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Virgin Comics

Written by Gotham Chopra and Drawn by Jeevan Kang

Suffice it to say, the British have a long and… complicated history when it comes to India, and that’s where THE SADHU plows it fertile ground. The tale begins in the 1850s, as the Britons continue their brutal attempts to maintain sway over their far-away colony. This requires soldiers, so when the unemployed James Jensen is offered a posting, he takes his wife and son to the East. Tragedy waits. But from that tragedy, Jensen discovers that there is more to life, and more to himself than he could have ever imagined. He has power, far beyond what he could have ever conceived- he is a Sadhu, a man of holy gifts and great spiritual knowledge. Unfortunately, the man who destroyed his life is also a Sadhu… one in the service of demons. Does an enlightened man seek revenge? And if he attains it, then what?

THE SADHU is a solidly entertaining tale, and one that plays fair across the board. Chopra doesn’t spare the reader the brutality of the British, but he also doesn’t demonize every soldier wearing red. Both sides are written as having good men and bloodthirsty men. He also strives for story clarity; too many tales which feature mysticism as part of their core get too abstract, but Jensen’s story stays reasonably grounded. It helps to have Kang on the art chores; here, as with 7 BROTHERS, he puts fantastic character work on every page. His people live and breathe and jump off the paper. But he also has a grasp on the fantastic when it’s called for; Kang is a versatile and very talented artist.

My one qualm with THE SADHU is the ending, which peters out and doesn’t deliver in satisfactory fashion. After all the sturm und drang which takes in the first eighty percent of the book, the final pages offer a sort of muffled “thud.” With a stronger conclusion, I’d recommend the book unreservedly. As it is, I still think it’s a worthy read, just one that should have been a tiny bit better.

Marc Mason

Written by Garth Ennis and Drawn by Jeevan Kang

Working from a concept by classic Hong Kong filmmaker John Woo, comics scribe Garth Ennis takes this modernist version of the seven super-powered Chinese brothers to some surprising and entertaining places, but he never forgets to add his own over-the-top and ludicrous flourishes. That alone would make this book worth a read (and it’s easily the best thing I’ve seen from Virgin so far). But throw in some fine art from Kang, and you get a solid package for your trade paperback money.

The story is nifty; the Chinese were actually the first great explorers of Earth, thanks to the prodding of a great emperor and the work of a power-hungry sorcerer. But those voyages drained the treasury, pushed Chinese culture backwards, and led to the sorcerer being stopped from taking over the world… but just barely. But knowing the evil gent would return, his vanquisher made sure to leave his bloodline across the planet, leaving super-powered descendents behind who would have to battle the sorcerer when he came back. And now he’s back.

Woo’s super seven come from across the world and varied powers, but no one can quite figure out what part the seemingly un-powered Ronald, a wimpy wannabee street pimp, has to play in the drama. But it turns out to be one of the better bits in the book when that plot develops, and if anybody spoils it for you, they should be spanked.

Extras include the variant covers, a look at how Kang produces his art, and a deleted scene. 7 BROTHERS is solid, quality entertainment, and is worth your time to pick up off the shelf.

Marc Mason

Written by Mike Carey and Drawn by Dean Ruben Hyrapiet

It is 1860, New Orleans. The country is tearing itself apart, and the War Between the States is nigh. The real issue, of course, is slavery, and even in states where slaves are held, it isn’t a unanimously held opinion that such a thing is right. Unfortunately, for a young man named Gabriel, the freedom he has been promised is taken away, as the forces opposed to abolition have arrived to kill his former master and everyone he knows.

It is 2005, New Orleans. The country is tearing itself apart, and the War in Iraq is raging. But the real issue for New Orleans is Hurricane Katrina, and the destruction it wrought. And as the city pulls itself back together, the power vacuum in the underworld must be filled. Graft, abuse of Federal funds, drugs… all there for the person who seizes the day. The police? They don’t have the manpower. Who can do something about the violence and death? Perhaps the risen voodoo zombie Gabriel… if a century-long grudge doesn’t kill his focus first.

VOODOO CHILD is the brainchild of actor Nicolas Cage and his son Weston, and represents the latest in Virgin’s line of Hollywood driven series. However, unlike GAMEKEEPER, this one is much better thought out (and has more true involvement from its Tinseltown player). I’d attribute that to Weston’s involvement, which according to an article in USA TODAY, was fairly considerable. There’s definitely a feeling of youthful enthusiasm here, and using a younger male as the lead only enhances it.

Is it perfect? Not by any stretch. Gabriel’s zombie powers aren’t defined well, and the story moves way too slowly in picking him up in modern day. The opening sequence in 1860 is so much better than the modern stuff that the book is uneven. I’d like to see future issues pick up the pace and find a more solid grip on its storyline. The idea of setting a book in post-Katrina N’awlins is a good one; the creators need to make sure that the book develops in a compelling fashion worthy of its milieu. Again, though, comparing it to a book like GAMEKEEPER, for instance, this is one I would continue to read and keep an eye on.

Marc Mason

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