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

They have definitely saved the best until last. This is a far cry from the shaky beginnings of volume one. By embracing the Indian culture and mythology we are given a much richer tale. There is genuine drama and real tension running through the book.

The art is equally rich but seems change midway through shifting from fuzzy, almost impressionistic, images to crisp and sharp renderings. There are some well-constructed vignettes and beautiful perspective bringing a great deal of depth to the page.

This is the best of the volumes and presents a satisfying conclusion, probably slightly different from the one you were expecting.

Thumbs Up!

197/168.

Tomorrow: Shi: The Way of the Warrior – William Tucci

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

Things have definitely improved since the last volume. The action is faster, the storyline tighter and the stakes are getting higher. The 68 is an intriguing premise and we get to see their latest incarnations, from serial killers to simple-minded janitors. The injection of character-driven plot is most welcome.

The art has had a bit of a shakeup too with a crisper, more digital feel to it. There are some nice scenes but gone are the beautifully coloured flashbacks from volume one.

There is also the origin tale tucked in at the back that doesn’t add anything to the story.

This earns its Thumbs Up and makes you want to continue with the tale.

196/169.

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

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