There has always been room for religion in comics, whether it is the god-like analogy of characters like Superman and Doctor Manhattan or the Catholicism running through the pages of Daredevil. Seven Sons is the story of a young man who may be the Second Coming of Christ. In the current climate, creators and readers are much more switched on to comics being more inclusive to everyone. A story of this nature does have the possibility of being construed as offensive, so it will have to avoid those pitfalls that are easy to fall into if the themes aren’t handled with enough care and detail. With that in mind, I am interested to see what this story brings to the table and how it treads the line between delivering a good story and keeping on the right side of tasteful.
Seven Sons #1 is an enjoyable enough issue that puts a lot of interesting ideas on the table early doors in a very exposition-heavy manner, which leads to it falling short of being a very good issue. I feel, however, that it would read much better as the opening chapter to the trade paperback collection. The story is set in an alternate 1998, which is itself a plot element you want to explore further. Add into the mix the fact a war has taken place, America and the world is now in the grip of a religious cult then you have a lot of potentials to explore in the remaining six issues. Perhaps, at times, it feels like there is too much going on, and the story could have presented all the exposition more imaginatively.
To me, there are a few things I would have liked explained more, but I understand the importance of wanting to pose questions to the reader and string them along. Where the story suffers most (And this is not a new problem for comics,) is the cliffhanger being spoilt by the solicitations. Essentially you are waiting for a moment you already know is coming. In regards to any potential offensive material, right away, to avoid any comparison with current affairs, the story takes place in an alternate 1998 with further flashbacks to 1995. One area of note is that all the ‘Seven Sons’ and their follows are depicted as Caucasian, whilst in the 1995 flashback, they are attacked by a group from the Middle East. This type of profiling will, of course, affect each reader differently. I would not be surprised, however, if the stories end with the nature of the story in tandem with the cliffhanger, the views of good and bad will be flipped on its head.
In his earlier days, Jae Lee was an artist with an exciting style. Newer readers are maybe more familiar with him as a cover artist, where, in my opinion, his work became much more stale and repetitive. There are moments in this issue where his newer style, as seen in the Dark Tower adaptations, is well suited to the story. His unearthly, very androgynous style is perfect for the world of a religious cult. The lack of facial expressions works really well for these Seven Son characters, but when you need to connect with secondary and tertiary characters, it falls flat.
On a personal level, a happy medium between this style and his younger days would increase my interest in this story. When the art really sings is when Lee loosens the shackles, like in two amazing establishing shots. The first, of Las Vegas, where the story takes place is completed with creepy atmospherics. The second is a shot of the ”Seven Sons Stadium” which is an architectural masterpiece of comics imagination. Other stands on art include imaginative panel layouts on pages with less dialogue. They have a sharp, almost splintered look to them, which works really well to convey a lot of different reactions in a crowd scene, for example.
This is a solid opening first issue without being spectacular. It lays plenty of groundwork for the story’s future, and has lots of promise of exciting things to come. I would recommend it to readers who like big, bold storytelling and stories in alternate, often dystopian timelines. If you are a fan of the Dark Tower novels and the visuals of the Dark Tower comics, this would be worth your time.