“To be or not to be”? That was the “simple” question pondered by the character of Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s most famous play and it still remains one in which every human being has, at some point in their lives, wrestled with. When we think of how much we could accomplish – don’t we wish for an infinite lifespan to achieve our goals? And when the lives we are living now become too much for us to get a handle on (especially when we feel we have hit “rock bottom”), don’t we crave the eternal peace that only Death could grant us? Although many prefer a famous writer like Shakespeare’s mediation on the subject, I find artist and writer Steve Uy’s book “Mortal / Immortal” no less eloquent or relevant.
The book revolves around a young girl who (along with her twin brother) is cursed to pass away at the age of twenty-five. As they both reach their early childhood, her brother (wanting to see and know more about the world before he dies) announces his decision to leave. Before he goes, he tells her of an immortal living deep in the forest. The young girl makes her way through the forest, in the hopes that this mysterious hermit will hold the key to her diminished lifespan. The stranger opens his castle to her and offers to watch over her while her brother is away. As they come to know each other, she finally gets around to asking him to help her cure the curse that has haunted her since birth. However, as payment for saving her life… he in turn asks her to end his. As the years go by and she searches for ways to bring about the end of her guardian’s existence, the story leads to a shocking conclusion where the girl comes to understand the true nature of Life. In both infinite and finite terms.
First off, I love the artwork. Uy’s inspired choice of rendering both the characters and backgrounds in muted monotone and sharp whites it gives the book an ethereal quality. This sets the story in a sort of spiritual Limbo…..an existential crossroad in the lives of these two individuals. The characters are drawn in a beautifully simplistic manga style, with the panels uncluttered and easy to follow. I also thought the story was brilliant in its execution, with the ending especially poignant. Uy succeeds in giving voice to the young girl’s fear of her eventual demise and her dialogues with the immortal come across with no hint of the pretentiousness that I feel plagues other writer’s work when they approach the themes of both Life and Death.
All things come to an end… let’s hope Steve Uy’s contribution to independent comics doesn’t.
I give it a 4 out of 5, strongly recommended.
Mortal Immortal #1
Cover by: Steve Uy
Written by: Steve Uy
Art by: Steve Uy
Lettered by: Steve Uy
Genre: Fantasy Supernatural/Occult
Page Count: 35 Pages
Digital Release Date: Dec 11th 2013
Age Rating: 9+ Only
Comixology Purchase Link