The Bible offers up a great deal of material for stories and many opportunities to offer different or alternative takes on events. Howard harkens back to the Garden of Eden before the expulsion of man from the garden to explore what might have happened. At the onset of this story, we find Eve alone on a raft. She and Adam have been separated by an unexpected storm. Upon returning to Eden, she can neither find Adam and nor understand what has happened to him. Her first inclination is to eat from the Tree of Knowledge as it has been calling to her, but God puts a stop to that, telling her she must seek out Adam herself.
Resolute and resilient, Eve sets out to find Adam, realizing that she must leave Eden to do it. But, in leaving Eden, she has accompanying friends who are not what they appear. Treachery has found its way deep into Eden, and Eve is only beginning to understand. Through her escapades, she ultimately reunites with Adam to discover that he has been kidnapped by Lilith, a cursed woman who wants revenge.
Howard takes the story in some interesting directions, providing conditions that both explain and develop conflicting ideas about the origins of this world. For instance, he explains pagan gods (such as the Greek pantheon) as belonging to a group of watchers who were there to protect Eden but strayed from their duties. He also provides interesting explanations for the forthcoming fall of man as his God character and the (presumably) Devil hash words in an ongoing battle.
The story is not without its flaws. Those who profess a deep faith may find Howard’s take on things offensive, though that hardly seems his intention. There are some weak points in story. As a character, Eve ranges from a meek and naïve maiden to an action-packed powerhouse. While in one scene she is defeating some beast or another, she can also be found professing to Adam how much she misses him. Indeed, the projection of women in this book as a whole is a bit dubious. Besides Eve, another woman is a traitor, and Lilith is a power-obsessive and demented soul. Additionally, certain plot elements fixate on marriage, despite “marriage” not really being relevant or present in the context of this story.
The art is colorful and enjoyable. Howard’s style invokes the kind of art associated with fantasy; broad-shouldered men with chiseled chests, curvaceous women, and gangly beasts. Overall, it works with the story. His depiction of Eve, naked in the Garden, uses the usual methods of hinting at nakedness yet covering it up with hair, random objects in the foreground, or panel angles. Howard interestingly depicts God as an all-white being with three eyes who doesn’t necessarily invoke the omnipotence that one associates with the deity.
The Lost Books of Eve provides a striking start to a series that has potential, and it will be interesting to see where Howard goes with it. Given the range of topics and ideas addressed in this first volume, it’s apparent that Howard has an arc that will certainly invoke many different ideas and twist preconceived notions of Eve.