When Valiant relaunched in the summer of 2012, long-time fans had a mental wish list of characters they wanted to see return. With four ongoing series launched and a new one coming soon, some of the top names on that list have made their re-debut… And now, Valiant announces another epic return: the Eternal Warrior. Last week Valiant teased his return in an image proudly displaying the text “Wrath of the Eternal Warrior,” and now the publisher has given us the exclusive news on just how the Eternal Warrior will make his return.After being briefly mentioned in the first issue of Archer & Armstrong, series writer Fred Van Lente will give the Eternal Warrior a proper welcome in issue 5 with the beginning of a new arc titled “Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.” It all comes about when Archer, the youthful protégé of the immortal Armstrong is deemed a threat to Earth itself – bringing in the Eternal Warrior. And did I mention, Armstrong and the Eternal Warrior are brothers?
Originally created by Jim Shooter and artist John Dixon back in 1992, the Eternal Warrior is an immortal warrior named Gilad that serves to protect the Earth from threats of all kind. Working with a line of super-powered individuals known as the Geomancers, the Eternal Warrior is considered the greatest warrior of all time – even greater than his brother (and fellow immortal) Armstrong. In previous Valiant stories he’s found on virtually every battlefield from ancient Mesopotamia to World War II and even into the far-flung future of 4000 A.D.
In this new era of Valiant, there are a lot of questions to be asked about the Eternal Warrior’s return, and Archer & Armstrong writer Fred Van Lente talked with us over the weekend about how it all plays out.
Newsarama: You can't lie to us, Fred.... you've been planning this since you sneaked in a mention of the Eternal Warrior back in Archer & Armstrong #1, right? Has this re-debut of the Eternal Warrior been in the plans all along for the Archer & Armstrong series?
Fred Van Lente: Yes, it has. I wanted Archer & Armstrong to have a lot to do with Armstrong’s brothers, both the Eternal Warrior as well as Timewalker. I like the idea that these immortal brothers’ powers change, and that played a big part in the first issue.
Speaking of the Eternal Warrior’s mention in the first issue, I thought it’d be fun to show him dead in his first appearance. [laughs] He gets better, obviously, to come back in Archer & Armstrong #6 and how he does that is a big revelation.
Nrama: The title of this arc that starts in Archer & Armstrong #5 is “Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.” What does Gilad have to be wrathful about?Braithwaite
Pullbox VariantVan Lente: Well, a couple different things.
The Eternal Warrior works with the Geomancers, who are a line of unique individuals with the ability to talk with the earth and, in turn, have the earth talk to them. The Geomancers send Gilad out to defeat things threatening Earth and support life on the planet.
This affects Archer & Armstrong when Obadiah Archer, Armstrong’s newfound best buddy, runs afoul of the Geomancers and that brings the Eternal Warrior into the picture. The “wrath” of the Eternal Warrior is directed at Archer because the Geomancers see him as a threat to Earth, and his brother Armstrong is standing in his way of ridding Earth of that problem.
Nrama: Is this just a one-off appearance or will the Eternal Warrior be a part of this series indefinitely?
Van Lente: The Eternal Warrior is going to be around for awhile. He’s acting as the hand of the Geomancer for this second arc, and he plays a pivotal role in Archer and Armstrong’s quest to bust the Geomancer and the Null’s world conspiracy. And let me just say, readers are going to learn a whole lot more about the Null soon.
Nrama: Let's back up a bit and get the low-down on Eternal Warrior for those that didn't know him in his last outings. Who is the Eternal Warrior and how does he compare to his brother, Armstrong?
Van Lente: Basically, once upon a time in the state of Ur, which is ancient Mesopotamia, there were three brothers. One was smart, one was funny and one was strong: Ivar the Time Walker, Armstrong and then Gilad, the Eternal Warrior. Gilad was resurrected from death to be the guardian of Earth, and he’s been working behind the scenes for centuries in various conflicts, wars and police actions to keep the world as safe as possible. Now, he believes Archer is a threat to what he protects, so he needs to kill him.
Nrama: Each time a classic Valiant character is re-introduced, Warren Simons and the editorial team have an artist redesign the character for modern times. Who did the redesign we see here today?
Van Lente: The original Eternal Warrior design was pretty cool with the cartridges on his sleeves and the gauntlet on one first. Patrick Zircher, who also redesigned Ninjak, did a terrific job adapting that classic look into a modern context as you can see.Nrama: Joining you for art on this arc is Emanuela Lupacchino [Her two-page cover can be seen to the right], who's been doing some great work over at Marvel but someone very different than the first artist on this book, Clayton Henry. How does Emanuela fit into this?
Van Lente: Well, the new Geomancer we’re debuting is a woman named Kay McHenry, and Valiant really wanted a female artist to design her. Valiant Associate Editor Jody LeHeup worked with Emanuela at Marvel, and brought her onboard for this.
And let me tell you, Emanuela is doing a terrific job. One of the things I love about the original Eternal Warrior series was that it had so many flashbacks to previous adventures of Gilad, and we’re doing that here in Archer & Armstrong #5. Like those original stories, we’re showing how Gilad’s adventures in historic times reflect on his current conflicts. A good chuck of #5 will show Gilad in Ancient China right after the reunification and in the build-up to the Warring States-era. Emanuela is killing it on these historical period-type scenes; it’s like a massive Jet Li movie.
I’m not going to lie, the way Armstrong and the Eternal Warrior get along as brothers is very similar to the way Greg Pak and I wrote Ares and Hercules in Marvel’s Hercules. And #5 also has a my favorite chase sequence I’ve ever written in a comic; it’s non-stop.