Written by Magdalene Visaggio
Pencils, inks and cover by Sonny Liew
Colors by Chris Chuckry
Variant Cover by Paulina Ganucheau
Edited by Andy Khouri and Maggie Howell
Warning: This is our full review and contains many spoilers. If you have not yet read Eternity Girl #1 I would recommend checking out our spoiler free review!
Eternity Girl was a much anticipated book for me. Just the idea of a girl that gets what many people want- to live forever- but only wants to die captivated me and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. As expected, it is pure gold and something I have happily already read several times and can’t wait for more.
I’m going to start off this review by saying I intentionally didn’t read the Eternity Girl stories included in the “Milk Wars” crossover because I wanted to wait until I had read the first issue specifically because I wanted to be able to answer the question of if you needed to read “Milk Wars” to understand issue #1. The answer is you don’t. However, when I did go back to read them I enjoyed having some backstory to the character and it made a few things make more sense….BUT! I followed the book 100% in the my first read through so you can definitely start with issue #1 and not be in the dark on anything. So with that said, let’s jump in and talk Eternity Girl issue #1!
The issue starts with Caroline talking to her therapist as we flash over her past where she had always been a perfectionist and over achiever. Everything she did she strived to be the best at it, from being an Olympic gymnast to being a superhero with Alpha 13.
As her session continues she tells her doctor how she’s tried every way she can think of to end her life, but hasn’t been successful. She also stresses that she sees no harm in what she’s doing because she’s not hurting anyone. After this comment, though, her therapist reminds her of “the incident.”
In some pretty epic teamwork between writer and artist we’re told “the incident” wasn’t that big of a deal as Caroline down plays the situation, but we’re shown through the art that it was clearly a pretty big deal that left at least one woman injured and a building in ruins. But that’s the end of Caroline’s session, as we now see her thinking as she rides the subway home trying to maintain her human form.
She’s not home very long though before her friend, Dani, arrives with vodka and cake. The exchange between Dani and Caroline is eloquently written. Dani is quite obviously the friend we all wish to have – that person that doesn’t judge who we are, allows us to feel however we feel and tries their best to be equally supportive and caring that her friend is taking care of herself.
In the last panel with Dani we see her encouraging her friend by telling her that her “assignment” will go well the following day. Before we have time to wonder what that is we flash forward to Caroline entering the offices at Alpha 13 the next day and we learn the assignment is to determine if Caroline is ready to return to work with Alpha 13.
Unfortunately, despite Dani’s encouragement Caroline’s assignment to meet with the director of Alpha 13 doesn’t go at all how Caroline had hoped.
“I think I deserve a little more consideration than this.” Caroline exclaims as the director informs her she will not be returning to her position due to her therapist being unwilling to clear her to do so. It’s bad news all around for Caroline, but at least we, as readers, get a little more information about “the incident” as the director tells Caroline it’s not personal and explains that he can’t return her to work out of a concern for the safety of others after her incident had caused a lot of structural damage and another employee had lost her arm.
Once home, Caroline sits on her floor and contemplates her life as an intrinsic field (Like Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen) and death. She contemplates calling her friend Dani, but just as she’s about to hit dial, she feels the bony fingers of an old foe touch her shoulder. Madam Atom is the villain Caroline killed as part of her work with Alpha 13. As a result of their encounter Caroline had become an intrinsic wave trying to stop Madam Atom from being able to have that kind of power to wield for evil herself. If there was anyone to truly blame for the situation Caroline has found herself in as an intrinsic wave it would be Madame Atom.
Caroline thinks she’s completely lost her mind when she sees Madam Atom who has appeared out of nowhere and now, in like some sort of dream sequence, we are transported to alternate places outside Caroline’s apartment.
Maybe she’s delusional or maybe Madame Atom really is there, feeding her fears and solidifying her truest desire- to die. After a good amount of convincing that Caroline should die, Madame Atom reveals there is a way, she just has to destroy all of space and time to accomplish it.
Caroline finds herself waking up in her apartment again where she immediately throws up a green bile-like matter. And because right after you throw up the first thought is food that’s where we head (though we can probably assume some time has passed). Dani is consoling her friend over a meal when Caroline has another vision in which she seems very self aware that she’s not real as she goes up in a puff of green smoke (I’m not sure if this is connected to her vomit, but they definitely match).
Her friend takes notice that Caroline seems to be in a better mood than normal, to which Caroline replies in a seemingly sarcastic remark about how Alpha 13 just expects her to be a “totally functional human being capable of reliably operating at superhuman capacity indefinitely.”
If Dani has a reply to this we never hear it because Dani has another vision, this time with Madam Atom egging her on to destroy space and time. As an 18 wheeler bares down on her and Dani she agrees to do it if Madame Atom can promise she will definitely die.
In response Dani and Caroline are hit by the 18 wheeler and Caroline goes through some sort of what looks to be a digital reset and then we’re back to reality again where Dani is paying the bill and, in an important final sequence, Caroline says she is feeling better and the issue ends as she tells us, “It’s just like I’m in school again. Nothing makes me come alive like a challenge.”
While reading this issue I really identified with Caroline as a character. Mags did an excellent job writing a truly depressed character that you can identify with and touching on points that most people who have ever been severely depressed have felt. One thing I’ve personally noticed about the struggle of mental illness is some times you can get so caught up in it that you lose time (like Caroline) and when you get out the other side you realize there’s no way to rewind and get a do over for those missed days or deadlines, which just adds to it. This review itself is late coming out because of such an event that I had initially intended to cover over with an excuse, but the truth is I just had a down week where I spiraled and couldn’t focus and once I could it was like jumping back onto a moving train that I’d fallen off of.
Another aspect of Caroline I really identify with is that I am also the type of person that comes alive with a challenge. I also strive to be the best I can be at whatever I do- not to compete against others, but against myself. When those goals become clearly unattainable or a job is done, there is a depression that sets in. I imagine this would also relate to Gerard as well and how he must have felt directly after the end of MCR.
I loved that this book also shows that Caroline has a great friend for support, but it’s not enough, which is often the truth when you’re depressed. It’s appreciated, but you can’t believe them or find that drive inside yourself that wants you to get back up on your feet as much as your loved ones want you to. It’s as if there is a dark veil that sits upon you and while you don’t want people to stop loving and caring for you, you can’t find a way to lift the veil that grants you access back to the land of the living.
I also loved that they showed the frustration of trying to get your life back together while doors continue to close to you, like when Caroline tries to get her job back. Having suffered from mental illness most of my life I can tell you this is a real frustration and it just adds to the depression. You do the work, you get yourself together and all you need is this one thing to fall into place for everything to go back to normal and someone stands there at the door saying “It’s too late” or “you need to prove yourself some more.” In most cases when people realize you have struggles due to mental health they often set the bar for you higher than they would for anyone else and you have to prove you can be damn near perfect to overcome that obstacle. It’s a big part of why I am so public about my mental health. I want everyone out there to know they don’t have to struggle alone and I dream of a world where we aren’t judged harshly for the trauma of our past, but admired for our strength to persevere through every challenge life hands to us. And I am so thrilled to see writing like this and the work all the Young Animal books set forth that deals with mental health. The more we are visible and loud about mental health and accepting people for who they are, the better this world will become for all of us.
I’m rooting for Caroline to find a positive purpose and refocus her energy into finding a will to live. I feel for her and don’t want to see her give up on herself and humanity. I have faith that she won’t go through with this sinister plot and will find a way to accept who she is and find happiness and I can’t wait to see how this all unfolds.
I’m not a serious fan of rating art. I mean what kind of credentials do I have to get that right? So I will just say I absolutely loved this book, I can’t wait for more, and I hope we will continue to see more stories like this in the future, not just from Young Animal but across the board in all mediums of art and society.
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