Se7en #1: Gluttony (2006)
By: Trist Jones on October 5, 2006  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Cover Art
Publisher: Zenoscope Entertainment
Writers: Raven Gregory
Art: Tommy Castillo
I'm not a huge fan of the film Se7en. I don't mind it, but it's not something I'm too likely to go "Hey, I want to watch Se7en again!" and skip on down to the video store to get. Yeah, it's well made, very atmospheric and the performances turned in by pretty much all the cast members are good, it's just one of those films that for me, once or twice is really enough. But I do love my comic books however, and am always interested in seeing what comic book creators can do with cinematic licenses, particularly if they're ones you know can lend themselves to some interesting creative license on behalf of the writer or artist, or are ideas that would simply make awesome comics. Needless to say, when I read in Previews a few months back that new comer indie comic book publisher Zenoscope Entertainment would be releasing the first in a series of comics based on Se7en, my curiosity piqued.

Fast forward a couple of months, and when the book hit the shelves I made sure it was in my bloodthirsty hands as soon as possible. Having stood well clear of any and all spoiler material that was floating around the internet leading up to the release, I really wasn't sure what to expect of the book. It had a cover that was very much in the IDW vein (great art too, perfectly capturing the visual feel of the film's inspiring opening credits), and upon the customary flip through, saw that the interior art was largely painted and included some pages similar to the cover (cross-media digital works). So far, so good. What followed was something that took me pretty much off guard, going against all my expectations of this comic.

Gluttony is told from a dual point perspective. The majority is told through the interior monologues of the film's killer Jonathon Doe (get it, John Doe… of course you did, I'm sorry…) relaying and expanding upon his reasoning and motivations evident in the film. It reads much like the confessions of a serial killer. You get an extremely insightful look into the way this man works, without being repulsed or growing at all attached to the character. You feel somewhat cold to him because of what he is, but you want to stay with it because there's an innate and perverse interest in wanting to know why he is that way. Relative newcomer Raven Gregory (writer and creator of Image Comic's The Gift) manages to capture Kevin Spacey's performance and character perfectly in his words and you can hear John Doe so perfectly as you read it. The dialogue of the Doe character also contrasts rather well with the much more tragic and nameless victim.

What this comic does is show us the events leading up to the murders, through the eyes of both the killer and the victim, and in the case of Gluttony, the circumstances couldn't be more tragic. The victim hates himself. To say he's had it hard in life is an understatement, and because of this, his depression and level of self worth causes him to eat in excess, wanting to fill the emptiness in his life. The guy genuinely hates the way he is and wants to do something about it and is actually on the verge of turning over a new leaf when Doe gets to him. Just as Doe's interior dialogue suited him perfectly, the inner thoughts of the victim juxtapose Doe, providing the perfect counterbalance to the book and giving readers some emotional anchor – even though we know perfectly well where things are going. Where Doe is educated, well spoken and extremely cold, the victim is very much the opposite. His dialogue is fairly colloquial and quite easy to read and makes him very easy to empathise with, and though it isn't as intelligent as the writing in Doe's interiors from a character perspective, it does highlight that Gregory is a versatile writer, able to identify with particular and differing characters with ease and present them in very distinct ways, which makes me look forward to the character portrayals of other victims in the following issues (assuming Gregory is the writer behind the subsequent issues).

Tommy Castillo's art is what took me most by surprise. It took me a little while to warm to it, as it's not as realistic as I was expecting and slightly lessens that sense of grit that Fincher gave to the film (and is a notable style inherent in most of his other features). There's a slightly cartoonish element to the book which, while it works, kind of makes me feel as though a more realistic approach would have been more affecting to the reader. Se7en was a pretty heavy film, and the murders themselves probably more so, so it's a little detracting when you giggle a little at one of the more brutal moments in the book simply because it looks kinda funny. Still, his chosen angles for the panels suit the book perfectly and manage to retain a fairly cinematic feel to them, while also remaining distinctly artistic in their own right. The use of lighting and shading is also particularly notable, and manages to translate that sense of mystery over who John Doe was in the film to the pages of this book really well. The colours by Mark McNabb are also great, giving the whole book a painted feel as well as that washed out, desaturated tone that was so prominent in the film (and once again, throughout most of Fincher's films).

As I said at the beginning, I'm not a big fan of the film, and was somewhat ho-hum about the book (but interested nonetheless), but having read it, and being pleasantly surprised, I'm sure that fans of the film will love this comic, and the $3.99 U.S. pricetag (about $7 AU) isn't going to put that much of a dent in your wallet. Those new or indifferent to the film may want to have a flip though before deciding.
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