It’s looking like being a strong year for Black Mask Studios (4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, Beautiful Canvas) as they seem to be announcing one great new book after another at the moment. The first we’re going to check out is The Forevers from Youth writer Curt Pires and artist Eric Scott Pfeiffer, but can this tale of jaded immortals create a lasting impressions.
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Writer: Curt Pires
Artist: Eric Pfeiffer
Price: TBC from ComiXology
While we’ve seen a lot of post-modern powers style stories in the indie world over the years, many creators still feel wedded to the Lee and Kirby method of creating their characters – i.e. by accident or by birth. Yet this isn’t the only way, and writer Curt Pires opts for a more magical approach as a group of teens invoke an ancient spell and with it grant themselves immortality. As a result, we get a group of Elementals style ‘forevers’ who live a secret life of augmented success rather than saving the world. We join the story 10 years after the initial invocation as the 6 friends are troubled and broken by their new found fame and infamy, made worse but the fact there is a mysterious assassin slowly going after them one by one to reap their collective powers. But can they put aside their differences to help save each other?
The Forevers is a gritty and mature take on the concept of powers and their legacy. While we might have discussed ‘powers’ in this intro, this really isn’t the focus of the story, rather a way to explain their immortality in a familiar way. The Forevers feels more like a Stephen King book like It, packed with coming of age angst and later life regret, than a Silver Age capes story. The jaded characters looking back on a shared life altering experience also reminded us of Mark Millar’s Jupiter’s Legacy, and the emphasis on the flawed human relationships is definitely the focus rather than anything more fantastical. For some, like Bronson (an all powerful tech mogul)or Daisy (the Hollywood starlet) life is better, with wealth and power elevating them above their humble beginnings. While for others, like main protagonist Jamie, it causes more trouble than it was worth – from drugs to a failed relationship with fellow Forever Kate.
With an assassin bringing ‘The Forevers’ back together as they realise their powers grow every time one of the dies, it makes for an interesting dynamic between those who are doing well and those who are struggling (and also those who remain). The mature tone to it makes it feel much darker and moody, without going too far into shocking territory and reminded us a lot fo Monty Nero’s Death Sentence with its attitude and tone. However unlike Monty Nero, or Mark Millar’s work, it uses this darkness at the expense of any humour and so it is quite a bleak read at times.
The artwork from Eric Pfeiffer is an interesting one as it is both fantastic and problematic in equal measures. His ultra-realistic, painted style gives it an epic, cinematic quality to it which helps make it feel very 21st century – like a tv mini series or movie. In terms of comics, it reminded us of White NOIR’s Divezez or even Martin Simmonds work in Department of Truth, and so it has a very unconventional feel to it which helps it to really stand out from the crowd.
However, it is also victim to one of our pet hates, which is comic characters made to look like celebrities. For example Jamie is quite clearly modelled on Damon Albarn from Blur, Kate on Kate Moss and Bronson on Idris Elba. While this furthers the movie sheen of it all, we found it quite distracting as you instantly cast assumptions on those characters as result. While we appreciate that is most likely the intention, and the rendering is often brilliant, the odd times when the artwork isn’t quite perfect took us out of the story into a kind of ‘celebrity uncanny valley’ as we were more focussed on that than the character’s actions.
The presentation is also superb, with some excellent design work from Ryan Ferrier, which uses infographics to give it a Jonathan Hickman style to it and continues to help elevate the book above the norm – continuing Black Masks’ tendency to create really interesting books.
Overall The Forevers is a bit of a curates egg of a comic. Overall, it’s a strong concept which is executed really well. Pires continues the strong writing from Youth, and Feiffer’s work is very accomplished, however we found it just a bit too bleak and angsty at times – and the celeb cameos just too distracting. Which is a shame, because as a ‘cinematic comic book’ it has a lot of potential and is clearly aiming high but coming up just short.