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Virgin Comics

Virgin 1

Written by Ben Raab and Deric Hughes and Drawn by Edison George

Fresh off their defeat of the Son of Hell, the seven brothers descended from a powerful Chinese sorcerer, and their sister Rachel, return for a new adventure. Years ago, Rachel was given care of the son of a scientist friend, and of the scientist’s research. Now, that young boy appears to be coming back to haunt her and hew newfound family. But the brothers have troubles of their own; one is using his powers to battle his sister’s plans for financially exploiting the reservation they live on. Another is using his to sneak gifts to his brother’s wife, in the hopes of seducing her away. And another, Ronald, has decided to return to the streets in the hopes of using his ability to turn into a dragon to take control of the local drug trade. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple… for any of them, and now they’re being hunted for their gifts once again.

I must admit that I had my doubts when I saw that the series was coming back for a new volume without Garth Ennis doing the scripting, and my doubts doubled when I saw Raab was involved. During his time working for Marvel, he was someone whose work I steadfastly avoided. However, this turns out to be pretty solid. Smartly, the brothers haven’t stuck together in the wake of their first adventure. Instead, they have spread back to their own lives and begun exploiting their powers in very human fashion. That makes the prospect of bringing them back together a bit more difficult, and indeed, they really don’t. Three of the brothers do not get involved at all, owing to various circumstances, even with the threat facing all of them. That’s a refreshing change of pace.

George’s art is a little shaky here and there, as he struggles to show motion and action on the page, having it come off looking stiff. He does do well with faces and ethnicities, though, which bodes well for his development. That’s usually where artists struggle most early on. Production quality overall is high, and the potential for the franchise remains strong.

Marc Mason

Written by Jeff Parker and Drawn by Ashish Padlekar

Ian Dormouse has a bit of a problem. He’s living, building a life, and suddenly, he wakes up somewhere across the world, with no idea of how he got there or what’s happened over the previous weeks and months. And when he asks the people he left behind, they don’t respond favorably to his very existence. Now he’s in Moscow, working as a dream interpreter in a seedy strip club. But then things start to get even weirder. He’s seeing octopi on the shoulders of some people, and he begins to have real visions that allow him to see peoples’ dreams and pasts. But before he can fully grasp what’s going on, his life is going to get even more complex, as he learns about the concept of a “walk in,” a soul who occupies the bodies of others for periods of time.

WALK IN is… odd, to say the least. However, what’s odder is that it’s actually comprehensible, and that surprised me. A lot of science fiction dealing with questions of sanity, reality, and multiple worlds is downright confusing and the authors don’t bother to have am understandable explanation for why things are happening. Not so here. Parker’s script makes each twist and turn something the reader can absorb and follow. Oh, if only so many others would follow suit. Ambiguity does not equal greatness, friends.

Padlekar also does some nice work here, portraying the weird shit going on around Ian as easily as he depicts girls dancing on stage. And he adjusts his style appropriately for the type of sequence he’s putting on the page. Good stuff.

I’m not sure this is a book that is meant for a wide audience, as some will be put off by the level of strange within. But fans of cerebral sci-fi will dig it.

Marc Mason

Written by Siddharth Kotian and Samit Basu and Drawn by Mukesh Singh

Tara Mehta isn’t exactly leading a perfect life. She’s dating a scumbag who happens to be a gangster. She’s not quite as aware of the world around her as she should be. But that’s all about to change. Tara has a far different destiny than she could have imagined: she’s to become the newest incarnation of the Devi, a warrior woman who fights for the gods of light against the demons of the dark, especially the Lord Bala. But to achieve that destiny, she’s going to have to go on a journey, physically and spiritually… and she’ll have to survive the attempts on her life trying to prevent her from accepting her power. Oh, and then there’s the little problem that no one actually consulted her about her fate before forcing it on her…

Despite one enormous flaw, this was easily my favorite book of all I’ve seen from Virgin at this point. It has the most direct plot; it has the most interesting characters; and it keeps westerners completely out of the story. In books like THE SADHU and SNAKE WOMAN, Hindu mythology gets a workout in the lives of non-Indians. But here, Tara and company are Sitapur residents through and through. I don’t watch a Bollywood film hoping Christopher Walken shows up in a lead role, you know? So this made me very satisfied as a reader, and doubly so since it’s all executed quite nicely.

That flaw? It takes until late in the sixth and final issue printed in this volume for Tara to finally get her powers and do something with them. She barely registers as the lead character through the midsection of the story, as all the focus goes on the supporting cast and the machinations going on trying to elevate Tara to become the Devi. With a character you’re introducing from scratch, I’d have liked to have seen the plot progress a little faster and establish Tara and her gifts sooner.

Still, even with that, I say again: my favorite Virgin book to date. More like this, please.

Marc Mason

Written by Zeb Wells and Drawn by Michael Gaydos

Jessica Peterson is having a very, very bad day. She’s a little sexually repressed, and her roommate has an open door policy, meaning that the hunky new neighbor is off the menu. Her job as a waitress seems to bring one freak after another into her life. But the real problem would seem to be that she’s begun demonstrating reptilian traits and violently murdering men. Sure, in Los Angeles, a lot of women would simply call that “Tuesday.” But Jessica happens to be the reincarnated holder of the power of a snake god, and there are 68 reincarnated men who want to see her dead before she can put them in a grave herself. So Jessica’s bad day looks to be heading into Wednesday… and beyond.

SNAKE WOMAN is something of a hit-and-miss proposition, though it’s always a pleasant one. Jessica herself is easy enough to like; you instantly feel for the character and lament the bizarre shitstorm that blows into her life. But you also admire the clever conceit at its core: reincarnation and revenge always makes for a potent entertainment combo. And Michael Gaydos continues to show what makes him one of the most underrated artists working today. Even better, you can see more of his art here; Wells keeps dialogue and exposition as minimal as possible, as opposed to the text-obscured pages Gaydos has produced from Bendis scripts.

Yet at the same time, Wells is the weakest link of the book. There’s no wit or zest here; everything is very. very. serious. It’s a story about a woman with snake god powers! Embrace the absurd nature of that concept, at least just a little!

Perhaps more than any of the other efforts I’ve seen from Virgin, SNAKE WOMAN has the best prospects for long-term development. There are plenty of directions the book can go from here.

Marc Mason

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