When Terry Moore first announced he was foregoing the monthly comics format to release his next work as a stand-alone graphic novel, his fans didn't really know what to expect. Ever: The Way Out, centers on a young woman who is at a crossroads, and likely would not work as a serialized story because it's told with an urgency that demands it be read in one sitting. That makes it all the more powerful; a kinetic energy grips the reader and drives them through to the end. The result is a comic that feels very different from Moore's regular style of storytelling, but manages to stand alongside some of his very best work.
In this story Everly comes face to face with what she thinks might be her destiny—whether or not she's ready for it. What she will do, and the ramifications her decision has upon her life and the universe around her, are the questions at the heart of the narrative.
That means the writing grapples with big questions. Moore tackles the subejcts of destiny and free will, and whether making what seems like the right choice can withstand moral scrutiny if doing so assists forces of evil. Meanwhile, Moore uses the oversized one-shot format to expand his art to "widescreen," providing some of his most creative page layouts since early work on Strangers in Paradise, in which Moore routinely pursued wild, formalist flights of fancy.
That may stem from the ambition of doing a single, standalone story (no other story Moore has done, excepting some minor entries like SiP Kids, has been less than ten issues long), or it might be the scope of the mythology behind the comic—the exact nature of which we won't spoil, other than to say that it does technically take place within the same world shared by Moore's previous work.
The design work also deserves some credit as Moore once again blends ancient, cosmic, mythological beings and settings with things like the New York City subway and make it all seemingly fit together in a coherent narrative. Moore's mastery of the everyday, and the expressiveness of his characters' faces and body language, allows the reader to follow Ever from a crowded city street to a much more primitive, barren space without missing a beat.
It is, however, the first "Terryverse" story that features no member of the main Strangers in Paradise cast. That might not immediately jump out to some readers, but to longtime fans of Moore's work, who are used to seeing Tambi and Katchoo show up everywhere, it's likely to add to the feeling that there's something a little "off" about Ever. That's intended in a goo way, but it feels like Moore had this big idea, and then had to juryrig some way to fit it into the context of the mythology he built in Rachel Rising and Five Years.
The result is a quiet triumph—something that feels like "home" while subverting expectations for Moore's fans, and which has the potential to draw in casual readers who may be more likely to pick up a single trade than to jump into Moore's more massive series.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Published by Abstract Studios0comments
On November 25, 2020
Created by Terry Moore