Any good comic book one-shot should have enough breathing room to tell a complete story, one with a beginning, middle and end, that is still able, in 24-48 pages, show readers characters that they care about and that have clear motivations.
There are plenty of those types of comic book stories out there for a reading discovery – certainly too many to list here. You’ve probably got a few of your favourites in mind right now (cough cough The Killing Joke cough cough).
Eden is another entry in that long list of great, short, comic book works.
Written by Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, The Sixth Gunn, Dark Ark, Brother Dracul), who is no stranger to the horror genre and one of this site’s favourite writers, and illustrated by Dalibor Talajic (Witch Hammer, Relay), Eden crosses through love and death and tells a story of something both familiar and new – and entirely fascinating.
Eden begins with tattoo artist Niles, who lives a haunted and solitary existence, where his past will not allow him to seek a happy future. His present is repetitive and dull, but that abruptly changes when the beautiful and mysterious Eden walks into the tattoo shop wanting something entirely different than the usual ink.
The tattoos that Niles creatively paints on her skin vanish within days and she returns, again and again, for more art. As his love for her – and their trust in each other – grows, so does the feeling of dread and horror.
Eden wades into the big ideas of faith and love, death and life and reminisces the horror stories of Stephen King and fantasy tales of Neil Gaiman. It’s a fairly quick, but entirely satisfying read, and is a story that stays with a reader long after the final page has been viewed and the one-shot comic has been closed. Niles is a very real characters and his motivation is all too understandable.
Importantly, Eden leaves readers with strange questions. These are the story aspects that have us wanting more. Could the one-off tale be a longer form publication? Sure. And we’d happily be there, month after month, discovering the answers to those bizarre questions.
But some questions are better left unasked – especially if you’re afraid of what the answers might be.
And that is the greatest, most terrifying, strength of Eden.
Make the run to you your local comic book shop today and pick up the Eden one-shot. Sit back, enjoy, and continue to be haunted by its’ unanswerable questions.