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Chain Reactions | National Comics: Eternity #1

National Comics: Eternity #1

The name of DC Comics’ latest publishing initiative, National Comics, is a reference to the publisher’s long history–National Comics was the name of the publisher before becoming DC Comics. It was also the title of an anthology comic series published by Quality Comics in the 1940s, which featured characters that would eventually be purchased and absorbed into the DC Universe.

Speaking of which, one of the characters that DC bought from Quality was Kid Eternity, who debuted in Hit Comics #25 in 1942. A young boy killed 75 years before he was supposed to die, the powers that be sent him back to Earth to fight the good fight, giving him the power to summon historical and mythological figures to aid him in his mission. DC has revived the character a few different times and retconned his history–at one point he was Captain Marvel Jr.’s brother; at another point the historical figures he was summoning were revealed to be demons. Most recently Kid Eternity appeared in the pre-New 52 Teen Titans title.

This time around Kid Eternity is revived by Jeff Lemire and Cully Hamner, in a one-shot that came out this past Wednesday. Is it a concept worthy of revival–and your money? Here are a few reviews from around the web to help you decide:

Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “If there was a comic book encyclopedia that had an entry titled, ‘Characters No One Knows What To Do With,’ you’d find an image of Kid Eternity right below the heading. Jeff Lemire, Cully Hamner and Derec Donovan take their own stab at this character from the 1940s in National Comics: Eternity #1 and the end result is good enough that I want to read more.” (4/5)

Martin Gray, Too Dangerous For A Girl: “In the Forties, Kid Eternity summoned historical characters and storybook folk with the cry of ‘Eternity’. Christopher’s collection system is rather less clean, but a lot more dramatic; I like it. The interplay between Christopher and murder victim Darby Quinn is entertaining, and it helps us get to know both players’ characters. And the resolution is pleasingly plausible rather than convoluted.”

Luke Robinson, Deer in the Xenon-Arc Lights: “Kid Eternity is not a character that i was at all familiar with but like he did in Justice League Dark #9 Lemire layers out his origin lithely; we get a full, unabridged re-telling of the story for the newcomers that is still told in a stylish enough manner to not feel labored for the veterans. In summary he is a ghost-detective, after a near-death experience the Kid gains the ability to temporarily pluck souls out of purgatory and he uses this power to help him solve cases and further his career as a coroner. This issue tells the tale of one such case; a flabby man in his late forties is found dead in his house, shot at point blank, and so the Kid pairs up with him and sets out to prosecute the guilty party.”

Brian Salvatore, Multiversity Comics: “That is the story in a nutshell and, sadly, there isn’t even all that much to add. Throw in some daddy issues, a Rosario Dawson-lookalike unrequited love interest, and some “old people don’t get punk rock” humor. Not that this is a bad issue, nor would it be a bad issue of a mini or an ongoing, it isn’t that at all. What is disappointing is that the most interesting part of the old Kid Eternity, the ability to summon historical figures (or, demons who looked like historical figures, depending on which reboot you read), and so instead of a book with elements of hero worship, time travel, and resurrection, instead we get CSI: G-g-g-g-ghost, replete with crotchety chief and lovable character flaw (he’s always late) …” (5.5/10)

Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “Cully Hamner’s crisp, bold linework always makes for visuals that really grab the eye, and he brings a nice variety of body types to his storytelling, making this seem more like the real world than one populated by an impossibly unending array of figures representing the pinnacle of physical perfection. His style often leans toward a noir tone, and that works well with the subject matter in this comic book. Hamner isn’t responsible for all of the line art in this comic, though; Derec Donovan handles the third act. He’s wisely chosen to emulate Hamner’s style as closely as possible, and while one can differentiate between the two artists’ work, there’s nevertheless a strong sense of consistency throughout the comic.” (6/10)

George Chimples, Major Spoilers: “National Comics: Eternity ends with cliff-hanger and sets up a villain, making it seem that this one-shot is a backdoor pilot issue for a possible on-going series. Unfortunately, this issue does not make a compelling argument for a Kid Eternity monthly. The dialogue is capable, the art is good, but the core concept is neither original nor compelling nor particularly well-executed. Oddly enough, a character hewing closer to the original Kid Eternity concept, with the power to summon mythical or historical personages, seems like it has fresher potential than this brand new incarnation.” (2/5)

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6 Comments

My copy is still at the LCS, I was curious about how resurrecting dead historical figures would go down…guess it doesn’t.

Actually, after reading Salvatore’s review, he’s got the wrong series. It’s NOT a CSI-inspired series. If anything, the comic is a bit more “Columbo, Ghost Whisperer.”

Jake Earlewine

July 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I liked the original Kid Eternity series better. Especially the art.

All the reboots since then have never matched the charm of the original. But I’m pretty sure “charm” is a foreign quality to today’s writers and artists at DC.

I found the use of violence against women to generate the drama in the comic a little unsettling.

Violence against women SHOULD be unsettling. That’s what makes it dramatic.

It’s also a pretty boring cliche.

Also, why is violence against women and children unsettling, but not men?

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