So, we’re not supposed to care about these people in Eternal, right? I mean, I don’t hate them, but I’m also completely indifferent to what happens to them. Part of the problem is that instead of fully-realized human beings, we’re presented with generic characters that lack any kind of nuance or personality outside of their designated tropes.
Exhibit #1 is Gail Jensen. She’s the head of the Human Liberation Army, ready to use any and all means to oppose super-evil corporation New Life. Also, she tends to yell at people if they dare argue with her about what they’re doing, a habit that has the unfortunate effect of making her the least likable character that isn’t actually supposed to be a villain.
At the very least, however, she does display more personality than Peter Rathmann, the New Life enforcer who has suddenly gained a conscience. And that’s it. That’s all the comic lets us know about him. He’s so bland that I often had trouble distinguishing him from his friend, Graham (it doesn’t help that they look almost exactly the same, save for different hair styles).
Finally, there’s Violet, an imprisoned Pure. Why is she imprisoned? Well, for sneaking in an antibiotic to help her sick friend, of course! See how selfless and rule-breaking she is? And she doesn’t take any crap from her captors! Actually, she does have the potential to be the most interesting and likeable character in the book, except for the fact that we don’t actually see her doing much of anything. Mostly, she just spends her time being a prisoner.
Eternal #2 sees our cookie-cutter characters going through the motions in response to the events of the first issue. Peter and Graham investigate how the HLA got ahold of cloning technology; Gail prepares for an assault on an enclave where Pures are being held; and Violet is taken in for “processing,” whatever that means.
Actually, despite my problems with the lack of proper personalities for these characters, this wouldn’t be a bad issue if Eternal would just take the time to answer some basic questions about how this world works. I still have no idea why the Pures are important. Gail says at one point that, “Without [the Pures], all of you would be dying of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or a thousand other diseases.” But no explanation is given of why this is. As I said in my review of the first issue, the Pures are at the center of this entire conflict, but the reason for their importance is never given. And it’s not like it’s a secret from the characters. Several people indicate that it’s common knowledge that the entire system of cloning and consciousness transferal to avoid death would fall apart without the Pures. But the exact reason for this remains withheld from the reader. Quite frankly, I’m not buying that Pures are so necessary. It smacks of forced conflict. William Harms wanted to write a story where we’ve conquered death, but at a terrible price, and that’s the story he’s giving us – logic be damned!
It’s also worth mentioning that the cover for this issue is pretty terrible. It’s done by Frazer Irving and features Violet, in a cell, looking out at the reader with what I imagine is supposed to be a defiant look, but instead looks like she’s practicing her Mr. Spock impression. The bars of her cell appear to be made of glass, which doesn’t strike me as the best material to use for a jail (also, it doesn’t match her actual cell in the comic). But the real crime is that the cover is boring! There’s nothing intriguing or interesting about it, and it in no way conveys a sense of what this comic is about. For all of the problems of Eternal #1, at least the cover was decent.
The art in the interior of the comic, by Stefano Simeone, is mostly fairly well-done, although there are a few facial expressions here and there that don’t quite look right. My big complaint, however, as in the first issue, is that it’s the year 2270, but the clothes and cars (including a school bus) wouldn’t be out of place in modern times. Come on! This is where sci-fi is supposed to shine! If you can’t be bothered to make up futuristic designs for your world, why even bother to work on something like this?
Overall, Eternal feels like a lot of missed opportunities. It’s not terrible, but it’s not good, either. It’s just mediocre.
Eternal #2 is available from BOOM! February 18, 2015.