SNAKE WOMAN: CURSE OF THE 68 1-2
Written by Zeb Wells and Drawn by Virgin Studios
Published by Virgin Comics
The Snake Woman is a vengeful deity who was created in the 18th century when 68 British soldiers desecrated and looted an ancient Indian temple. Back then she was a cobra who guarded a shiny emerald with her cobra husband, but when the soldiers stole the jewel, shot her hubby and set her temple on fire, she made a dying vow to be reincarnated over and over until she kills the 68 souls (who will also be reincarnated as long as she is) that committed those crimes.
At the conclusion of the summary page detailing the above history it states the following stories are those of the 68 souls being hunted. One must wonder if this is the case, then why have the premier title be ‘SNAKE WOMAN’ and the secondary title be ‘CURSE OF THE 68,’ rather than vise versa. Regardless, here’s a story idea that has a million different settings that can (and probably will) be used, as demonstrated in the first two issues.
Issue #1 takes place in the Old West, and Pradip Ingale’s art was perfect for that time period. The grittiness of his lines and his shading really captured the feel of the Wild West. The story seems pretty straightforward: two cowboy scoundrels are on the run from someone they don’t know. When Snake Woman (who’s tall, blond, definitely foxy but not overdone) finally catches up with them, there’s a bit of a twist. The two souls she claims are not who you think they are, and though it left me grateful for a surprise, I was a bit disturbed as well. I’m trying not to give up too many spoilers, but one of the men she kills seems to be a very decent man. He must die, however, because his soul is one of the 68. But neither of the men killed had any idea of the crimes committed by their souls decades ago. All they have are dreams of being bitten by a snake. Quite frankly it just makes Snake Woman look like a mindless killing machine, counting down how many she has left to kill as she scalps her latest victims and takes off on her pretty pony.
Issue #2 takes place in Russia during the fall of the Romanov family. Manu P.K.’s art was decent, but he needs to work on consistency in the faces of his characters, and the letterers should follow the precedent of having Snake Woman’s dialogue in green set in the previous book. In this comic we see the birth of the Snake Woman into a new body and a new hunt. Her kills this time are established murderers whom are aware of their nemesis the Snake God and seem to most certainly deserve their fate. Perhaps it was because of their awareness, or because Snake Woman was born from a wronged young woman, thirsty for justice, but I found myself liking this particular Snake Woman more so than the last.
This may be the aim of the author, to keep the reader unsure of what team to support, be it Snake Woman or the Cursed 68. Or maybe the idea is to show how each reincarnation can be completely unique, for both man and deity. Either way, I found it a bit exhausting. The end of the second issue possibly hinted at continuing the story of that Snake Woman, which would be cool, but if each issue is going to follow a different Snake Woman and 68 men in a different time period, then it’s just too much. How are readers supposed to get invested in these characters where there is almost no consistency in them from issue to issue? I can understand characters evolving and changing over time, and if Wells continues in a forward motion chronologically, then this might work. However, if we’re constantly going to jump around in history and watch a pissed off and/or Terminator-like Snake Woman kill both bastards and seemingly good men, then it’s pretty difficult to care what happens to who in the subsequent issues.