With every new entry into the series, Seven to Eternity proves to be the ultimate amalgam of high fantasy entrenched in real-world themes of idealism, compromise, and social tribalism. And yet, readers never feel like they are being preached to, or as if the material is self-important. Instead, writer Rick Remender and artist Jerome Opena build a world of fantasy, action, and moral conflict rife with poignant subject matter and three-dimensional characters that demand your attention. Seven to Eternity manages to tick all the proverbial boxes for a brilliant comic series while also escalating the genre. Fans of every ilk have good reason to dive into Seven to Eternity; art on par with the best comics has to offer, flawed yet highly relatable characters, resonant themes, and a world that compels your imagination.
Fans who have not had the opportunity to dive into the world of Zhal have some catching up to do, but worry not — Seven to Eternity will draw you into its story regardless of your current relationship with the material. Thankfully, every issue opens with a recap of events to aid in your acclimatization similar to Marvel’s opening page. The opening pages of Seven to Eternity describe the volume as such:
“War has come to the Land of Zhal, not with armies and fire, but with whispers. The Mud King can grant men their darkest desires in exchange for letting him see through their eyes and hear through their ears. Adam Osidis – a cast out by his brother knights – seeks to sever the connection the Mud King has with his slaves, but should the Mud King die, so would the untold millions who have accepted his offer. To truly disconnect the Mud King from his followers Adam must travel to the land of an ancient wizard. Adam reluctantly agrees to accompany the remaining Mosak on this journey. When the Mud King whispers of a cure for Adam’s terrible disease, Adam escapes with the Mud King during an attack. Now pursued by his allies, Adam fights to keep the Mud King alive amid a battle between the Mud King’s sons.”
If one word could summarize Seven to Eternity (which it can’t, but I’ll try anyway) it is “Ideology.” The conflict at the very core of the rivalry between Adam Osiris and Garils Slum is dogma and all the nuances, flawed thinking, and struggle that erupt from the concept.
The driving force behind Seven to Eternity Vol. 3 is the nuanced relationship between Galdis and Adam. The rivalry among them remains evident, but signs of respect and understanding begin to seep through the cracks. The volume follows Adam and Garils Slum as they seek a promised spring that can cure Adam of his life-threatening illness. If you’ve ever seen films like Midnight Run or even 16 Blocks, you get the idea. The journey naturally fleshes out similarities among two seemingly disparate individuals. A common goal and near-death experiences can do that.
The Mud King is a worthy Villain for such an epic tale. His power isn’t raw or overt, but subtle, as it plays with your every most profound desire. The mud king is a villain, there is no question about that, but like any good villain, he feels his actions are benevolent yet misconstrued by the masses who can’t conceive of his goals. Garils doesn’t have super strength or fire lasers from his eyes that evaporate anything in his path. His weapon of choice is yearning; promises of a better tomorrow, the promise of your unfulfilled desires, the promise to make things better. Despite his arguing otherwise, Garils lacks empathy but hides behind his supposed concern for the greater good…sound familiar?
Garils despises weakness, using it for his means, even with his children. His son’s wife came to Garils, wishing that their people never suffer the evils of war on Zhal. Every want Garils grants is a monkey’s paw, accompanied by an ironic twist of fate. Wish granted, but now the people of Skod can never make contact with the soil of Zhal without bursting into flames. The Mud King’s selflessness at work. It’s this manipulation that Garils uses to reach Adam.
For example, Adam’s family is on the brink of famine; their crops yield little nourishment. Despite being thousands of miles away, Garils provides them with sustenance. Through the eyes and minds of his loyal followers, Garils feeds Adam’s family. Has he done so out of the kindness of his heart? Or as a father knowing the desire to provide for his family? No, and no again. The master manipulator pulls Adam ever closer into his web. The signs point to Adam succumbing to Garils will, but only time will tell.
Throughout the story, Adam and Osiris go back and forth on Adam’s lot in life, and what his decision to save the Mud King means to Adam’s moral fiber. Through massive action, mutual suffering, and skewed discourse, each man comes to have a greater understanding of the other. It’s this complicated relationship as well as others that imbues intrigue into every issue.
Despite the charismatic pull of Garils, Adam’s struggle is at the core of Seven to Eternity. Every issue opens with one of Adam’s journal entries. He questions his father integrity, his concerns, and the ideals that have kept the Osidis family out of Garils reach for so long. What’s an ideal worth when it is causing suffering? Isn’t fighting through the hard times for something you believe in what makes it a true ideal in the first place? Adam isn’t a man with all the answers, but his concerns are relatable.
With his family on the line, Adam hungers for a cure to his ails, so much so that he saves the Mud King (and his linked followers) from death. Therein lies the dichotomy of moral vs. immoral. There is no black or white, only a multitude of gray. If saving Adam’s family is the right thing to do, but he can only save them by keeping a despot alive, what choice is the right one? The thoughts weigh on Adam’s every decision, and audiences are along for the ride. Regardless of his choice, Adam is a hero through and through; he is… human. He doesn’t pretend to be a protector of good or the paragon of ethics; he recognizes his flaws and strives ever-forward to do as much good as he can. Can audiences ask for anything more?
In terms of artwork, Jerome Opena has a heavy load to bear, but he does so with herculean effort. Every panel, every page, brims with detail. Remender’s script calls from creatures that scrape every avenue of the mind and imagination, yet Opena delivers will artistic self-confidence. Seven to Eternity is a beautiful book to read. One panel after the next feels carefully plotted and performed with the skill of a master. Volume 3 showcases some of Opena pencil and ink work before it would reach colors and print. Without a doubt, it’s some of the best illustrations in any book on the shelf today.
I have no doubt in my mind that when the series runs its course it will be praised for its pacing and approach to thematic undertones, but mostly for creating a pleasing blend of fantasy and drama perfectly illustrated by one of the industry’s finest. Seven to Eternity Vol. 3 is a turning point in an epic tale worthy of your collection.