To eter­nity and be­yond

Young An­i­mal’s fi­nal ti­tle Eter­nity Girl is the per­fect ex­am­ple of the im­print’s fo­cus on weird but com­pelling sto­ries.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Culture - Re­view by MICHAEL CHEANG [email protected]­tar.com.my

Eter­nity Girl

Cre­ators:

Mag­da­lene Vis­ag­gio (writer), sonny Liew (artist), Chris Chuckry (colourist), Todd Klein (let­terer)

Pub­lisher: young an­i­mal/dC Comics

ALL Caro­line Sharp wants is to die. The only prob­lem is, she CAN’T die.

She has tried jump­ing off a bridge (“at least once a month,” she reck­ons), slashed her wrists (she has no blood to be­gin with), hung her­self (though she doesn’t need to breathe), and even tried the “old toaster in bath­tub schtick”. Noth­ing works.

You see, Caro­line used to be the su­per­hero Chrysalis, a pow­er­ful shapeshifter who was part of the covert gov­ern­ment agency Al­pha 13. But these days, she has lost con­trol of the el­e­men­tal forces that give her those pow­ers, and her un­sta­ble con­di­tion led to her re­moval from Al­pha 13.

Now, she can’t even shapeshift back into her own self, and can barely hold her mind to­gether. Alone and iso­lated, all she wants is to end her im­mor­tal­ity, by any means nec­es­sary.

Then one day, she is given a chance to do so by her arch en­emy Madam Atom, who wants her to go on one last mis­sion that could end her life once and for all ... and the en­tire uni­verse with it.

Since it was first cre­ated in 2016, DC Comics’ Young An­i­mal im­print has been on quite an eclec­tic jour­ney. Pre­sented and cu­rated by Gerard Way (creator of The

Um­brella Academy and for­mer front­man of rock band My Chem­i­cal Romance), the im­print gave DC Comics a way to show­case some of its stranger and more ob­scure char­ac­ters in a more ma­ture and some­what ex­per­i­men­tal way.

Un­for­tu­nately, the im­print was put on in­def­i­nite hia­tus in Au­gust 2018, though it still man­aged to put out some re­ally in­ter­est­ing and crit­i­cally-ac­claimed ti­tles, such as the Way-penned Doom Pa­trol, the trippy Shade The Chang­ing Girl, the Bat­man-re­lated Mother Panic, retro cool Cave Car­son Has A Cy­ber­netic Eye, the quirky Bug: The Ad­ven­tures Of For­ager, and this, its fi­nal ti­tle, Eter­nity Girl, cre­ated by writer Mag­da­lene Vis­ag­gio (Kim & Kim, Daz­zler: X Song )and artist Sonny Liew (The Art Of Char­lie Chan Hock Chye).

All six is­sues of the ti­tle are now avail­able in trade pa­per­back (TPB) for­mat, and it’s a trippy but ab­sorb­ing read that re­ally high­lights Young An­i­mal’s weird and un­con­ven­tional style of telling com­pelling yet strange sto­ries.

It helps that Caro­line is not ex­actly a con­ven­tional hero (I guess that’s why she’s in Young An­i­mal then) – the TPB opens with a se­quence of comics that sup­pos­edly tells us Caro­line’s ori­gin, but ends with a meta fourth wall-break­ing se­quence in which Caro­line de­cides that she has had enough of be­ing a comic book char­ac­ter be­ing reimag­ined over and over again.

It also makes for a pretty un­con­ven­tional ori­gin story in which Vis­ag­gio uses the full length of all six is­sues to de­velop Eter­nity Girl, peel­ing off layer af­ter layer of her char­ac­ter with a whim­si­cal dis­re­gard for time and space that some­times makes you ques­tion whether you’re read­ing about Caro­line’s past, present, or fu­ture.

The story flits back and forth be­tween Caro­line’s fan­tas­ti­cally trippy cos­mic jour­ney with Madame Atom and her “real life” re­la­tion­ship with her for­mer col­leagues and best friend Dani, but to the credit of Vis­ag­gio’s script and Liew’s art­work there is never any con­fu­sion about what is go­ing on.

Thanks to the mul­ti­ple Eis­ner-award win­ning The Art Of Char­lie Chan Hock Chye and his re­cent stint on Doc­tor Fate, Liew’s star has never been brighter than it is now, and he hits it out of the cos­mic ball­park once again with Eter­nity Girl. Equally adept at draw­ing the more in­ti­mate and per­sonal as­pects of Caro­line’s life as he is with il­lus­trat­ing gi­ant cos­mic be­ings, his art dove­tails with Vis­ag­gio’s un­con­ven­tion­ally-struc­tured tale to cre­ate a comic that will have you hang­ing on ev­ery word and ev­ery panel.

The re­al­ity bend­ing na­ture of the story also al­lows him to play around with the style and struc­ture of the il­lus­tra­tions as well – look out for one seg­ment where we see Caro­line’s dif­fer­ent re­al­i­ties play­ing out, in­clud­ing one drawn in a Peanut’s style comic strip.

What’s ul­ti­mately most pow­er­ful about Eter­nity Girl’s story, how­ever, is its stance on de­pres­sion and sui­cide. Caro­line wants to die, we know that al­ready, but Vis­ag­gio uses the in­sta­bil­ity of Caro­line’s pow­ers as a par­al­lel to her un­sta­ble state of mind, driv­ing home a strong and poignant mes­sage about sui­cide, de­pres­sion, and the im­por­tance of giv­ing sup­port to those who are suf­fer­ing from it.

At the end of it all, she leaves us with an am­bigu­ous but sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion that ac­tu­ally makes you more ex­cited for more sto­ries about Eter­nity Girl. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait an eter­nity to see her again.

— Pho­tos: young an­i­mal/dC Comics

Maybe we could get eter­nity Girl to solve that Galac­tus prob­lem over at Mar­vel as well.

so many fash­ion choices, an eter­nity to go through each and ev­ery one of them.

Whoa, Madame atom, did you for­get to re­ar­range your atoms be­fore com­ing out again?

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