“A Valiant Read” is a regular column in which we highlight some of the best jumping-on points for the Valiant Universe. Find out more.
“A Valiant Read” is back for another edition! This time around, we’re looking at “Eternal Warrior”. Regular readers of this column will know that he’s appeared a few times throughout our coverage, but never in a starring role – until now. Let’s dig into the first trade paperback collection, Sword of the Wild, written by Greg Pak (“Incredible Hulk”, Action Comics) with art by Trevor Hairsine (“DCeased”) and others.
Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with Eternal Warrior. This column will explain who he is, where to start, and where you can keep reading.
Who Is Eternal Warrior?
As mentioned earlier, Eternal Warrior has popped-up a few times in our coverage. Although, if you aren’t a regular reader of this column, we’ve put together a quick summary to help get you acquainted.
Eternal Warrior is Gilad Anni-Padda, an immortal who has been around for six thousand years. During this time, he served as “The Fist And The Steel”. This means he’s the warrior companion to the lineage of the Geomancer sorcerer. Together they work for the mystical voice of the Earth, battling anything that threatens to tip its cosmic balance.
While he’s often depicted as a primal warrior, killing countless people on the battlefield, Gilad is also a man of honour. He works to a personal code of not taking the lives of women and children – especially if they’re innocent. It’s not something he’s willing to budge on, which causes significant internal conflict. There are also plenty of external conflicts, with Gilad opposing those who don’t hold the same way of thinking.
Eternal Warrior has appeared a handful of times before in comics such as Archer and Armstrong, Unity, and X-O Manowar. “Sword of the Wild” is set before all of these, even though it was published afterwards. As a result, you don’t need to brush up on his previous appearances to read this.
Written by Greg Pak. Art by Trevor Hairsine, Clayton Craine, and Diego Bernard. Inked by Alejandro Sicat and Vicente Cifuentes. Coloured by Brian Reber and Guy Major. Lettered by Simon Bowland and Dave Sharpe.
After six thousand year’s worth of battles on behalf of Earth, Gilad has called it quits on being “The Fist and the Steel”. The responsibility of the role has weighed too heavily for him to bear any longer. By walking away, he has found inner peace in solitude. However, a figure from Gilad’s past has returned to pull him back into the endless fighting.
The trope of a character coming out of retirement to confront their bloody past is not a new idea. Where Eternal Warrior shines is how it explores other dynamics around this concept.
One of these is the duelling forces of responsibility and the task at hand. Gilad is a warrior at heart, willing to kill thousands of enemy soldiers without apprehension for the cause. However, that doesn’t always align with his personal code. This internal conflict, which is often reflected outward, is used to give Gilad more layers. He’s not simply the primal warrior, but someone with a conscience and some form of moral compass.
The other dynamic at play is family conflict, with readers introduced to Gilad’s son and daughter. Mitu, his son, is a chip off the old block, and a loyal warrior whose code of honour reflects his father’s. Gilad’s daughter, Xaran, is the apple that fell further from the tree. Her exposure to her father’s life of violence has consumed her. She lacks a moral compass and is willing to kill whoever it takes. These differences in approach create tension between the family members, and show that even after six thousand years, a family can be just as dysfunctional as ever.
Primary artist Trevor Hairsine is a great fit for Eternal Warrior, capturing the chaotic nature of the battle, mixing up panel sizes to control the pace. Tight panels highlight single actions, while wide panels show a much larger scope of the battlefield. There’s also a balance to the violence, with plenty of it present. However, it’s always partially obscured by a figure of the border panel, and never the centrepiece. This approach gives the battle impact without the reliance on excessive gore. While there’s some, the reader can fill in the blanks for much of it.
Artist Clayton Craine is responsible for the flashback sequences throughout the book, but I personally don’t think he’s the right fit for them. The subject matter is grounded too much in reality for the digital painted style to work, with Craine’s style functioning more effectively in the context of science fiction. Valiant will eventually find the right comic for him in Rai, which How to Love Comics will be covering in our next edition of this column. Until then, Craine isn’t playing to his strengths.
You might be a bit confused about Eternal Warrior’s role if this is your first exposure to the character. It was clearly spelt out in the second arc of Archer & Armstrong (where he first appeared), but it’s more ambiguous here. Considering it’s been established in another title, it would’ve been better for readers to receive more of an explanation upfront. For the uninitiated, you’re stuck piecing it together over the course of four issues. (Or, reading this column’s summary.)
While it makes uninitiated readers work harder than they need to, this opening arc is a solid introduction to the Eternal Warrior. It’s a comic that’s less focused on its main plot and more interested in exploring the by-products and themes that it creates. This is where the most interesting elements are, and this is what will keep you reading.
Want to read more Eternal Warrior? Check out the subsequent trade paperbacks in the series:
Eternal Warrior Volume 2: Eternal Emperor
Written by Greg Pak. Art by Robert Gill.
Collects: Eternal Warrior #5-8
Eternal Warrior Volume 3: Eternal Emperor
Written by Peter Milligan. Art by Cary Nord.
Collects: Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #1-3
Unfortunately, this series ran for less than a year. It was revived as “Wrath of The Eternal Warrior” a few years later.
We’re heading to the year 4001 AD for “Rai”. I hope you can join us!