Review - 7 Psychopaths #1

Whenever you're aiming to do any type of story involving Hitler there's really only one you can do: a tale where his death is the main plot point. I highly doubt that Inglorious Basterds would have been nearly endearing in that Quentin Tarantino way had Tarantino not made this the central plot point of the movie. One of BOOM! Studios' latest comics to be released also focuses on this plot point in an albeit different way.

7 Psychopaths, written by Fabien Vehlmann and illustrated by Sean Phillips (colors by Hubert and lettering by Troy Peteri), is that comic. The story is set in 1941 with the Allies desperately seeking an end to the war. The most logical end is assassinating Hitler himself, but a certain hotshot Major General Hemington feels that 30 previous attempts are evidence enough that that plan won't work. This sends Colonel Thompson on a "fact finding" mission to put together a team to kill Hitler. A team of...wait for it...7 psychopaths. Minor spoilers ahead (mainly, the identity of the psychopaths).

The first issue introduces the reader to Colonel Thompson, a man that has a seemingly troubled past. We're not really told what's happened to him but you get the sense that he's pretty depressed and would be just as happy to have a stray bullet hit him in the battlefield. For whatever reason he has this sense of debt that must be paid, as he feels he's not doing nearly enough to help his country win the war that has embroiled the world. In an effort to solidify his assassination suggestion, Thompson tracks down the originator of the idea, a Joshua Goldschmidt, Professor of Religious History at Cambridge.

Goldschmidt happens to be Jewish and has been committed for such, which would give him plenty of motive to want Hitler dead. Thompson pays him a visit and is enlightened by the logic behind Goldschmidt's idea: put together a group of seven psychopaths to kill Hitler. The logic here is that if the idea of killing Hitler is impossible, then getting seven psychopaths to do it will sort of trump that impossibility. Basically, one psychopath has a tendency to think anything's possible, so teaming up seven people that are psychopaths is extra insurance.

By the end of the first issue we're introduced to the first members of the team. I figured they would get to all seven because the pair of Thompson and Goldschmidt were moving at a one person a day clip. Instead, we only got five (including Goldschmidt): Erik Starken, a man with a direct mental link to Hitler, Susan, a sharpshooter suffering from nervous breakdowns, Willy Wright, a compulsive liar and thief, and Captain Stewart, a schizophrenic murderer. Goldschimdt and Thompson are both contributing to the team, which is scary in a sense in that it seems everyone knows at least one psychopath.

So there you have it. When I first heard about this work my first thoughts were that basically there would be seven different incarnations of murdered on the team. I like that the writers have worked in different neuroses and mental conditions, as it adds to the instability of the team at hand. You could argue that Hitler himself was a psychopath (and I doubt you'll get many counter-arguments) so it wouldn't surprise me if he was tapped to be the seventh "psychopath" in some strange plot twist fashion. Needless to say though I like the concept of the book, and am at least curious enough to see what's afflicting two remaining psychopaths.

The book hit stores last week and interiors are below.