Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup.
Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #12 (Valiant Entertainment)
(w) Robert Venditti, (a) Robert Gill, (c) Mike Spicer
What has made Wrath of the Eternal Warrior so different (and as a result, polarizing) is the setting in which it places Gilad Anni-Padda. Rather than retread his earthly mission to protect the Geomancers, the creators have placed the Eternal Warrior in a hellish afterlife from which he must escape each time he suffers death on the mortal plane. It’s a shame that many have turned away from this series, because after a sluggish opening arc, the creative team seemed to have find their footing. And now, writer Robert Venditti and artist Robert Gill, look to end this series on a high note.
The narrative for Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #12 is a simple one, with Gilad bargaining with one of this world’s rulers for the soul of his son. The result of their conversation sends Gilad on a mission which will likely end in a big, bloody battle. Overall, it’s rather simplistic plot that is concerned mostly with setting up the next issue. Venditti’s dialogue is expository and drags down the pacing, which feels like the result of him rushing to tie off any loose ends before the final issue (it’s #14, for those curious). However, it is an effective and workmanlike performance that conveys the necessary information, making it accessible to all readers.
The real star of the issue is Robert Gill. Along with colorist Mike Spicer, Gill takes advantage the surreal setting of Venditti’s script to deliver equally surreal imagery. The character designs for Humongous, the Pale Herder, and their respective lackeys are impressively grotesque. Repulsive and engrossing, these figures and the world they inhabit coalesce into a nightmarish vision of the afterlife. Beyond the designs, there are moments in this book where the imagery Gill employs is breathtaking. There is one 3 panel sequence in particular in which Gill lingers on the horizon that is haunting. The colors by Mike Spicer inject Gill’s images with a liveliness befitting the afterlife.The slightly washed-out color palette gives the issue (and the series as a whole) an uneasy, unnatural look that works very well for this setting.
Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #12 is a solid issue that sets the series up for a big finale in its final two issues. Though it is not the series at it’s best, it captures the strengths of the Eternal Warrior – his tenacity, his resourcefulness, and his willpower – while still providing an entertaining read. Robert Venditti’s script is effective in building tension between Gilad and his antagonists, but it is the art team that truly shines. The work put in by Robert Gill and Mike Spicer is the reason to pick this up. Their output is simply stunning.
— Daniel Gehen
Black Monday Murders #3 (Image Comics)
(W) Jonathan Hickman (A/CA) Tomm Coker
What if the stock market was a temple dedicated to a cruel god of finance and wealth? Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker’s Black Monday Murders answers that question. This issue opens on a banker who is a part of the vast conspiracy that the series follows. At long last the mystery from previous issues is answered for the protagonist, Detective Theodore Dumas. Dumas has been trying to find an answer to the bizarre ritual murder of an investment banker and he has already uncovered leads that none of his fellow detectives would have ever seen. This vast conspiracy is at the heart of Black Monday Murders.
The interrogation of Victor Ereskos dominates this issue, and it is the delicate facial expressions that carry the panels. It’s a very careful balancing act to pull along reader interest from panel to panel while also managing the minute changes allowed by Hickman’s script and Tomm Coker manages it nimbly. There is a significant break in the issue for a quintessential Hickman transcript between Ereskos and his lawyer. It’s a significant choice outside of what would be considered for most comics, but Hickman pushes the plot through the gap. He’s at his peak in this issue. With little left to explain, he is free to let the mystery of the series unfold.
Hickman seems aware that it’s time for Coker and colorist Michael Garland to go wild with the story. This is finally realized in the gorgeous splash page revealing the depth of Ereskos’ commitment to his dark patrons.
If Jonathan Hickman has a fault, it’s filling pages with too much exposition, but in Black Monday Murders he entrusts more of the storytelling to his compatriots and it pays off amazingly. I heartily recommend catching up on Jonathan Hickman’s latest project which is full of nightmares that seem all too plausible.