Taking Eden brings us a heavy dose of urban horror/fantasy, and the occult in this ongoing comic series by Jason Beckwith and Malcolm Johnson with art by Niño Harn Cajayon and colors by Gonzalo Duarte. A dark tale of a young woman’s passage into adulthood and where she fits into the world, this story delves into themes of innocence and the price we pay to recapture it.
Small-town girl Marnie arrives in the “Big City” with enough money in her pocket to crash at her cousin Jasmine’s place while pursuing her dream of acting. Not one to sit on her a–, Jasmine immediately subjects Marnie to a makeover to better fit in with the Goth dance club where she works as a DJ. Seriously naïve, Marnie accepts a drink from a strange woman named Crystal and is promptly kidnapped for the purpose of draining her of her “innocence” to make a drug called Eden. The process is interrupted, however, and Marnie is dumped in the middle of Central Park where her cousin finds her.
The inventor of Eden is a young sorcerer named Sky who discovered his talent for dark magic in the back of an old book shop. Eager to try out his skills, he unwittingly found he could drain young women of their innocence, convert it into a drug, and sell it to the highest bidder. It made him rich very fast. Now, with two underlings, Crystal and David, to do his bidding, Sky is on the hunt for the one who got away – Marnie – for her innocence is so pure, the high he feels when taking the drug is something he’d easily kill for.
Marnie initially has no memories of the night of the botched extraction, but they slowly begin to come back, leaving her confused, yet ripe, for seduction by none other than Sky; however, Sky has demons of his own to face along with the increasingly out-of-control David and Crystal. Why Marnie’s innocence is so special remains a mystery for later issues.
The comic has a somewhat unusual structure in that the exposition is primarily revealed through voice-over by the various characters. (It was noted in the introduction that the artist did not work with a traditional script but with the written story and layouts.) I would say it works for the overall feel of the comic, but, sometimes, it detracts and repeats what is already shown instead of using the panel to move the story/character forward. It would also have been helpful to have different color backgrounds in the internal dialogue/exposition balloons, so it would be easier to tell whose voice we are hearing. A couple of times, I had to go back and figure out who was speaking, as occasionally there were two different scenes breaking up a page.
However, the art and coloring work exceptionally well in this dark world and give it a nice degree of edginess. As for the story, it didn’t initially engage me, which I suspect had to do with the structure; however, when I read it through a second time, I began to become more absorbed in the world and enjoyed this slow journey into the human psyche. I understand the 5th issue will be out soon, and I look forward to reading it.