John Woo's Seven Brothers Omnibus, by John Woo et. al. ISBN 9781606902585
Five out of five stars
This graphic novel covers many of the standard plot devices used in many different venues. For reasons that I do not understand, there are the usual seven members in the band of heroes that are brothers in arms. They are brought together under mysterious circumstances and each has a power largely unknown to him. It is a consequence of their being a descendent of a Chinese sorcerer’s apprentice from the fifteenth century.
There is an ancient evil Chinese magician whose spirit has been dormant for centuries and has now been brought back to life. Like all good super villains, his goal is to take over the world and to do that he needs to place a set of stones in precise locations around the world. Once all are placed, a set of occult dragon lines will activate, channeling great power to the recently incarnated wizard. It is the task of the seven male heroes to use their power to stop him.
One of the best features of the first story is the reference to the Chinese exploration of the early fifteenth century. Under the command of Zheng He, the Chinese emperor sent vast fleets of ships all over the world in 1405 to 1433. Every continent was visited and they drew very accurate maps of the places they explored. Their goal was not that of conquest, but of exploration and the seeking of new things. When these fleets returned, the monarchy was under economic stress so the fleets were destroyed along with nearly all records of its existence. Thus ending one of the greatest “might-have-beens” in history.
A simple fact demonstrates how advanced the Chinese were at this time in the area of naval power. The larger ships were 120 meters (394 feet) in length with four levels of decks. By contrast, the ships that took Christopher Columbus to America maxed out at 26 meters (85 feet) in length. The sorcerer’s apprentice was on one of those ships and at various ports of call he seduced and impregnated a woman left behind. This explains the different ethnic backgrounds of the seven members of the band of heroes.
The action is fast and furious and the background is of the principles being trained by oriental masters of focus and control. There is also a great deal of magic on both sides of the battle, including an actual dragon in the human form of a tiny and insignificant, yet mouthy street punk. Along with the oriental hand-to-hand fighting, there is also a lot of shooting. People are also brought back from the dead and what life is like after death is very similar to what the Greeks envisioned in the meeting between Odysseus and Achilles in the Odyssey.
A story that just cries out to be made into a movie with superb special effects starring the late Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, this is a great graphic novel that is very hard to put down.