7 Psychopaths #1
Written by Fabien Vehlmann
Art by Sean Phillips and Hubert
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Translated by Dan Heching
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by David Pepose
You'd be forgiven for thinking, at first glance, that 7 Psychopaths would be traversing the same path as the multi-Oscar-winning Inglorious Basterds. But after reading the first issue of this series, I'd also say you'd be wrong -- this is an old-school origin story with a twist, giving this book more than enough identity to stand on its own.
For me, Fabien Vehlmann's high concept takes the idea of the unreliable protagonist and actually spins out an interesting mythology around it -- are these seven psychopaths really all it takes to assassinate Hitler? Is there a greater synchronicity going on, that could strike the final blow to the heart of the Axis powers? Seeing ringleader Joshua Goldschmidt's reasoning is surprisingly compelling, and the question of whether or not each of these soldier's disabilities are in fact a hidden strength is a particularly fascinating high concept. Translator Dan Heching also deserves a lot of credit, because he makes the whole production completely seamless.
The other thing that particularly got me about this book was how good of a fit Sean Phillips was to all this. Based on earlier interviews, Phillips had made it sound as if this were some rough work -- on the contrary, it seems like he's been drawing the shadows of World War II for years. He manages to take some really dense scripts -- eight-, nine-, even ten-panel pages -- and manages to really make them draw the eye. You don't feel as if any details were glossed over -- the true mark of a professional. And cap it off with just a stylishness to everything -- whether its watching Joshua blow a puff of smoke from his lungs, or seeing Captain Stewart handcuffed to a chair, a gun in his hands and a cigarette in his lips, it's eye candy through and through.
The thing I am particularly interested in with how this series goes is whether or not the creators can pull off the delicate balancing act they've undertaken -- can they keep the mystery of whether or not there really is a cosmic plan going, and not have it fall flat at the end? Can they make these characters into characters rather than shorthand disabilities? Can they actually beat the odds and kill Hitler? If you're asking yourself these questions, it can mean only one thing -- after reading the first issue of 7 Psychopaths, you'll be absolutely committed.