Announced by Valiant Comics as part of the publisher’s Periscope-streamed pre-Comic-Con International event, writer Robert Venditti and artist Raul Allen are be the creative team for a new ongoing Eternal Warrior series, which sees the character stranded in a landscape unlike any he’s ever seen before. “Wrath of the Eternal Warrior” finds Gilad trapped, lost and forced to stand alone against a strange, unpredictable world — and one where he may meet his end.
Following the upcoming “Book of Death” event, also written by Venditti, the new series will kick off this November, as he attempts to find a way home. To learn more about what he’ll be up against as the series begins, CBR News spoke to Venditti about the next few months of the Eternal Warrior’s story in an exclusive first interview about the series.
CBR News: The Eternal Warrior will soon be taking center stage in “Book of Death,” which you’ll be writing yourself. What’s he facing as he heads into that event?
Robert Venditti: At the start of “Book of Death,” there’s been a series of natural catastrophes that have wiped out towns and killed a lot of innocent people. The Eternal Warrior, Gilad Anni-Padda, is the Fist and Steel of the Earth and the protector of the Geomancer, a mystical entity within the Valiant Universe that acts a conduit between humanity and Earth itself. The young Geomancer, a girl named Tama, is believed by most of the heroes in the Valiant Universe to be the cause of the natural catastrophes.
Gilad believes otherwise, however, because of a book in Tama’s possession — the Book of the Geomancers. Her book contains a prophecy that foretells the future of the entire Valiant Universe, and the clues inside it can reveal the true cause of these catastrophes. At the same time that these disasters are occurring, Gilad and Tama are being hunted by a shadowy unseen force that wants the Geomancer killed.
The rest of the heroes are also hunting Gilad and Tama because they believe that, whether inadvertently or on purpose, Tama is the cause of these events. So it’s Gilad versus everybody in the Valiant Universe.
Following Book of Death, he’ll be returning to a solo ongoing series in “Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.” Where will he be when the new series starts?
I can’t go into too many details without giving away spoilers about how “Book of Death” is going to play out, but what I can say is that in the entire history of Gilad as a character — even going back to the original Valiant continuity — we’ve seen him face countless challenges in all sorts of locations throughout all sorts of eras. But I can promise you that what he’s going to face here is something that we’ve never seen him face before.
It’s a completely new way of looking at the character and examining what he has to go through in order to be the Eternal Warrior.
What do you view as the core of the series? Is it a character study, foremost?
I try to put character first and foremost in every story that I write, and that’s certainly going to be the case with “Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.” As far as my take on him and how it may differ from what we’ve seen before, I think you’ll start to get a sense of that in “Book of Death,” and how he’s different from everyone else around him. I think in comics it’s easy to equate heroes to all being the same in how they act, but Gilad is truly is unique. Not just because he’s immortal and what he’s gone through, but because his viewpoint is different from everyone else in the Valiant Universe.
What type of landscape does he find himself in, here?
While I’d like to get into the specifics of it, I think if I did at this point Valiant would probably kill me. What I can tell you is that this is a completely different look at the concept of immortality from a hero’s perspective. I think a lot of times you’ll read stories about immortal characters and you get a sense that they live and die and repeat. But you never really get a sense of what it takes to truly be immortal. The cost in terms of what you’ve lost and what you’ll lose again.
If you think about our lifetimes, and you think about our regrets, imagine having an immortal lifetime of regrets, living with them, and carrying them with you everywhere you go. Those things would break the will of a lesser man, but Gilad is able to persevere in spite of it. And there are some costs even greater.
Does being physically away from Earth — and the Geomancer — affect his power set, at all?
His power set can be defined several ways. Of course he’s strong, he can heal, and he can’t theoretically be killed, but I think his greatest power is his learning. He’s been around in the Valiant Universe for a very long time, and as much as he’s a man of history, he’s also a scholar of history in the best sense of the word. The history that he knows isn’t something he’s read about in books. He’s lived it.
In a lot of ways, he’s the wisest individual in the entire Valiant Universe. Just his way of seeing things is different from everyone else’s. For example, the way he carries his ax, which is a weapon that we would look at today as being sort of primitive, especially in the a world of heroes where we have the X-O Manowar armor, Livewire and her abilities, and Ninjak and all his gadgets. Compared to all that, an ax would seem almost pedestrian. But for somebody like Gilad, who has seen the ax throughout history, it’s actually an incredibly versatile tool. He can start a fire with his ax, chop down a tree, build a shelter, or use it as a weapon. He can polish it and use it as a signal mirror. He can do a million different things with it that you can’t do with a gun or a sword.
And that’s just one example of how his experience really puts him on another level. That’s a power set that he’s going to have with him whether he’s on Earth or not.
He started off as an aggressive loner when we first saw him, but over time he started opening up to other people. Now that he’s been ripped away from them, will he revert to that mode again?
I don’t know if I would describe him as an aggressive loner as much as a man on a mission. When we originally saw him in “Archer & Armstrong,” he was searching for the new Geomancer because that’s his mission: to protect the Geomancer at all costs. But he has lost a lot. Over the course of his life, he’s lost all the mortals he’s ever known: family, friends, even other Geomancers. Those losses, while each one is profound, they never get any easier, and the cumulative weight of them certainly drags him down.
He also takes very seriously his role not just as protector of the Geomancer, but also as an instrument of good and change on Earth. He’s driven by that, and he thinks there’s still plenty of good that he can do in this world. He’s somebody that, in order for him to continue to do this for all the years that he has, he has to believe there’s more good in the world than bad. And if he keeps trying eventually that goodness will persevere. He’s an eternal optimist, really.
Raul Allen is the artist for the book, having previously worked on covers for “X-O Manowar.” What appeals to you most about Raul’s style as artist?
What really impresses me about Raul is the way he looks at a page and the way he thinks outside the box in terms of design and the energy that he brings across in the art. It’s something that has a very stylistic bent to it, which I think is the best kind of art. It feels very unique, like something only he can do. That’s very much the type of artist that I enjoy working with – someone that brings their own sensibilities to a project the same way that I try to bring them in my writing.
This is my first time working with Raul, but I’m very excited about it. He did a lot of covers for “X-O Manowar,” and I loved them all. I can’t wait to see how he takes the script and turns it into a page.
What kind of approach are you taking in terms of tone, here? You’ve written all kinds of different stories for Valiant so far — ultimately, what can we expect from “Wrath of the Eternal Warrior”?
With each story I write, I try to do something different. I challenge myself as a writer and hopefully grow, so this is going to be something different than anything I’ve ever written before. Not just in terms of the amount of storytelling possibilities that come with somebody with as much history as Gilad, but also the way we open the story and the conflicts we’re going to be putting him up against.
These are things that I’ve never written before and that I don’t believe Gilad has ever faced, so there are going to be a lot of new challenges there. I’ve set the challenge for myself. Hopefully, readers enjoy the result.
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