by Robert Venditti, Robert Gill, Doug Braithwaite and Brian Reber
“Only the dead have seen the end of war…” – Plato
Gilad Anni-Padda, “The Eternal Warrior” is an immortal who has walked the earth for since about 6,000 BC (also since 1992’s Solar Man of the Atom #10 roughly 23 years ago, his and the Geomancer’s 1st appearance). He is the “Fist & Steel” of earth, and sworn protector of the Geomancer; an unbroken line of men and women chosen by the Earth itself to protect and defend it since the beginning of recorded history. He has survives 1,000 wars, and countless battles. Witnessed the evolution of warfare from the “bronze age” to the distant future of 4001. Gilad is an experienced tactician. He “knows” the touch, feel, smell, and sound of battle. He stands at a massive 6′ 6″ and 285 lbs, and is physically capable of crushing bone with his bare hands; an action which is certainly is not below him. Yet, it is his experience and perspective that are his true power; his psychological ability to plan, organize, prepare, and execute. He is a general amongst warriors.
He has also not been handled by Valiant Entertainment as well as he should, often written as a brute fighter clumsily swinging an axe and his foes. Long-time readers and fans of Gilad know how to look beyond his recent stories and know what the character is truly capable of. Occasionally (e.g. Eternal Warrior #8; the end of the Eternal Emperor story arc) we have seen a glimpse of his potential. However, for much of his recent appearances, Gilad has been written wrong; or (at a minimum) his abilities have been down-played.
Then Book of Death #2 happened, and we finally see the Gilad, the Eternal Warrior handle business the way he born to; like a warrior with 8,000 years of killing experience! Make no mistake, we get to see the Gilad we fans of the Eternal Warrior have been waiting for, and for better and for worse, he does not disappoint! Book of Death #1 gave us a glimpse into the future; Book of Death #2 takes that and expands with pages that are as visually as epic as anything readers have seen to date.
Those pages are brought to life by artists Robert Gill and Doug Braithwaite. An artist from the UK, Braithwaite’s work on Unity, Harbinger, Imperium, and Armor Hunters is among some of the finest and most memorable work we have seen since the 2012 re-launch of Valiant. His work on Book of Death has been no less, with his mastery of pencils telling this tale! Robert Gill is another exceptional artist, whose recent cover art for Ivar, Timewalker #5, #6, and #7 demonstrated his pure artistic genius and awareness of history by capturing the comic styles of the Golden Age, Silver Age, and Modern Age of comics on each cover! At the same time, Gill was behind the cover art for Book of Death #1 which now has more than 70,000 printed copies in circulation (plus a second printing) and ranking #22 for “Total Unit Sales of Products Invoiced in July 2015” (Ref: Top 100 Comics: July 2015). It is safe to say that Gill’s art in Book of Death #2 is matches that same quality and pairs well with Braithwaite’s art. The same can be said for the colorist team of Brian Reber (coloring Braithwaite’s work) and David Baron with Allan Passalaqua (coloring Gill’s work) who are creating some of the finest work in comics today. Brian Reber basically “is” the man who has colored much of the most iconic and memorable work that Valiant has put out recently, and has complimented the work of fan favorites such as Lewis LaRosa, Mico Suayan, Robert Gill, and Doug Braithwaite, and many others.
Lastly, the writing. It is good, which should come as no surprise since writer Robert Venditti is running the show. In his run of X-O Manowar, Venditti has handled these characters many times over. He knows who they are, how they interact, and what they would do. He knows their history together, which is significant enough to mention here. It matters, and you will see.