Artist Jae Lee returns to creator-owned comics in Seven Sons #1. Written by Robert Windom and Kevin Mao, Seven Sons #1 explores a world that believes it is experiencing the Second Coming.
The apocalyptic world of Seven Sons #1 begins in an alternate timeline where Las Vegas is now New Canaan, and the Second Coming is a bigger PPV event in 1998 than any boxing match could ever be. It’s an event as American as can be, complete with authors that “predicted” everything, blonde hosts, and a military flyover. And of course, healing for a limited time only.
But even as the world celebrates, there is something amiss. A strange man appears to have truly emerged from the dead, and a group of terrorists is working overtime. It is this second aspect of the story that proves to be a big detractor to the story. The inclusion of Allah’s Watchmen, a sect of terrorists that invoke Islam as the true religion and have sought to kill all of the titular sons, feels particularly rote. Even though the book makes it clear that the whole “Second Coming” event is way off the mark (and so Allah’s Watchmen also probably aren’t what they seem), the exploration of conflict between these two religions, especially as it pertains to American politics, seems a bit old hat. This is only the first issue, so perhaps Windom, Mao, and Lee will give readers something new out of it as the story grows, but for now it’s a beat that feels played out at best and troubling at worst.
Jae Lee’s artwork is as spellbinding as ever, and with color artist June Chung, the art in Seven Sons is perhaps the primary attraction. A gloomy atmosphere hangs over the book, a stark visual contrast to the bliss of the celebration. Lee’s figures skirt the line between human and monstrous, where wrinkles on faces become deep crags and the relative smoothness of the sons gives them a divine appearance in a world of so many wretches. It’s beautiful and repugnant all at once, creating a perfect tone for a story like this.
The layouts in Seven Sons #1 are a dizzying array of panels, capturing the swirling masses like stained glass. This never made reading the work difficult, but those who are purchasing digitally should be aware that the full-page view will make for a smoother reading experience.
Beyond this world, though, Seven Sons offers little in the way of characters. Readers are introduced to an array of people, but few beyond one of the sons and the mysterious man who wanders throughout the book seem to have real staying potential. This isn’t necessarily a problem as the book is going more for an epic tone, but for readers who like their apocalypse on the more intimate side, there just isn’t a lot here.
All said, Seven Sons #1 is a gorgeous debut with tons of atmosphere and potential for some real depth. That being said, this concept has been done so many times before that the story can’t help but feel a little familiar. It will be up to future issues to provide substance enough to make the series stand out in a world filled with apocalypses.
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