Since it relaunched in 2012, Valiant has become one of the most reliable publishers in terms of printing quality titles. X-O Manowar, Harbinger and most recently Armor Hunters have all been hugely entertaining reads, and so it was with great excitement that I picked up Eternal Warrior – Days of Steel. However, while this book was a solid read I feel it wasn’t quite up to the high standard that Valiant has set for itself thus far. That’s not to say this issue is bad, but it does suffer from a few little flaws that hold it back from greatness. Nonetheless this mini-series does have potential in spite of its drawbacks. Plus it’s a nice jumping-on point for new readers, meaning there’s fun to be had in this book for fans of the character and newcomers alike. Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #1 follows the story of the titular character (who also goes by the name of Gilad), and his quest to save a newborn baby who will one day be the savior of a dying culture. Taking place in the ancient time when Magyar and Frankish armies were at each others throats, Gilad is contacted by the source of his immortality (known as the Geomancer) and instructed to protect the aforementioned baby that he claims will save the Frankish people. Interestingly however, Gilad is reluctant to take on the task as he for the first time questions the Geomancer’s omnipotence.
This story really is promising with issue one bringing with it some fun moments and a suspenseful ending. Writer Peter Milligan seems to have a solid grasp on the character of Gilad, developing him nicely in this first issue. However he seems to have less of a hold on his supporting characters, an unhappy couple named Breta and Konrad. Neither of the pair is particularly memorable, for which I blame Milligan’s script which has some awkwardly written lines of dialogue and little reason to really get on-board with these characters. Given that the pair seemingly have a large role in this series, it would be nice if this wasn’t the case, but right now the duo come across as very undeveloped and frankly a little dull.
Something that isn’t a little dull (awesome segue), is Cary Nord’s artwork which is great as usual. Nord is one of the strongest artists on Valiant’s team, and while his work here isn’t quite as strong as in the first arc of X-O Manowar, there are still plenty of beautiful moments. Nord seems at his best when putting together double-page spreads and fight-scenes, as in this issue both look cinematic and belong hung up on a wall somewhere lots of people can see them. Of course the work of colourist Brian Reber plays a big part in bringing Nord’s pencils alive. His colours create a landscape that seems to perfectly reflect Gilad’s ancient world, leaving the reader feeling fully absorbed in the action.
However, as much as I did enjoy this issue I really struggle to get past just how weak Milligan’s supporting characters are, and as these characters are such a vital part of the story they end up weakening the entire book. This along with some awkward dialogue here and there means that Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #1 is far from perfect. But that being said, there is still fun to be had here. This story is shaping up nicely and has a lot of potential to improve in the next two issues. Plus, the nice art and Milligan’s new-reader friendly writing style means that most should get some enjoyment out of this title. If you’re a fan of the character, or have a casual interest in the Valiant Universe, you should consider giving this book a try.
Writer: Peter Milligan Artist: Cary Nord Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/5/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital