by Thegreatmagnet on May 10, 2017

Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Renato Guedes
Colorist: Ulises Arreola
Publisher: Valiant Comics
I really enjoyed Robert Venditti’s run on Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, and I was bummed when the series was cancelled. Gilad is a great character, but he has struggled to find success on his own solo books. Venditti is one of the best writers to ever write the character (along with Matt Kindt), and I was glad he was getting another chance to add to the mythology of Gilad. This issue is a one-shot that was billed as an homage to issue #1 of Eternal Warrior from 1992, which is a pretty compelling story (albeit slightly dated). It delivers an interesting interpretation of that story, albeit with some questions about the premise.
In the original story from the 90s, Gilad is an unbeatable warrior who leads his tribe into a disastrous battle against a technologically superior fortified city. Before the battle, Gilad was visited by a stranger calling himself the geomancer, who warns Gilad to abandon his plans. After Gilad’s family and tribe are slaughtered, he is revisited by the geomancer and agrees to accompany him on his travels in service of the Earth. This premise had to be altered in the modern Valiant continuity, because Gilad was groomed from childhood to serve the Geomancer. In this iteration, Gilad suffers from amesia due to axe-to-head/fall-from-giant-cliff/drowning-in-river, and he’s approached by the geomancer after four years with a new tribe and a new wife. I’ve got some questions…Why does this injury trigger amnesia when Gilad has recovered from numerous traumatic injuries (and deaths) before? Where does Gilad end up, and why does it take four years for the geomancer (and Gilad's enemy) to track him down after his defeat in battle? Did Gilad go into battle at the orders of a geomancer, and is it the same geomancer that approaches him now? How much does his wife actually know of his past? What have people been calling Gilad, rather than his real name? For that matter, do the wife and the geomancer have names? I'm left with a lot of unanswered questions. 

For me, the most important part of this story is that it was seemingly the destruction of Gilad’s original tribe, the Anni-Padda clan. If this is the case, it’s clearly a very significant story for continuity-heads. Unfortunately, the book is very scant on specifics about that, and where this story falls in Gilad’s overall history. Furthermore, Gilad doesn’t really seem to grieve the loss of his tribe noticeably after he regains his memory of events. If this is meant to be a major event of the book, I almost completely missed it.
I think the art was a highlight of the book to be honest. I’m a bit surprised, because I didn’t enjoy Guedes’ work in Bloodshot Reborn #0, but he does fantastic work in this issue without any wonky faces. It is very finely detailed with no thick lines, and it looks great on textures, such as the geomancer’s crazy bone hat. I think it compares favorably with Juan Jose Ryp’s fanatastic period work from various Valiant series (Legends of the Geomancer, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, Britannia). Like Ryp, Guedes can draw a nice severed head. Colors by Arreola look great, especially in the night scenes and the rain. Solid job on the art.
There were some interesting ideas in this issue, but I wish that they were more specific about many things, both in the backstory and in the character moments of the issue. It’s hard to know how much weight to ascribe the story in the canon. Is it just a random story about one time when Gilad (for some reason) lost his memory, and nobody could find him? It’s not even clear when in Gilad’s overall arc this story is supposed to take place (although I would guess it’s before the events of Wrath of the Eternal Warrior). I suppose the light details allow more room for Guedes’ art to shine, which isn’t the worst tradeoff.

Our Score:


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