Personally, I’ve scratched my head at some of the choices that DC has made regarding it’s comic lines. Thankfully, the publication of National Comics: Kid Eternity is not one of those head scratch inducing choices. It’s a formula that you wonder isn’t followed more often, you know, great writer plus great artist minus nosebleed inducing company wide continuity shenanigans. Consider Kid Eternity to be the olive branch, held out over the divisive 52 rift, saying, “Look, it’s not all Catwoman contortions and reappearing, disappearing Robins. We haven’t forgotten about you, regular comic reader.”
One of the creative hurdles holding back story development these days is the origin story. Nothing puts the brakes on an audience members interest like the immediate rehashing of a characters troubled beginnings. These days the more savy writer will introduce the character and then dole out bits of origin as the tale goes on, giving you something to sate your appetite but leaving you hungry for more. It’s hard to just take someone random and say, “Look, this is how they became this person that you don’t yet care about, but should”. It’s like if a total stranger started talking to you about the worst day of their childhood. You’d more than likely be asking yourself, “Why do I care about this?” But the Lemire/Hamner/Donovan team deliver Kid Eternity’s origin in a brisk, clear three page spurt. Granted, it’s a One-Shot and they don’t have a ton of time to dillydally but I digress and still champion the brevity.
Christopher Freeman is the newest incarnation of the 70 year old character, though it’s not the first time he’s worn that name. He’s been a lot of things under the various imprints that have owned the Kid Eternity trademark since his 1941 conceptions, but this most recent imagining immediately feels more accessible and comfortable than his Vertigo predecessor. Christopher Freeman, the son of a star cop, dies with his dad, but for some reason comes back. Now he can reach into the afterlife and pull out the spirits of the recently deceased to help them solve the mystery of what happened to them.
If it sounds like a lot of network TV dreck, well, that’s because network TV has realized that square jawed doctors and screw-the-rules cops aren’t enough to hold the viewers’ attention anymore. They’re embracing genre and have been doing it more and more over the last two decades, with no end in sight (Grimm, I’m looking in your direction). But unlike network TV dreck, Kid Eternity isn’t ham fisted, superficial or insulting to your mental pallete.
The first issue is a twist filled mystery that’s not so far off that it couldn’t be our world. Grounding baby, that’s what that’s called, and it’s great when you don’t have to run to wikipedia to quickly find out who all of these brawny, cape sporting folks you don’t recognize are. Hamner’s work feels like storyboards for the coolest animated show that’s not actually real, and when you find out that Val Staples does the colors you can hardly be surprised by how much you were digging it.
Christopher Freeman is a kid with a gift that is more like a curse, with a life that’s more like a death, a job that’s more like a weight and a love life that’s, well, I guess calling it D.O.A. would be a little tacky. It’s a one-shot, or is it? The end of the book offers excited question marks, making the reader hope (and pray) that enough copies move to give a little more room for this dynamic creative team to play with the dark but relatable world of Kid Eternity.=