Friday, December 12, 2014

Review - Eternal #1

"Destructive behavior remains destructive behavior, even if there are no permanent consequences."

If you were immortal, what would you do? Try to experience everything possible? Or try to find a way to end it? Maybe you would use it for nefarious purposes, like crime. Or maybe you would use it for good, like helping others. Your decision and how it affects you (and others) is all the rage in Eternal #1 from BOOM! Studios. The issue is written by William Harms, illustrated by Giovanni Valleta, colored by Adam Metcalfe and lettered by Jim Campbell.

In a world of clones, the Human Liberation Army wants to free people from New Life’s grasp. Their leader Gail will take the most drastic, personal measures yet to do so. Rathmann, a former homicide detective turned New Life enforcer, is on the case and is asking tough questions. Violet, a young girl and one of the few non-cloned humans—or Pures—is longing to enter the real world. But she has no idea the danger she is stepping into.

Mortality is always a fun story to deal with, as it brings with it a treasure trove of societal impact and influences. Harms' interpretation offers a sci-fi twist to it in cloning, effectively undercutting the significance that death brings to the deceased and those around them. In fact, the issue opens up with the concept of "death parties," where groups of humans (mostly teens) kill themselves for the fun of it because death is no longer permanent. That mindset when it comes to life is terrifying and Harms captures it quite brilliantly throughout the course of Eternal #1. Aside from the moral questions, the story in Eternal #1 does feel a little disjointed at times, with the pacing slightly erratic and slight confusion as to who is playing what roles.

Eternal #1 bounces back and forth between quiet conversations and intense firefights, yet Valleta handles the transitions quite well. Characters stand out against somewhat sparsely detailed backgrounds, ensuring the reader is paying attention and knows what's going. There is a general sense of sadness illustrated in all the characters and maybe that's just a reflection of the state of the world they inhabit. Panels move between standard grids and insets/overlays, refreshing the look with each subsequent page. Metcalfe's colors thrive in an area that emphasizes dark and brooding, as many of the pages boast hues that cast a pall over the action.

Eternal #1 is an interesting first issue that tackles an even more interesting concept in terms of how to deal with death when it's not nearly as final as previously believed. For some, it means enjoying life in death, but for others it means using that newfound "immortality" to make a difference in the lives of others. Harms' tale feels like a short in a Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov collection, delving into science-fiction in a way that parses morality from science. Valleta's illustrations effectively convey the action and give the reader plenty to take in as they experience death from a new perspective. Eternal #1 is poised to tackle some intriguing concepts surrounding death and cloning, mixing in a little bit of activism for good measure.

Eternal #1 is in stores now with interiors below.


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