7 Brothers: Volume 2 – John Woo & Benjamin Raab

Hollywood has a nasty trick of taking a successful movie, jettisoning all the good people that made it, and chucking out something that bears little resemblance to the great experience you enjoyed before. Well, gone is the fantastic Garth Ennis and the original artist Jeevan Kang to be replaced by unknowns. This is not a great start.

But to be fair they don’t do a bad job. I was all set to write this off but the story engages you and the characters grow, develop and reveal more about their past. The smartest thing the new writers do is focus on a select few of the seven brothers giving more room for emotional attachment. The story and new antagonist is a compelling one. Where do you go after you have saved the world?

The art isn’t bad but it lacks the rich saturation and distinctive style of the original. You get the sense that things were a little rushed. While the art isn’t bad and there are some nice touches and panel layouts maybe they should have made more of an effort to keep the original artist or retain his style. Despite my reservations this turned out to be a Thumbs Up!

79/286.

Tomorrow: Kick Ass – Mark Millar

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7 Brothers – John Woo & Garth Ennis

The short lived Virgin Comics came up with the idea of giving creative people their own comic to design. This issue sees the director John Woo re-imagine an ancient Chinese legend. It was a surprise to see that Garth Ennis was his ghost-writer. I have never seen any of John Woo’s films but this certainly has a filmic quality to it and some excellent pacing. This is an incredibly rich tale that blends oriental mythology with western storytelling and is much more than the sum of two cultures.

The art is a murky watercolour that seems to have a quality all of its own and is perfect for conveying this ancient and mystical tale. It isn’t as clear and crisp as many comics are but it has no trouble conveying the action. This has an ensemble cast – seven brothers plus extras – so many of the characters aren’t given an opportunity to develop. It could have been five brothers just as easily.

The whole piece seems very worldly. All the brothers are different nationalities and much of the story concerns ancient China so you do get a sense of being a literary tourist. There is enough of Ennis’ trademark black humour and some outstanding dialogue for it to seem familiar and friendly. But you also get the feeling he is being stretched and is exploring new territory. It is really great to see such a distinctive and enriching collaboration. Thumbs Up!

78/287.

Tomorrow: 7 Brothers Volume 2 – John Woo & Benjamin Raab