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Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #6

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Robert Venditti, Juan Jose Ryp, Jordie Bellaire

Aptly subtitled “Guts,” Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #6 is bloody good. Action-packed with a dose of intrigue, this book is a page-turning adrenaline rush.

The story here concludes the “Prelude” arc. These issues have been a look into the Eternal Warrior’s past, telling the story of the slaughter of his village and the kidnapping of his eldest child, Kalam. Readers met Kalam in the first arc of Wrath, a young man who lives with the rest of Gilad’s offspring and one of his wives in the afterlife. Readers are privy to the fact that Gilad did not raise Kalam, who was raised as a royal. His life and his death have not yet been revealed, nor have his reasons for his resentment been made entirely clear.

The previous issue ended on a cliffhanger with Gilad discovering the fate of his village and his family. This book picks up his frenzied quest to regain his infant son. Bloody and intense, the story propels readers through it, but there’s more at work here than mere action. There’s some interesting character developments, and the combatants prove that words can be just as sharp as swords. It’s a refreshing change to the normal portrayal of violent soldiers. Gilad is also shown to have an understanding of the ego and more wit (albeit a dark one) than we have seen from him before, especially in the midst of a rampage.

An enigmatic villain, previously teased but not seen, is revealed. Fan theorists should pay close attention to the historical sequences – this may not be the first time we’ve seen this character in a Valiant book. He’s been there all along, but with a surprising twist most won’t see coming. It’s fresh and exciting, and readers will be clamoring to learn more.

Writer Robert Venditti does an excellent job of keeping the tension high while revealing bits and pieces of the puzzle surrounding Kalam. Venditti’s plot is slowly uncoiling, and he’s giving Gilad just enough rope to hang himself. While the action is dizzying, it’s the mystery regarding the villain’s intentions that makes this a compelling story.

Artist Juan Jose Ryp brings history to life, depicting a myriad of cultures and ages. There’s a standout double page spread that highlights his skill and broadens the impact of the story. Ryp never skimps on the details, even in the background. While the action may be front and center, his attention to fine details such as ornamentation on the walls or the hilt of a sword give the reader a firm sense of when the story is taking place and lends to the believability.

Given the book’s subject, there’s no shortage of fights and close quarter battles. Ryp depicts the warriors with a grittiness and savageness that stands in sharp contrast to his softer, prettier portrayals of women and the infant Kalam. The fights themselves are brutal, and in combination with the realistic palette of colorist Jordie Bellaire, they have a viscosity that almost seeps off the page. This book is not for the squeamish. Ryp and Bellaire make a great team. Bellaire’s colors complement the scenery, and whether it be droplets on the stone or a spray in the air, her work emphasizes the harsh reality of the bloody battles. It is gruesome at times but never descends into absolute horror. The violence here is part of the story, not done for the sake of exploitation and the skillfully subdued colors emphasize this.

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #6 is an exhilarating read with just the right amount of intrigue to get readers excited to learn the secrets behind the upcoming “Labyrinth” arc. Don’t miss this one, it’s one of the best yet in this series.

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