What's Happening X-O Manowar, the Armor Hunters and slightly unhinged Harbinger kids are all great, but what many Valiant Comics fans are pining for is a great Eternal Warrior story (since it doesn't seem like we will be getting a great Eternal Warrior ongoing series). It looks like we're finally getting it. For the first time in the Valiant U 2.0 Gilad Anni-Padda will be taking on his greatest foe...The Immortal Enemy. This is not the Immortal Enemy of the old Valiant U though. This one is much more powerful and frightening. It's going to take a entire group of valiant heroes to overcome this Immortal Enemy's schemes.
The Writing The superstar comics writing team of Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth) and Matt Kindt (Mind Mngt) doesn't disappoint with issue one of this Valiant Comics prestige format event. Starting out with Gilad's first encounter with The Immortal Enemy and showcasing a battle between the two where Gilad plays the role of Beowulf and The Immortal Enemy that of Grendel, The Valiant #1 establishes a depth to Gilad's character that we haven't seen much of yet this go around for the Valiant Heroes. They also bring back Kay McHenry, the new Geomancer introduced in the pages of Archer and Armstrong by Fred Van Lente. She disappeared for a while as Gilad undertook a rather weak adventure in the pages of his own book, set in the year 4001AD for several issues, and while Gilad began to develop into a much more interesting character in the pages of Peter Milligan's Eternal Warrior Days of Steel. Gilad has been shirking his duties as the Fist and Steel of the Earth (the servant and protector of the Geomancers), but one can't help but think that Kay can rekindle the flame in him...perhaps in more ways than one. The inclusion of Bloodshot into the tale is deftly done as well. No doubt he is included in this story in the way that Wolverine is included (or was until recently) into nearly every Marvel Comics event, but Lemire and Kindt do not make him feel like he's shoe horned in to attract casual readers (Bloodshot is arguably one of Valiant's most popular characters). It is how Lemire and Kindt bring a sublime level of horror to their characterization of The Immortal Enemy though that really makes this book chill inducing. This Immortal Enemy isn't just a man with different colored eyes (as he was in the old incarnation). No, this is a beast of chaos and death, and a much more worthy foe for Gilad to engage.
The Artwork Speaking of chill inducing sublimity, Rivera's art is astounding here in The Valiant #1. The artwork is highly detailed, highly kinetic, and has a rugged and (well) aged feel about it. Rivera effortlessly bounces between portraying ancient Viking longhouses, ancient Mesopotamian villages and temples, and modern warfare machines. It is the quietest moments where Rivera's talents shine their brightest though. The pages where McHenry is pouring out her soul to Armstrong are beautifully done. Each panel portrays a different emotion on McHenry's face that flow so well with the dialogue it's almost cinematic.
The VerdictThe Valiant is the must read of the year from Valiant. Armor Wars was fun, but this is going to be awesome in the classical sense.