By Dustin Cabeal
I was a huge fan of Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. Sure, it was a damn mouth full to type, but it was the first time I got why Eternal Warrior was such a huge character for Valiant. Personally, it ended too soon, but then everyone in the superhero biz is in a constant state of rebooting. There are so many first issues that if you’re not putting out a first issue, you’re probably a long-running and successful Image series. That aside, we’re here to talk about Eternal Warrior: Awakening which is a decent first issue, but not nearly as strong as its predecessor.
Thankfully, Robert Venditti is still with the character. I think the one thing that makes Valiant stand out from other superhero companies is that they let a creator take a long crack at the character. It gives them time to truly develop the character, but more importantly, it gives the character consistency. Look no further than the “top” comic publisher to see what inconsistency with characters looks like… soft reboot number five coming right up.
This time around though, Gilad doesn’t know who he is. We see him taking an axe to the head and then waking up screaming. Was it a dream or memory? He doesn’t know, but we can safely bet on it being a memory. The gist is that he took his own axe to the head during battle and it messed with his memories. A geomancer shows up to jog his memories and get him back on course. He’s been out of the game for five years, and the man trying to take his head is closing in on him.
Everything seems pretty typical as the Geomancer tells Gilad that the earth wants him to rally all the other troops and finish the war against his villain. Let’s just say that Gilad doesn’t always do what he’s told, but manages to get the same outcome which is where the book gets really good. Venditti reminds us that Gilad is a master at strategy by showing us that he’s a master of strategy. Too often we’re just told someone is something and rarely is it shown in their actions.
The opening and middle of the story are safe. Venditti isn’t going for a huge character shaking into like he did in the previous series. Instead, he’s laying the groundwork for a new set of adventures that look to take place in the past rather than the present. With Gilad being an immortal character there’s a bevy of stories to tell. Venditti continues to write a very consistent characterization of Gilad which is both welcoming to new readers and familiar to established readers. His pacing is perfect for a first issue, and my only gripe is that the story felt safe for the first two-thirds.
At first glance, you would think that artist Renato Guedes went to the same school as Juan Jose Ryp, who is still one of my favorite artists. I wasn’t familiar with Guedes before reading Eternal Warrior: Awakening, but I’m glad that Valiant has added him to their pool of artists. They continue to find and break in new artistic talent, and it makes their books wonderful to read. As with many other Valiant titles the art and story feel equally important, and in many cases, you can see the collaboration between the creators growing. It was always clear which artists Venditti had a strong collaboration with on X-O Manowar as those arcs would shine just a bit more brightly.
If you like Eternal Warrior and more so, if you like Venditti’s Eternal Warrior then you should check out Awakening. It’s a solid first issue and sets up a new time in Gilad’s life to explore that’s very different from the previous series. As I said in the beginning, there’s a lot of first issues weekly, but if you want one that reads as if the creators, publishers care and that the world matters, then you can’t go wrong with Eternal Warrior: Awakening.
Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Renato Guedes
Colorist: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant Comics