The second ‘Summer of Valiant’ comes to a close with the launch of Eternal Warrior, in which Greg Pak and Trevor Hairsine bring Gilad Anni-Padda, the immortal hero created in 1992 by Jim Shooter, to the 21st century.
The first issue sets the stage for what’s to come, as Pak and Hairsine give you a look at what Gilad’s life was like in Ancient Mesopotamia and then thrust him forward to the present day where he gets called on by a very unexpected individual to pick up arms again.
Broken Frontier spoke to Pak on the eve of the series’ debut about his own entrance into the Valiant Universe and what his plans are for the comic.
BROKEN FRONTIER: It’s no secret that you’ve got a great professional relationship with Warren Simmons and Fred Van Lente. How much of a factor were they in your jumping aboard the Valiant ship?
GREG PAK: Huge. Don’t tell Warren, but from the minute he called, I was pretty much going to work on anything he offered me. Working on “Magneto Testament” with Warren at Marvel was one of the greatest creative experiences of my career. When you have the chance to work with an editor like that again, you jump.
And of course, the fact that Fred was already working at Valiant was another sweet incentive. Fred and I have worked together for years, most infamously on the “Incredible Hercules” saga for Marvel. I love that crazy kid and am always happy to have the chance to work somewhere in his general ambit.
Were you very familiar with the Valiant Universe beforehand?
PAK: Shocking confession: Nope!
I mean, I knew the characters and the company, but I hadn’t read many of the actual books. The advent of Valiant came at one of those narrow windows in my life when I just wasn’t buying that many monthly comics, so I missed that first wave. But when Warren mentioned Eternal Warrior, I knew enough about the character to sense this was going to be a pretty sweet fit.
From Jim Shooter to Barry Windsor-Smith and John Ostrander, there are quite a few names that have worked on Eternal Warrior. Was there anything in particular from their takes that has inspired you for your run?
PAK: I just think the idea of an immortal warrior is a brilliant, classic premise. In terms of storytelling technique and settings and genres, there’s just a huge opportunity for fun when your character’s life spans five millennia. And in terms of character, there’s great, juicy emotional stuff to explore when you’re looking at a warrior who’s seen empires rise and fall over so many generations — and seen every one he’s ever loved turn to dust. This is big, heroic, mythic stuff, and I just love it.
Now that we’re name-dropping creators, this is the first time you’re working with Trevor Hairsine. How is that working out thus far?
PAK: Brilliantly. Trevor and I haven’t even talked directly with each other yet, believe it or not. But he totally gets what I’m going for in these scripts and I couldn’t be happier. He’s got that visceral, tactile, realistic style that draws you right in and makes you believe. At the same time, he totally gets what comics do so well and knows how to deliver those big, dynamic images that burst from the page. Just fantastic stuff.
Because of the age in which he was born and his immortality, Gilad has a very mythological aura about him. Will you underscore that in the book?
PAK: You bet. That was a huge attraction to me, the chance to help create a new mythology for a comic book universe. We’re going to be doing some pretty mind-blowing things as these stories unfold — dontcha dare miss a single issue!
In a weird twist of fate, next to Eternal Warrior, you’re writing Batman/Superman and preparing for Action Comics. One of the struggles with Superman has always been to make him relatable and human because he’s nigh indestructible. How are you trying to avoid that same pitfall with Gilad?
PAK: In a funny way, Superman has never felt unrelatable to me because I’ve always just thought of him as Clark Kent, who’s incredibly human in a way we all can understand.
Similarly, Gilad’s an immortal, but deep down he’s the Sumerian tribesman he was born as five thousand years ago. Yes, he’s always been a brilliant, savage warrior. But he’s also just a mortal soul upon whom immortality was thrust. He’s also not physically invulnerable — he can bleed and suffer like all of us. So the hook becomes looking at what experience of immortality does to a person who deep down has the heart and soul of an everyday person just like you and me.
Since he’s literally been around for millennia, Gilad has seen the rise and fall of societies, even the Valiant Universe if you will. Does that mean Eternal Warrior will act as some sort of backbone or roadmap for the Valiant Universe as a whole?
PAK: Wow, that would be a pretty big responsibility! We’ll see. I can say that we will be gradually revealing some of the secret inner workings of the Valiant Universe as we go along, so if you care about the big picture, yes, by all means, buy this book.
But first and foremost, as always, we’re just trying to tell the best stories we can that let us explore the epic struggles and emotional conflicts of this amazing character. Hope you’ll come along for the ride!
Eternal Warrior #1 by Greg Pak and Trevor Hairsine goes on sale September 11 from Valiant Entertainment.