The Eighth Immortal #1 is published by Source Point Press, written by Jacob Murray, art by Alice Li Barns, and letters by Letter Squids. The most basic essence of the story, as we are told here, is this: There are seven immortals that walk the Earth. At one point, some/all/one of them deigned to mate with humans. This was forbidden. Now, because of this act, there are moments where a random human will wake up one day and be gifted with powers humanity is not meant to have. When this occurs one of the seven, Curipan, appears and takes the gift the human has been given. The individual is then left without any memory of what has transpired.
This is a task Curipan, our lead character, does not relish. She bears a loss all her own and it is obvious how much that loss comes back to her when she must do her work. Taking from others when she has also had something taken from her. She clearly has an intrinsic bond with her victims and it is clearly doing a number on her but it is her emotional struggle that, for most of its length, makes The Eighth Immortal #1 a hard, and largely depressing, read. That is until she makes a fatal decision, and suddenly it isn’t.
The surest way to deliver an emotional moment is to first build your story in the exact opposite direction of where you want to end up. If you want a small moment of hope to shine bright, taking a reader on a journey of sorrow will cause that hope to shine all the brighter. It can be a hard tactic to approach because it feels like the exact opposite of what you want your story to be. But, by delaying that intended emotion with that polar opposite it simply gives a story an immense punch to it. It always has in the past for me, and it certainly does with The Eighth Immortal #1.
Along with the aforementioned fantastic emotional work, writer Murray manages to balance the necessity of fleshing out the book’s fantasy concepts while also creating and exploring their main character enough so the reader feels for them and their struggles. It’s a lot to pack into 26 comic book pages. Yet, the story handles it all in stride and without coming across as bloated or overly text-heavy. Much of this is thanks to how Murray has tied everything together.
The art in The Eighth Immortal #1 is equal parts familiar and unique to me. It is familiar in that artist Barnes has some clear manga influences in her line work. At the same time though, her approach to color feels like nothing I’ve seen before. The bulk of the art is black and white—nothing particularly unique there—but the uniqueness comes from how the color is applied. Instead of coloring only certain objects, Barnes has the colors fade in and out. Sometimes single objects have this sort of faded coloring to them. Other times, it is a whole panel that has the color applied. It is a subtle, yet striking work. And something I feel would be quite difficult to achieve without the linework and colors being done by a single person. So often the most harmonious comic book art comes when it is all done by a single creator.
The moods and emotions within the book receive their final boost from a magnificent lettering performance. Letter Squids does a wonderful job utilizing a diverse range of fonts and styles to give the dialogue that final extra impact.
In the end, I cannot praise The Eighth Immortal #1 enough. It delivers something original and emotional. But the true majesty of the story is how it uses this emotion. By being willing to wade into emotionally troubled water, the story delivers a knock-out punch with its final page. It’s an emotional twist instead of a plot twist. And just as with the latter kind, this emotional hook has me thoroughly interested in seeing what the story will bring next.
The Eighth Immortal #1 is available on January 27th, 2021.
The Eighth Immortal #1
In the end, I cannot praise The Eighth Immortal #1 enough. It delivers something original and emotional. But the true majesty of the story is how it uses this emotion. By being willing to wade into emotionally troubled water, the story delivers a knock-out punch with its final page.