by Matt Kindt, Pere Perez, Brian Reber

Since UNITY #1 first hit newsstands in November of 2013, we have watched each team-member in non-stop action, battle after battle. The brain-child of TOYO HARADA, UNITY was Valiant Entertainment’s first major team since the publisher re-launched in 2012. While several characters have joined and departed the ranks of UNITY (e.g. HARADA and FAITH), the core-team of LIVEWIRE, GILAD, THE ETERNAL WARRIOR, and NINJAK have remained both actively engaged in UNITY operations world-wide. In the aftermath of the events that unfolded in between issues #1 – #14, it was time to begin to explore our characters a bit deeper so that we, the fans and readers, can better understand who each character is, what they stand for, how they think, and most importantly, who they are. UNITY #15 centered on NINJAK, and next month UNITY #17 will peek into LIVEWIRE.

Right NOW, UNITY #16 gives new depth to GILAD ANNI-PADDA, THE ETERNAL WARRIOR, and in many ways this UNITY #16 could be seen as a stand-alone issue of ETERNAL WARRIOR, which is completely fine by me.

As ETERNAL WARRIOR fans might expect, writer MATT KINDT tells the story of UNITY #16 across multiple time periods; present day and Feudal Japan. After 10,000 years of walking the earth, watching men live and die, GILAD’s mind has “Base-Line-Shifted” insomuch as his ability to handle stress in battle and in life. He has witnessed and partaken so much, that from his perspective, an event that MOST mortal men (even the heroic) might consider the pivotal moment of their warrior lives; GILAD has seen that same event perhaps 100 times. He has become desensitized, numbed, and hardened with the passage of time. This psychological reality is a “curse” as much as it does it “gift” for GILAD. In the same way time and experience have conditioned GILAD’s mind and body to survive the harsh realities of war; they also bring him a burden of memory and perspective. GILAD has witnessed and experienced more than any man was designed to, and his soul is forever tormented and uneasy.

However, through the passage of time, there are people who (when compared to the millions that GILAD has seen come and go) exist with an almost god-like charisma. They inspire humanity with but a word; make the weak feel strong; and stand when others cannot. They are rare, and they are few. GILAD knows this all too well; he has the perspective to do so, so when such a person appears before him in battle, as occurs in this story, it is impossible for him to ignore. Such a person might only live once in a 1,000 years, and for a man such as GILAD, it’s a chance to learn, grow, feel, and in many ways, to love. It is a chance to create a memory worth remembering that 500 or 1,000 years later will remain valuable and help shape who GILAD is today. GILAD is a man who keeps his word, year after year; generation after generation; age after age…

The writing is not overly complex, nor does it need to be. It tells the story clearly, which plays out like an enjoyable chapter of a good novel that is designed to remind us (the readers) why we care about the characters we read about, today and also tomorrow. UNITY #16 does a good job of telling an interesting stand-alone story that reminds us that GILAD ANNI-PADDA, THE ETERNAL WARRIOR is much more than a strategic tactician or brute aggressively swinging an axe or filling the ranks of UNITY. He is tragic, flawed, immortal, and human.

I’ll be up-front and honest; I have very much enjoyed PERE PÉREZ’s artwork since first seeing his work in the pages of ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, and PÉREZ’s work in UNITY #16 does not disappoint. His clean art style, and ability to draw faces which display emotion and character is on point. Valiant colorist BRIAN REBER (a man who basically IS Valiant’s coloring process; I mean, did you enjoy the colors on the last VEI comic you read? Whatever it was, BRIAN likely colored it) brings PÉREZ’s art to life with the quality, dimension, and blending that the master that is REBER is both known and respected for.

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