This issue is the natural conclusion to the arc we’ve read for the past three issues. That in and of itself is rewarding, but then the final pages set us up for a new story arc and even more questions. That’s honestly been one of the most refreshing things about this series under Robert Venditti’s pen… the mystery. He’s asked big questions and answered big questions like what happens when Gilad dies? Now he asks, how is he reborn? We’re getting ahead of ourselves though. The issue begins with Gilad’s first born son looking into the forest. Gilad’s wife Leena comes over to him and they talk about his regret for not talking to Gilad while he was there. We see the family bond that has been built in Gilad’s absence and that even though he is absent, he is loved. It makes his fight for rebirth all the more painful to watch as he squares off with Humongous. They continue their banter and we learn a little about the villain and what motivates him to continue standing in Gilad’s path. It’s a quick fight, but one that is rewarding given the amount of buildup it’s had.
I won’t spoil the set up for the next arc, but I was like, “Damn” when I read it. That’s the thing that Venditti did very well with this issue, he knew that he couldn’t just have Gilad wake up in a field or some basic shit and have everyone walk away satisfied. Anything less than what he did would have done the previous three issues a disservice.
Venditti understands the Eternal Warrior in the same way that he understands X-O Manowar, or that Matt Kindt understands Ninjak and Unity. They are very much the architects of the Valiant Universe right now. Gilad continues to be one of the deepest characters in the Valiant U thanks to this series. Before he really just seemed like the bruiser character of the team/storyline, but now with this series you can really appreciate and understand his character motivation and it changes the context of everything else he’s been in.
The art continues to be great. Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín produce some stunning work. In particular, there’s a scene after the battle with Gilad laying in the dirt and the rain. The sequence is powerful and cinematic as there are black panels sprinkled in, but then also the slow movement from Gilad. It’s just a great sequence that shows the talent that the artists have.
This book maintains it’s great quality in both the story and the art. So much so that I almost didn’t review it because what was there left to say? Then that ending hit and I knew I had to say something. This is Valiant’s strongest series at the moment and if it continues like this it’s going to be hard for other superhero titles to catch it.
Writer: Robert Venditti Artists: Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/17/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital