The thing about filler issues is that they’re best served when they’re not painfully obvious. Unfortunately, as of late Valiant’s filler issues have been pretty obvious. Especially on Robert Venditti’s titles and while they’re never bad, they never hold weight with the rest of the series. It’s just a clever sidebar of sorts with the appeal only being to the diehard fan. After spending four incredible issues learning how Gilad is reborn, we’re taken back in time to see him with his first family. Well kind of. We actually see Gilad on a hunt while his village and family are slaughtered and his first born son is captured. Once Gilad arrives home and discovers what’s happened he sets out to find his son. Intercut between all of this is Gilad’s memories of his wife asking to have his child and being rejected by Gilad over and over.
This issue is actually really good. It is. I won’t deny that in the least bit. The pacing is wonderful and the flashbacks are small and not intrusive. That and they’re all in a red hue which serves as a reminder of how they end… in blood.
The only problem I see with this issue is that it’s a little like getting an appetizer that you didn’t order. Sure you’ll eat it because you’re hungry, but it makes you wonder what’s going on with your food that they had to give you an appetizer? I say this because the way the fourth issue ended really captured your attention. I mean it was a huge shake up after seeing the hell Gilad goes through to leave his paradise every time. To not get that this time… well, it’s like that appetizer you didn’t order. It’s a good issue, but I was expecting my meal to come out and instead I’m left waiting longer. Still, I can’t deny that I enjoyed the issue.
The art from Juan José Ryp is of course impressive. I always enjoy Ryp’s artwork and sometimes it’s enough to save a story. Not that this story needs saving, but it certainly needed Ryp. He excels at ancient civilizations and that’s maintained here as the story is set in ancient Mesopotamia. While Ryp’s artwork is always detailed to the point that some characters are ugly looking, what really stood out to me this issue was the baby he illustrated. It really had a Manara look to it and showed a lot of skill.
I don’t think that this was Jordie Bellaire’s first time coloring Ryp’s work, but it’s probably the first full Valiant issue of his work. It’s good, but not great. Some of the linework is too think and it doesn’t maintain that sketchy pencil look that it normally has. It’s not bad by any means, just that I’ve seen his artwork colored better. There are a lot of improvements that Bellaire makes to the settings and backgrounds in general that I definitely welcome. There was a clear definition between characters and setting which some colorists fail to do.
Overall, I think this is an issue that each reader will make their own choice about. Some will be more than happy to read another tale from Gilad’s long life while others might be put off by the fact that we’ve been teased and then forced to wait for the next chapter of the story. For me, I enjoyed the story and it’s just unfortunate that it’s cut so close down the middle, but ultimately I’m bumping it up just a touch because that art is always incredible.
Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #5 Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Juan José Ryp Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/16/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital