Seven to Eternity #1
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena and Matt Hollingsworth
Lettering by Rus Wooton
Published by Image Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Their world might be riddled with monsters and magic, but there’s something altogether grounded and relatable in Rick Remender and Jerome Opena’s Seven to Eternity, the new title with Image Comics. While many creator-owned books today seem primed for transmedia sensibilities, Remender and Opena populate their series with eclectic designs out of a fairy tale fever dream, but thanks to the gritty questions of integrity, honor and obligation, this series winds up being more gripping and powerful than most fantasy fare.
While there are glowing jellyfish-boars and bows and arrows made fanged lampreys, the real heart and soul of Seven to Eternity is the struggles of the Osidis family. Living in isolation after refusing to make a deal with the otherworldly being known as the God of Whispers, Remender frames the Osidises as the last resolute family in a world full of compromise and war - to echo Watchmen’s Rorschach, family patriarch Zebadiah Osidis will never make a deal with the enemy, not even in the face of squalor and bloodshed. Meanwhile, his son, Adam, evokes a different kind of steely demeanor - he’s a man who can feel death’s shadow creeping over his shoulder with every bloody cough, and when push comes to shove, that gives him a frightening sort of stoicism when he wades back into the God of Whisper’s kingdom.
And when push comes to shove, boy, does Remender and artist Jerome Opena shove hard. The action in this book is singular and esoteric, such as a scene where Zebadiah summons the lost glowing eye of his great father, who in turn grants him ethereal “blades forged of your devotion,” while one of the God of Whispers’ emissaries summons tentacled hounds from the mud below thanks to the power of an enchanted flute. It’s the kind of insane comic book lunacy that defies easily digestible “elevator pitch” mentality, but it’s also the kind of rich imagination that sticks with you, even as you might struggle to make sense of it all. Opena gives these over-the-top concepts a beautiful layer of grit with his shadowy rendering, and he packs his panels lovingly with details like a swarm of faeries or the bleak ruins of a city overrun by warring creatures of all types of designs. It’s beautiful, ambitious stuff, and shows that while it’s been awhile since we’ve seen Opena on interiors, he certainly has been hard at work during the interim.
That said, like Remender’s previous work in Low and Tokyo Ghost, his work defies easy categorization, and while that might appeal to auteur sensibilities, it does rob Seven to Eternity of some of the sureness of framework that a more solid genre pick might afford. This becomes a little bit more noticeable in the book’s second half, which slows down a bit as Remender not only shifts focus in characters, but also makes a dramatic change in scenery. The God of Whispers, who corrodes people’s souls through the art of the deal - perhaps a biting if accidental piece of election year synchronicity - is a wonderfully built-up villain, but giving Adam a chance to do something a bit more concrete than traveling from one location to another would have helped maximize this book’s momentum further.
But Rick Remender isn’t a writer who has necessarily been interested in making things easy for readers, instead maintaining his artistic integrity no matter what the sales figures say. Remender has a unique and electric voice, and Seven to Eternity might hit a little close to home in terms of the writer’s refusal to co-opt his own beliefs at the altar of consumerism. That sort of resolute mentality might also be why Remender has consistently worked with some of the most talented artists in the business, with Jerome Opena making a strong case as to why he might just be at the top of that particularly lofty heap. There might be some who might not get Seven to Eternity, or who might be turned off at the lack of a straight-and-steady throughline to get them through the story. But I’m just glad that Rick Remender isn’t going to listen to them.