of course, bad ass immortal emperors with big, fuck-off swords.
Is this setting itself a fresh enough form of the barbarism that made me so wary of the series at its start? No, not necessarily, and I’ll draw some correlations to similar stories below, but one thing I will say for this title is that it has a whole lot of fun playing within that (no pun intended) time-tested framework. And you know what? Sometimes, fun is all you need. Such is the case with Eternal Warrior #6.
This time, we meet up with the titular character Gilad and his generational progeny, Caroline, as they navigate the (perhaps ironically) delicate socio-political makeup of a “civilized” (by which I mean industrialized) human outpost known as Big Town, which is run by an industrious (read: slave-driving) leather-faced gentleman known simply as The Boss. As the old immortal and his charge work out how best to liberate the city of its totalitarian rule (whether by peace or force), Gilad discovers that the point may in fact be moot.
To put it into context, and to draw the comparison I hinted at earlier, Big Town reminds me a lot of Thunderdome’s Bartertown in that it’s a dystopian totalitarian mining city. Instead of harvesting pig farts, however, here they mine the buried technologies of yesteryear, unfortunately inclusive of all the hazardous materials upon which they used to run. Most notably amongst these is that sweet, sweet atomic energy ‘tang, which all the doctors out there will note isn’t exactly beneficial to the human constitution.
What I like best about this issue is the inevitability that Pak presents because it forces, once again, a necessary evolution of Gilad’s character. Now the Eternal Emperor, he has to fight things that can’t just be vanquished with that big, fuck-off sword; the old demons of man, unlike the gods of old, can’t simply be dealt with by a well-launched rocket. It’s also why I’m so interested in seeing this book continue to play out - I honestly have no idea where it’s going to go.
As the new leader of a now even bigger (and much more unwieldy) kingdom, how in the hell is Gilad going to do as he promises his afflicted (in more ways than one) granddaughter, and “save everybody?” And what’s the deal with Caroline anyway? We still don’t have a clear idea from whom loins she sprung - something called especially into question this time as it’s shown she may not have inherited all of her grandfather’s more desirable immortal traits. Either way, I’m on-board to find out.
The art from Gill here continues to be a great fit for the series. His action, while not what I would call fluid, is suitably impactful; a series of powerful collisions rather than a stream of same, and it works. I will say, however, that this feels significantly more rushed than issue five, and that the colors from Major here dip ever so slightly back into the too-dark fare that haunted the series’ first few issues.
Still, the overall visual aesthetic of the book maintains well that rusted and disjointed, yet tightly-knit tone that the series has enjoyed here in the middle of its first 10 issue streak, allowing the greatly blossoming story to go down nice and smooth. Just how I like it.
Writer: Greg Pak Artist: Robert Gill Colorist: Guy Major Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/12/14