Exploring Levels of Anxiety in ETERNITY GIRL #2

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ETERNITY GIRL #2 by Magdalene Visaggio, Sonny Liew, Chris Chuckry, and Todd Klein
Art
Characterization
Plot

Summary

Even though the world of ETERNITY GIRL #2 is a little out there, the themes and emotions depicted in this issue aren't. They are extremely grounded and almost painfully relatable. The story chugs right along while characters develop against an absolutely gorgeous backdrop of spectacular art.

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Uncanny and Real

ETERNITY GIRL #2 continues to explore the complexities of mental health by following the story of Caroline Sharp — a woman who has some impressive superpowers thanks to her work on government project Alpha 13. After causing an accident that cost a bystander their life, Caroline attempts to recover to get back to work. Yet that journey isn’t an easy one. Warning, potential spoilers can be found below!

The Simple Things Aren’t Simple

ETERNITY GIRL #2 begins as Caroline attempts to contact Director Sloane, who has blocked her from returning to work until she learns to control her powers. It’s a scene that could feel familiar to a lot of people. As she calls Sloane over and over again, only ever getting a message that says his voice mailbox is full, she fantasizes about him admitting that he’s purposefully harming her.

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All the while, the reader sees panels of Caroline falling from the bridge she discussed at length in the first issue. She then convinces herself to go to a comedy show with her friend, Dani. It’s a scene that epitomizes anxiety. She says to herself, “Do it, Caroline. It’ll be fun.” This is a conversation many people have with themselves every day because anxiety can make even the simple, fun things that others don’t even think about absolutely exhausting.

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ETERNITY GIRL #2 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

For Caroline, it’s about the effort she has to expend to appear “normal” — clearly a symbol for the energy that people with mental health issues use to do the same — as well as her emotional struggles. She thinks about drowning in the river throughout the show, not able to enjoy it at all. And the subject matter doesn’t help either. The comedian speaks about eating disorders and being mentally unwell, which hits too close to home for Caroline.

The Parallel Journey

During the show, she drifts off into a conversation on another plane of existence with Madame Atom, who has offered to help her end her life by destroying the universe. Atom shows Caroline the Shining Tower, which she describes as “the pillar of creation.” She explains that destroying that will end everything — every version of Caroline in every reality, as well as everything else that has ever existed.

As the comedy show ends and she comes back to her reality, she explains to Dani that this wasn’t helpful, despite her friend’s intentions. They have a painfully relatable fight in which Dani says she was only trying to make Caroline feel better and understood, while Caroline tries to explain why it had the opposite effect. It ends with Dani saying, “It’s like you get off on being miserable.” Even though she immediately apologizes, it hurts Caroline deeply and propels her into her next action.

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ETERNITY GIRL #2 page 7. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

While she fights Astrolas, the god-like guardian of the Shining Tower, she also goes to Sloane’s to confront him. The two scenes overlap, showing the parallels between Astrolas and Sloane. She defeats the guardian and destroys the home of the Alpha 13 director.

Dark Humor Gives ETERNITY GIRL #2 Life

As Caroline attempts to contact Director Sloane, she imagines him saying some pretty awful things: “I am a terrible person. I have a stupid butt and I am bad at my job. I am deliberately hurting Caroline Sharpe because I find it satisfying sexually, further underlining my moral failings.”

Moments like this make the book bright and funny, while also dark and relatable. We’ve all had thoughts like this — ones that hurt us and reinforce the idea that people harm us intentionally. Yet writer Magdalene Visaggio infuses this harsh reality with humor, making us laugh while also making us think.

It’s the beating heart of this book, and it’s done just enough. ETERNITY GIRL #2 isn’t so dark that it’s difficult to read. It’s not so funny that it negates and belittles the topics being addressed. It’s extremely cathartic and a joy to read.

Art, Masterfully Composed

ETERNITY GIRL #2 is gorgeous to look at. The everyday is captivating, and the uncanny will blow your mind.

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ETERNITY GIRL #2 page 9. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Sonny Liew draws people as they actually look; no one appears as a perfect specimen. We see realistic body types and typical human beings. Perhaps this is why Caroline looks so jarring when in her natural form.

Colorist Chris Chuckry is a master of pastels but switches it up to make Astrolas really stand out. This character is extremely vivid, adorned in bright reds and blues that make him pop off the page. He’s clearly from another reality.

Todd Klein’s letters shine throughout but culminate on the last couple pages. As Caroline screams out, “Why am I even alive?” before demolishing Sloane’s house, the letters are large and bold and impactful. Yet on the next page, as she walks away from the rubble, Klein juxtaposes that with a small bit of narration — “A signal.” You can feel the emotional shift in the character just from the way those letters are composed.

But the most impressive image in the book is a zodiac circle composed entirely of different versions of Caroline. This image also adorns the cover of ETERNITY GIRL #2, but that doesn’t make it any less effective in the story itself. It’s the kind of page that could claim your attention for hours. The intricacies are impressive, and it was clearly a large undertaking for the whole team. It’s definitely an accomplishment.

Up Next: Stuff Gets Weird

ETERNITY GIRL #2 brings a lot of elements together to drive the story forward. From relatable moments to visions of other worlds, to awe-inspiring pages and panels, it is making its mark and adding a lot of dimension to an already amazing Young Animal title. It feels like there are far more than two issues out so far, considering how deep it’s gone.

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It’s different from anything else you’ll read this month, and that’s what makes it so phenomenal. It begs to be reread and picked apart and analyzed, which is the mark of an incredible piece of art.

The teaser for ETERNITY GIRL #3 is “Up Next: stuff gets weird.” Considering how odd it’s been already, that should be extremely interesting to witness.

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