From Here To Eternity?
♦Tripwire’s Contributing Editor OLLY MACNAMEE takes a look over Image’s Seven To Eternity vol.1, out now in trade…
Seven To Eternity Volume 1
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opeña
Collecting the first four much sought after issues of Rick Remender’s and Jerome Opeña Image comic, Seven To Eternity, quick sharpish, this is a trade paperback collection possibly rushed out, no doubt, because of the demand for this book. Anyway, I can only thanks Image Comics for getting this out and onto shelves so quickly, as I was more than happy to catch up on what I’d missed, having fallen in love with Opeña’s art relatively lately, after reading last year’s Secret Wars collection and immediately falling under his spell. That, and all the good things I was hearing about the book was more than enough to bait me with.
In Opeña, Remender has found a talented and imaginative artist to confidently and capably bring to life a sci-fi fantasy series of this nature. To build a world from scratch and to have it live, breathe, on each page is some feat, but one Opeña pulls off effortlessly, creating different species – humanoid or otherwise – and adding meat to their bones with his fine, etched attention to detail that adds layers and textures to this worn-out world that has seen better days. With this being so sci-fi/fantasy influenced, you may be reminded in Opeña’s art of the worlds of Flash Gordon under Alex Raymond’s masterful nib, or Al Williamson too. The whole series, stylistically and artistically, has something of an echo of past masters about it and, I dare say, homaging such epic space operas is intentional on the part of both the artist and, Remender, the writer.
And, it is Remender who writes this, adding and fleshing out the world of Zhal; the history, the characters, the test, allies and enemies; with baddy no.1 taking the form of the despotic Mud King, as he is derogatively called by his enemies: Garils Sulm, The God of Whispers to you and I. A man of vast powers, being able to get into the minds of people and infest them with whispers before taking control. Promises of their heart’s desire sold for their undying, unquestioning loyalty in return. A loyalty that we are soon to believe, is paid at a great cost. The very freedom of the planet.
Our hero comes in the form of the bearded Adam Osidis, who is not a well man. But, by the end of the first chapter of this collection (i.e issue 1) he’s in at least better health than his father, shall we say. Having lived in the wilderness as a disgraced former Mosak knights – all of whom are energised with their own particular power, or talent, like some space aged X-Men – he now sees no way out but to confront the God of Whispers, meeting along the way the titular band of outcasts, and former knights themselves, all with their own sad story to tell and their own unique power too. These are the few, the brave, those who did not sell out, and it is this central conceit that makes this more than just another well crafted space epic (which I wouldn’t knock, if that was all it was). No, rather this is a thinly veiled political allegory as well; a comment on our own modern society, our politicians, their false, oily promises and ‘Alternative Facts’. And our own complicity in their sustained power and position. The God of Whispers is like a leech, and once you’ve heard his offer, you can’t forget it as it works away at you a little at a time. A form of psychological torture that most have happily given into far too easily. We listen to what sounds the best, and we all have our price for turning away when horrors are carried out with our silent acquiescence. Isn’t that what politics is all about?
The God of Whispers rules through such alternative facts that are not too far removed from our own modern world. Just as right-wingers like to blame immigrants for the loss of jobs, a depressed economy, etc., it is all a convenient truth to embrace for many. Rather that than face the truth; that the elite rule with wild abandonment and arrogance, using propaganda to smear their enemies – just as Adam’s family name has been soiled – and maintain their tyrannical grip on power because we are meant to believe there is no alternative. We saw it with Hitler and Goebbels dire but effective use of propaganda during WWII, and we’re still seeing it in today’s topsy-turvy world of politics. Indeed, it would seem that Trump is currently running his own White House by borrowing from the toxicity of the past.
This is a space faring story, a homage to the great space epics of the past, but with a real world political critique bubbling up just below the surface. And, while a seemingly dramatic and definitive victory of sorts seems to have been accomplished by the end of this trade paperback, there is a question asked by one of the Seven which will leave the reader querying this turn of events at the end of this first volume too. And, that will make you want to either wait for the next trade, or run to the shelves to seek out issue 5 and beyond. I’m call first dibs though, so you’ll have to race me for it!