Exclusive: Peter Milligan Talks Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel

It's been a couple of months since he appeared in his own regular series, but today Valiant [...]

It's been a couple of months since he appeared in his own regular series, but today Valiant announced that the Eternal Warrior will be back on the shelves in a solo book soon.

Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel will see the character on a Tenth Century quest to protect a child for whom hope in the future might rest (at least according to the Geomancer). It's the first time we've seen the character hold steady in a more barbaric setting after seeing glimpses of that past in Archer & Armstrong and his own solo title.

"The Eternal Warrior is a character of immense proportions with literally thousands of stories waiting to be told throughout history. Peter and Cary are two masterclass storytellers, and have forged a story that befits the awesome scale and scope," said series editor Alejandro Arbona in the announcement. "Set against the backdrop ofone of the most ferocious periods in all of human history, Peter has not only delivered an intense action-packed story but one that is also incredibly moving and thought-provoking. And Cary has delivered a herculean effort, producing incredibly detailed and awe-inspiring pages that have to be seen to be believed."

The three-issue series, by writer Peter Milligan and artist Cary Nord, will debut in November. Milligan joined ComicBook.com to discuss the tale...and to give us a little taste of the pages Arbona is talking about.

What's the elevator pitch here? It seems a bit...messianic?

It's true, Gilad has to save a special baby whom the Geomancer tells him will be the salvation of his beleaguered people. I guess on the surface that sounds pretty messianic. But the story really has as much to do with Gilad's relationship with the Geomancer. His trust or belief in the thing that drives his life.

So the "elevator pitch" might be: For thousands of years Gilad has served and believed in the Geomancer. Now, the saving of a baby who might or might not be the salvation of an overrun people throws all that belief into doubt.

During the recent Eternal Warrior stories, he's either been in the present in Archer & Armstrong or jumped around in time in his solo book. What's the appeal of sticking with a period piece, or is it just that nobody's done it lately?

I wanted to put this interesting character in a time zone that would be unfettered by other stories' continuity. I chose the Magyar invasion of Europe. It's nice and bloody and brutal and perfect territory for our Gilad.

The approach here seems less superheroic and more almost mythical or legendary, particularly with elements like the talking bird. Is that a fair assessment, and is it something we'll be seeing throughout the series?

I always saw Gilad as less superhero and more mythical. The thing that attracts me to the character are those slightly weird, offbeat moments – the talking crow, etc.

Gilad is one of those characters that could easily be written as somewhat one-dimensional. What do you think is the key to making him relatable and fully realized?

If by one-dimensional, you mean this bloke who goes around getting into battles and killing a lot of people – yes, that could be horribly boring, and wouldn't entice me to want to write.

What interests me is why this ancient warrior fights, what drives him, what moves him, what he ultimately thinks he is doing, and why. I think I've just tried to look at those questions and a real person has emerged: albeit a very unusual real person in a highly unusual, one might say unique, situation.

How important is it for a book like this to have some comic relief to ease some of the pressure?

I don't know how important it is, and I don't think you should force it, but in this story it has come naturally, through character, and that does have the effect of lightening the mood of blood, destruction, and death. But not for long.

Obviously, both The Eternal Warrior and Geomancer are a big part of The Valiant, beginning in December. Did you have to confer with Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt on where the characters go after this story?

Nah, I talked about this story with [Valiant Editor-in-Chief] Warren Simons. At first I really didn't see the point of me writing about Gilad. But then I came up with a story that excited me and seemed to be saying something or examining something that wasn't just how many people Gilad can kill in one issue.

When do we finally get to see you return to a Valiant ongoing? You've done a few of these miniseries now!

When the time and the character is right. I have to say, I enjoy working with Valiant and am very fond of the people there.

You can check out the first two pages of preview art above (click for a larger version), and even more preview art from Nord in our gallery below.