- The Power of Eve Black – Nikki: #73 (12 July 1986)- #83 (20 September 1986)
- Artist: Carlos Freixas
At the Marie Watt Boarding School, everyone was quite surprised when the Headmistress, Miss Bennett, appointed new pupil Eve Black, as the 2B class captain. This is particularly concerning as she is a bully and menace to all her classmates, and always flaunting the school rules. Andrea Bowman, the head girl has not been happy with Eve since day one, when she wore make-up and her and another prefect, in school tradition, dunk her in the pool. Eve pretends she can’t swim, but the next day is shown to be an excellent swimmer. This has Andrea on edge from the start, that Eve is a deceitful person. When she catches her playing music loudly she confiscates her stereo and goes to the Miss Bennett with her concerns. She wonders how Miss Bennett seems to be fooled by Eve and if she has some sort of hold over her. After their talk Miss Bennett looks at a photo and recalls her unhappy school days as “plain old uninteresting Wimps Bennett” and soon after that Andrea is not happy to see Eve has her stereo back.
It is in episode 3 we discover the secret of Eve Black, something that has already been hinted at….Eve and Miss Bennett are the same person! Miss Bennett who excelled at science has created a potion so she can become young Eve and experience a happier time at school. Eve is supposed to be everything she was not, confident, excelling at sports and school leader, and she certainly is all those things but she is missing other qualities like kindness and generosity. It’s not only Andrea who is noticing something strange about Eve, Miss Wright one of the teachers is also becoming suspicious. When Eve wants the part of Portia in The Merchant of Venice, she makes Geraldine the girl who got the part, give it up for her. Miss Wright who is running the play is not happy, and she goes to Miss Bennett. Again Miss Bennett flashbacks to wanting to play that part when she was young but she was teased for trying. Eve gets the whole class to sign a petition for her and Miss Wright has no choice but to let her play the part. She does well in the part as she has acting talent but Miss Wright wonders what hold she has over the whole class.
She continues to get her own way and making trouble for her classmates along the way. Such as when Gillian tries to hold a secret birthday party but Eve finds out via Miss Bennett and invites herself along with a group of rough locals. When Eve wants to play hockey, but gets dropped for a foul, Miss Wright is determined for her not to get her way but Bennett arranges for her to play and suggest Wright has an obsession. More about Eve is revealed when she rides a horse no one else can handle, without permission but excels. Miss Bennett remembers Maura Keen was a good rider “But now I can be Maura…or her double anyway, in the shape of Eve Black. They’re the same people physically, what a pity I couldn’t get Maura’s pleasant nature correct”. Miss Bennett is certainly right about not getting her pleasant nature right as she becomes increasingly dangerous, pushing a stone at Miss Wright, for trying to catch her out or sneaking to a concert. Luckily Miss Wright is okay and she is not going to be scared off. She confronts Eve when she sees her coming out of Miss Bennett’s office with her ring. Eve turns this to her advantage and “runs away” after accusation of being a thief. This leads to Board of Governors asking for Miss Wright to resign.
Eve’s happy to have Miss Wright out of the way but Andrea is still a problem. She doesn’t like when Andrea gathers the girl’s on her side to give her a blanket bumping in payback or Miss Wright. Eve tries to get rid of Andrea by messing with her bike brakes. Another girl, Jody, borrows the bike and ends up in coma. This finally shocks Miss Bennett enough to do something. She has noticed that as time goes on she has been losing more control over Eve and can’t remember what she does as Eve. She decides to get rid of potion but Eve is in her head “You’ll never get rid of Eve” I can make you do anything I want. With Eve back in power she begins to set up Andrea as being responsible for accident and the police come to question her. Luckily Jody wakes up from her coma and clears her name.
Andrea doing some investigation is shocked to find an old photo of Miss Bennett with Eve beside her. Miss Bennett explains it away telling her there is a certain likeness but the person in the photo is Maura Keen, nothing to do with Eve. Later though Miss Bennett decides she needs Andrea’s help. When Andrea goes to meet her in her office she hears Miss Bennett shout out telling Eve to stop, but when Andrea rushes into the room only Eve is standing there leaving only one explanation as unbelievable as it may be! Eve leaves and Andrea contacts Miss Wright with her suspicions and arranges to meet her. Next day is a misty one as Andrea sets off to Miss Wright and she doesn’t realise Eve is following her. Eve seeing an opportunity pushes Andrea off a cliff. Luckily Andrea grabs hold of branch and Miss Wright comes along followed by some prefects, stopping Eve’s further actions. Instead Eve scales down the cliff and turns back into Miss Bennett to escape. But as the tide comes in Miss Bennett is too weak a swimmer, she drowns but with a smile her final thought is that she has beaten Eve at last. Everyone assumes she drowned trying to save Eve, who must have been swept away, only Andrea and Miss Wright know the truth. Miss Wright is made headmistress and when she finds the serum she disposes of it, some things are better let alone.
It’s coming up to Halloween, so time again to look at some more spooky stories and this take on the classic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde story, is an interesting one. The first episode had it’s own cover page which does well setting the tone of the story with Eve and her monstrous shadow and the terrified girls below. There are other stories that have probably taken inspiration from Stevenson’s novella, with particular focus on duel personalities (such as M&J’s Double Trouble), but this is the only story in these comics that has such direct parallels (that I know of). From the mild mannered Miss Bennett (Jekyll) creating a serum so she can become the confident Eve (Hyde), Bennett increasingly losing control over her counterpart, Eve become more dangerous with attempted murder attempts, until eventually only death can free Bennett of Eve. It is interesting as well that Eve actually contributes to her own downfall as she takes the serum to change back into Miss Bennett, so she can bide her time, not knowing the tide will come in. As for Miss Bennett, she calls out for help initially but seems she accepts her fate quickly not struggling much. Quite a dark end for Miss Bennett, because as with Dr Jekyll she is a sympathetic character and has people who cared for her.
Quite early on it is revealed that Bennett and Eve are the same person, the first hint is in the 2nd episode where we see Eve alone in Bennett’s office and next moment Miss Bennett emerges. For those who may not have figured out yet, the next episode actually tells us they are the same person. It still leaves us with some intriguing questions and with flashbacks we learn more about Miss Bennett’s unhappy childhood and Maura, who Eve is based on. The flashbacks are used in most episodes and are used well giving us background and tying into the plot of the week. We can see Miss Bennett’s optimism by given a second chance with Eve, but Eve always twists what Miss Bennett imagines it will be like. Such as wanting the chance to be a good dancer and at a party with boys, Eve does dance well and with boys, but they are rough local boys that also wreck the party. It is a bit strange that the Eve Black persona is based on another person, but this is the person that Miss Bennett wanted to be most, it just a pity, like she muses, she couldn’t get all her good qualities. Perhaps it is because Eve is an inversion of Bennett and Bennett already had the qualities of kindness and understanding so therefore Eve doesn’t have these. Unfortunately Miss Bennett ignores these deficits too long, excusing and aiding Eve’s behavior and only coming around when it’s too late!
As for our protagonists Andrea and Miss Wright are a good team, while they also confront Eve by themselves, they can confide in each other their suspicions and worries. They have the odds stacked against them as they don’t know whatever information they give Miss Bennett goes straight to Eve. It’s a good dynamic having a pupil and a teacher being the people trying to stop Eve and solve the mystery as they can come at it at two sides. They of course don’t understand what hold Eve has over Bennett, so that does lead them to still confide in her. When Andrea finds the photo of young Bennett and Maura Keen, it would have been good to see that investigation go a bit further, perhaps Andrea could have tracked down Maura, but the photo is quickly dismissed and the story ends soon after. Both characters show determination even after their lives are threatened and they do manage at times to put Eve in their place, whether it’s making her return the things she “borrowed” from her classmates or giving her the bumps. It is a very dramatic ending and it is relief to see Miss Wright return in time to save Andrea. While it’s a sad end for Miss Bennett it is good to see Miss Wright redeemed and taking over as headmistress. It’s a well crafted and focused story that keeps the reader gripped throughout.