Eternity Girl #1
Written by Magdalene Visaggio
Art by Sonny Liew and Chris Chuckry
Lettering by Todd Klein
Published by DC Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Young Animal’s “second season” gets a beautifully melancholic new series in the form of Eternity Girl. Leaping from the backup pages of “Milk Wars,” this new series tells the sad, strange tale of Caroline Sharp, an overachiever turned immortal superhero who longs for a peace that only true death could bring. Written by Eisner-nominated writer Magdalene Visaggio and rawly illustrated by penciler Sonny Liew and colorist Chris Chuckry, Eternity Girl is achingly human and a soberly frank depiction of depression and body dysmorphia filtered through the lens of classic “strange hero” comic books. If fans were worried that the second crop of Young Animal titles would be somehow lesser than the original line-up, Eternity Girl #1 blasts away those worries with a visually inventive, deeply emotional, and ambitious debut.
Caroline Sharp, once known as the superhero Chrysalis, has tried everything. She’s jumped from a high bridge, slit her wrists (despite having no blood), and has even tried throwing a toaster in the tub, but nothing brings her the release she so desperately craves. Though Caroline’s quest for death is at the center of Visaggio’s script, the implications of Eternity Girl extend so much further outward than just that. In keeping with Young Animal’s trend of wrapping deeply human themes inside of avant-garde high concepts (like Cave Carson actually being about a father and daughter’s reconciliation and Mother Panic being more about the internalization of trauma instead of just a vigilante story), Eternity Girl works to make its subtext text thanks to the script’s commitment to its concept and Visaggio’s willingness to present her lead in all her broken and struggling glory.
Now while this issue’s deep well of sadness based around its lead and borderline nihilistic turns might be too much for the regular reading audience, I cannot properly articulate how authentic this story feels and reads. Though Caroline isn’t implicitly trans, Eternity Girl feels like the first mainstream comic to tackle the subject of dysmorphia head-on along with the subsequent mental states that come with it. Before it always seemed like trans issues were either handled with all the grace of a frying pan upside the head or, even worse, taken on by people with the barest minimum of real-world experience who only slapped at ideas and then called it “progressive.” Thankfully, Eternity Girl is an antithesis of all that, strained through classic outsider hero comic books.
But Visaggio isn’t alone through this dark journey through Caroline’s day-to-day. Artists Sonny Liew and Chris Chuckry prove to be capably weird companions throughout this debut issue, keeping along with Visaggio’s “Weird Tale” twists and turns as well as her raw depictions of crippling depression. The best example of the pair’s deft duality comes toward the center of the issue after Caroline has a vision of her old arch rival, Madame Atom. Presented as a layered, flowing page with Caroline at the center, Liew and Chuckry use her as the audience’s focal point while the setting ebbs and flows around her, bathed in ‘70s-inspired dotted art colors. Taking her from her own mindscape to a nebulous Ditko-esque mass and then back to her own lonely apartment, Liew snaps Caroline back to reality showing her vomiting into her toilet and sitting dejectedly against the cold, stony, and plain backdrop of her bathroom. The Young Animal books have made their name melding the strange with the mundane, but Sonny Liew and Chris Chuckry have never made it look more real and effective as it does here in Eternity Girl.
Eternity Girl’s frank emotion and dreamlike structure won’t be for everyone, but that doesn’t lessen its power or artistry. Backed by an imprint that thrives on risky, but necessary storytelling and armed with a creative team with genuine heart, skill, and drive, Eternity Girl #1 feels like exactly the kind of comic that this forward-thinking imprint should be doing.