Review: Eternal Warrior (2013) #5 by Greg Pak & Robert Gill

Eternal Warrior (2013) #5

Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Robert Gill
Colored by: Guy Major
Lettered by: David Sharpe
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

During the 90’s, a significant part of the Valiant universe took place in the far future. In addition to Magnus: Robot Fighter, Rai (later Rai and the Future Force) told the story of a line of warriors that traced back to Bloodshot. Since Gilead (the Eteral Warrior) was immortal, he was still around in the year 4001 and was part of the Future Force.

During the Valiant relaunch, all of the titles had been set in modern times. There have been a few teaser ads (the first one was back in Valiant’s 2012 Free Comic Book Day book) hinting that Rai would be appearing, but nothing came from it. So, I was pretty surprised when the end of Eternal Warrior #4 told us that we would be jumping forward to the year 4001. Would we finally get to see Rai?

Summary (contains spoilers): At the end of the last issue, Gilead had decided he was tired of being manipulated by the Earth Goddess that he had once sworn to protect. She says that everything she had done (including letting billions of creatures die every day) was necessary to maintain balance in the world. She also warns that if Gilead kills her now, that in 2000 years, the evil  Nergal will escape the prison she was holding it in. Gilead decides to blow her up and take the next 2000 years to prepare for the coming of Nergal.

This issue picks up in the year 4001. The world seems to have devolved in a lot of ways. Gilead (now calling himself the Eternal Emperor) and his people live primitive lives in the shadow of what used to be Little Rock…

For the most part, machines and modern conveniences seem to have been forgotten. So when Gilead’s tribe is attacked by a massive mechanical dinosaur, his people have no idea how to deal with it.

Many of them are killed before Gilead and his granddaughter Caroline manage to take it down.

Caroline is fascinated by the machine, and determined to figure out how it worked and how to control it. So, she can send it back to kill whoever attacked them.

Gilead realizes the machine has a defective nuclear core, and hurries his people into the forbidden ruins. The machine soon explodes, and Gilead tells his people they must stay in the ruins until the mushroom cloud dissipates.

Gilead says he has to leave them and will be back before winter. Caroline follows, and he tells her that “The others will die. The explosion has already poisoned them. It might be possible to get a medicine to treat them, but it will be difficult and we will probably be killed in the attempt to get it.” He says the other option is to let the people die, and Caroline and him can start fresh someplace else. Caroline says that they promised the tribe they would return. Gilead agrees with her and they set off to find the medicine.

They encounter more of these robot beasts, and find they are being controlled from a city. Gilead leads Caroline to a massive walled city determined to find out who was responsible and kill them.

Review: One thing that I have really loved about the “new” Valiant is that it is clear that the creators are free to chart their own course.  They seem to respect Valiant’s history, but never are confined by it.  A lot of the characters are familiar to readers of the old Valiant books, but the stories and settings are completely original. This version of Gilead became jaded by the manipulations of the Earth and seeing him at war with the Earth ensures the character is fresh and new.

I loved the parallels between this issue and the first issue of the series. That issue took place in the far past, and we saw how Gilead and his daughter were fighting against Nergal’s army, including Xiang fighting on the back of an elephant.

I also thought that Pak and Gill did a great job showing the conflict that Gilead was feeling. More than earlier in the series, Gilead seems very human here, dealing with years of baggage and uncertainty.  Gilead is a far different man now, and his relationship with Caroline is far different from the relationship with his children was watched play out over the first four issues of this series.

The world of 4001 seems a little generic at the moment, but it has only been one issue, so I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here. One thing I really loved about old school Valiant’s future is that it was not a total dystopia. I am just not cynical enough to think that the future will be full of slavers roaming the countryside and all cities will be dark, evil, walled fortresses. Why can’t fiction ever show a cool future where things worked out all right?

I will say that one thing that does sort of bother me about Eternal Warrior is that Gilead seems to go through a huge character change between his appearances in Archer and Armstrong and his own series. It’s never entirely clear why he turned his back on the Earth so quickly. I also think this series could have used a 0 issue to help establish the world of 4001 a little better.

This was a great change in direction of Eternal Warrior and the Valiant universe, and I can’t wait to see where this is leading.  Still no Rai, but I am definitely hoping we will be seeing him soon!

Final Score: 8.5: Strange to see a book get a complete restart after only four issues, but this was a great change of direction. Really excited to see what the future of the Valiant universe looks like, and Gilead is the perfect tour guide.

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