Neverending is the first book from newcomers Stephen Sutherland and Gary Kelly, as well as the opening salvo of Scotland’s Unthank Comics. Initially presenting as a traditional action romp, this tale of a girl who cannot sleep and so uses the extra time available to turn herself into a highly-skilled vigilante carries in its DNA something altogether more progressive and interesting than a simple rehash of already well-trodden ground.
Set in central Glasgow, this first issue introduces Olivia, the daughter of a single father, an unusual college student who spends her excess of spare time hanging out with her girlfriend and preparing to take on local drug gang through training in disciplines such as parkour and various martial arts.
These costumed adventures, presented in a classic comic fashion almost as a past-time or lark, are introduced in a complex and well-realised collage of images early on in the book.
However, as events unfold a darker side to the city’s underbelly is revealed and Olivia finds herself perhaps having bitten off more than she can chew. The bulk of this issue is given over to following our heroine on her incursions against the drug gangs she is targeting, and Kelly show he is no slouch when it comes to illustrating explosive action.
The line work is energetic and the art has an impressive kinetic feel when depicting action. One moment which stuck out and amused was the visual callback between the introduction of Sarah, Olivia’s girlfriend, and that of Mary-Jane Watson from Amazing Spider-Man issue 42, a nice homage to a classic moment in the medium.
It must be said that at certain points in the more sedate sections of the book the layouts can be over worked, with the central characters somewhat side-lined in place of a focus on the environments they inhabit, but this is more than made up for by Sutherland’s genuine-feeling and well-constructed dialogue and excellent pacing.
Despite the majority of the book being spent in the midst of ferocious action, the characters are well formed and feel believable, and the team behind Neverending deserve great credit for placing this aspect at the heart of their work.
Being the first part of a six issue tale, the emphasis here is on giving the reader a taste of Olivia’s world, and the setup is certainly intriguing enough to encourage readers back for more. Between them Kelly and Sutherland have managed to deliver fresh ideas alongside hints of nostalgia, and blended together these make Neverending a debut that should be turning heads.