Pullbox Reviews: 7 Deadly Sins – Ain’t nobody lookin’ for Redemption here…

SEVEN DEADLY SINS. 
ONE DEADLY MISSION.

1857. Texas. A group of death row criminals is recruited by a Mexican priest for a suicide mission into Comancheria.

Jericho Marsh is a wanted man, accused of atrocities committed during the Civil War. With what law there is in the Texas of 1867 on his trail, it would take something serious to lure him back to his old home town where everyone knows his name and has too much to lose. The search for his missing daughters is that serious, and is just the thing that gets Jericho caught and thrown in the lockup. With nothing left to do but wait for a wagon to take them to San Antonio for trial, Jericho and his fellow inmates- murderers and misfits all- will have one chance at escape. It’s all in the hands of the Lord. Or more accurately those of His servant, Father Antonio, who has his own secrets to keep and guilt to carry. What is it that could push a man of the cloth to aid in the escape of such hardened criminals? Read on, but keep in mind that the Truth doesn’t always “set you free”.

Stories of the American Wild West seem destined to remain securely locked in the world’s collective consciousness. Like the legends of Arthur and his knights, Robin Hood’s merry men, and even farther back to Beowulf’s overnight stay in a fateful mead hall, the Western stands as our very own entry into the collected myth and lore of the world. It’s a genre that stands out among the rest as one that’s constantly evolving, from the spotless glamor of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, to the grit and gristle of Sergio Leonne and Clint Eastwood. The Western is at its best when it doesn’t try to cover up the brutality of the past, but offers it all up as a testament to our less than auspicious beginnings.

Writer Tze Chun has crafted a story as grim as they come. Unlike other worthy entries such as The Magnificent Seven, or The Dirty Dozen, the theme of The 7 Deadly Sins doesn’t have much to do with redemption. Having read the first issue (as with all of the titles coming from TKO Studios, it’s free to read either online at their site or through the ComiXology app), I’ve discovered a cast of ne’er-do-wells that would have been right at home in a Quentin Tarantino movie. The central figure in the story, Jericho Marsh, strikes equal parts admiration and fear in those around him, and it’s apparently well earned. Each of the characters in Chun’s work have a bit of that duality to them, victims and monsters all, and it carries a reader through a bit of a quandary as we try to latch onto someone to cheer for without feeling all cheap and dirty. Essentially, of course, our support is going to fall in favor of the wretched refuse as we learn more about them all: the bank robbing young Irish girl (greed), the cannibalistic mass murderer (gluttony), the sharp-shooting showman (lust), Jericho himself (wrath), the pregnant sharecropper who burned her former master- and his mistress- alive (envy), and the Chinese doctor who escaped from his indentured servitude with the railroad (pride). Sloth? That one’s been claimed by Father Antonio, by his own admission. Everyone has a story to be told, and it remains to be seen how and when Tze Chun will choose to reveal it all.

Whenever it happens, the reveal is sure to be full of stark brutality, and will be done with style. That’s going to be left in the hands of the artistic team of Artyom Trakhanov (art), and Giulia Brusco (colors). For his part, Trakhanov’s illustrations seem to be well-suited to the subject matter. His lines have kind of a frenetic look to them, his characters all distinct and each with some pronounced or exaggerated trait. His violence is sudden and without any kind of reservation, with only the most brutal aspects hidden from view… not sure if that makes it less cringe-worthy or more. Trakhanov’s work is filled in by some great work from Brusco, her colors highlighting all of the ruthlessness, and leaving everything coated in a layer of grime. Together these two have done a great job of presenting Tze Chun’s world, in which the term “good guy” is relative at best.

The final part of the equation in The 7 Deadly Sins is the lettering, done by Jared Fletcher. His artistry isn’t so much evident in the dialogue, which is presented without distracting frill or embellishment. Fletcher’s talent shines through in his creative use of sound effects. The rattle of chains, the retort of gunfire, and the crack of a pistol used as a bludgeoning tool… they’re all worked into the action, becoming part of the background in their respective panels instead of taking up space in them. It’s lettering done right, helping to tell the story rather than taking it over and breaking up the rhythm of it all.

The 7 Deadly Sins is the second of my reviews done for new publisher, TKO Studios. If the first two have been any indication I doubt that it’ll be my last. This is a rough and tumble story that’s as much about the characters as it is about the action- of which there is plenty, don’t you doubt. It’s exactly the kind of Western tale that deserves to be told, and consequently it needs to be read. I’ve done my part, and now it’s your turn.

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