By Robert Venditti, Raul Allen and Patricia Martin
The first issue of Wrath of the Eternal Warrior set up an intriguing premise for Valiant’s immortal warrior. Spinning out of the recently concluded Book of Death miniseries, Gilad Anni-Padda, the Eternal Warrior, sacrifices himself to protect his charge, the Geomancer, and thereby saves the world. So where does a selfless, undying warrior go when he dies? While that is yet to be revealed, it certainly sets this book up for a story that is unlike anything to come out of Valiant yet.
Issue #2 gives us another glimpse at Gilad’s wife and children whom we encountered in the last issue and learn a little bit about how they became involved in Gilad’s life. The primary focus is on Gilad’s wife, Leena, who is concerned that Gilad will not be staying in the afterlife with his family. Now, this review won’t go into any specifics at the risk of spoiling the rest of the issue, but Robert Venditti certainly knows how to set up a hell of a story.
In an industry dominated by short arcs and throwaway events, Venditti continues to prove that he is in his element when he is given the freedom to let a story breathe. His work on X-O Manowar has been nothing short of spectacular arc after arc, with an overarcing storyline that continues to have ties to the beginning of that title even after 42+ issues, and he looks to be doing the same in this book as well.
The family dynamic Venditti has introduced to this title is something we haven’t seen tackled by Valiant since the introduction of Gilad in the pages of Archer & Armstrong back in December 2012. Gilad has always been depicted as a tough and strong-willed warrior, but never have we been introduced to the more familial side of the character. Sure, the short-lived Eternal Warrior series of 2013-2014 gave us a glimpse at Gilad’s family ties, but the character remained somewhat dull and predictable, characteristics which Venditti has seemingly managed to erase within two issues. Judging by the end of this issue, we’ll no doubt be seeing plenty of action in this book in the months to come, but the exploration of Gilad’s character beyond his duty as a warrior will no doubt be tackled with finesse at the hands of Venditti.
Of course, praise must be given to the art team of Raul Allen and Patricia Martin who offer an amazing depiction of this world that we readers are slowly discovering. Allen’s minimalist art style may not be for everyone, but the lack of background details really help the characters take center stage which has been particularly important in these first couple of issues as we get to know the cast of characters. The color work is exceptional, with a subdued, almost pastel palette which really sets Allen’s style apart from that of other artists. Despite its minimalism, the art is rich and textured, and the colors help move along the story by setting up the mood and tone of each panel and page.
Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #2 continues the character-driven reimagining of Gilad and delivers a solid story with just enough reveals to satisfy the readers, while holding back enough to keep you wanting to come back for more. We have seen a shift over the last year to more character-driven books at Valiant and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior seems to continue this shift with a simple yet deeply layered exploration of a character we still know so little about. With solid narration, intriguing world building, and beautiful art, this is one book you should be adding to your pull list.