One of my favorite indie books of all time was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, especially the first two volumes. Deconstructing other people’s characters was nothing new for Alan Moore, but usually he stuck to comic book characters like Marvelman and Batman. With The League he ventured into new territory, and, for my money, he created one of the most interesting and different mythologies in all of comics.
That being said, I completely understand why many people do not list The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen among their favorite works by Moore. It is dense, really dense, and after the first two volumes it becomes almost impossible to read without either a deep and developed knowledge of British pop culture and classical literary heroes, or a guidebook like the one I had to use to read The Black Dossier.
Since The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was published, I have read and seen a lot of attempts to do a similar thing to what Moore did, bringing together classic heroes to tell new stories in an interconnected universe. As a child who often had He-Man and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles help G.I. Joe wage war against the combined forces of Cobra, the Decepticons, and my little brother, that kind of story just speaks to me. Some have been done really well, while others, like the LXG film, have not fared as well.
Still, I do love seeing how authors can play with this concept, and so when I read the blurb for this weeks book, Seven Swords from Aftershock Comics, I was already excited to see where it was going to go. Does it live up to the hype? Is it worth adding to your pull? Let’s check it out and see!
Here’s the blurb: A weary and jaded D’Artagnan is drawn into a final conflict with the wicked Cardinal Richelieu, whose ruthless quest for power has led him to the supernatural. But the Last Musketeer can’t defeat these infernal enemies alone.
To save the world, he’ll need to join forces with seven iconic swashbuckling heroes: Don Juan, Captain Blood, Cyrano de Bergerac, to name a few. SEVEN SWORDS, who must overcome their host of differences and work together if they have any hope of thwarting Richelieu’s diabolical plans.
From writer EVAN DAUGHERTY (writer of films such as Snow White and the Huntsman,
Divergent and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and illustrator Riccardo Latina comes high
adventure with a cutting edge!
There is so much that I love about this first issue of Seven Swords. For one thing, getting fighting correct on the page is already a challenge for a lot of artists, getting swordplay correct is often time even more challenging. That being said, Latina does a fantastic job with it, and Seven Swords has an old school, high adventure feel that is sadly lacking from a lot of other comics on the shelves.
In addition to the art, the story of Seven Swords itself is beautifully paced. I’m not super familiar with all of the characters involved in this story from the works they were taken from, but at no point did I feel like I was lost or confused by the characters or their motivations. This may sound like I am damning it with faint praise, but the characters are introduced well, their choices make sense, and the story moves quickly in an interesting and natural way. That’s honestly really hard to do for a lot of comic book writers, and for Daugherty, who is not normally a comic book writer, it’s really impressive to see.
Seven Swords also doesn’t feel the need to bury you with characters. By the end of issue one we have met a few of the 7, but not all of them, and that’s a good thing. This first issue could have been a muddled rush to introduce all of the characters and their back stories, but instead it smartly focuses on one character, D’Artagnan, and lets the majority of the story unfold through his eyes, with occasional cut aways to other characters soon to be involved. We get glimpses that pique interest, but don’t distract us from the main plot.
And that plot, in true Three Musketeer style, is one of revenge. Our hero is out to avenge his fallen brethren, but knows he can’t do it alone, so he, along with a mysterious woman named Catalina, whom I believe may be Catalina de Erauso (and if you don’t know who that is you should totally google it, because she lived a fascinating life and is a perfect fit for this story) set off to gather others to their cause.
Sex, violence, sword play, history mixed with fiction, this story ticks a lot of my boxes for high adventure, and scratches that team up itch that I’d had for a long time. If you didn’t snag issue one of Seven Swords this week, make sure you swing back through your local shop and snag a copy. You’ll be glad you did.