August 30, 2018

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Here, Have An Existential Crisis- a review of Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew's Eternity Girl


Eternity Girl
Written by Magdalene Visaggio
Line Art by Sonny Liew
Color Art by Chris Chuckry
Letters by Todd Klein
Published by DC/Young Animal

It's difficult to quantify existence. To accept the fact that one's experiences can be reduced to a single cosmic turn of fate. The churn of the universe continues even as we might struggle against it, trapped in the ebb and flow of time itself. Or something like that. DC Young Animal's Eternity Girl, the final new launch of the pop-up imprint for the time being, pits the titular character against this undefinable enemy, existence itself.

Beginning in the back-up stories to the Young Animal/Justice League of America crossover Milk Wars, Eternity Girl was launched in March 2018 as a six-issue limited series. In it, writer Magdalene Visaggio explored themes of depression and existentialism from the viewpoint of a suicidal superhero who couldn't die.



Caroline Sharp was a superhero. As a secret agent for Alpha 13, she was transformed into her grotesque, ever-changing shape via nuclear drill during a climactic battle with arch-nemesis Madame Atom. If this sounds like a plotline ripped straight from a golden age comic book, it's because it pretty much is. In each Milk Wars back-up, Mags continued to evolve the character of Eternity Girl (at the time known as Formless Girl) with each decade of comic storytelling. From her golden age origins to the topical themes of 80s stories to the minimalist experimental stories of the 2000s, Visaggio takes readers on a journey through the entirely fictional history of Eternity Girl's creation.
The meta-exploration of genre continues through the miniseries as a metaphor for the cycles of the universe, particularly in the fourth issue, which features homages and references to such pieces of pop culture as Metropolis, Tank Girl, and Peanuts. The most astounding part of this analysis of genre, beyond its impressive metaphorical use, is the fact that Sonny Liew and Chris Stuckry illustrate every genre showcased. From the hyper-violent Tank Girl action to the particular paneling and light colors of Peanuts, Liew and Stuckry do it all, and to great effect. Visaggio's framing of the universe as a cycle of life, death, and rebirth wouldn't be nearly as visceral as it is thanks to the superb artwork Liew and Stuckry bring to the table.



This isn't to say that Visaggio's script and story leave much to be desired. On the contrary, Visaggio writes a painfully believable protagonist who desperately seeks release in the same way many do in real life. Caroline's struggles with depression and maintaining relationships with the people in her life are honest and hard-hitting. While the series' nonlinear nature may have had the potential to threaten the story's readability, Visaggio's careful balance of progression and building themes, coupled with Liew and Stuckry's dedication to delivering a visual feast each issue, allowed Eternity Girl to persist as an undeniably well-crafted masterpiece. Now that the series has come to a conclusion, it can be seen just how strong and tightly-controlled the plot truly was, a testament to Visaggio's ability to tell a complete story layered with genuinely interesting themes.

Without the advantage of having any previously established IP as Cave Carson, Doom Patrol, Mother Panic, and Shade the Changing Girl had, Visaggio and Liew faced the challenge of creating a new hero with a compelling story. Eternity Girl delivers in spades, and thanks to the fascinating story and incredible art, it's a story well worth your time.