Okay, straight talk; it's all pulp, isn't it? Coining the term from the cheap wood-pulp newsprint paper of the early sensational magazines and tabloid papers of the time, the concept of pulp begins with heroic mythology and oral traditions, barrels forward through classic adventure traditions (in airships and spacecraft and seagoing vessels), to other worlds or within the center of the earth, and on to grim stories of hard times on mean streets in tough neighborhoods. There's plenty of pulp, and that is plenty glorious.
My enduring love for pulp may well have begun with the swashbuckling stories of the Three Musketeers, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Black Arrow, so discovering SEVEN SWORDS from @AfterShockComix was thrill! An aging D’Artagnan, in a France where the Musketeers have been betrayed and outlawed, must assemble a new team of the great swords masters of the day - so far he's found a ninja nun called Sister Catalina and next issue we expect to meet none other than Cyrano de Bergerac and the legendary Don Juan! And did we see the pirate Captain Blood?!
I don't know Aftershock Comics all the well, and I don't know the creators; they are Evan Daughtery (writer) and Riccardo Latina (art), assisted by Valentina Bianconi (colors) and Dave Sharpe (letters). Daughtery wastes no time introducing D’Artagnan and getting into the action, keeping the pulp level high (consumed by vengeance!) and the drama level angsty (haunted by failure!), while constantly moving things forward (you must put together a team!). Latina’s artwork is smooth and clean, handling the flowing fabric of the costumes and all of the swords and hats and hair and beards (no mean feat, this!) with confidence. His faces are expressive and distinct, the acting and body language are realistic.
We see a couple of quick vignettes teasing future members of the seven and also the opposition, and here the coloring deserves mention, as we shift from a shadowy Paris rooftop done in purple and swirly blue, to a dance hall drenched in golden light and punctuated by a scarlet coat, to a startling last-page splash reveal in the gloomy, fire-lit catacombs beneath Rome!
The book is frankly fantastic, and I loved it. While I am biased by my boyhood fantasies of dashing about with the Musketeers, rapier in hand and camaraderie in my heart, any fan of an engaging and superbly drawn comic yarn will be down for this ride. If you don't come into it with a background in this era of pulp, that's where Daughtery and Latina shine, bringing their excitement for swashbuckling heroics and this epic meeting of adventurers to every page. To the grand pulp tradition of “seven” heroes banding together against a great and villainous enemy, I welcome SEVEN SWORDS!
Plenty of Pulp, by Max Cage, for Wednesday Pull List