Gilad Anni-Padda has fought more battles, killed more men, and saved the Earth more times than he can remember. A battle against the Followers of Nergal in Ancient Mesopotamia still haunts him though. He lost something dear to him that day, even though the day was won. Now, while attempting to live a life of peace and seclusion in remotest Africa, the immortal Gilad discovers that the Earth has not fared well during his absence. An offspring of his, once thought lost, has returned to attempt to set things straight though...with her father...and the Earth...but will Xaran, the Eternal Warrior's daughter, be the catalyst to a series of events that helps right an Earth in desperate need of its Fist and Steel or usher in the Earth's last days?
Finally, this long suffering Valiant fan's favorite character, The Eternal Warrior, returns to the pages of his own ongoing series. Putting aside my giddiness at the arrival of Eternal Warrior #1, I have to honestly say that this first issue is just about everything that I've been waiting for. Gilad, introduced here as the "Fist and Bronze" of the Earth, is preparing to lead the forces of civilized men against the "monsters" of the Followers of Nergal in Ancient Mesopotamia. Gilad's opponents are not monsters though, but rather drug crazed and semi-barbarous men whipped into a frenzy by the priests of Nergal and their intoxicating berzerker potions. Unfortunately, Gilad nearly loses the day until Xaran intervenes and turns the tide. Her blood lust is overpowering though. It outshines even Gilad's own battle lust, and her actions end up appalling even Gilad. It is this dynamic between Xaran, Gilad, and Gilad's son Mitu, created by writer Greg Pak, that not only moves the story along, but gives it the depth that makes Eternal Warrior #1, like each and every one of Valiant Comics' books, a cut above so many of the other comic books being published currently. Pak is a great writer, and is finally really getting the attention and opportunities that he deserves. By weaving a new dynamic into the incredibly potential laden plots that he could have easily used given The Eternal Warrior's inherent depth of potential story lines (given the character's incredibly long life and history) Pak demonstrates once again why he should be heading up a major property like Eternal Warrior. He not only writes great stories, but manages to find new ways to get at a character that one doesn't expect, in this case by focusing on Gilad's relationship with his children, along with the historical implications of Gilad's actions.
Artist Trevor Harisine brings this new age of The Eternal Warrior's adventures to a fittingly rough and ragged looking life. His somewhat unfinished looking pencils create the atmospheric look that the rough hewn life of ancient Mesopotamians and their barbarous would be conquerors must not only have looked like, but felt like as well. Unfortunately, part of the appeal of the Eternal Warrior's historical time spanning adventures is that readers were often treated to imaginative recreations of various ancient historical settings, and there is little of that here in the first issue of Eternal Warrior. Granted, most of the issue takes place on a hazy ancient battlefield in the Middle East, but I was hoping for a little closer look at the Ancient Mesopotamian setting. This is only the first issue though, so I'm sure that Hairsine will get more of a chance to incorporate recreations of some compelling historical settings (and their architecture) as the series progresses and Gilad goes globe trotting and pops up in different historical time periods.
The above complaint is more a case of a super fan splitting hairs with a book's creators than an objective artistic critique of what is a nearly flawless first issue though. Again, it's pretty obvious that I'm an Eternal Warrior fanatic who has been dying to see his favorite Valiant hero in print again and is going to continue to pour over this first issue incessantly, that is until issue #2 hits the stands. All bias aside though, Eternal Warrior #1 is the kind of first issue to an ongoing series that will undoubtedly appeal to any fan of intelligent, and great, super hero comics. Welcome back Gilad! Here's hoping that you stick around a great deal longer this time. Under the direction of Pak and Hairsine, I suspect you'll be with us for a very, very long time.