Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Eternal Warrior #1

Eternal Warrior #1, August 1992, Valiant
writer: Jim Shooter
artist: John Dixon
colorist: Paul Autio and Knob Row
letterer: Jade
editor: Bob Layton

When I began collecting comics, Dark Horse and Valiant were the only "other companies" I knew. Their characters, while not rich with history, were visually appealing and marketed fairly well, especially Valiant's Solar. Still, I never ventured into that universe. I stuck with the heroes with household names. I stuck with the franchise.

Just as I began to expand my scope as a reader and collector, Valiant folded. I haven't researched why, but I wonder if Image's more visually appealing and marketing hype had anything to do with it. Something about Valiant went stale. Being an "other company" wasn't as unique as it used to be.

That said, Eternal Warrior #1 is not only my first taste of a series, but it's but my first impression of a company. Of course, you can't judge every Marvel comic by an issue of Cloak & Dagger, but in my opinion, any given comic is a window to that respective universe, no matter how large, small, or secondary, no matter how cosmic or down to earth. You can't make a final judgment, but you can derive a first impression.

So, my first impression of the Valiant universe? Bigger than its own skin. The first issue of Eternal Warrior not only offers an origin of its hero, which spans thousands of years, but also ties in to a multi-title epic event. While the first half of the issue is light on text and heavy on action, the second half pours on the dialogue in an attempt to bring its characters, and readers for that matter, up to speed. Although I rarely challenge an artist's ability to lay out a page, I often found myself backtracking to keep up with the time period or the setting. The writer's transitions were poorly translated, I reckon. If this were television, I would have flipped back and forth from this episode, interesting to see where it was going, but intimidated by the way it was getting there.

I like the idea. The Eternal Warrior is just that, a man with an inexplicably long lifespan, super-strength, and a high tolerance for pain, often finding himself in the middle of a battle. From David versus Goliath to Punisher versus the mob, all in one issue. Oh, and the guy's brother is along for the endless ride as well, but devoid of the lust for conflict, has resigned to wandering the streets of Los Angeles. Where else.

Makes me wonder. If I lived eternal, which archetype would I be, the tireless adventurer or the apathetic observer? How much history can one man stand before he decides he's seen it all? What do you do with forever on your hands? A difficult question for anyone, I assume . . .

Or for any comic book company. Unfortunately, not all of them get to answer that question. So long, Valiant. Maybe I'll see you again.

I feel compelled to mention that this issue's cover is excellently crafted by Frank Miller, although the piece offers little resemblance to the actual story. His career may benefit from the pontifications inspired by this issue, but we'll save that argument for another time.

After all, tomorrow, off to San Diego. Speaking of an universe in and of itself.

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