Monday, February 17, 2014

Review -- ETERNAL WARRIOR #6

Eternal Warrior #6

(Greg Pak / Robert Gill / Victor Olazaba / Dave Sharpe / Guy Major; Valiant Comics)
4.5 stars
If Eternal Warrior #6 was a sandwich, it would have as its main condiment some sort of fig spread to provide an unexpected sweetness, but it would also have a thin layer of jalapeno relish to give it a bit of a bite. It's got both, spicy and sweet, and it makes for one delicious mouthful.
In this issue, Greg Pak keeps the flash-forward introduced last issue going. The action takes place in the year 4001, and Gilad Anni-Padda, our titular Eternal Warrior, is still trying to find a quiet life for himself and his granddaughter. It's just that everybody else keeps doing things to make him stay involved in all this stuff he'd rather avoid – like freeing slaves, destroying robots, deposing brutal leaders, and dealing with the general idiocy of science unharnessed from knowledge. His reluctance to get involved is charming in that sort of Clint Eastwood “Stranger with No Name” way. Pak writes weariness of character perfectly. Without having to say it, we know the Eternal Warrior has been through all of this before, knows how it will end, and would rather not be part of it.
But then there are the eyes of his granddaughter Caroline. Her clear black and white morality serves as the perfect foil for Gilad's cynicism. They will learn from each other as this series progresses, but I foresee heartbreak at the end of this. I'm already dreading it, the Eternal Warrior creative team has made me care, damn them.

Again in this issue there is that moment when all the disparate activities of each creator responsible for this book gel. There it is a splash page consisting of nothing but Caroline's face, her eyes raised to look into the eyes of her grandfather, her arms crossed, a small trickle of blood flowing out of her nostrils. Artist Robert Gill's layout here forces your focus to her eyes. They are huge and trusting -- you can't have a heart and ignore what they are saying. If this was on black velvet, you might find it for sale in a truck stop parking lot, but here, on the page, it works perfectly. Victor Olazaba's inks delineate, deepen, and enhance, even down to the irises of Caroline's eyes. Then Guy Major works the magic of a colorist. Caroline's skin tones echo the colors of the sunset behind her, shadows meld and blend with subtle hues, the hazel of her eyes dance with the light, and the blood from her nose quivers with an intricate play of red tones.  Dave Sharpen adds the piece de resistance with his lettering of a quiet “What?” – perfectly centered in its bubble – firm and encapsulated.
You'd do anything for a face in a moment like that. You'd “get involved”; you'd “save everyone”.
It's these quiet moments that bring out the sweetness in this book. You understand why characters do what they do because you have a heart and you'd do it too.
But Eternal Warrior #6 isn't all goo-goo eyes and pink cheeks. There's hoes to the head and swords to the chest. There's even battles with giant robots (and I love me some giant robot fights)! This is a story with a feel of progress. You get a sense that this is a story that is headed somewhere, with large intent and big ideas. It's great to see the full creative team understanding the heart of this book and everyone working together to pull it off. If you want to see what comics can look like when everyone is on the same page (both literally and figuratively), check out Eternal Warrior #6.

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