Telomeres? Really? Eternal #3

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Cover A for Eternal #3Issue #3 of Eternal has finally provided an answer for why the Pures are so important. And, as expected, it’s incredibly stupid.

But first, a recap: It’s the future! There’s no more death, because everyone just has clones of themselves that they can transfer their consciousness into whenever they die. Well, everyone except for the Pures, who live in “enclaves” and are treated terribly despite the fact that they are super-important for the cloning process.

So why are the Pures so important? Because of their telomeres. Telomeres are a kind of protective cap on the end of strands of DNA (often compared to aglets on shoelaces). Throughout people’s lives, their cells divide, and as a result, telomeres shorten. Many scientists believe that if we could figure out how to lengthen our telomeres, we could turn the clock back on our bodies.

Eternal is operating off of a common misconception about cloning, which is that any clone is going to have telomeres of the same length as the “parent” that it was cloned from, and thus will live a shortened life. The Pures are needed, then, so that their telomeres can be harvested for the clones of the general populace to keep them healthy and whatnot.

But a simple Internet search will show that telomere length varies drastically in clones. Some have shortened telomeres, while others’ are longer than normal. Scientists are still trying to figure out why. I find it hard to believe that by the year 2270 (the year this comic takes place) this will still be an issue.

Furthermore, even if we accept this ridiculous explanation, there are far too few Pures for this to work. After all, you’d need to replace the telomeres on every single strand of DNA on a clone to prevent it from going bad, right? So it stands to reason that you would need at least one Pure for every clone. But it’s obvious throughout the comic that Pures are an extreme minority. We learn in this issue that the enclave that Gail and the rest of the HLA raid has only fifty-six Pures. Even if there are thousands of enclaves throughout the country, that wouldn’t be enough (unless the future population of the United States has somehow been drastically reduced, but nothing has been said to indicate anything like that).

There’s also some backtracking in this issue in regards to how much the general population knows about what happens to the Pures. In the first issue, Gail says that they’ve tried telling people how the Pures are treated in the enclaves, and no one cares. In the second issue, Peter Rathmann comments that when the enclaves first opened, several New Life doctors went public with videos showing what conditions were like. But this issue opens with a New Life representative giving an interview in which he claims that extracting the telomeres from Pures is “relatively non-invasive” and “doesn’t result in any long-term health complications for the donor.” (Actually, I think that last bit must be an attempt at satire, but I’m just left wondering how the news anchor conducting the interview could be so incredibly brain dead as to not pick up on what the representative is saying.) So do people know what’s happening to the Pures or not? Your guess is as good as mine.

I suppose I might as well talk about what happens in this issue. Gail and the rest of the HLA are “killed” (of course, they’re also using cloning, now), thus putting an end to their assault. None of the Pures manage to escape, or are even injured, but the mustache-twirling villains that are New Life decide to kill them all anyway (even though they are vitally important to cloning and society in general), just so they can blame it on Gail. This is the last straw for Rathmann, who takes Violet (the only survivor) and flees the enclave, becoming a fugitive. Meanwhile, Gail decides to try to find Rathmann, figuring (for some reason) that he can help get them inside New Life, so they can end this once and for all. Somehow.

This comic continues to be a train wreck of barely thought-out concepts. The art, while not as bad as the writing, is still weak in several places. Avoid this one!

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