Originality and execution are two big elements of general entertainment media that many critics look for in any given series. Since it is difficult for most works to truly be “original” as many modern works are derivative of older ideas in some form or another, it is often better for a work to use a basic story concept, often used before, and put some sort of unique spin on the story. Today’s review, Everlast seeks to put its own spin on an apocalyptic setting. Does it succeed? Let’s find out.
Everlast was released in late 2011 and written by actor Chad Michael Murray in his first entry onto the comic book scene. Additionally, the art in Everlast was done by five different artists with five distinctive styles: Danijel Zezelj, who worked on Congo Bill and El Diablo; Robbi Rodriguez, artist of Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen; Andrew Huerta, artist for the Pathfinder series; J.K. Woodward, illustrator for Fallen Angel, and Trevor Hairsine, whose works include Judge Dredd and many Magic: The Gathering expansions. The contrasting styles between these artists lend an interesting appearance to the overall reading experience.
Everlast tells the story of Derek Everlast, a hardened, resilient man chosen by fate to save certain people in a dying world. Before the End of Days occurs and marks the end of humanity, Derek must find those who are part of the 144,000 destined to survive the apocalypse. With his sensory ability “The Nudge”, Derek traverses the city to seek out the chosen ones, and bring them to Haven, a paradise lying in the center of the Earth. Unfortunately for Derek, the city is wrought with human scum and supernatural monsters known as “Scavi”, both of whom aim to hinder his progress as the days slowly wind down.
During one of his searches, Derek is led to a street girl named Melissa. As it turns out, Melissa is “Key” whose survival is necessary to keeping Haven alive. Unfortunately for Derek, his brother Stavros is also well aware of Melissa’s position as a “Key”, and has his own plans for her. Bitter after his girlfriend’s death after his attempt to take her to Haven, Stavros kidnaps Melissa with the plans of taking down Haven itself in mind. With ex-bartender Naomi at his side, Derek sets out to confront his brother and keep Melissa safe for the sake of the chosen ones in paradise.
The most notable feature of Everlast is its artwork; as mentioned before, the artwork was a collaboration between five artists whose differing art styles are used to represent the different perspectives of various characters throughout the story. Danijel Zezelj’s murky colors and thick outlines paint the dreary world seen through Derek’s eyes. Robbi Rodriguez’s colorful, somewhat cartoonish style frame scenes from young Melissa’s perspective. Andrew Huerta’s gritty, adrenaline-filled panels highlight the action seen from Stavros’s perspective. J.K. Woodward’s delicate, muted watercolors represents Naomi’s point of view. Finally, Trevor Hairsine’s realistic, detailed style outline Stavros’s emotional flashbacks. Noticeably, when the perspectives change from one character to the next, the artwork subtly transitions between artists in individual panels, an excellent detail which could’ve easily been overlooked during the artists’ collaboration.
Unfortunately for Everlast, the art does little to mask the mediocrity of its story. In terms of its writing, Everlast isn’t particularly innovative with its base concept of “savior figure in a dying world”, mixed with its short length and irritating cliffhanger ending, don’t work any further in its favor. The characters are quite bland and one-dimensional, with Derek’s character practically screaming “generic grimdark hardened hero” and Naomi feeling more like a tacked-on love interest rather than the “strong-natured” woman writer Chad Murray claims her to be. Now, at least part of the reason for Everlast subpar writing could be chalked up to Murray still being an amateur at comic writing, but it doesn’t excuse the poor first impression Everlast left on me.
Pros: Lovely art, and creative usage of different artists to represent the different POV’s between different characters. Transitioning from artist to artist is also marked in detail in individual panels.
Cons: Story is insubstantial and lacks any sort of innovation to keep it interesting. Characters are bland and feel extremely one-dimensional. Cliffhanger ending is annoying and feels unnecessary for the story’s short length.
Everlast is published by Archaia Entertainment. Ultimately, Everlast feels more like a glorified art book collaboration between different artists, rather than an actual comic; the story and characters are far too shallow to make it anything noteworthy. Unless you’re a hardcore comic art buff, Everlast probably isn’t worth your time.
(Author’s note: the scans of Everlasts’s pages are from comicbookresources.com)