Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Cully Hamner
Sorry I missed ya’ll last week. Seems I didn’t buy anything I hadn’t reviewed in the last few months. Rather than waste your time telling you “everything I felt before remains true”, I took the week off. But, gentle readers? I’m back! And better than that, I found yet-another-number 1 to tell you all about. This week, I turn the snark-o-meter towards a DC released one shot by Jeff Lemire (of present-day Animal Man fame…) and Cully Hamner (of many lil’ projects here and there) dust off sixty years of continuity to retool a classic(ly lost) character—Kid Eternity. The results? Slick, slightly memorable, but with a predictability factor off the charts. Let’s dissect this sum’bitch, eh?
For those not in the know, and frankly I’m included in that, Kid Eternity is an older-than-dirt character who’s gone under the retcon knife more then the roster of the X-Books. Well, here in 2012, Lemire and Hamner decide to forgo basically all the backstory, powers, and characterization, and essentially start from scratch. Their elevator pitch? Hipster-Ghost-Detective. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, I suggest you enjoy this fast-forward spoilerific review:
He can raise the dead. He’s dead himself. He has to solve murders. Not really, but he wants to, because his dad was a detective who died saving him. There’s a twist with the case presented. Things wrap up nice and neatly (but with that amazing “The End??” caption we all know and love). Cryptic messages are strewn about. And scene.
Simply put, the book is well put together, but unlike Revival (reviewed a few weeks back), there’s little to mine within the walls presented. Worse than that, our star is so truly personality-free, that I didn’t find myself caring all that much over whether he succeeded in his mission or not. As we’re introduced to the apathetic-unless-we’re-
To be clear, I don’t hate this book. I don’t love it. Frankly, I’m without any real feeling for it. Because the issue is labeled as a “one and done” (which I can appreciate), the pages are soaked with “PILOT” deep within the marrow of the pulp. Because of this, I felt like Lemire, who I know can raise the stakes far better than this, delivers a “safe” case for Freeman to schlock his way through. The thing about any good procedural is that there’s only two ways to make it work; give us an interesting case, or an interesting detective. Make it the case? You get Law and Order. Make it an interesting Detective? You get House, or the dude from the Shield. Eternity gives us the always meh “Old man who may or may not be the murderer”, led by our hero… Captain Deadpan.
Lemire writes solid banter, and can deliver a solid narration as good as any writer worth his salt… but I realized as I researched the book’s title, that perhaps he thought he could just get away with removing real juice from the plot simply because this was a “familiar concept… redone”. The rub being, of course, that I didn’t know who Kid Eternity was before this book. I was as cold to the book as the titular hero. While the whole “dead guy detective” is novel, nothing interesting ever happens with it. We get one scene in what I’ll assume is purgatory, or Hell, and the rest plods along the bullet points of a boring episode of Murder She Wrote.
Enough about the plotting though. Sometimes a less-than-stellar comic can be elevated by amazing art. Ask Tim Sale. I love me some Cully Hamner. His simple style is akin to Mike Norton’s; it’s clean, efficient, and knows when to pour on the detail. Hamner earns points throughout the book by making the separation of characters easy enough. Never do I feel like I need to question who is on panel. Despite the sci-fi bent to the book, things stay relatively grounded. Hamner’s work here gets the job done. Does it do much more than that? Meh. Where Norton’s Revival ends with an amazing action sequence rife with gore and kinetic movement… Hamner’s really stays flat on the page. Hurts to say that too, because I thought Hamner’s Blue Beetle work was inspired.
Ultimately, Eternity #1 is as disposable as a one shot gets. It’s in, out, and forgotten. The fact that they leave themselves open for a continuation is the most frustrating part. Why? Because in one page they actually got me to care after failing to do so for 21 before it. Had they used their real twist in the end as the launching for this one issue? We might have gotten somewhere. In the mean time, I can’t recommend checking it out, unless you have a real need for some wishy-washy sleuthing with a side of snark and melodrama.