Love Everlasting could not be told as a novel, nor a short story. It could not be told over the length of a film. The story by Tom King and Elsa Charretier is told the only way this story can: as a comic book. And in a world of adaptations and comics being used merely as fodder for IP content farms, Love Everlasting is a work of comic book art.
Within its classic-style structure, Love Everlasting is daringly modern. Charretier’s more traditional cartoon style blends in with King’s script like a glove, when on the surface it has no right. But King’s story is more than meets the eye, and when we dig under the surface we see a story boiling with noir. Charretier delivers King’s surrealistic and twisted love story from hell with a nostalgic flavor, allowing Matt Hollingsworth’s colors to produce an immersive atmosphere, nailing the mood of the noir tale.
Clayton Cowles’ contributions can’t be overlooked, either, as his lettering gave the story weight and a consistent tone. He certainly had his work cut out for him, as King’s story serves up plenty of dialogue, as well the narration.
As for Tom King, whether you love him or hate him, you know it’s a Tom King production every time you finish one of his comics. This is no different, as King has paced and structured the story in free-flowing manner, with a rising tension bubbling underneath.
But it’s the format itself that takes center stage. This debut issue runs 24 pages, but is told in four mini-stories, with the fourth being a one-page story. Each story differs but has one common beat that threads them all together: Joan Peterson finding herself in alternating presents, with memories of past loves and histories that may or may not be real, but with the threat of vanquishing her future of a new love and a happy marriage.
With each new story, Peterson remembers her memories earlier and quicker, leaving her and the reader questioning whether what happens next is real or not. But as each new story compounds upon the next, Peterson’s experiences feel both grounded as a memory but surreal in the events unfolding before her. King’s bold writing does a great job of weaving in and out of these complex concepts and is conveyed in smooth fashion.
So, when it comes to defining the merits of art and cataloguing it for our cultural zeitgeist, what are the rules? How do you contextualize the subjectivity of a comic in a way that is well thought out, balanced, and honest? First, you have to take a step back.
I’ve sat with this comic for a few days. I first wrote my review, a much quicker one, but throughout the editing process I’ve had to go back and revisit and revise. And in doing so, I’ve been given the freedom, space, and time to think about this comic and write about it in a more profound and meaningful way than to just regurgitate a review a hundred other websites may or may not beat me to publishing.
I thought about it today, earlier, before I had the opportunity to edit. I thought about the art, the way it got under my skin, the way Charretier’s style surprised me by giving me something I didn’t expect at first. I thought about how well she blends her artistic talent with Tom King’s story, and how intrigued I am by the end of the last page.
I thought about Tom King, and how in the hell he does it. I wondered, as I sat with the story today, how the two were able to tell a story with so many unexpected beats and offer a comic book that hits on all cylinders, even ones I didn’t know I needed to look for.
I thought about the second issue, and what was to come. In the world of content gluttony, Love Everlasting held my attention and wouldn’t let go. It’s the most creative debut issue of a comic book I’ve ever read. Love, it is said within the final pages of issue #1, is everlasting. This series will be, too.
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