When you have Jerome Opeña on art duties, you learn to be patient. It’s well worth the wait that has seen less than a dozen issues of this outstanding sci-fi fantasy series published over the past two years. And, with a handy recap in each issue, it’s doesn’t take much to play catch up either. After all, each issue often poses some pretty deep questions to the reader. It may be a sci-fi fantasy saga on the surface, but it’s much more than that below, as it asks the reader, what is ‘good’ and what is ‘evil’ and what of those who make tough choices because of their bad positions? This is Philosophy 101 posing as a comic book and I love it.
Once again, the once-clear boundaries between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ continue to blur as Garlis, The Mud King, is held captive by one of his many sons in the sky kingdom of Skod. In presenting a tyrant who’s arguments seem less than the rantings of your usual comic book dictators, Rick Remender has created a figure in The Mud King that will have you question which side you’re on, just as Garlis’s travelling companion, Adam Osidis, does. After all, he chose to save the man who brought down his own father, rather than save the life of one of the Mosak. All on the promise of a cure to his terminal illness. In doing so, has he compromised not only himself, but his family too, in his choices?
Free will and compromise are certainly the theme of the day in this story, and the consequences of these choices are beginning to be played out as different factions come together in this rather busy book. The King of Whispers, for me, and I suspect for other readers too, has become something of an enigma. We have learnt of his tragic background, his own choices that saw him rise to the top, and his own philosophies. In doing so, again like Adam, we are shifted as a reader into considering, even empathising with, this monster. But is he as he seems to be?
Add to this Opeña’s detailed, textured art style that reminds me of Gustave Doré – no stranger to illustrating the philosophical in his depictions of Dante’s Divine Comedy – and you have a truly graphic novel, regardless of its chosen genre, that is a cut above many comics on the shelves today.
For me, this is one of Remender’s best books he’s currently writing (and he’s writing some great books) as it’s a very philosophical book that encourages the reader to consider what the cost of compromise can come to and how one person’s choices can effect the many. The Mud King is not your average comic book crack-pot dictator and it’s to Remender’s credit that we seem to be growing in sympathy for him as he sits there being tortured horrendously by his very own offspring. Talk about being ungrateful.
Adam, Garlis and The surviving members of The Mosak still have a long journey of discovery ahead of them, literally and figuratively, with plenty of more bends in the road and rough ground under foot, too. This ain’t no yellow brick road, and I doubt there’s any great and powerful wizard at the end, either.
Seven To Eternity is certainly a comic book for the thinker in all of us and out now from Image Comics.