Another near myth.

John Woo’s 7 Brothers #1

The most entertaining portion of this debut issue of the new Virgin Comics series, also the first in its Director’s Cut line of comics stemming from cinema directors, is definitely Editor-in-Chief Gotham Chopra’s inside back cover assurance that “[a] great comic is its own craft,” and that while everyone at Virgin would totally be tickled if their Director’s Cut comics would be adapted into films someday, that’s just not their #1 priority. Comics are so a distinctly satisfying art form! Also, apparently even one of Virgin’s top personalities can’t quite decide whether the book is titled 7 Brothers (like it says on the cover and the legal indicia) or Seven Brothers (like it says in the essay and in much of the internet promotion), but keep in mind that I’ve been awake since 4:00 straightening the ends of every rug in the apartment, so I’m probably the only one who cares.

Anyway, it’s been pretty evident since the beginning that creator John Woo contributed little more than “a seed of an idea” to the comic, leaving most of the detail to writer Garth Ennis, and much of the book does indeed feel like Ennis’ work with a drizzle of ancient, non-Western myth about it. This is one of those ‘old legend transplanted to the modern day’ stories, and there’s also a four-page introduction concerning Chinese exploration of the Western world, so that gets to play out before we’re dropped into the city and Ennis gets to break out his urban dialect skills again while a cadre of badass-looking types stand around and acknowledge one another. Said badasses have been assembled by a mystery woman for a cloudy purpose due to the secret powers they’ve possessed since youth: one can jump high, one can see far, one can run fast, etc. The woman herself can apparently disrupt the flow of time, beating the crap out of toughs and cackling in their face before her strikes even have a chance to register; I’m hoping for a later declaration of “You’re already dead!!” in the manner of Fist of the North Star.

That’s that for the first issue; Ennis perhaps wisely doesn’t attempt to fill in many personalities among his multicultural cast, although that lends the issue an occasionally comedic sense of global inclusiveness, hardly aided by the cheeseball ethnic shorthand occasionally employed: there’s a hulking, brooding Native American in a large hat, a cocksure, gregarious Australian, and even a fast-talking, comic relief street pimp. We’re treated to clankingly descriptive lines like “Muhammed, do you remember that Israeli gunship that you shot down with your voice?” when necessary. Eventually we get to a sinister-seeming possible-villain, a seething, wizened type with a dorkish associate named Jenkins, who wants to accomplish something that’s in all likelihood going to clash with the protagonists of the book, though I couldn’t really tell you what, not that I know what the heroes are doing either. It is a mystery!

I suppose it’s an ok introduction, although virtually nothing is defined yet and most of the characters are walking compilations of presumed cultural baggage. The art, by Jeevan Kang (also a senior VP and creative chief at Virgin), is attractive and agreeably scratchy, with some decent color work (by Kang and S. Sundarakannan). A closer inspection reveals much the same affinity for rippled men and pole-waisted, balloon-breasted women in a superheroic anatomic style that marks a good deal of what I’ve seen of Virgin’s offerings, but it’s a fairly attractive example of its type.

Nothing but set-up, and even the set-up doesn't actually set much up, but there's probably nothing in here that'll scare you away from issue #2, if you're already focused on it.