The third issue of Neverending (Dark Horse Books) is a riveting climax to a three-part series that I see almost as a meditational homage to superhero stories. While there’s tributes to traditional comic elements, the original storytelling fuses the different elements to form a unique arc. Charles no longer has his powers and now that his arch enemy is dead, he’s reflecting on the choices he made throughout his life. Similar to the previous two issues, the structure imbues the comic with a cerebral atmosphere. This is less about the physical tribulations Chuck undergoes and more the mental battles he fights. D.J. Kirkbride and Adam Knave write with a sense of poise and balance that skillfully knows when to linger and when to move the story along. A good example of this is a quick flash of 1966 where Chuck admits: “War wasn’t for me, though, I wanted to help people, but being around all the destruction… I didn’t want to face it anymore.” In the background is a burning village, Chuck’s face torn with angst and guilt, pointing to the terrors of Vietnam. This easily could have turned into an issue in it of itself, but it jumps forward to 1970, illustrating what we need to know about Chuck at that given moment and his moral ambivalence about the horrible circumstances he’s in. More and more, we also have a sense of how immortality blurs his memories because there’s so many more of them he has to deal with.
The pencils by Robert Love show his “love” for the art, and he does a great job drawing in the details like in the flying exchange in 1960 between Chuck and his wife, or Chuck’s angry, determined leap in 2036. His work complements the writing and embodies the evolution Charles undergoes throughout the ages, shifting from younger, to subtly older, bright-eyed and naive, to a hardened immortal burdened by the gravity of time. Similarly, the inking by Felix Perez establishes the shadows and the shifting mood of each period, and while I’m not sure if it’s the inking or penciling that did the explosion/smoke effects, they look great. Heather Breckel’s colors do a beautiful job paying homage to older comics while showcasing Neverending in a brilliant splash of paints that is both vibrant and moody. I also have to give a big shoutout to Ed Siomacco for his creepy, but diabolical, alien ship designs.
There is a great line in House of Cards when Frank Underwood says: “Friends make the worst enemies.” On the inverse, enemies can also make the best of friends, and this duality is explored with a surprising ending which ends as a cliffhanger, but makes for a brilliant conclusion that leaves you wanting more. In fact, if there’s any thought I take away from series, it’s that I hope the comic is neverending and lives on longer in a future series.