Many stories have imagined what would happen if the Second Coming went unnoticed, but hell, what if it was a sellout? What if the candidates for God’s new humanly host got their own campaign trails and action figures? The creative team of writers Robert Windom and Kelvin Mao, artist Jae Lee, colorist June Chung, and letterer Simon Bowland present such a world in Seven Sons #1. Maybe making such a spectacle out of the Second Coming is a bit crass and commercial. But you’d still better buy your tickets months in advance if you don’t want any chance of missing out.
Windom and Mao begin the story by establishing the world’s cultish devotion to a prophesied second coming. Their object of devotion is The Book of Seven Sons, a collection of religious prophecies that foretold the birth of seven identical sons born from seven virgin mothers, one on each continent. Initial reaction to the book had been muted, until the miraculous births actually happened. Now, thirty-one years since its publication, the planet has been gripped with religious ecstasy. Especially since the day has come for the true son of God to be chosen from the seven. …Though that choice may have been made a bit easier than first thought.
Establishing a world run on very specific religious prophecy means devoting time to setup. So this issue spends time bouncing between a ground-level view of religious mobs and an in-universe interview with the author of The Book of Seven Sons. The former shows the setting’s religious mania firsthand, while the latter gives essential details to the laws that govern it. Admittedly, some of the exposition can feel a bit unnatural (Jimmy Carter is introduced with “Thanks to former Two-Term president Jimmy Carter”), but by and large, the book does a good job of establishing a seedy world where the second coming is saddled with the suits, smiles, and empty promises of politics. A no vacancy sign hung on a soup kitchen across the street from a 50% off “Jesus is Reborn” sale.
With such a strong focus on mob mentality and the status quo of a global empire, not much time is spent learning about specific characters. The closest thing to a point-of-view character is a man with amnesia. He’s swept from place to place, buffeted with shouts and handfuls of cheap merchandise until he literally collapses. This is a cold, inhuman world reflected through the storytelling. However, the last few pages of the issue hint at a stronger focus on some of the Seven Sons themselves moving forward. Whether they’ll continue to reflect the world’s cold, impassive attitude or reveal their more petty, human sides has yet to be seen.
After a long absence, Lee is back to independent comics and immediately returns to stories of second comings and religious fervor. But while Hellshock took a psychological angle, focusing on dingy asylums and small changes in expression, Seven Sons takes a grander approach to its subject matter. The first page announces itself by showing a cross between a church and a casino. Lee’s approach is defined by gaudy commercial excess and cold, piercing eyes. He experiments with layouts, but keeps them harsh and geometric, all straight lines and angles with thickly defined gutters. Chung’s colors are washed out and dominated by cool blues, the brightest colors coming from either advertisements or bursts of violence. Bowland’s lettering is understated as well, his sound effects opting for thin, sloping balloon letters that quietly announce the “Krash” of a door being kicked down.
Lee’s Hellshock was about a guy with a cross painted over his face. This time, the cross covers the entire planet. It’s hard to know where the book is headed at this early stage, but the world it presents is at least one worth checking out. SEVEN SONS #1 is out now from Image Comics.