I have seen the future, and it is… very, very meh.
A major part of the appeal of Greg Pak’s current run on Valiant’s Eternal Warrior is that starting with issue #5, Eternal Warrior takes place in the year 4001 A.D. For those of you that failed Chronology 101, this is nearly 2000 years into the future, meaning it’s the first glimpse of the future Valiant Universe since their line-wide relaunch in 2012. This is exciting not just because future, alternate universe timelines are a creative playground, but also because it opens the door for Rai, and other Valiant comics staples from the future universe. During Valiant’s original ’90s run, the intersection between present day and future stories made for one heck of a timey-wimey crossover event: the original Unity.
Gilad Anni-Padda, aka Gilly, aka the Eternal Warrior, makes for a great first foray into the future, seeing as he is Eternal. On the surface, too, there’s a lot to like about this plot. You have an undying, ruthless warrior fighting for the lives of his people in a dystopian, backwards future. Toss in the very capable hands of Greg Pak, the man who brought us Planet Hulk, and you have a strong foundation. Mystic kings, Fallout-style radiation plaguing the landscape, and a sweet I’m-old-but-I’m-still-a-badass Santa beard on Gillad? Sign me up!
And yet, “Eternal Warrior #8” doesn’t offer a lot to get excited about. Part of this is just the nature of the issue. We’re clearly tying up a lot of loose ends as Gilad leads a crew of robots and a small army to get hold of the “cure” for radiation infecting his tribe. The biggest problem with the story, though, is that there is literally no dramatic opposition throughout this seemingly “epic” quest. Gilad’s crew fights the “death cult,” they swarm Gilad’s army in massive numbers, and no character we know even gets a scratch. It might be the most anti-climactic fight scene I’ve read in comics.
If you like fairly nondescript legions of “death cult” dudes getting smashed by robots, this is your comic. Robert Gill produces some pretty uneventful art, although to be fair the splash page of Gilad leading a charge blending with the Death Cult getting mowed down is eye-catching. It’s a violent, bloody red scene and visually captures the battle very well.
At the end of the day, an aged Gilad Anni-Padda is an interesting take on the character. He’s clearly more sentimental, more caring, and clearly worried about the lives of the soldiers he’s about to lay waste. Fortunately, Pak makes things interesting again when it’s revealed that Gilad’s beloved young ward has made her own tiny little robot and is clearly going to be a challenge for Gilad’s future. Suddenly the sweet little girl is something sinister in Gilad’s eyes.
Here’s to hoping that leads to some more dramatic story-telling than what we have in “Eternal Warrior #8.”
Verdict: 4 out of 10.