Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #12
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Robert Gill
Colorist: Mike Spicer
If you want to see a clinic on how to do creature art, look no further than Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #12. Robert Gill and Mike Spicer kill it in putting up some of the best renditions of hell (at least one of them anyway). Of course, it does not hurt to have Robert Venditti on the keyboard lending his talents to the script, either. I was really torn with this issue in settling on a final score. I did not feel the story was necessarily epic; of course it’s a bridge episode to a larger finale. But it had that feeling from The Equalizer (the Denzel Washington one) of a total badass just kicking ass and chewing bubble gum. One thing is certain. Hell better get its proverbial dung together if they are going to eff with the EW’s kid.
In this issue, we open with Gilad in the clutches of Humongous, one beast of a…well…beast. Venditti scripts one hell (no pun intended) of a villain’s sinister monologue. The big H’s words absolutely drip dread. And it is no less twisted when he drops the big truf right on Gilad’s head. Is Humongous simply taking advantage of a remarkably timely opportunity? Or did he orchestrate this whole ballet entirely to rid himself of an enemy contending for his hegemony over this particular sector of hell. We may never know. But what we do know is that, verbally, via Venditt’s superbly conveyed eloquence, Humongous strums one hell of a violin in saying just the right words to the Eternal Warrior. Words that point him like an arrow towards the Pale Herder, another senior demon who looks perhaps more horrific than Humongous himself.
What puts the icing on this cake are Gill and Spicer’s visuals. The portraits in hell gave me the wiggins from cover to bookend. Everything is pretty much perfect from an artistic perspective. While there is plenty of bestial work, Gilad and his son are equally well-rendered. There is no weakness in the art team here in going from creature to human, no proportionality issues, no distraction in weirdly inaccurate portraits of Gilad or his son’s face. In particular, there are a couple of really exquisite portraits of Gilad’s expressions when Humongous says something to him that is especially tortuous. Such as when the demon gives Gilad his son’s bow and quiver and says that he believes it was taken when Kalam was in Humongous’ realm trying to rescue his father. The Eternal Warrior is wracked with the guilt of knowing that Kalam was taken while trying to save him, and Gill renders an utterly perfect expression of a father broken on the reef of sorrow and guilt for a son tortured due to the father’s failure. Wonderful.
The ending of the story is punctuated when Gilad, now mounted up to avenge his son’s capture and torture in full Eternal Warrior armaments, enters The Pale Herder’s army encampment by strolling in and blowing the head off warrior demon and demanding the return of his son. It was a classic dude “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! moment. It delivers the message for any readers unfamiliar with the whoa that is Gilad by firmly painting him as a one-man army.
This issue definitely gets a new reader engaged and anticipating the next issue. For those who like their action laced with a healthy amount of medieval leger Shakespearean dialogue, Eternal Warrior should be right up your alley. And it will lead you into the wonderful world of the Valiant Universe, which is one of the best but more compact hero universes in comics. The only shortfall in this issue is that not much happens action-wise. It is a lot of talking, and I get why it is needed in an arc, but it did not get me amped up as much as a more adventurous issue might. As an adventure comic, Eternal Warrior is one of the best, and I am sure that there are great things to come. As it stands this is the best of solid, well-written and drawn comics, and a great ramp to what I am sure will be an epic follow-on issue.