Girl Gone For Eternity

 

by Vince Brusio

Teen angst has nothing on the life of Caroline Sharp. Most girls would idolize her, but Caroline would be the first to pick you up, hold you by the throat, and scream “do not!” In a new Young Animal series for DC Comics, writer Magdalene Vissagio crafts a tale about what a young superhero’s life would look like when a powerful being is made powerless to kill herself. Crank up some music by The Cure, and see what shades of grey await you in Eternity Girl #1 (JAN180243).

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Vince Brusio: Caroline Sharp is said to have been both a superhero and a super-spy. That description alone says that she’d have a hard time filling out a job application anywhere. Who hires someone that’s a superhero and a super-spy? It’s safe to say that the life experiences she’s had aren’t those you typically hear about in conversations at the grocery store or a Starbucks. So who IS Caroline Sharp?

Magdalene Vissagio: Caroline is a striver, first and foremost. She’s someone whose entire life has been defined by the need to achieve. She was a stellar student, an Olympic gymnast, and eventually a top-secret adventurer and superhero. She’s someone who has always pushed herself to go above and beyond whatever her limits were. 

But at the start of the series, all of that is gone. She’s been pensioned out on disability after losing control of her powers and injuring a coworker, and no longer able to reliably shapeshift, has become something of a shut-in. What do you do with your life when the things you’ve given yourself over to all fall apart? That’s the question she stares dead in the face every day; she looks in the mirror and sees something horrifying, she’s barely functional, and she wishes, more than anything, that she could die.

Except she can’t. Her powers won’t allow her to, as far as she can tell. She has no blood. She doesn’t really need to breathe. So she’s staring down an eternity as a freak of nature who can’t leave her apartment, and she doesn’t know how to escape.

Vince Brusio: How does Caroline compartmentalize her life experiences so that they don’t bleed into her everyday activities? Ok, she’s Eternity Girl. But does she step out of the house to go to pump gas in her car like everyone else does every day? It sounds like the woman is a self-contained black hole. What does that look like to the person on the street?

Magdalene Vissagio: Once upon a time, Caroline felt like she ruled the world. She separated her life into her “real life” – the crazy adventuring, the things that made her feel alive and vital – and her “civilian life.” She was perfectly in control of herself and her powers, and she was not shy about existing in the world; she just went about and lived her life.

But once upon a time is over, and now she doesn’t have any everyday activities. She goes to see her therapist twice a week, but otherwise, she just kind of…does nothing. Depression is a monster force, and it can make achieving the smallest things feel like Pyrrhic victories. So she’s going through the motions of wakefulness, sleep, wakefulness, sleep, without really much marking the time or even paying attention. She kind of drifts in and out. So you’re right when you call her kind of a “black hole;” she’s reeling from the complete loss of her core sense of herself.

Vince Brusio: From what it sounds like in the book’s solicitation, Madame Atom appears to assume the role of the snake in the Garden of Eden. The old “you can have everything you want if you do this ONE thing” routine. So how quickly can we expect Caroline to shout “Get behind me Satan!”? Does she already have that fortitude, or is that inner strength a quality she has yet to acquire?

Magdalene Vissagio: Caroline’s first response to the question “would you like to die by helping me destroy the universe?” is a fairly unqualified “yes.” She has no interest in living, and Madame Atom is offering her something she’d believed was an impossibility, something she wants more than anything: an end to her pain. It’s not a bargain; “help me destroy the universe and you can die.” The death comes directly from ending the universe; you can’t live if there’s no universe to live in, and no universe means you were never born, never suffered. The consequences, the stakes, aren’t something she’s really engaging with, and the story revolves around the question of how you get someone who doesn’t have a reason to live to see that other people do.

Madame Atom, for her part, really only sees Caroline as a tool. Caroline has the ability to do what Madame Atom can’t vis a vis the whole “destroying the universe” thing. So Caroline is going to have to learn to see that she’s being used, not helped. But that’s a journey she’s going to make on her own.

Vince Brusio: This is a six-issue mini-series. Does that mean it takes place in a self-contained universe? Or does it bleed into any continuity that could affect other parts of the Young Animal universe where there may be familiar faces?

Magdalene Vissagio: This is a Young Animal book and takes place within the same continuum as the rest of the imprint. The line is unpredictable, so you never know who might show up.

Vince Brusio: What’s the most exciting aspect of this project for you? How does it put a spring in your step? What do you get out of it? And do you find yourself craving more of this adrenaline the longer you work on it?

Magdalene Vissagio:  A “spring in my step” isn’t really the best way to describe this. Eternity Girl can be a very difficult book to write. I’m a morbid person, and I’ve always kind of been obsessed with death, so there’s this whole level where Eternity Girl is fun because I can make Sonny draw skulls and stuff, which I always think is a hoot. 

But really this is a story about coping with depression. I’ve suffered from depression for most of my life, sometimes better, sometimes worse. At its worst, it can completely shut me down, and makes my whole life feel like pointless drifting, where day melts into day and it gets difficult to sort out some kind of narrative of your life, which is something I have a hard time with to this day. I pitched this book to Jamie right as my marriage was nearing total collapse, as my job was descending into the most difficult, stressful, and draining period it had ever reached, and I sold the book not long after my marriage failed and my job disappeared. I spent a lot of 2017 in one of the worst depressions of my life; thankfully, I was able to pour a lot of that into writing, because I know how to cope with depression.

But ultimately, Eternity Girl is about my experience with depression, what it feels like on the inside: this endless, hostile, dead world that you can’t seem to escape from. I just used superhero comic tropes to dial up the stakes and heighten the reality.

For all that, what I love about Eternity Girl is that it’s a hopeful book in the end. I don’t like it when writers treat suicide like it’s a way out; I’ve tangled with suicidality repeatedly, and I’m so glad I never went ahead with it. This is a book about coping with life. It’s about figuring out what you need to get up in the morning. And depression or not, that’s a question we all have to answer.

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Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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