This week was neck and neck, but war and Phillips won over Austin. So, is it worth picking up, Lee gives us the downlow.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by Fabien Vehlmann
Drawn by Sean Phillips
SC, 24pgs, FC, SRP: $3.99
COVER: Sean Phillips
Diamond Code: MAR100781
From Criminal co-conspirator Sean Phillips! 7 men, 1 impossible mission – assassinate Hitler! With World War II in full swing, there’s only one-way to draw the war to a quick end: kill Hitler. But who would be insane enough to try? Joshua Goldschmidt knows just the men to do it. Insane? Psychotic? Mad? Call them what you will, but the seven psychopaths are now the only hope the world has! In the vein of Inglorious Basterds, with art by the critically acclaimed Sean Phillips.
London 1941. The war is not going well. Germany is expanding and the might of the British Empire seems to be faltering. It is desperate times that call for desperate measures.
Colonel Thompson has just returned to the Executive Office of Special Ops. He has had some sort of medical leave that is never fully stated, but with terms like “condition” bandied towards it, one assumes it was an affliction of the mind.
When he returns to his office, he receives a letter from a psychiatric hospital patient who thinks he has discovered a way to end the war. The answer is so simple, it is laughable. In fact when he asks his superiors why no one has done it yet, he is literally laughed out of a meeting. The idea is genius in its lack of complexity – kill Hitler.
The Colonel, with nothing to lose (it seems he never had any respect to lose, much less anything else), goes to meet the inmate who decided to contact him.
Enter Joshua Goldschimdt, a former Religious Studies professor at Cambridge. He is hospitalized for of all things (being a German Jew) a persecution complex. Yeah, maybe socialized medicine isn’t a good thing. What kind of psychiatrist hospitalizes a fairly rational man for this, especially when it is a logical affliction? Anyhow, the boredom of his incarceration leads him to plan a ludicrous attempt to kill Hitler.
When he meets with the Colonel, he finds his chance. The two start the super clandestine Operation 7 Psychopaths. The Professor takes umbrage to the name, but it is his own words that bring it about. Anyhow through some Kabbalah mumbo jumbo, Joshua has decided that seven nuts would be the perfect squad to kill Hitler in seven days. The reason he needs insane people? Well they won’t know that their task is impossible and as a result, they will succeed.
The rest of the issue is comprised of the two putting together their team. Taking turns like they were playing a game of war, they talk to socially unfit soldiers and criminals and mental patients and get the operation underground.
It’s a decent enough read. There are some striking ideas. Even if it does seem to be a little psych 101. Joshua is a master manipulator, and maybe a precogniscent psychologist. He finds ways to get those he wants to do what he wants. Sort of an anti-Hitler. The characters range from merely slightly off kilter, to full one Hitler speaks to me through telepathy pschizo. Even if the formula feels a little Dirty Dozen-ish, it is a good read. Better even than the similarly themed Thunderbolts that hits the shelf this week.
The only notable problem is the fact that it doesn’t satisfy as a single issue. The premise is compelling and a reader might want to see where it all goes, but it sort of stops in the middle, there is no natural break or conclusion and worse yet no grab to get the reader back next issue. As such, it feels like a slow burn and that can be problematic for a miniseries. For those with patience and an eye not to be manipulated by their monthly comics, it may be a nice change of pace as it is not overly decompressed.
Of course, there is a reason for this. This is a reprint of a 2007 French Graphic Novel. There have been some weird things going on with serialization recently and this is at least the second title that was reverse serialized (Prince of Persia being the other). It’s a shame that a publisher as brave as Boom, the guys who decided to do a full on illustrated adaptation of Phillip K Dick, the guys that snatched up the Pixar properties when no one else would touch them, the guys that would reprint a difficult piece like Seagle’s The Last One, would not just reprint it in its intended form.
Phillips is a fan favorite. He is the artist behind Incognito, Sleeper and Criminal. Besides the top notch writing of Brubaker in all of those series, he has also benefited from the colors of Val Staples, Alex Sinclair and others. It would be easy to blame the colorist for this having a very European look versus that distinctive and preferable style of his more noir offerings of late. However, the more rounded, less stylistic characters may be a result of it being for the European market, remember Devil’s Due’s I am Legion by John Cassaday looked much the same. It might also be a bit of a more reserved approach, because the artist is tackling something less stylistic and more grounded in reality than his other books. Who knows?
That same brilliance is there though. There is one panel in particular that is like a cinematic close up of the Professor’s eye. It somehow conveys all the madness that is behind the manipulations and seemingly rational thought. It is eerie and lingers with the reader for some time.
A fine enough start, I for one will be reading further… question is does one wait for the trade or not?
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