Published on December 10th, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
Eternal #1 – Review
When I read the synopsis for Eternal it made me think of the classic vampire stories but without all that messy business with the blood. At the heart of such tales as Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and classic movies such as The Lost Boys, is how people deal with immortality. The characters are given immortality at some stage in their life and they have to live with it: some accept and grow along with the world around them, others believe they can remain exactly as they were at the moment they changed. Most have difficulty coping.
William Harms uses the concept of cloning to investigate the same notions of eternal life. He asks the question, very early on, what if you couldn’t die but instead your mind and memories were transferred into a duplicate body at the moment of death? How would you view your place in the world?
Eternal starts with a news story covering the new teenage fad of ‘Death Parties’ where a group of youngsters gather and kill themselves in a manner of different ways, each knowing that their death is meaningless as they will be resurrected, intact and no worse for the experience. The psychologist featured in the news story explains that the wide availability of cloning, thanks to the New Life company, poses a dilemma for the teenagers because they have no boundaries set by the possibility of death. The whole concept of ‘risk taking’ is altered if the element of risk has been removed and the young turn to shock tactics to get their thrills and partake in the genetic disposition of rebellion.
The reader is then dropped into a domestic situation where Gail Jensen is serving up some badly made eggs with a smile on her face. This domestic bliss doesn’t last as the ceiling is shot out and an armed squad of enforcers zip-wire into the apartment block. It comes to light that the people in the block are fugitives, Pures, and on the run from New Life. Jensen takes charge, organising the scared huddle and with a colleague they make a stand against the over whelming, armour wearing, security officers. Despite a bold stand off, Jensen is cornered but she has one final play up her sleeve: she turns her gun on herself.
William Harms has created an underworld of humans fighting to survive in the face of ‘progress’ but unlike the vampire stories I mentioned earlier, here the outcasts are desperately trying to escape immortality, something which has been accepted into the wider world. Jensen’s suicide is a reluctant one despite the fact that her resurrection is fairly straight forward: it’s something that she didn’t want and had managed to stay Pure up to this point. The whole dynamic of her character and her rebellion against the ‘norm’ fuels the greater story and acts as the hook for the reader. Not too much is revealed in this first chapter, there is some ambiguity about exactly what ‘Pures’ are and what New Life are really doing but that’s how it’s meant to be for a first issue in a mini series. There are only four issues in this run so Harms wisely introduces a number of characters and their internal conflicts early on but doesn’t give to much of the greater story away, creating a mystery worth coming back for.
The art work is solid and consistent through out but doesn’t take any risks. There is some exciting compositional work, especially in the raid of the warehouse but some of the more text heavy panels lose their energy and the dark, heavy handed colouring through much of the comic has a tendency to distract from the narrative, which seems in contrast to previous work by Adam Metcalfe who usually employs very psychedelic palettes. The problem with pages of dark blue shadows is that they can bleed into one another and the readers eye is not focused where it needs to be so, for example, in the interrogation room the cruelty of the security officers is too easy to over look. This scene is saved by the occasional orange toned panels which break up the monotony and stop the reader from wandering passed the point.
Overall this is a strong first issue which takes a different approach to look at the concept of mortality. It also aptly deals with notions of rebellion. terrorism and freedom and all of this is fronted by some clearly defined characters. What more could you want? Eternal life?
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writer: William Harms
Artist: Giovanni Valletta
Colours: Adam Metcalfe