“Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel” #1 presents a good introduction to Gilad Anni-Padda as writer Peter Milligan, artist Cary Nord, colorist Brian Reber and letterer Dave Sharpe drop the immortal fighter into the conflict between the Franks and the invading Magyars. In introducing readers to Gilad, the creative team is able to quite efficiently draw from timeless imagery and battles, using five widescreen panels and thirteen caption boxes to set the story in the first spread then opening the second spread to a double-page splash filled with the mayhem of battle.
Reber brings atmospheric colors filled with near limitless variety, including overcast skies and bloody sunsets, adding a mystical filter to Cary Nord’s art throughout “Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel” #1. Reber adds depth and detail to the landscape, giving Nord’s rocks, caves, trees and flame definition and texture. And there is simply no mistaking the blood moon, as it becomes a sublime collaboration between Nord and Reber towards the end of this issue. As the comic progresses, Nord’s drawings reveal a little more of their underpinnings, most evident in one panel where Gilad comes across a Frank couple while on his quest. The middle of Gilad’s thigh defines the bottom of the panel, but the panel conforms to the warrior’s outline, with sketchy lines around his hands adding uncertainty and a kinetic promise of action.
Questioning his path, Gilad finds himself embroiled in the battle as the Magyars attack the Franks, but the warrior is disillusioned with humanity and not above voicing his cynicism when his guide, the Geomancer, comes calling. Milligan does afford Gilad some moments of navel-gazing, but manages to keep that from overwhelming this comic book. The writer balances that while presenting the Franks fear and attempts at courage, which helps rally Gilad by the final page of “Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel” #1.
There is plenty of action in this comic book, and it all looks great, but a considerable amount is in the past. The middle of “Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel” #1 slows a bit, measuring out the pacing for this first issue. Milligan, Nord, Reber and Sharpe pack plenty into this first issue of this Eternal Warrior miniseries to welcome in any reader, regardless of their depth of knowledge of the Valiant Universe in general or Gilad Anni-Padda in particular. Now embedded in the heart of the Frank-Magyar war, Gilad’s latest adventure is just beginning.