ETERNITY GIRL #6 / Writer: Magdalene Visaggio / Artist: Sonny Liew / Letterer : Todd Klein / Publisher: DC / August 9th, 2018
Superpowers as an Affliction
For someone who’s been binge reading Miracle Man and generally feeling like the universe could fold in on you any moment, Eternity Girl may not seem like the best place to go immediately afterwards, but in all honesty, binge reading six issues of Eternity Girl after a classic Gaiman/Moore existential mind-scramble is the perfect pallet cleanser. This final issue is vital to any story concerning multiple realities or great universe-ending story lines.
Some of the best things super hero comics can do; explore the ideas of how lives can change because of single decisions, how people can perceive superheroes as gods among us and how those heroes cope with that responsibility day to day. Eternity Girl approaches those ideas differently than most by treating such power as… well, an affliction, much the same as the recent She Hulk: Deconstructed storyline by Mariko Tamaki. It is framed in the same way as trauma, which in the case of Eternity Girl, it most certainly is. Caroline Sharp did not ask to become a creature purely of elements and atoms, and now she must try to live with it. Her power requires her to hide her new life, her new form, by assuming a human shape that takes enormous effort on her part; she often wonders if the effort is worth it.
The analogy is obvious to those of us who suffer anxiety, but honestly, I’m amazed at seeing superhero comics acknowledge therapy, self-care, relationships and mental trauma at all—especially coming off the back of grim-dark existentialism from the 80s. Seeing heroes as struggling human disasters who get therapy and advice from friends is so powerful and uplifting and… Jesus, we need that in our lives.
Death and Rebirth
Speaking of Gaiman, Eternity Girl‘s storyline bares some resemblance to the story of Element Girl in his Sandman saga. Caroline cannot die, though she longs to. She has tried several times by this point, but her powers won’t allow it. A long-dead villain offers her the chance to finally end her existence… only, it’ll end everyone else’s as well. Caroline needs to learn self-worth and see hope in her otherwise bleak life in order to let everyone else live.
The key to that self-love? A friend. A friend who at least has some idea what she’s going through—though she’s adamant in pointing out that it doesn’t mean she knows or understands Caroline’s pain—and is willing to go through some seriously weird fire to help Caroline through it.
This feels like a turning point in how we look at big themes of death, rebirth, and universes in superhero comics. There’s a particularly meta point in here about how frustrating it is to see our favourite characters constantly die and get resurrected over and over on the whim of beings who don’t seem to care how much suffering they inflict. Most comic books fan can sympathize. In Eternity Girl, it’s given even more weight—the story links it to the endless cycle of anxiety, depression, recovery, struggle and anxiety again. This feels like self-care as only a good bit of media can provide.
We now live in a golden age of true maturity in superhero comics, one in which we feel like we’ve gone through the wringer but came out the other side, changed, but still here- despite what we went through. We’re seeing perspectives that this genre sorely needed. Magdalene Visaggio has built on what I remember consuming during my obsession with DC Vertigo. Instead of feeling hopeless, tired, and all over awful, reading Eternity Girl gives me hope. This is so ironic, given marginalized writers have so much more to fear from the mundane world, let alone the wider universe, yet they somehow find ways to see the light. Eternity Girl still has that glorious, anarchic weirdness that DC Vertigo and Miracle Man (and Gaiman’s run in particular) had in spades; only now it feels fun. Rewarding even. Sonny Liew’s art is mesmerizing, fluid (my favourite kind of art style), and versatile. It captures Caroline’s feelings instability, struggling to hold it together—literally—yet always remaining constant. The cover art throughout this series (this issue in particular) is frame-worthy.
Worthy of Reading
With the series concluded, I definitely recommend giving it whole thing a read if you haven’t already done so. The ending, this issue, in particular—whilst very bittersweet—feels like a sunny day. It feels like I can walk outside, and, whilst it may be new and terrifying, things may just turn out okay, and even if it doesn’t, there are still people who have my back. I like hope mixed in with my existential horror.
There will always be a choice somewhere. We may have some control over our life somewhere, somehow, even when everything else falls away. No matter how much we lose, there’s more to gain.
So uh, yeah, read Eternity Girl start to finish, with this finish being well worth the wait.
Verdict: 5 out of 5
I’m a thirty something British nerd-mum and wannabe author, fueled by tea, poor decision making and a need to be distracted. Cursed to watch favourite characters die and ships sink.