Twenty-Seven #2 - Two Plus Seven Equals Nine... And So Much More in Charles Soule's Newest Limited Series

 

Review by Paul Smith

It's hard to be a rock star.  Screaming fans.  Adoring women.  Roadies separating your M&M's by color.

Oh, and there's that whole dead by 27 thing.

The myth of the 27 Club, that list of fiendishly talented rock and blues musicians that all died at the age of 27, isn't new.  As a fan of Jim Morrison, as well as the other points of the rock and roll holy trinity, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, I've known about the Club for many years.  Writer Charles Soule and artist Renzo Podesta take that familar yet somehow underexplored concept and put some supernatural (or possibly science-fiction) wings on it with their new four-issue miniseries from Image Comics, 27.  It's an idea so brilliantly obvious that I HATE them for thinking of it before I did.

Will Garland, bonafide guitar hero, had the world at his feet.  Until he was stricken with a rare nerve condition that rendered his fret hand useless.  After spending months (and fortunes) seeking a cure, on his 27th birthday he finds the proverbial mad scientist who claims he can perform the miracle of giving Will his music back.  Alien-looking devices, animal sacrifices, and a glimpse "behind the curtain" of reality later and Will HAS his mojo again. Sort of.  And it comes with a price.  Now all he wants is to leave the Club, to live to see his 28th birthday.

And that pretty much covers the first issue.  Now in issue two we start to learn just a little bit more about what's really going on, and why so many amazing artists are taken from the world at 27.

"In my studies, I inadvertently made contact with an... intelligence.  This being is extremely fond of the number nine.  It might actually BE the number nine."

Two concepts I wasn't originally expecting when I first heard about this series, but am very excited about now: the focus on numerology; and the exploration of creativity as a force, not just in terms of music, but in all art forms.  This entity, Nine, seems to be attracted to the act of creation, though what it gets from it remains to be seen.  And there's another entity, a darker one, that may or may not have its own agenda.  Soule gives a unique voice to each character, including these otherworldly creatures.  But the voice from this issue that I particularly loved would have to be the cranky math professor.  I've known that man and was a little disturbed to see him talking to me from these pages.

Podesta's art is fittingly tenebrous and dreamlike.  It actually reminds me a bit of the better Vertigo artists, particularly Peter Gross.  And that's a very, very good thing.  I'm unfamiliar with any of his previous works, but I will definitely be following him in the future.

Finally I need to mention cover artist W. Scott Forbes.  The first issue had a very iconic, almost band poster-esque look to it.  It definitely suggested the young, vibrant, "golden god" kind of rockstar, like 27 Club members Kurt Cobain or Brian Jones.  The cover for this second issue however has a more somber tone, featuring Will looking rather like legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, draped in the affections of a couple of comely ghosts.  Looking forward to seeing the next two covers.  I have the feeling Forbes' choice of inspiration for each issue may have some deeper significance.

And speaking of deeper significance, there is apparently a puzzle built into the book.  There are little clues relating to music and the number nine hidden across all four issues.  I'm told that finding all of the clues will give the reader a set of instructions to follow.  Don't know what the prize or payoff at the end is, but it's a fun little Easter Egg to include and gives readers one more reason to study every word and pore over every image.

RATING:  3.5/5

Twenty-Seven #2 by Charles Soule, Renzo Podesta and W. Scott Forbes, hits comic shop shelves on January 5th, 2011.

Category:comics -- posted at: 8:04pm CST



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