Eternal Warrior finally sees Valiant’s long-lived hero brought back to the page in his own ongoing title. Draw by Trevor Hairsine and written by Greg Pak, Gilad Ani-Pada can now claim a spot on the shelf next to the rest of the Valiant stable. The book which is similar in tone to X-O Manowar but is completely unlike it in every other way and to every other book published by Valiant, is unique in its scope and direction. Where X-O Manowar is about a man out of time, Eternal Warrior is about a man with nothing but that very thing.
Starting the book off millennia ago, we see Gilad about to go to war against the Death Cult of Nergal with his son Mito by his side. With them, but told to stay behind for fear of her safety, is his daughter Xaran. As the battle commences and the hordes meet, the enhanced might of the Nergal troops seems like it might be too much to bear. At this point Xaran rushes in with some men and manages to start beating them back. But when she starts to go after the women and children, Mito stands in her way only to be killed by her hand. Gilad who also would have been mortally wounded was to meet the fate of his son, but being eternal, was spared only to live with the grief. Come present times after thousands of years of battle, Gilad has retired until a knock on the door returns his traitorous daughter to him. She comes with a warning and after much happens, he makes a decision to free himself forever and kill the goddess of the Earth.
There are some great concepts by Pak in this series, the first being that three gods reside upon the Earth where each play a role and each have followers to serve their cause. Gilad is the Sword of the Earth and served it faithfully for many years until he could no longer do so, having lost that faith in the cause. Unbeknownst to him, Xaran who is also immortal became a Sword of the Wild and the final god; Nergal has his own called the Sword of Death. Another idea that sees fruition in this book is that the ‘gods’ can be killed. If they can be defeated so, it begs the larger question, ‘are they gods?’ Perhaps they are just another form of immortal being much like Gilad and Xaran are. One thing is for sure, it will be fun finding out just where Pak takes it from here.
One theme that Pak does explore in this book more than any other is that of family. Family are the ties that bind as they say and Pak tests Gilad to the limit of that meaning. Gilad loves his family and when they are taken away from him, one by fratricide and the other, to his knowledge, by time, it almost breaks him. To see his daughter appear then, thousands of years later, he does not know whether to kill her or embrace her. And as the issues roll by, that family bond gets tested more than once, through battle and revelation.
Ever since Valiant has returned to the market, finding the perfect writers and the perfect artists for the right concepts has seemed like a priority for them. Putting Trevor Hairsine on this book was a great idea as he can draw both the brutality of war as well as the innocence of a man and his dog. Being able to balance the two extremes that this book represents is a feat that not everyone could do successfully. Hairsine also lets our hero look like one and whether in battle or repose, his presence is commanding. If he can stick to it for the long run, this book could end up being the best drawn book that Valiant publishes.
The funny thing about this series is that while it might star Gilad as our main protagonist, Xaran is really the breakout character. While she seems to know what she wants and is strong and independent, and even though she has tried to kill her father in the past, deep down, you can tell she still loves him. And he loves her too. At some point it would be great to see some solo adventures from her, either a miniseries or even within this very book. It is called Eternal Warrior. There is nothing to say that the book has to star Gilad.
For a title that is just starting out, it did so well and it did so strong. Pak seems to know where he is taking this book and the riveting story that is contained within is proof that he has the talent to bring us along with him. Trevor Hairsine’s interiors are fantastic and there are not enough good things to say about them. Volume one was dramatic, exciting and surprising and should it continue, volume two will be met with great anticipation.
5 out of 5