Ceej Says… Neverending #1 review

Cover to #1. Click to enlarge.

Cover to #1.
Click to enlarge.

One of the undeniable success stories to come out of last weekend’s MCM Scotland was the roaring trade done in the ‘Comics Village’ area, in particular by new title ‘Neverending’ by Stephen Sutherland, Gary Kelly and Colin Bell, which sold out its entire stock within just three hours.  I was lucky enough to get my grubby little paws on a review copy of the title, with a mind to seeing just what all the fuss was about.

First off, a little backstory.  Neverending is an action thriller based around Olivia Olsen, a girl who never sleeps and who uses all of her resulting free time to attempt to train herself to perfection, both physically and mentally.  Based in Glasgow, the first issue does a terrific job of establishing the central character, and while the massive question of just why she never sleeps isn’t really touched on (not yet, anyway) there’s still no shortage of action and drama to be had within these pages.

Writer Sutherland manages to balance a lot of competing priorities here, and uses a steady hand to keep all the individual plates spinning at once.  The main supporting characters, Olivia’s father (95.8% more awesome than other dads!) and her girlfriend Sarah are both distinctive and well-realised enough to catch our attention, and while neither gets much in the way of focus in this introductory issue, I’m sure we’ll see more from both of them further down the line.

Once we take Olivia away from her regular life and into her nocturnal activities (‘free running’, as she claims), the comic really kicks up a notch as we are treated to an inner monologue reminiscent of Simone’s Batgirl, with the insecurity of the ‘hero’ all too apparent as she narrates her way from panel to panel.  Once the fists and feet start flying, artist Kelly kicks it into a whole new gear with some beautifully choreographed and bone-crunchingly visceral artwork, and while the action and movement practically never stops during these pages, there’s an easy-to-follow fluidity to his work that really serves this comic well.

It’s also worth mentioning that Colin Bell does his usual solid, professional work with the lettering, giving the whole comic an additional polish – an edge that really cannot be understated in a small-press title like this.

There are a few flaws along the way, though. The ‘bad guys’, for instance are fairly underdeveloped for the time being, and come across as almost generic archetypes when compared to the well-realised, three-dimensional Olivia.  Also, from an artistic point of view, the initial few montage pages where we’re introduced to Olivia and watch her going about her daily routine – while undeniably impressive in their own right – do come across a little cluttered in places, with almost ‘too much’ going on at once.

Also, as downright impressive as Kelly’s artwork is, I feel that a little additional colour could have helped immeasurably to clean up his ink-heavy style and add a lot more depth to some of the pages (including the montage pages mentioned above).  The cover, coloured by Lesley Atlansky, is clear proof of just how striking this book would look with a splash of colour here and there.  That said, it’s definitely not much of a detriment to the flow of the comic, just something I‘d have liked to see from a personal point of view.

Overall, I can definitely see the appeal of this title, and Sutherland has done a terrific job of building a relatable female protagonist and placing her into an extremely interesting situation.  The fact that more than half of the copies sold at MCM Scotland went to female readers is a glowing testament to this.  As an introduction, it showed immense promise, and while nothing major was given away in the early going, I’ll be extremely interested to see where this story leads in the coming issues.

As I mentioned, the entire first print run of this title is sold out, but they are hoping to get a second run out within the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, you can follow Stephen via Tumblr for all the latest news on the comic.

the writer of this piece was:

CEEJ_AvatarCraig Neilson aka (CEEJ)
Article Archive: Ceej Says
More Ceej blogs (including movie reviews, etc.) @ Ceejsays

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