Why is mankind driven to destruction? It’s a loaded question, and one that philosophers and psychologist have been debating since the dawn of recorded history, and probably long before that as well. For all the progress humanity seem to make in terms of art, science, and society, there seems to be an equal drive constantly pulling us back into brutality and barbarism. We live in the information age, and yet we use the tools that bring us that information to spread misinformation and conspiracy theories. We ignore experts in their fields for fear-mongering demagogues, and ignore hard facts in favor of listening to whomever has the loudest voice in the room.
In short, we are fortunate enough to live at the most technologically advanced stage in human history, and we may very well be using all of our advancements to destroy the only world we have.
In many ways this is a hallmark of humanity. We are an invasive species, un-paralleled in world history, and yet we are also one of, if not the only, species with a self awareness of what it is we are doing. In short, we are able to see the destruction we are causing, and the chaos of our actions, and yet we seem unable, or unwilling to do anything about it.
And we know we are aware of what our actions are leading to, especially in the US, and to prove that you need look no further than our most American of media: Science Fiction.
I, and no doubt countless other social malcontents like me, have long felt that you can get a very accurate feel for where we as a society believe ourselves to be headed by looking at the stories we tell about our future. Stories of invading aliens were all the rage in the 1950s, as fears of communist infiltration swept the nation. As the cold war progressed, more and more films and comics attempted to tackle the day after a nuclear holocaust, and how, if possible, mankind would rebuild. After the Soviet Union fell, our fiction moved away from the threat of nuclear annihilation, and on to other fears like global catastrophes, diseases, and in the case of today’s work, climate change.
Now, obviously nothing is universal, and there were destruction narratives of all sorts at all different times, stretching back to works like Wells’ The Time Machine and beyond, but I always have found it fascinating how much our vision of the future revolves around our destruction, and how in most cases we ourselves are the ones to blame. Characters are constantly ignoring experts, ignoring science, and pushing forward stubbornly to archive temporary and self serving gains.
We know we are destroying ourselves; we know we can stop it, but we chose not to. Perhaps, in some ways, we see what we have done and what we have become and believe that whatever happens to us, we deserve?
Today I’ll be looking at Eve #1 from BOOM! Studios, a book which dives deep into this very question, and emerges with a very interesting response. Before we get to that though, let’s look at the blurb:
A brand new five-issue original series from award-winning author Victor LaValle (Victor LaValle’s Destroyer) and rising star artist Jo Mi-Gyeong (Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance), with colorist Brittany Peer and letterer AndWorld Design, about a dangerous journey across a future dystopian America to save the world, available in May 2021.
When the ice caps melted, most of humanity was lost to the hidden disease that was released. Now, a mysterious girl named Eve has awoken in secret and must deal with a world that’s nothing like the virtual reality she was raised in. In order to save her real father, Eve must embark on a deadly quest across the country, but she has no idea of the threats that await her — or the price she will pay to restore life to a dying planet…
As I proud members of Generation X, I’d like to formally confess that we dropped the ball. Sure, it’s become the default approach to blame the Baby Boomers for the condition of the world, but we watched them do that and instead of stopping them, or trying to make things better, we instead sat around and talked about how lame and ironic everything was. We didn’t do anything to make the world a better place; we just complained about it until people stopped listening.
This generation coming up though, Generation Z, I have to say, I have a lot of faith in. I know, I know, the Boomers taught me that all kids are lazy and worthless, and that only they, the greatest generation, could save us, but honestly, as someone who works day in and day out with teenagers, and has done so for the last 20 years, the kids coming up the last 5-6 years are the ones that are actually going to change the world.
See, they actually care. They are aware of how terrible to world they are inheriting is, and they are legitimately invested in making a difference. They are politically, technologically, and socially savvy enough to do it too. That stuff I said at the beginning about buying into disinformation and demagogues? This generation is way, way less into that. They listen to their peers, but they also have been forced to become more critical thinker than any generation I’m aware of (certainly more so than mine) and so they see through a lot of the lies and deceptions, and are actually up to the challenge of making real and lasting change.
But to do that, no, but to ask that of this new generation is to saddle them with a tremendous burden, one that is unfair to put on them, and yet is one that they have to accept if they have any hope of a sustainable future, and that, dear reader, is where we get into the plot of Eve
Our protagonist, the titular Eve, is an 11 year old child, or, at least, she seems to be an 11 year old child. I won’t give too much away here, but suffice it to say there are several hints dropped that her life and history may be much more manufactured than she may believe.
Eve lives with her father at the start of the story, helping him with his research and generally enjoying the mental world of a curious, 11 year old girl. I have a niece of about the same age, and I saw a lot of her in this character.
Eve’s world is brought to a terrifying stop, however, when she wakes up in a tube inside a research facility in a flooded New York city, where an android doppelgänger of her childhood teddy bear tells her that she must undertake a mission to find her father, and in the process to help save the world.
In his afterword to the first issue, author Victor Lavalle said of his purpose, “I could tell a good story. One that was about the climate crisis, the kids who will suffer most because of it, and maybe even imagine the way this world could be saved. And most of all, I wanted to write a kid like Eve as the star of such a story. Not a perfectly trained super-warrior who always does things right, but an 11-year-old who is smart, funny, and overwhelmed. Not a super-hero. And that’s part of why she’s so spectacular. Because she takes the journey anyway.”
And that’s who Eve is. She’s clever and headstrong, eager to demand the truth about the world she has awoke into, and yet at the same time quickly slipping into depression and hopelessness about the situation she is facing. Asking a child of any age, especially one so young, is a terrible thing to do, and yet, as our own life experience has sadly proven, that might be the only path forward towards survival we have.
Eve is a beautifully written and illustrated book, with spectacular artwork from Jo Mi-Gyeong. Eve looks like a real child, and this world feels both desperately claustrophobic and overwhelmingly expansive at the same time. All too often in works like this the setting becomes a backdrop instead of a character itself, but you get no such indication of that here. The world feels alive, and even in its calm and placid moments there is an awareness that disaster awaits around every corner.
If you missed it this week, go back and grab a copy of Eve #1, and hug your kids a little bit tighter tonight.