Eternal is a book I find difficult to give a second thought. It’s a sci-fi story written by William Harms, illustrated by Giovanni Valletta, and with colors by Adam Metcalfe. The premise is that in the world of Eternal people are immortal thanks to cloning and mind transfers, but the cloning is only possible because they harvest genetic material from innocent people labeled “pures.” The premise isn’t unique, but it’s certainly something that can prompt an interesting story if tightly written and driven by compelling characters.
The first page is an infodump via news channel. The delivery method isn’t unique, but the info is. Teenagers seem to commit suicide at “death parties” as part of a new rebellious trend. This page is sadly where Eternal peaks. The second page introduces us to Debbie, a fugitive, and Ms. Saviorpants, her rescuer. Before the page ends they’re being raided by a futuristic SWAT team. We know nothing about these people, we don’t even have Ms. Saviorpants’s name, and yet because Ms. Saviorpants tells something resembling joke (but without humor) we’re supposed to feel she’s the hero. Character development!
The “death parties” are never mentioned again, they’re just window dressing on clunky exposition. The problem is that in a four issue miniseries everything needs to be incredibly tight, and the very first page feels ultimately wasted. Build atmosphere, develop characters, and do something dynamic! Throw in the ornamentation later to help pace the story. And why is every issue framed with a television news report? Eternal isn’t a commentary on 24-hour news. Is televised news like this even relevant today, much less in the year 2270? Or is this just a parody of news reports as a sci-fi trope? In which case it forgets to actually parody anything.
Eternal is painfully by-the-numbers, and yet fails to retain any of the merits of formulaic storytelling. A formula would have helped the story structure. I finished Eternal in hopes that something redeeming would happen, but there’s really nothing worth discussing. The art is sufficient, but Valletta’s clearly out of his comfort zone. An attempt at an intimate moment with one character (a rebellious cop) comes far too late. Eternal is a bad clone of mediocre science fiction.
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