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Guy Ritchie's Gamekeeper #1
posted April 3, 2007
Andy Diggle, Mukesh Singh
Virgin Comics, comic book, 32 pages, March 2007, $2.99
This is one of the series in Virgin's "Director's Cut" line, where the new comics company pairs a film director (in this case, Guy Ritchie) with an established pro comics writer (Andy Diggle) and one of their growing stable of artists (Mukesh Singh). I have no idea the degree of Ritchie's involvement, and I'm not sure it really matters. It's not like mainstream comics have emphasized single-creator visions over the years, and whether or not the third voice is from a Marvel editor or a film director, it's the final result that counts.
Unfortunately, I found this comic really dull. Ritchie's more successful movies have displayed a narrative liveliness and acerbic attitude towards character and dialog that doesn't seem present here. This is more like one of those strange adventure films they play at 2 PM on the USA Network, less Jason Statham than, well, late-period Steven Seagal. A Chechen man named Brock serves as a gamekeeper on an estate that houses troubled young people that seek it out; the latest person brought onto the premises brings with him armed intruders from someone's past, and after a commando-style raid the gamekeeper begins to fight back. That's pretty grim, straight-forward, 1970s adventure magazine material, although as we're only a few plot points there may be layers upon layers of narrative and shifts in theme yet to enter into the piece. Nothing really indicates this to be a likelihood, though, as some of the exchanges in dialog and the way scenes are staged seems just as ordinary as the story thus far. There's one bit of dialog between the estate owner and his wife that reads like an assignment in plot reveals more than it does like anything anyone would say to one another.
Mukesh Singh's art is fun and appropriately pulpy. Singh's colors are probably the biggest star here: a use of heavy, single color to dominate scenes that's effective in individual moments and kind of tiring over the range of the whole comic book. It's one of those things where it's the use in future issues -- or the technique being dropped -- that will have the most to say about its impact. There are a lot more important points the comic has got to start hitting and soon.