Monday, 9 January 2017

Seven to Eternity, Volume 1 Review (Rick Remender, Jerome Opena)

The Mud King is psychically linked to millions of people under his control but that’s not enough – he really wants Zeb Osidis to become his slave as well because... uh… When Zeb is killed for defying his wishes, his son Adam must seek mercy in the King’s citadel of Zhal or his entire family will be massacred. However his pa’s not the only dissident in the land and a rebellion is stirring against his Royal Muddiness! 

Seven to Eternity is a fairly generic Western story gussied up in sci-fi/fantasy clothing that’s overly complicated thanks to Rick Remender’s shoddy storytelling style, turning a potentially fun story into boring garbage. The only way I got the story straight was through reading the summaries at the start of each issue - I was barely following along with the story proper because Remender is such a shitty writer.

It’s not even a remotely compelling story: there’s Adam Osidis’ dull farm life followed by a big confusing fight between the goodies and the baddies which takes up a lot of space, and then they’re on the road. Remender also tosses in a few prose pages at random intervals, as if the book didn’t already have pacing issues. They’re really bad too - comics writers should not write prose; most, like Remender, simply aren’t up to it.

The story is full of weak characterisations. Remender’s main characters – Adam Osidis and the Mud King – are both one-dimensional. One’s good, the other’s bad, that’s it. The other five “characters” that appear out of nowhere are even less memorable and underdeveloped – I couldn’t tell you their names, let alone their motivations for fighting the Mud King besides him being the villain and that’s what good guys are meant to do!

I could go through the book and point out the flawed world-building, annoyingly unexplained plot elements and myriad other problems but suffice it to say, though I can’t fault Remender’s ambitious vision, there’s too much here to take in at once and he’s not a good enough writer to lay it all out well. I’m not saying I need everything spelled out for me or that we should know everything in the first volume, but there are key elements to the plot that we should at least have an idea about to start with and the detail just isn’t there. And this is a problem with magic stories in general: without limitations and anything can happen, it’s really hard to care about any of it.

By far the best part of the book is Jerome Opena’s art. He was the artist on Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and drew half of Marvel’s Infinity event and that experience of drawing large-scale cosmic action really shows here. The alien landscapes are absolutely beautiful and the alien designs are so imaginative. Matt Hollingsworth’s colours are the coup de grace – the artwork on this book is simply stunning.

The art isn’t enough to recommend this book though. In the hands of a talented writer, Seven to Eternity may have been an awesome title but with Rick Remender at the helm it becomes plodding, dull, convoluted and plain bad sci-fi/fantasy. Turrible reading!

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