Shekhar Kapur’s Snake Woman: Volume One – Zeb Wells

This was part of the now defunct Virgin Comics line that let “celebrities” design their own comic to be ghost written by someone else. In this case film director Shekhar Kapur (Oscar nominated for his film Elizabeth) gets the reins. The story concerns an ordinary woman who turns out to be the descendant of a Snake God and gets caught up in a conspiracy spanning hundreds of years.

It is competently written with enough twists and ideas to keep you reading. It is the first part of an on-going series and unfortunately it takes a leisurely, slow-boil, approach to storytelling which doesn’t do it any favours. Despite Kapur’s Indian origin, and lengthy reminiscences on Indian culture from Virgin Comics Editor-in-chief Gotham Chopra in the introduction, this tale is set in Los Angeles leaving you with a feeling of an opportunity lost.

The art is a bit murky with an almost posterised or rotoscoped feel to the colouring. There are some extended flashback scenes that have a blue cast with orange highlights and gives the impression of soft watercolours. These are very effective and well executed.

Overall it is not the best start but there are lots of extra features at the back illustrating the creative process. These include a DVD style commentary where the writer and artist explain some of their decisions using speech bubbles superimposed over pages reproduced at half size. There are also some “in-character” documents that add flavour but do little to expand the story. There is also the original treatment from Shekhar Kapur allowing you to see how different his vision was.

Thumbs Up for now.

195/170.

Tomorrow: Shekhar Kapur’s Snake Woman: Volume Two – Zeb Wells

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