Eternity Girl #1
Magdalene Visaggio (writer), Sonny Liew (art, covers), Chris Chuckry (colors)
DC Comics (DC Young Animal)
What if an immortal wanted to die? Eternity Girl #1, written by Magdalene Visaggio (Kim & Kim) with art by Eisner winner Sonny Liew (The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye) and colors by Chris Chuckry, is the newest entry into DC Comics newish imprint, DC’s Young Animal, that delves into tough subjects like suicide, depression, and a lost sense of self.
Caroline is a former agent of Alpha-13 (introduced during Young Animal’s Milk Wars event), and during her time there she was known as the hero Chrysalis. We catch up with her at her therapy session. She is a bit blue, both literally and figuratively. She talks about her many attempts at suicide. Once a week she jumps from a bridge. She has slit her wrists, but she has no blood, so nothing happens. She’s hanged herself, but realizes she doesn’t need to breathe to survive, and has even tried bathing with a toaster. Nothing works, and so she lives on. As a reader seeing the lengths Caroline goes to try and die, you feel sorry for her that she can’t seem to reach her goal.
I found this motif to be intriguing because it made me want to root for her. I want Caroline to get what she wants even if that is death. Visaggio doesn’t shy away from Caroline’s need for a relief from her life. Quite the opposite actually, she leans into that yearning and you see that it is all Caroline thinks about. All she really wants. The way Visaggio frames the story by using Caroline’s conversations with those around gives you the feeling that her life is not her own. That she is simply going through the motions to make those around her happy.
At the beginning of the book, we see Caroline through her therapist. She comes off as a sad, diminished, and desperate. Then we see her through her friend Dani. Dani has hope in Caroline and her recovery. She believes that she is improving and supports her. She even encourages her to try and be hopeful. But you can see Caroline barely focusing on the conversation. The panels cut to her remembering past battles and to her monosyllabic answers. She isn’t present. Then there is her re-evaluation by her old boss. Caroline goes back to Alpha-13 to see if she can get cleared to work again. Get back to the one thing she truly enjoyed. He sees her as unstable, not ready, and a liability to the company. Then we see her through the eyes of Lady Atom. A dead nemesis of hers who sees her as a victim of her circumstances, someone she can influence.
All these versions of Caroline/Chrysalis build this raw broken picture of an immortal woman who truly just wants to be done with the world around her. Who feels she has no place in the world. So much so that she would make a deal with the devil, to destroy time and the universe just so she herself can die. Shit is brutal, but I like it, a lot.
Sonny Liew’s art is lovely. Each time the story went back into Chrysalis’ past, the panels became more dynamic, full of action and brighter colors. Then when we are slammed back into her present, we are faced with these minimalist panels with her forlorn face and Chris Chuckry’s desaturated color schemes. Liew’s call back to the old comics was cool. Whenever Visaggio mentioned the battle between Lady Atom and Chrysalis, the art would change into a more Silver Age look, giving those moments this awesome verisimilitude and giving those scenes the feeling of this being a more heroic time in her life.
What I truly appreciate about this book is Liew and Chuckry’s ability to depict the dissociative effect depression has on a person, how at times your interior life becomes this surreal space that seems like the only area you can take shelter from the world and your problems. In the scene where Caroline is back at the site of her battle with Lady Atom, when she is having this wild conversation about how she could in theory die and then is sent back to her apartment, the swirling colors and wavy blobs that separate each moment of her descent is so spot on with that outside of yourself feeling that comes over you when you are depressed. As someone who has depression and has had bouts of dissociation, I appreciate the reality this book presents and how expertly Liew captures it all. I enjoyed the look of this book so much.
Eternity Girl #1 is a brave new step into different territory. A new look at what could make someone become the “villain,” of their story. I love the subversive twist on Caroline’s turn to the bad side and unflinching realistic look into suicide. I honestly can’t wait to see what Visaggio does with the character and what it will take for Caroline to get her wish to die.