The 7 Deadly Sins #1 Is Gritty, Bloody, Beautiful Western From TKO Studios

by Oliver MacNamee

We’ve been previewing the first wave of books from newcomers TKO Studios all week here at Comicon.com, and I must admit that I thought I’d find the western comic, The 7 Deadly Sins the one that tickled my fancy the most, and I was right.

Having always been put off the humble genre of the Western as a kid, I later came to realise its importance and relevance to America and its mythological past as created incorrectly by Hollywood, only when at university. I have been a convert ever since, and it’s refreshing that we now live in a post-modern world wherein this much cherished American created genre is once again being appropriated, but in an attempt to readdress the ills of yesteryear’s silver screen. Whether that be through the recent Westerns of Quentin Tarantino, or the earlier examples of these types of stories as told through the lens of Clint Eastwood (Forgiven) and even earlier than that, with Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. The Western is a great canvas upon which to hang modern day observations and concerns.

With books like The Lone Ranger from Dynamite and now this new book from TKO Studios, it would seem that comics are looking to re-access America’s genocidal, whitewashed past of the Wild West through the lens of more modern, appropriate moral and ethical beliefs and values. And so we have a bunch of outlaws, outcasts and outsiders coming together by accident all under one roof in the debut issue of The 7 Deadly Sins by writer Tze Chun (and TKO’s publisher)and artist Artyom Trakhanov. It just so happens that one roof is the local jail, but there you go. In one swift narrative move, we get all the implied information we need to start understand that, even in a post-Civil War America, if you ain’t white, you ain’t welcome round these here parts. Just as today, so in the past. Prejudice, ignorance and racism are rife and often only seem to be supported by authority.

This is certainly a comic book in the same vein as the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone, all sweaty, lived-in isolated communities where anything can happen and usually does, as well as being the close cousin to Tarantino’s own musings on film in both Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, with some similarity shared by one or two characters in this gripping, gnarly book.

Some of the cast we get to meet are worse than others and, and with absolutely no doubt, deserve to be locked up. But, these tend to be the Caucasian prisoners. Those from minority backgrounds are clearly there on trumped up charges, but in an America built on the backs of slavery and mass murder of an indigenous people, they are more than aware of their lowly place amongst these rednecks and ‘good ol’ boys’. Hell, the presence of a quiet Chinese worker is testament to America’s need for cheap labour, with mass migration allowing the business owners of the past to exploit a workforce cheaper than the recently freed African-American population. Welcome to America, buddy. Now shut up and be happy (to paraphrase the great Jello Biafra on “Message From Our Sponsors“).

The wheels are set in motion for this band of outcasts and reprobates, and the wheels of the narrative have also been set in motion, just as their own prison wagon’s wheels fall off rather spectacularly.

An appropriately gritty comic that is both bloody and beautiful and a great opener for this new upcoming  company. One to watch, and certainly a book to pick up. Especially as the first issue is free now.

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