Creators: Magdalene Visaggio (writer), Sonny Liew (artist), Chris Chuckry (colourist), Todd Klein (letterer).
Publisher: Young Animal/DC Comics
All Caroline Sharp wants is to die. The only problem is, she CAN’T die.
She has tried jumping off a bridge (“at least once a month,” she reckons), slashed her wrists (she has no blood to begin with), hung herself (though she doesn’t need to breathe), and even tried the “old toaster in bathtub schtick”. Nothing works.
You see, Caroline used to be the superhero Chrysalis, a powerful shapeshifter who was part of the covert government agency Alpha 13. But these days, she has lost control of the elemental forces that give her those powers, and her unstable condition led to her removal from Alpha 13.
Now, she can’t even shapeshift back into her own self, and can barely hold her mind together. Alone and isolated, all she wants is to end her immortality, by any means necessary.
Then one day, she is given a chance to do so by her arch enemy Madam Atom, who wants her to go on one last mission that could end her life once and for all … and the entire universe with it.
Since it was first created in 2016, DC Comics’ Young Animal imprint has been on quite an eclectic journey. Presented and curated by Gerard Way (creator of The Umbrella Academy and former frontman of rock band My Chemical Romance), the imprint gave DC Comics a way to showcase some of its stranger and more obscure characters in a more mature and somewhat experimental way.
Unfortunately, the imprint was put on indefinite hiatus in August 2018, though it still managed to put out some really interesting and critically-acclaimed titles, such as the Way-penned Doom Patrol, the trippy Shade The Changing Girl, the Batman-related Mother Panic, retro cool Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye, the quirky Bug: The Adventures Of Forager, and this, its final title, Eternity Girl, created by writer Magdalene Visaggio (Kim & Kim, Dazzler: X Song) and artist Sonny Liew (The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye).
All six issues of the title are now available in trade paperback (TPB) format, and it’s a trippy but absorbing read that really highlights Young Animal’s weird and unconventional style of telling compelling yet strange stories.
It helps that Caroline is not exactly a conventional hero (I guess that’s why she’s in Young Animal then) – the TPB opens with a sequence of comics that supposedly tells us Caroline’s origin, but ends with a meta fourth wall-breaking sequence in which Caroline decides that she has had enough of being a comic book character being reimagined over and over again.
It also makes for a pretty unconventional origin story in which Visaggio uses the full length of all six issues to develop Eternity Girl, peeling off layer after layer of her character with a whimsical disregard for time and space that sometimes makes you question whether you’re reading about Caroline’s past, present, or future.
The story flits back and forth between Caroline’s fantastically trippy cosmic journey with Madame Atom and her “real life” relationship with her former colleagues and best friend Dani, but to the credit of Visaggio’s script and Liew’s artwork there is never any confusion about what is going on.
Thanks to the multiple Eisner-award winning The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye and his recent stint on Doctor Fate, Liew’s star has never been brighter than it is now, and he hits it out of the cosmic ballpark once again with Eternity Girl. Equally adept at drawing the more intimate and personal aspects of Caroline’s life as he is with illustrating giant cosmic beings, his art dovetails with Visaggio’s unconventionally-structured tale to create a comic that will have you hanging on every word and every panel.
The reality bending nature of the story also allows him to play around with the style and structure of the illustrations as well – look out for one segment where we see Caroline’s different realities playing out, including one drawn in a Peanut’s style comic strip.
What’s ultimately most powerful about Eternity Girl’s story, however, is its stance on depression and suicide. Caroline wants to die, we know that already, but Visaggio uses the instability of Caroline’s powers as a parallel to her unstable state of mind, driving home a strong and poignant message about suicide, depression, and the importance of giving support to those who are suffering from it.
At the end of it all, she leaves us with an ambiguous but satisfying conclusion that actually makes you more excited for more stories about Eternity Girl. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait an eternity to see her again.