Even though I got into comics just as the Image Revolution helped usher in the Boom and Bust of the 90s, I didn’t know about much outside of DC. That was my jam and, while I’d see other books at the shop and eventually read about them in Wizard, I stayed in my line. Occasionally, I’d get a multipack or something with a random book, like Archer & Armstrong #16, but they usually just got flipped through, then slid into a bag-and-board and tossed in my “Other” box.
Of course, that version of the company eventually collapsed and, as it happened, lead to a number of former Valiant employees getting work at Wizard where I would eventually work with them. Now, Valiant’s back, Wizard’s gone and some of my former co-workers have gone back to working for the V. Comics is a small group.
ANYWAY, that’s all a long-winded way of saying that, though I haven’t written about them here, I’ve read my fair share of these trades. I’ll be honest, books like Harbinger, Bloodshot, Shadowman and X-O proved a bit too dark for me, but I’ve still found a lot to like from the company, including two related titled, Ivar, Timewalker and Eternal Warrior!
These titles have two things in common. First, they’re written by two of my favorite writers of superhero comics out there: Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak. They don’t get enough praise, but I’m pretty sure everything I’ve read of theirs has been a favorite. These books also star one of the immortal Anni-Padda brothers.
Ivar stars in the first book, the first volume of which is titled Making History. Van Lente writes with art by Clayton Henry. This one starts with a scientist named Dr. Neela Sethi about to begin an experiment at Cern when she’s rudely interrupted by a man named Ivar who claims she’s about to accidentally invent time travel.
He’s not the only one after her, though, which kicks off a chase through time as he uses his Tachyon Compass to track down and pass through Timearcs. This leads them through both the past and the far future (4001 to be exact, a reference to the next Valiant Trade Post) including a trip to World War II where Ivar intended to teach Neela that the major events of the past aren’t changeable and accidentally allowed her to meet his brother Gilad.
Neela and Ivar get separated at one point which leads to a heartbreaking issue in which she tries repeatedly to save her father from the car accident that will take his life. Ultimately, she realizes its impossible, but just then an enhanced version of her from the future appears! I don’t know what happens after that because I haven’t gotten my hands on the second volume, but I’m sufficiently intrigued. Van Lente’s got a great, fun story here with an awesome modern woman as the star and an artist in Henry who seems able to perfectly incorporate every genre into one delightful package. He’s also great at getting weird and representing time travel in interesting ways on the page with panel setups and whatnot.
So, that Gilad guy I mentioned? He’s the star of the Pak-written Eternal Warrior with artwork from Trevor Hairsine and Clayton Crain. While Ivar hops through time, Gilad’s been around since ancient Mesopotamia where he and his brothers became immortals thanks to a device called The Boon. He also got a gig as something called The Fist And Steel which is basically a bodyguard for an Earth representative known as the Geomancer. In other words, he’s been killing the people he’s been told to for thousands of years.
But, at the beginning of this book, he’s been out of the game for a while, having gotten sick of the murder. He’s living in Africa, but as anyone who’s ever experienced a story about an old warrior hanging up his sword/spurs/claws knows, it can’t last. He gets brought back into the life by his partially psychotic daughter who also happens to be immortal.
This book opens up a lot of doors into the supernatural workings that make the Valiant Universe tick. There are gods and houses and warriors for each. As this first book — Sword Of The Wild — comes to a close, Gilad’s decided to kill all the gods which sets him up for some trouble when his long-thought-dead-son will wake up in a few thousand years, but that’s apparently a story for another day. As it happens, it’s not covered in Eternal Warrior Volume 2, but we’ll get to that one in the next post.
All in all, I found this to be an interesting story, albeit a familiar one in its overall construction. Still, it was interesting seeing an unusual father-daughter relationship on the page and Hairsine’s wild art fit the book perfectly both during the ancient days and the modern ones.
Between the solid writing of both books, the great art and the looks at the world-building at play, I found myself very intrigued by the Valiant Universe, at least the corners that these guys work on. The books that I read and didn’t take too all had a lot of darkness to them, but these two titles, while also intense at times featured some great light parts that kept me interested and coming back for more. And I’ve got more books, so keep your eyes peeled for more Valiant Trade Posts, including one dedicated to the last Anni-Padda brother, Aram, otherwise known as the co-star of Archer & Armstrong!