This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior.
Just under a year and a half aog, Valiant Entertainment released a deluxe hardcover edition collecting the entire 14 issue run of Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior along with Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1. Fifteen comics presented in an over-sized hardcover along with 20 odd pages of bonus extras that add a lot for those interested in the process of the creation of the series, all for $49.99. And yes, I did buy this myself (and happily so) despite having access to the review copies and single issues I had picked up when released.
This series remains one of my all time favourites, so getting a chance to read it all in one spot was something I couldn’t pass up.
But despite this being one of my all time greats, it wasn’t until about the midway point that I fell for the series. Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior didn’t start out as a series that wowed me. The first four issues seemed to struggle with pacing and the art style, especially given the series billing as a follow-up to the explosively exciting Book Of Death miniseries that (spoiler) ended in the Eternal Warrior’s death. It’s that death, and those that follow, that form the crux of the series, but without the first four issues you don’t realize the toll taken on the Eternal Warrior with each death and resurrection cycle. The comics that I felt struggled with pacing quickly became some of the most important ground-setting in modern comics – a lesson that I took to heart, and quickly so.
Comics, like all stories, need time to breath.
It would also be fair to say that the art team of Raul Allen and Patricia Martin were not immediately to my taste. In furtherance to that, it would also be fair to say that my taste quickly changed as the series progressed and the elegance and artistic genius of the husband and wife team gave me a new appreciation of the majesty of sequential art. There are other artists who contribute to the series, all with a fantastic level of talent; it’s these contributions that give the series the honour of being one of the most visually stunning and diverse pieces of sequential art published by Valiant.
Robert Venditti has written some incredible comics in his time, but one of the finest examples of his work comes in the fourteen issue run of Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior. Taking you on a journey through history, across continents and beyond death, Venditti weaves an incredibly deep tale that reveals a different layer upon each subsequent reading.
It’s also violent as all hell in places, which should satisfy the need we have for a bit of blood and conflict in our comics, but there’s also a deep emotional story here that cannot – and should not – go ignored. The Eternal Warrior is an ancient being, and his life has not always been sunshine and roses – but he still picks himself up and dusts himself off.
Isn’t there a saying that’s roughly it isn’t how many times we fall, but how many times we pick ourselves up?
Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior is a fantastic series, and I envy those of you who get to read the entire thing in one sitting; the deluxe hardcover is worth picking up for that series alone, which is why I haven’t mentioned Eternal Warrior: Awakening at any point in this week’s column because that’s the cherry on top of the fantastic main course. Mixed metaphors aside, Awakening is another really good comic, and serves as another nice bonus for those who buy the collection.
I’ll make no secret of my abject love for this series, indeed the fact I own both the individual issues and the deluxe hardcover when I also have access to the review copies should hopefully speak volumes to that love. It’s a love that I genuinely believe you’ll share when you give the series a chance – it’s an underrated gem.
Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.