Perhaps the biggest surprise of DC’s New 52 is their return to horror comics. Seemingly regulated to Vertigo and Image, DC has embraced the darker side of superhero comics and has managed to really make tense and scary books.
Jeff Lemire has really been pushing this more so than any of the other writers. His work on Animal Man has been one of the biggest success stories of the relaunch and understandably so. Lemire has always been a disciple of Alan Moore and Jamie Delano, the great British pioneers in American horror comics and Lemire is clearly going back to these early Bronze Age roots with the release this week’s one-shot of National Comics Eternity.
Lemire’s been given the chance to revamp Kid Eternity’s origin story as a result of Flashpoint and he plays it safe, simplifying the 20-something’s powers into something that can be easily digested and introducing plenty of opportunities for further adventures. In a neat twist, Christopher Freeman doesn’t really want to be or consider himself a superhero. He’s just a guy with a crush on a girl, insomnia and a desire to feel like he’s not a failure.
The real fun to be had here is in the procedural. Freeman’s ability to resurrect the dead helps him to solve murder mysteries and he’s a fast talking occult detective in the John Constantine mold. Its something that I will always get behind and the amount of earnest care that Freeman shows as he figures out the who dun’ it and tries to protect a maybe-innocent victim is a lot of fun to behold.
Penciller Cully Hamner turns in some great work here too. His version of an alternate dimension filled with the dead is dark and unique, avoiding the zombie cliches that have infected comics lately and the level of detail from bright police offices to bustling punk rock clubs to empty coronners’ offices to overloaded antique stores all have an admirable lived-in feel. He clearly separates the world of the dead with the one of the living, heightening the dark and distinct differences between the two.
I really forgot how much I missed reading a genuine mystery in mainstream comics and Lemire does it here admirably, even setting up a great future case should the series continue. He’s admirably fused a golden age character with all the gory charm of modern comics and I would love to get more of this twisted tale.