“EVERLAST” is the debut graphic novel by writer and actor, Chad Michael Murray, known for his role on “One Tree Hill.” This is a pre-apocalyptic story with a great deal of style, an impressive narrative and interesting characters. Published by Archaia Entertainment, this book has an expressive quality in art and text that is a hallmark of this publisher. For those of you who are fans of Murray, you may be wondering how he would handle a graphic novel. That’s fair enough. The truth is, the former star of “One Tree Hill” knows exactly what he’s doing in the comics medium. He has taken a story to heart, like a good writer should.
“Everlast” invites you to accept that the center of Earth is hollow and is the home of a paradise, a “haven,” for the souls that will be saved during the Apocalypse. And it is Derek Everlast who is one of the soldiers tasked with saving souls. In fact, as our story unfolds, he is on his last mission to save the very last soul, a girl by the name of Melissa. And, as it turns out, Melissa is much more than the last soul saved. She is the key to the salvation of all of humanity.
Murray says that the premise for the story originated with a knock at his door. Murray was greeted by a man proclaiming that the End Times were near and that exactly one hundred and forty-four thousand souls would be saved. What a curious figure. What a curious man. The door shut on that odd scene and another door opened. “Everlast” was born.
Our hero, Derek Everlast, is a bit of a bar fly, all leather and stringy long hair, big, dark, handsome, half his body probably covered in tats, and with a primitive connection with any social graces. He’s the perfect dude. The perfect drifter in a world turned upside down where souls are dropping like flies. There’s no time for girlfriends. No time for any friends. All he can do is try to save as many souls before time runs out. He’s part of a celestial clean up crew!
The best thing about the book is the character of Everlast. He’s much in the same vein as the lone gunslinger in Westerns. He doesn’t have to say much and he never really does. He lets his actions speak for him. When he does talk, it’s usually something important that he’s let bottle up inside him. He’s a realist and yet he’s also an idealist and, like a faithful dog, will go straight into the burning flames to save that one last soul.
Archaia publishes an excellent line of comics, much of which share a certain quirky outlook. It’s something fans of the publisher can count on. They can also count on offbeat and expressive artwork. “Everlast” does something special. It breaks the story down into various perspectives. At the start, you’re pretty much seeing things through the eyes of Everlast and you have a dark and realistic tone. Later on, Melissa takes over and we see things from a young girl’s eyes, fresh and animated. Then, the villain emerges, Stavros, who has other plans on how to save the world, and things look dark and twisted. Finally, we focus on Naomi, a beautiful young woman, one step away from being sweet on Everlast. Here we see things with a more hopeful vibe. The line up of artists is Danijel Zezelj, known for his work on the graphic novel, “Luna Park,” from DC Vertigo; Robbi Rodriguez, a fresh new talent; Andrew Huerta, who has worked with a variety of publishers including IDW; J. K. Woodward, who has done a ton of work including “X-Men Origins: Beast”; and Trevor Hairsine, a veteran artist who has done everything from “Judge Dredd” to “X-Men.” That, my friend, is quite a cast of artistic talent.
“Everlast” keeps you on your toes up to the very end. But the end is only the beginning. There is more to come so stay tuned. Start by picking up a copy of this excellent book.
And a quick editor’s note: If you’re into “Everlast,” then consider “A Night at the Sorrento and Other Stories” It has a similar vibe in many ways. Check it out here.