Monday, 30 December 2013

Eternal Warrior, Volume 1: Sword of the Wild Review (Greg Pak, Trevor Hairsine)

Gilad Anni-Padda is the Eternal Warrior, a multi-millennium-old champion of the planet, killing anyone the Earth God asks as part of her obscure plan. But after thousands of years of service, he turns his back on the God’s wishes and decides to retire from being her Sword (contract killer). Except old warriors are never allowed to rest for long and after Gilad is brought back to the life he thought he’d left behind for good, he vows this time to make his exit permanent by killing his former boss - the Earth God!

Greg Pak gets the series off to a cracking start by opening the story in Ancient Mesopotamia with Gilad’s people, including his son Mitu and daughter Xaran, fighting the Death Cult of Nergal, whose warriors get hulked out on dark magic. Lots of cool action ensues and Pak sets up the characters relationships nicely with Gilad favouring his son Mitu and disliking (for good reason it turns out) his daughter Xaran.

The series takes a while to set up once the action is over and done with. There are multiple “houses” of the Earth, the Wild, and the Wheel (and probably others) that people belong to, each house has an Eye (someone magical who communicates with the god of that house), and a Sword (someone who carries out the actions of the god), and it’s this exposition and scene-setting that slows the book down after it’s initial burst of momentum. I realise it’s necessary and Pak does a decent job of setting out all the information, but it still feels somewhat convoluted when presented in this book.

The story in this book feels epic in concept - Gilad goes to kill the Earth God - but is disappointingly pedestrian in execution. It basically amounts to Gilad blowing up a tree! The action in the second half of the book is also less interesting than in Ancient Mesopotamia. The bulk of the story takes place in the present day (sometime when Gilad’s not involved in the Unity storyline) with the fight scenes involving guns and therefore boiling down to one side firing at another, which simply isn’t as exciting to see compared to elephant stampeding into monstrous regiments and mad sorcerers.

Trevor Hairsine’s art is fine though and his action scenes are superb - there’s a strong sense of motion playing out over several panels that has a dynamic kineticism to them. Also Clayton Crain’s artwork in issue #2 set in post-Civil War America is stunningly gorgeous. Epic painted landscapes with amazing colours from Brian Reber and elegant yet vicious fight scenes all make, at least part of, this book absolutely beautiful to look at.

If the book starts out promisingly and ends somewhat generically in a mess of action with the good guys predictably achieving their goals, the second volume at least looks to be more imaginative. Playing up the eternal part of the title, Pak is going to set the next part of the tale 2000 years in the future while reintroducing the Death Cult of Nergal - with a twist. The first volume of Eternal Warrior is good in places, dull in others, and decidedly average overall, but it’s not a bad start to an interesting series that I’m curious in seeing where it’ll be headed next.

Eternal Warrior Volume 1: Sword Of The Wild

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