Derek Everlast is a soldier. He's a man who sees the future, sees a world full of trial and tribulations for the vast majority of people. He follows an impulse called the Nudge to see a world where 144,000 people are fated to reach the mythical kingdom of Haven, a perfect world inside the Earth. The road for that 144,000 to reach Haven will be long and hard, but the journey will be worth all the violence and conflict and giant monsters that stand in his way. Derek Everlast saves souls and sends them to Haven. He's a warrior for Good, with a capital G. He's a Robin Hood for human existence.
Actor Chad Michael Murray, star of One Tree Hill, wrote this new graphic novel from Archaia Publishing. I have to admit that I prejudged a bit before reading this book, wondering if this graphic novel might represent an attempt by a pretty boy TV actor to get some indie cred by creating his own graphic novel. But I was surprised that this book really wasn't too bad. There's some pretty decent insight and philosophy underpinning this book that makes it a pretty entertaining read.
One of the reasons this book works pretty well is that five different artists illustrate the story. The story shifts its mood as each artist takes their turn telling the story of this graphic novel — one dark and angled, the next warm and watercolored, adding their own interesting take to the story that they are telling. The shifting style really accentuates Murray's story, deepening and broadening the adventure and bringing different elements to light.
The art does a nice job of overcoming the occasional shortcomings of the story. There are some parts of the story that feel a bit of a cliché or a bit overwrought. I had a bit of trouble following the shifting reationship between Everlast and his counterpart Stavros. I also felt that the supporting characters in the graphic novel felt a bit shallow and undefined.
I also found it a bit strange that we never really get a feeling for the larger mission that Everlast is part of. He's an odd sort of angel saving souls, but we don't get much objective viewpoint of his mission. It's actually a lot like the early issues of Green Lantern before the revelations of the Guardians of Oa or the epsodes of Doctor Who before we learn about the Gallifreyans. This air of mystery around Everlast gives the book an intriguing sort of subjective quality that matches the confusion of the characters that Everlast saves, but at the same time it gives this book a slightly vague context.
I did really enjoy the metaphysical underpinnings of this book and the subjective way that it is presented. A lot of movies and TV shows create a mystery and just as quickly reveal the truth behind the mystery. All suspense is destroyed when the truth is revealed too quickly. Murray does a nice job in this book of displaying just enough context as the story goes on, emphasizing the mystery of the story in intriguing ways.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this graphic novel. My fears about the pretty boy actor creating comics were unfounded. Chad Murray has created an interesting world with a tremendously and wonderfully flawed lead character.
Jason Sacks has been obsessed with comics for longer than he'd like to remember. He considers himself a student of comics history and loves delving into obscure corners of this crazy artform. Jason has been writing for this site for about seven years and has also been published in a number of fan publications, including the late, lamented Amazing Heroes and The Flash Companion. He lives in north Seattle with his wife and three kids.