Valiant Comics kicked off a new Eternal Warrior mini-series last month, Days of Steel, that explores some of the time that the titular hero spent in Europe during the years of the Magyar invasion of Frankish lands. Gilad was tasked with bringing a prophecy to fruition, a prophecy about a saviour of the Franks who must be guarded during his infancy and then taught to fight and lead his people. It was a pretty good debut issue that instantly made me a fan of the character and even of Peter’s writing and Cary Nord’s artwork, and the second issue is one that I’ve really looked forward to.
However, the second issue is nowhere near as good an issue as the debut issue last month and I find that quite weird. It is as if there’s this big switch in direction, both narrative and art, and that just doesn’t jive so well with me. Going into the third issue next month, I expected a lot of forward momentum in this issue, but we get very little of it actually. There’s a pretty big twist to the story early on and then towards the end, so that redeems the issue overall, but I don’t think the writing here was on-point as it was in the last issue, and the art also seemed to suffer in a lot of places.
Last month’s Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #1 stands as one of the best issues I’ve read this year, especially debut issues. There’s something incredibly powerful in Peter Milligan’s writing and Cary Nord’s artwork in that issue that really speaks out to the reader. So I was expecting the same kind of performance in the second issue, and that’s where it seems that my expectations were shown the door since Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #2 is inferior to its predecessor in many ways, though it is not a complete loss either.
The two big twists, the first in the start of the issue and the second in its ending, are both good twists that really liven things up as far as the story is concerned and keep me interested in finding out more. With a story like this, there needs to be time for it to breathe and live, and that’s what Peter Milligan does for the most part, but the middle bits of the issue are quite tedious and uninspiring, given that much of the middle is taken up with Gilad fighting pointless battles and him even saying as much in his narration, which is kind of odd coincidence but is what it is.
The pacing definitely suffers in the middle of the novel, and there were some times when I had to wonder if this was even written by Peter since it is so different from the near-perfection of the first issue. I just didn’t expect so much tedium in the story, especially not when this is the second issue in a three-issue mini-series. And the tedium is also down to the fact that much of the story is straight up predictable from the moment that it kicks off. Which is where the spectacular final page comes in, and another one a few pages earlier than that which really throws a spanner in the works for Gilad and his hated mission-giver, the Geomancer.
Not sure where things really went wrong here, but I’m still hopeful about the outcome for this mini-series since Peter is generally a really good writer and often things are on a slow-burn with him until they bloom up. That’s the expectation I have for the third issue next month anyway.
Cary Nord is the artist here with Brian Reber on colours and Dave Sharpe on letters with the cover by Lewis Larosa and Brian. For some reason, Cary Nord’s pencils in this issue are different from how they were in the first issue last month, and that in itself deals largely with how Gilad himself is drawn, with some exaggerated expressions or weird body-language that doesn’t quite seem the right way. The colours are beautiful of course, and Brian must really be commended for that, but since the pencils don’t seem to pass first muster, the colours don’t have quite the same cinematic effect as they should have.
Next month will tell us what’s gonna happen next.
More Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel: #1.