Joan Peterson has a problem, she’s stuck in the worst sort of Groundhog Day loop. Joan grows up to fall in love with a man who is deeply devoted to her. As soon as he proposes and she says yes a cowboy shows up, tells her “Miss Joan Peterson. She would like you to know… Love is Everlasting.” and then shoots her down. This happens to her across decades, across the country and across eras. Joan is trapped in a cycle of romance that isn’t allowed to be and she cannot figure why or who is behind this.
Love Everlasting opens with Joan falling for George Huff, an executive in what looks like a “Mad Men” 1950s era office setting. We only see them together shortly before Joan experiences life in a 1960s/70s era Bohemian music scene. Kit Myers is a local musician who Joan’s father certainly does not approve of until he learns who his parents are. As soon as he realizes the boy is from good stock, Joan and Kit are free to be together. They profess their love and then Joan is the old West. Two men are fighting over her and at this point she’s realizing her memories are getting muddled together, so she tries running away. She’s running for all three women who she knows she’s been, but she doesn’t know where to run to. She passes out in the desert only to wake up next to a fire, lying on a blanket that’s not hers. A cowboy is sitting at the fire with a message for a Ms. Joan Peterson. There’s something familiar about him she can’t place. He says she shouldn’t have run. This is the first time we see him tell her “Love is everlasting.”
The rest of the book shows Joan with more of her memories and faculties, trying to fight her way out of this cycle. She’s often about to graduate high school, or at that age, and the idea that life, college, or war could separate her from her love propels the couple into early engagement. In the hands of a lesser author this could become convoluted, but at no point was I lost. The book does ask pretty early on that you have faith in the creative team to give you the information you need as you need it, but if you are willing to follow them it makes for a very intriguing journey.
Author Tom King makes a slight departure from some of his recent work to tell a story that is part metaphysical mystery and part family drama. The story is as layered and detailed as you’d expect from him and I genuinely enjoyed the mystery slowly presenting itself right up until the biggest reveal at the end (which admittedly is the springboard into the next volume, leaving plenty left to yet discover.) The art from Elsa Charretier works wonderfully in every decade this story shifts through. Color palettes change and help give a sense of mood every time there is a jump in the story. This feels influenced by artists like Darwyn Cooke and Bruce Timm, which is as high a compliment as I can pay, because their work stands the test of time and this has that same timeless quality.
I agree with the publisher’s age rating of Teen+, which Image Comics defines as “16 and up, may contain moderate violence, moderate profanity use, and suggestive themes.” This book is a little bloody, but not nearly as much as it could be, and it isn’t leaning into gore by any stretch. There is a moderate amount of swearing, but I would like to point out that this book doesn’t contain suggestive themes. This checks a lot of the boxes I use when considering adding book to our collection, including having an unusual premise, art that helps support the storytelling, isn’t intentionally upsetting, and leaves you wanting more. I think it is a solid addition to a library collection, but be aware that it’s still an ongoing title, so it is not yet clear how many additional volumes may follow.
Love Everlasting, Vol. 01
By Tom King
Art by Elsa Charretier
Publisher Age Rating: Teen+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)