REVIEW ROUNDUP: THE FOREVERS

INTRODUCTION 

THE FOREVERS is an odd series I discovered while wandering around a local comic book shop. The strange art style and mysterious premise grabbed me as well as the fact that the series is pretty new. It's probably a little outside of my usual comfort zone as far as language and overall mood are concerned,but I'm giving the series a chance in the hopes that I've found something different and 
special.

Update: I originally published this post on 4/20/17, but then never came back to finish of the roundup. Years later, I randomly realized that while I did pick up the remaining three issues from my the local comics shop I used to live near (I had the series on a pull list), I never read them. I was probably discouraged because the owner of the shop told me that the series got cancelled, which isn't totally true since it does have an ending, so it seemed like it was deliberately concluded, not necessarily cancelled mid-run. Now, I am happy to have finished the series and republish this roundup.

Issue # 1
4/5 Everyone wants to be famous...

Right off the bat, this issue slams it's readers with strange and striking imagery. It quickly flaunts a sort of hazy realism in it's art style and a wastes no time in establishing it's dark and depressing tone. The overall premise is that this friend group gets together and seemingly casts some kind of spell, referred to only as "The Ritual." The idea is that all of them will become famous as a result, but none of them really know what comes after that. As magical pacts go, there is always a catch and that is where the story picks up. The primary character in this story appears to be Jaime. He's a rough-around-the-edges rock star who while not past his prime, does seem to be a little washed up. He's slipped pretty deep into substance abuse and even deeper into self-pity. The issue delves into his toxic relationship with Kate Sage, one of the seven involved in The Ritual. Overall, things are pretty bleak, and they don't get much brighter when the story shifts focus over to Daisy Cates, another one of the seven. Things do take an interesting turn though when it is revealed that someone is out to kill these former friends and current superstars. One of the seven dies a fairly gruesome death, apparently at the hand of someone they know. This sets up future issues to be far more interesting as the group will likely discover that their fame has consequences beyond the fact that it has led some of them to self-destructive tendencies. Bronson Pierce is introduced at the very end and it feels like he's been expecting something like this to happen. After going through this moody first chapter, I definitely felt intrigued to move forward. The art alone is pretty compelling and I'm hoping that the series dives a little deeper into the dark mysticism that it's introduced.



PLEASE NOTE: Going forward, the reviews of each installment will have spoilers for those that came before.

Issue # 2
3/5 Someone is on the hunt...

This issue picks up right where the last left off. Jaime is in rough shape after his wild attack on a fellow rock star, a stunt that soils his public opinion and sullies his comeback performance that night. Immediately, I found the way the panels cut between two different scenes simultaneously to be kind of jarring. The art does it's best to reflect the different sequences happening in unison by changing the colors and lighting, but I still didn't care for this more hectic approach to the page composition. Sure the way they did the first one was a little weird too, but I found myself having to stop just to try to get my bearings on who was doing what and when. It doesn't help that the first couple pages do this with a scene from the past and the present, while the rest seem to be exclusively in the present tense. Weird visual storytelling techniques aside, I did still find this issue to be pretty good and I guess in a way, I liked that it had a confusing feel. The imagery gets weirder in spots and they definitely deepened the sense of magical realism that the first issue mostly hinted at. In the wake of Daisy's murder, Bronson is in full-on rich detective mode and even displays some kind of super strength when his own safety is threatened. An attempt on Kate's life brings Jaime back from his international rehab and I will say that it was pretty rewarding to see these two make up a little especially after their bitter parting in the first issue. The ending left me even more intrigued and will hopefully provide the story with some much needed focus now that the threat has been sufficiently established. I'm excited to see where things will go with this series and to find out who is hunting these characters.



Issue # 3
4/5 The killer strikes again...

This issue puts the spotlight on Alice who hadn't really been seen to much since the opening pages of the first issue as well as in the background of some flashback shots. The story begins when she discovers that another member of their group has been either committed a gory act of suicide or has been brutally murdered. The rest of the gang comes to meet her and they try to lay low while they piece together who might be trying to kill them all and why. I continued to really enjoy Bronson's character and his cool techno-detective shtick. Jamie and Katie get a little more alone time and things get rather spicey at one point, in a pretty graphic, adult sort of way even more so than the content of previous issues. While nothing is really revealed in terms of the larger mystery at play, the story does end on a pretty fun cliffhanger that I am sure will act as a catalyst for things to come. 

Overall, I liked that more of the mystery elements came into play on this issue. I definitely felt like this was an important character building and stage-setting portion of the story and I have a feeling that the remaining two issues will be pretty fast paced. 


Issue # 4
4/5 The mystery unfolds...

As the cover art implies, this issue finally reveals what really happened with Carl and why he disappeared prior to the events of the first issue. I was pleasantly surprised with how the story took the time to really build him out as a character since he is showing up so late to the party. By the end of the issue, I actually felt like I might know him the best out of all of the cast which is pretty impressive in a way. All of this backstory and character development does come with some drawbacks though. By the time we are finally wrapped up with the story of who Carl is and what he's been up to, we're left with barely any time at the very end for the big reveal of who the killer is. 

Leaving the whodunit part of the very end definitely made that part feel a bit rushed and I felt as though the art style starts to show some of it's cracks whenever there is an action sequence of any kind just because of how hard it can be to actually see what's going on. I wished some of those ending panels were a little sharper and more detailed, but I still enjoyed the ending twist and I am definitely curious to see how they plan to wrap things up with just the one issue remaining. 


Issue # 5
2/5 Live fast, live forever...

Whenever a series is as weird as this one, it is usually a safe bet that the ending will be equally weird, but it also means that it is doubly important to create one that ties everything together in a fulfilling way if not a satisfying way. In some ways, this issue does deliver with an ending that is on-brand with everything that came before it and definitely delivers a trippy, memorably ending, but the rushed pacing, poorly rendered final fight, and the way the end twist left me with more questions than answers just made this not really work for me. 

I appreciate how much creativity and ambition this series put on display and I am not sure if there was pressure towards the end to bring things to a close or if this was always intended as a 5-part limited run, but I definitely wished that some of the more supernatural elements as well as the final confrontation were as fleshed out as the character backstories. While the killer's "why" is delved into, I just didn't find their motivations or background to be nearly as interesting as other flashback sequences. Their shift from being a regular person to a ruthless killer just felt flimsy and sort of slapped together. The final fight scene is equally underwhelming as the art continues to fail to deliver a cohesive fight sequence that's exciting. I feel like there's supposed to be exciting stuff going on, it's just so hazy that I had no idea what I was looking at half the time even though there are a handful of shots that were striking.  


Conclusion
3/5 

Boasting a darkly original story, a unique art style, and an interesting overall theme, this series was fun and I did enjoy reading through it overall. The final issue really brought things down a bit for me and I couldn't help but feel like more time could have been spent on it and/or that it should have been a little larger of an issue. It can be fun to find series that aren't massive, long-running affairs. If you are able to find a collected edition of these somewhere or get them for a good price on Kindle/Comixology, then I think this is a worthwhile read, but only if you are in the market for a very weird, trippy story with a lot of graphic sex and violence chucked in. 
 

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