It’s been a while, but Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña’s philosophical fantasy series Seven To Eternity is back this week with issue #13. And it arrives with a bang, crash and a wallop as Adam Osisis continues to keep the dethroned despot of Zhal, The Mud King, Garlis, from being torn apart by his enemies. In this case, one of his own sons, Volmer, ruler of the floating city of Skod.
Meanwhile, Adam has been transported to the Black Well where he meets deity-like beings who seem to be fighting for their own survival, just as everyone on Zhal seems to be doing in one way another. And a further deal is offered up. This is a comic that seems to be offering up a fantasy words in which everything is up for bartering in some Faustian like pact that can never bring about any good from what we’ve already seen. The whole world of Zhal was only recently enslaved by Garlis, The Mud King. You’d think some sort of lesson would have been learnt from that, right?
And, over all these proceedings, there still lingers a great shadow that continues to blur the lines mortality and ethics for the readers. Garlis has been savagely tortured and for most of this series has been a captive. In that time we’ve grown to know him and, possibly, begin to understand his particular brand of friendly fascism. With more monstrous characters surrounding him, it’s an interesting path to take by Remender and one that’s playing out exceptionally well. It’s certainly challenging readers preconceptions of good and bad, right and wrong, and the lengths we will go to for family. Adam is a desperate man and makes desperate choices. We all do. But, his choices cost lives and in this issue he faces the dilemma many wartime generals have had to face and make: sacrificing the few to save the many.
Unfortunately, with such heavy subject matter to take on board, I would rather this series was more regularly published. I find I have to flip back on previous issues – even with the catch-up included in each issue – to remind myself of the subtleties of the script and the changing allegiances occurring.
But, it’s a minor complaint and given the complexities of the script as well as the stunning artwork by Opeña, I can understand why its being published bi-monthly. I’ll take quality over quantity every time!
What we are witnessing – for those of use still along for the ride – is a sci-fi/fantasy saga that is far from your average Hero’s Quest. Rather it asks us to consider what makes a hero and what makes a villain, and, whether or not we can feel empathy for the latter. The Mud King is either a classic tragic character in the making, or he’s had us all fooled. But then, he is the King of Whispers, so I wouldn’t go turning my back on him too readily. Even if he is blind.
Seven To Eternity #13 is out this Wednesday 20th February from Image Comics.