By Robert Venditti, Raul Allen, Patricia Martin, David Astruga, Borja Pindado
Gruesome and good, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #8 is an adrenaline-fueled page-turner.
The last issue found Gilad trapped, forced to behave like a rat in a maze to gain his prize – freedom. “The Labyrinth Part 2: A Thousand Cuts” picks up where his first disastrous attempt left off. Still under the thumb of the wealthy immortal who seeks the secret of Gilad’s immortality, the majority of this story depicts Gilad’s various attempts to escape from the labyrinth. There’s more going on here than meets the eye, though. Writer Robert Venditti threads a secondary plot through the story, one that hits home and has the potential to be more painful than any of the tortures Gilad is currently enduring.
The hits come fast and furious, and Venditti provides plenty of cringe-inducing circumstances for Gilad to endure. There’s even an unexpected name-drop that makes for a nice tie to another part of the Valiant Universe. As we learned in the previous issue, Gilad is being tested and studied, but we’re the ones learning about the nature of his mysterious captor. Venditti keeps him shrouded in mystery, but his behavior is unraveling. It culminates with an exciting ending that will have readers begging for the next issue.
While the labyrinth gets most of the focus, it’s the secondary plot involving Gilad’s family that will intrigue readers. There’s trouble at home, and the transformation of their behavior is saddening. Gilad is so transfixed on his current situation that he can’t see what is happening right under nose at home. This theme was touched on in the first arc of the book. Something more is going on, and it will be interesting to watch it develop further.
Artists Raul Allen and Patricia Martin, along with David Astruga and Borja Pindado bring the book to life using a variety of methods to great success. Traditional art is interspersed with bold silhouettes. Rather than feeling like a way to save production time, the silhouettes remove some of the grisly factor and keep the book from turning into a bloody horror story. The starkness of the silhouettes create a visual impact, giving some panels an iconic look. The last few panels of the book are a perfect example of how they add to the emotion of the piece and sear an image into your memory.
The traditional art is well done. There is a sense of movement – the characters never feel stiff or posed. Gestures and small movements keep even expository panels flowing. The result is a book that pulls you through. The integration of sound effects into the art itself is a nice touch, as are the heart rate panels which drive home Gilad’s experience in real time. A unique color palette of roses, blues, purple and black are used. It’s a striking look and fits with the concept.
Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #8 screams metal. Gnarly and thrilling, this book is ramping up for a major showdown while teasing readers with intrigue. This should be your first read on new comic day.