Robert Venditti (Surrogates, Green Lantern, X-O Manowar) has done for long term Valiant Entertainment hero Gilad Anni-Padda/The Eternal Warrior what Scott Snyder did for Batman and Mark Waid did for Daredevil a few years ago. Tight storytelling, a reverence for what made Gilad's stories so great during his Valiant 1.0 run, and new insights into the character have lead to one of the best mainstream comic book series of the year.
Fans of the Eternal Warrior already know enough about Gilad's eternal mission to defend, not only the Earth, but "to fight for humanity and make this world better." Therefore, Venditti smartly added some much needed new depth to the character in the first arc of Wrath of The Eternal Warrior. Venditti explored what happens to Gilad every time he dies and what he goes through in order to return to the land of the living, which includes a reunion with his children and his beloved wife and a battle against the forces of evil that want to keep him from returning to the good fight among the living. Venditti built this story masterfully, and then took the whole concept that he introduced in the first arc to the next level with the current arc, "Labyrinth."
In "Labyrinth," Venditti put Gilad up against what will truly end up being Gilad 2.0's greatest nemesis, "The Dying One," who is basically a smart re-imagining of Gilad 1.0's greatest enemy, "The Immortal Enemy." Unfortunately, a character has already been given that name here in the Valiant 2.0 Universe so "The Dying One" will have to suffice. Nevertheless, "The Dying One" has mismatch colored eyes and, upon it's death, promptly takes over a new body somewhere in the world while retaining all knowledge of its previous lives. All of which are characteristic of the old "Immortal Enemy" as it originally existed. Even though this character did get a little bit overused back in the original Eternal Warrior series of Valiant 1.0, it still remained a vital one to Gilad's overarching mythos, and seeing it return so grandly in Venditti's hands is wonderful. Venditti breaks new ground with this character by slightly changing The Dying One's motivations. In the past, The Dying One's motivations have been chaos, evil, and as a result, a desire to kill Gilad. Here, The Dying One's motivation is not only Gilad's death, but a scientific examination of Gilad's multiple deaths, and returns, in order to discover his secret and steal it for himself. You see, Gilad, although he can die and has to fight his way back to the living by choice, will resurrect into his own body over and over. This is something that The Dying One cannot do, and this obviously hampers The Dying One's world domination plans.
Venditti goes way beyond just a smart re-imagining of Gilad's historically (no pun intended) greatest enemy. He manages to weave story line threads through the overall series that reference back to previous events and hint at further plots and conflicts, thus building a great long term framework for future Eternal Warrior stories. Characters who showed up in the early issues of the series, actually at the start of the first arc, end up being vitally important to the current (and possibly the next) story arc. Venditti is building a depth to the character that Gilad desperately needed in order to keep him interesting. More importantly, Venditti is finally laying a solid foundation that will keep Gilad interesting as a character and viable as a revenue generating brand for years to come. This, of course, means that there will be great Eternal Warrior stories for a long time to come.
Thus far, the artistic job being done by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin has been perfect for the tone and setting of Wrath of The Eternal Warrior. Their art moves effortlessly from sci-fi based landscapes and back drops, like The Dying One's torture labyrinth that he keeps Gilad in, to the natural landscapes of the outdoor environment around it to the landscapes of Gilad's afterlife experiences. Thick lines, beautiful as well as frightening visages, and artistically presented violent battle scenes all make this the best Gilad/The Eternal Warrior and his stories have looked since Barry Windsor Smith drew his adventures back in the 1990s.
Wrath of The Eternal Warrior is a complete work of art from its story telling to its imagery, and is worthy of being on the top of your reading stack every month, including your Valiant Entertainment reading stack of books. Finally, long suffering Gilad Anni-Padda fans are truly getting the book that not only they deserve, but Gilad himself deserves to star in.