Review - Eternal (@blackmaskstudio)

"Let us be the heroes who freed the land..."

Warriors wage wars. During peace though, warriors must be people first, tending to their families and contributing to society. When the former threatens the latter as in Eternals from Black Mask Studio, one warrior will go to great lengths to ensure that her people are safe. The issue is written by Ryan K. Lindsay, illustrated by Eric Zawadzki and colored by Dee Cunniffe.

A group of isolated shieldmaidens protect their village against a tide of men who think they can take their land land from them. Vif takes her band of women off viking to quell the advances of a loitering mystical scumbag, Bjarte. But some battles rage on inside us long after the field is empty, and some opponents won’t ever stay down. Eternal is a haunting story of how vulnerable you make yourself when trying to protect everything around you.

Much of Lindsay's approach in Eternal ie buoyed by silence; that is, there's a lot more to be said about the characters and action because Lindsay doesn't say it. There's dialogue throughout the book--most of which is Vif shouting angrily in combat--that carries the story, but Lindsay doesn't rely on it to completely keep things moving. There's also a very clear antagonist who haunts Vif throughout the issue (figuratively and literally), causing her to act in a way that hurts those around her. At the core of the story is a character in Vif struggling to protect those around her and Lindsay's take on it is that sometimes those actions can blind one to the reality of what they're doing. Eternals is very much driven by the struggle between Vif and Bjarte as Lindsay channels that struggle into the plot of the book itself.

To say that Zawadzki's art is gorgeous would be an understatement; it's brilliant. His linework is emphatic in a way that breathes life into the battles, giving the characters physical heft that's befitting of their statures as warriors. What's probably the most impressive about the artwork is Zawadzki's use of perspective throughout the issue, in that he draws the reader further and further into the combat by focusing in more tightly on the hand-to-hand combat. There are some pages where the panels progress the story just like flipping through a flipbook with Zawadzki offering subtle changes in detail in each panel to let the reader know that movement is happening. Cunniffe's colors are varied but largely washed out, mostly emphasizing browns, grays and plenty of reds for the blood of the battle.

Eternals is a relatively simple premise that's executed pretty flawlessly. Vif is determined to protect her people at all costs, but sometimes that cost proves to be even more than what's previously expected. Lindsay's story is both moving and engaging, pitting Vif against enemies both internal and external. Zawadzki's artwork is a perfect fit for the tone of the story, delicately balancing the brutality of battle with the somber atmosphere afterwards. Eternals is a fantastic book that does so much by doing so little, conveying to the reader a flood of sentiment.

Eternal is available January 31.