“Nothing’s sad till it’s over. Then everything is.”
Longevity in comics is dead. Dormant at least. No one’s going to be pulling epic runs of hundreds of issues in long sprawling arcs anytime soon, with a few exceptions of course. Which writers and artists could afford to in the current industry? Is the audience and indeed, their bank accounts still up for such ambitious long burning stories? Either way, certain characters lend themselves to shorter, more contained runs. Short, bright bursts that ignite our imaginations and then end, left for some other writer to pick up in the future, or not. Struck by the sadness I usually feel when a series that has buried itself into my brain comes to an end, Eternity Girl’s penultimate issue brings us one step closer towards it’s conclusion. Even with several ‘iterations’ last issue and her fabricated backstory (then again, aren’t they all?) it feels like I want more of Caroline’s story. A character who only four issues or so, is as fully fleshed out and realised as any of he DC counterparts. So, a single issue after this one. Maybe some other writer might release her from comic book limbo years from now? This time though, these thoughts and the sadness were replaced and chased away with a wry smile, suddenly struck by the glaringly obvious. Remembering what writer Magdalene Visaggio has been saying and preparing us for this entire run through Caroline’s plight and Flying in the face of decades of comics publishing and serialised storytelling.
All good things come to an end. All good stories, should end.
The seeds of Eternity Girl were sown in the Milk Wars crossover which saw the weirdness reach critical levels as we were treated to a few pages of selected Eternity Girl stories detailing her fabricated history, stretching across the years and reflecting each age of comics in a hyper accelerated Flex Mentallo fashion. Reaching it’s conclusion, Eternity Girl,who bares a passing resemblance to Element girl, famously given her most poignant and final story by Mr Gaiman and shares the same afflictions (ie not dying) navigates the empty white spaces between the panels before literally squeezing herself into the world. Ta-dah!
After last month Eternity Girl’s fifth issue restricts itself to a mere two realities with Caroline facing off against both Crash and Rick, once again throwing question the nature of what she is experiencing. Is she really following Madam Atom on a journey to end all existence or going dangerously mad? Does it really matter at this point. Throughout it’s run has been pulling some extremely complex and meta storytelling, but with heart. Yet again we are made fully aware of her endless and eternally repeating “Iterations” and the none to subtle nod to her torturers. The readers and writers, hearkening back to Animal man and indeed this issue and the series has the best aspects of a Grant Morrison story but with a more relateable gnostic superhero at it’s core, driving it’s clever structure.
Leiw’s artwork continues to be the perfect fit for this story. Selected panels highlight the kitsch retro four colour printing method of years gone by which clashes deliciously with the sombre tones of Visaggio’s storytelling. It’s a part of a comics history Eternity girl was never really a part of, but now is through some deft continuity wizardry in order add to her suffering and this issue they serve as windows to both realities, showing them literally overlapping and bleeding into each other. It gives the impression of two ages of comics crashing into each other and visually represents Eternity Girls mental state at this time, still weighing up the prospect of ending her own pain at the expense of reality itself. After last issue, Leiw’s art is more restrained and straightforward but still manages to stun and explode of the page such as the page with DJ Crash reaching out to Caroline which one again uses a circular, fractal motif that has come up in this series in both the art and story structure.
Visaggio Delves further into Caroline’s character this issue, graduating from the low level grey feelings at the depths of depression and isolation she was suffering in early issues into full blown anger when those around her turn against her. Visaggio herself is an openly trans writer, a subject she candidly and honestly talks about on her twitter. For those following Visaggio, it’s an interesting lens to view Eternity Girl through and adds a lot more depth and poignancy into an already thought provoking and visually striking book. I hope it’s title that queer fans will latch on to, it’s a razor sharp smart example of what queer storytelling can be without making it the absolute and obvious driving force behind a story. While it would be really easy to fall into intentional fallacy territory, the strength of Caroline’s story is Visaggio taking it above and beyond such a straightforward and surface level reading with the sheer amount of ideas feeding back and looping on one another in a given issue She makes it a much broader and ultimately richer story and at any given time as a comic for anyone who has ever suffered depression, any level of body dysphoria, a lack of agency and control in their own life or simply some meta comic book shenanigans
Issue five is another stunning instalment in a vibrant and invigorating new series from a relatively new voice in the industry, Eternity Girl has felt like a mission statement or a summation of what the Young Animals imprint is all about. Mind bending comics about comics with wit, heart and empathy to spare. When it ends next month Visaggio is going to ultimately leave us conflicted and acting against our own nature as comics readers, wanting more but hoping that there never, ever will be.
That is not the end of the story, it never is.
The beat goes on…