It’s the general consensus among comics fans these days that Rick Remender is absolutely killing it on his various and sundry creator-owned Image titles, and while his unique combination of four-color personal psychotherapy-session/homage-to-[fill-in-the-genre] is a bit more hit-or-miss for me as a reader (Deadly Class being the only one that, for my money, never misses) than it is for many , even at their most clunky and heavy-handed titles like Low and Black Science remain thoroughly readable affairs whose earnestness is, at the very least, honest — even when it’s laid on a bit too thick. And he always gets the best artists to work with him, doesn’t he?
The recent wrap-up of Tokyo Ghost (and speaking of the best artists, how about Sean Gordon Murphy’s work on that book?) has left a gap in Remender’s apparently-24/7 production schedule, but fear not : no sooner does that series end than Seven To Eternity begins, which sees our guy Rick re-teamed with his old Fear Agent collaborator, the one and only Jerome Opeña.
The idea here appears to be another updating on the SEVEN SAMURAI and MAGNIFICENT SEVEN premise, albeit transposed to another planet, with one Adam Osidis, de facto leader of a clan of outcasts, as our chief protagonist. His adversary is the so-called “King Of Whispers,” or “Mud King,” a creature who excels at taking over cities/towns/outposts/whatever by means of the quiet but effective smear campaign coupled with empty to promises to fulfill the deepest desires of one’s heart, so that could be interesting — although it’s hard to see how it’s going to lead to much actual, ya know, combat and what have you.
So-called “world-building” is the order of the day, then, in this debut installment, and Remender does a decent enough job giving his characters reasonably distinctive “voices” and imbues the proceedings with enough “broad-stroke” descriptions of the alien civilization he’s brewed up in his head to keep you interested in finding out more while eschewing the crass and clumsy “info-dump” at the same time. It’s a tricky balance for any introductory chapter, to be sure, but he manages to thread the needle just fine to start things off, and as we get introduced to our inevitably larger cast and more aspects of their society in future segments, one can only hope he continues to walk the fine line as successfully as he does here.
I’m not going to kid you, though — the art is the real star of the show in this comic, and Opeña has infused his work with a cinematic flavor (right down to movie poster-style covers!) that results in a level of greatness only hinted at previously. You know the old cliches about when you can tell someone is “pulling out all the stops” and “taking it to the next level” and all that shit? Well, in this case it’s absolutely true, and Matt Hollingsworth’s surprisingly vibrant color palette adds the finishing touches to work that is, as you can see from the samples included here, flat-out gorgeous — even, dare I say it, breathtaking at times.
So, what the heck — count me in. The extra-sized first issue gives you pretty solid value for your $3.99, but even when we get “cut back” to a regular page count next issue, odds are that it’ll still be well worth the price of admission. I have no doubt that Remender won’t be able to resist his moralistic excesses at some juncture in the (probably very near) future, but as long as those aren’t indulged in to the point of subsuming his actual storyline, and as long as Opeña continues to absolutely amaze, Seven To Eternity should prove to be a more than welcome addition to your pull list. It’s definitely got a spot on mine.