The Forevers #1 (Black Mask)


CREDIT: Black Mask

Rating: 3/5 – Lack of Story Clarity Overshadows All Else.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

There’s a description in the solicits and on the back cover to this book that explains the “high concept”:

Seven friends struggling on the brink of stardom sacrifice everything in a black magic pact that brings them all the wealth and glamour they ever wanted. But now, years later, the glow is fading. When one of them is killed in an accident, they each feel a pulse of magic rise in them. They realize the glow is spread evenly among the group, and if one dies that power is passed along to the rest. Suddenly, they are being hunted. One of them has decided to kill the rest and harness the remaining power.

It’s an interesting concept and one that I’ve seen before in a number of other comics, as well as (to some extent) in the Highlander movie/TV franchise.  That doesn’t make it an invalid concept to explore again, but it does mean that I want to see how writer Curt Pires puts a different and engaging spin on it to make it his own.  That is where The Forevers fell down for me.  Maybe I’m just not as perceptive as a reader needs to be to get the most out of this comic, but the ‘high concept’ from the blurb above is not really communicated to the reader very well inside the comic, in my opinion.  Maybe Pires felt that by stating the concept outside the story itself he could just touch on elements and themes in the story and the reader would fill in the blanks.  That certainly happened, it needed to because I’d never have gotten the info imparted in the quote above had I just read the interior pages of this comic.

We start out with the ‘black magic pact’.  Nothing about the 3 pages used to depict this give any indication WHY the characters are performing the ritual or what they hope to gain from it.  A bit of expository dialogue would have been nice.  We’re also introduced to the seven characters, ‘introduced’ in the lightest way possible as we get a picture of them uttering a few words and their name is provided in a caption.  Then we jump to ten years later and someone named Mort has died.  He’s not one of the seven, but seems to have had a relationship with them that is hinted at but not stated outright.  He also knew about the pact (called ‘the event’) and was the only one outside the seven who did.  ‘The Event’ is still not clearly identified as having given any specific benefit to the seven, that’s a blank left to be filled in by the readers.

The general lack of clarity is extended throughout the issue as we are presented with a number of scenes that are seemingly disjoint… but if I step back, armed with the knowledge presented in the solicitation quote, I can sort of piece it all together and start figuring out what the story is starting to be about.  The clarity is further impeded by excessively dark/murky coloring utilized by artist Eric Scott Pfeiffer that obscures the details in many of the scenes. I’m not sure if this is the production of the book or if the book is supposed to be very shadowy.  It certainly sets a mood, but even in scenes set indoors, I kept wishing someone would just turn on a light.

There’s a lot of promise in this series that just was not realized for me in the pages of this first issue.  Had I not had the solicitation text (helpfully printed on the back cover) to guide my way, I’d have been utterly lost about what was going on and why.  As it stands, I think Pires is weaving a mystery but has gone a bit too far in making it mysterious to the point that not enough actual information is put in the pages of the story to grab me as a reader.  I’m not saying he has to spoon-feed me, but the information is out there, a few key concepts could have been easily inserted into the storytelling, but that isn’t the way Pires wants to tell his story.

In the end, there were no characters in this issue that I got enough information about to form any kind of attachment to.  There was not a single character that I formed a bond with and care about continuing on to see what happens to them.  In the absence of a character that I like or identify with and want to follow, the other thing that will get me to come back for more issues is a really engaging story where I just have to see what happens next.  This also didn’t happen for me, as the story as presented in the pages of the comic was really vague on too many points for me to get invested in it at all.  Ultimately, this had too many problems with story and art for me to want to come back for a second issue.  This may read better as a collected edition where the whole thing is there to explore at a single time.  I’m going to pass on this as a serialized story, there was really nothing I could latch on to and that means I’ll have a hard time picking up and following the story thread after a month long absence.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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