If you’re a fan of the kind of crazy sci-fi epic fantasy stories like “The Dark Tower” or “Hyperion,” then this series has been right up your alley. Writer Rick Remender is a master of this kind of weird quest stories, the kinds that used to populate the pages of “Heavy Metal,” and Seven to Eternity #6 fits right in with the stellar run of issues that preceded it. The issue uses a creepy and unsettling plot to provide the impetus for a new phase of the story, one that drips with forbidding and menace.
Remender delivers an exceptional instalment to his ongoing tale, as Adam and his cohorts make the immediately unwise decision to avoid pursuit by cutting through a cursed swamp, one that is peopled by spectral forces with a fierce hatred of the group’s prisoner, Garils the Mud King. As they venture deeper into the swamp, events become more and more perilous, and Garils continues to use his cunning insight to turn the group of companions against one another or exploit their vulnerabilities. Will Adam and the group prevail and emerge from the swamp unscathed? Or will events and revelations therein led the cohorts to splinter?
Remender continues to be exceptional at two recurring motifs in his work; a conflicted, compromised protagonist that makes errors in judgement we can understand if not agree with, and seemingly effortlessly creating big crazy sic-fi concepts that seem both familiar and still stunningly fresh. In Seven to Eternity #6, that concept is the cursed swamp, people by vengeful supernatural forces. A haunted swamp is nothing new in either horror, fantasy or science fiction, really, but the combination of Remender’s personal and fresh take combines with Jerome Opena‘s stunning visual style to give the reader a place that is scary and dangerous and unusual. the setting, and the seemingly insurmountable threat it poses, provides Adam with the highest of stakes and the most serious of jeopardy. The issue climaxes with our main character facing a classic, but no less resonant, dilemma which forces him to make a choice between two awful options. The result of that choice has the possibility of changing the thrust of the series for some time, and another aspect of Remender’s strength as a storyteller is his ability to direct the story in directions that always provide more internal and external jeopardy for the protagonist.
The subtleties of the story allow us to wonder abut Adam and his motivations as they alter as the story progresses. When the series began, Adam and his family were in the predicament they were in due to Adam’s father having taken an unyielding, uncompromising stand against Garils. As the series has progressed we’ve seen Adam have to adapt and arguably compromise in the face of different obstacles. And while Remender has made it so the reader understands and sympathizes with almost every choice or mistake Adam has made, he’s structured the story well enough to allow us to constantly wonder if Adam is truly making these decisions of his own free will, or is he merely in thrall to Garils? Maybe not knowing for sure delivers the same result in the end.
And you can’t talk about this book without praising the work of Opena. Nearly every panel is frame-worthy, and yet Seven to Eternity #6 is more than just gorgeous, if static, images. Opena knows how to establish an atmosphere that is both scary and moody, which helps with an issue set within a nightmare swamp. His character work is expressive and the choreography of the action is clean and dynamic. His work is incredibly detailed, but Opena also picks the effect moments to drop that detail back for emphasis or effect. Every issue of this book is always a feast for the eyes.
Seven to Eternity #6 is another great instalment on this epic adventure, but it’s also a standout for its rich character work is and in how the issue takes the narrative of the overarching story into a new and even more fraught direction. 9/10