The premise of writer Tom King and artist Elsa Charretier’s Love Everlasting might not be simple, per se, but in the space of one chapter they had already established a rhythm and pattern to the story. Yet, in Love Everlasting #2, only a chapter later, they are already throwing out the playbook. It’s clear that this is not a series you’ll be able to predict. King, Charretier, colorist Matt Hollingsworth, and letterer Clayton Cowles are trying new things at every opportunity.
About Love Everlasting #2 (from Everlasting Productions):
Joan wakes into another nightmare of love. It is 1920. She is the maid and Roger is the heir to the great manor, and though it is forbidden, they are inevitably drawn together. But soon clichés begin to crumble and blood begins to spill as Joan finds her own power in “The Hunt for Love”!
Love Everlasting #2 does not pick up where the last chapter left off. It’s immediately confusing. What are we missing? How did Joan get here? And why do we seem to have gone back to square one? You can almost feel King smile as you scratch your head. He has you right where he wants you. But then, something even stranger happens. Love Everlasting #1 seemed to establish two things: a pattern of short love story vignettes that wrap up every few pages, and an exploration of the horror behind the idea of love being everlasting. Yet, ten pages in, we arrive at the second chapter of the same love story. It’s cheesy, it’s melodramatic, it’s full of all kinds of clichés, but damn it if it isn’t kind of lovely too. The story draws you in to the point that you almost forget the seeds of horror and meta commentary King has been sowing. And right when you’ve given up on figuring out what’s going on, King brings back every thread in a quiet, measured, and explosive way. If you think you have a handle on Love Everlasting and its themes, this issue is a surefire way of learning that you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Charretier’s art continues to be delightful. It’s hard to go into many of the themes and storytelling Charretier has at work here without spoiling some of this issue, so let it be said that the subtleties of her art are incredibly rewarding upon a second read. The first major thing we see in Love Everlasting #2 is the difference between Joan, our main character, and her lover Roger. Roger is so unaware of his own privilege. He feels subdued and persecuted by his own rank, completely oblivious to how Joan must feel as his maid. Charretier places panels of each of them side by side. Joan’s face is concentrated as she bends over a bucket full of laundry that she’s washing by hand. Roger, placed in a similar position in the frame, looks downcast and sad as he listens to his wealthy father’s list of demands. As we continue through the story, Roger is always seen above Joan in any panel that they share. He’s quite literally her superior, yet she smiles up at him with doting eyes. With this, the twists and turns that shake Joan and Roger’s dynamic, and each of the playful page layouts, Charretier tells us volumes about these characters in the space of just a few pages.
Joan and Roger may occupy the same house, but Hollingsworth makes it clear that they live in two different worlds. Roger’s world is in a perpetual sunset. The golden hues of the landscape are picturesque and beautiful. Joan’s world is dim and dank. You can practically smell the mildew in the gray broom closets and kitchens where Joan does her work. Throughout, we see Joan getting invited into Roger’s world. The grays give way to the yellows and oranges of Roger’s evening escapades. But Roger can never fully enter Joan’s world. Only once do we see him go into Joan’s dimly lit bedroom. Even then, the golden rays of the sun outside the window stream in and cast a faint light over Roger’s face. Hollingsworth gives us a clear picture of what makes the gap between these two so large. Roger has never known poverty. He can’t even fathom what it would be like. Joan is all too aware of the riches she’s only every allowed to partake in as a guest of others.
Cowles lettering has a very playful feel to it in this issue. Often, we see word balloons with bumpy edges. The balloon itself seems to hug the words, so that these lines of dialogue have their own unique rhythm and character to them. The same can be said of Cowles’ sound effects. While Joan and Roger hunt, we see two dogs barking. The “AROOOF” letters on the page grow and dwindle to put emphasis on the middle of the noise. Each sound has a specific lettering to it, not only to give it its own noise, but to match the mood of each scene.
Love Everlasting is charming and terrifying. Better yet, it’s a story you won’t be able to predict or get a handle on – at least, not until it already has its hooks in you. In the space of two issues, this creative team has already shown that they plan to swerve and adapt at every turn, keeping us on our toes for what’s next. Love Everlasting #2 is available to paid subscribers on Everlasting Productions and will be available for free in two weeks time.