Thousand Faced: 7 Psychopaths

Written by:Fabien Vehlman
Art by: Sean Phillips
Published by: BOOM! Studios
Translated by: Dan Heching

So many of you have likely pondered the inevitable question; why didn’t somebody just kill Hitler’s mangy syphilitic ass and save us all a butt load of trouble? Seriously. It’s not that hard to do. If you wanna slag an asshole that asshole can be slagged. I mean really. Are suicide bombers such a new innovation? No. They are not. So his squidgy existence is a mystery that baffles even those of us who spend an unhealthy amount of time studying World War II and its attendant psychopaths of leadership. History Channel is practically “The Hitler Channel”. If he was a Bigfoot buyer of collectibles he would be all of its programming. Between it and Fox News we’re pretty Nazi-fied up in here but still a’wonderin’ about this question of his survival. This book; 7 Psychopaths is as good a theory described in a very satisfying graphic manner as any I’ve seen. Because I am a German, I have looked.
London, October 31st 1941. The Blitz rages even though the RAF delivered a pretty good beat down of the Luftwaffe the previous summer. The people of Britain are being hammered by night time bombing. Europe has fallen to the German military and England stands alone. As a group psyche Brits are very torn and frayed.

At 64 Baker Street in the Special Operations Executive Headquarters the most lethal of officers tries to plan how to end the war. These are the guys that cooked up the S.A.S. a bit later. They can get some killing done and as easily as cream in your tea with biscuits. Colonel Thompson is one of these killer elite and he’s had a bit of a breakdown but his upper lip got stiffened at the hospital and now he’s back to plan more mayhem. He is plagued with doubts and riddled with fear. Fancy that. Perhaps the UK has no “Namby Pamby land” to march down to for some self-confidence. He asks a higher up in a meeting about trying to assassinate Hitler and gets an old brown shoe jammed up his arse as a means of a talking down. Apparently it has been tried thirty times and with bad results as far as really good field agents being killed in the trying. Any dead Nazis we pretty much can put on the plus side of the equation. Then like a sign from above a bomb hits the HQ. Thompson still a hair’s width from another complete breakdown survives the bombing and takes it as a sign. He has a proposal from a Joshua Goldschmidt to take down Hitler and he’s going to visit him to see what the plan is.

Goldschmidt sitting in the rubble of his mental ward cell greets Thompson by name and that’s kinda creepy but Thompson rolls with it. What is Goldschmidt’s major malfunction? Somehow a Jew has developed a “persecution complex” during The Holocaust. Some people. JG is a genius with a lot of mystical knowledge about The Kabalah and The Bible. He uses that as a base to formulate a plan to deal with the Hitler problem. All you need to do is parachute seven psychopaths into Germany and whack him. There it is, neat and simple. Since logic has not dealt with the issue it makes sense that only the most illogical of agents might have a chance of success. Riiiiight.

Soon the search is on for six other suitable head cases as Goldschmidt is Psycho #1 and self-appointed operations leader in the field. They get a guy with a “psychic” bond with Hitler who has a gift of prophecy. Next they acquire a female sniper who is literally afraid of everything but willing to put down the leader of Germany if that means the threat of the war will end and ensure the safety of her son. Yeah, she has post-partum real bad. Next up a mimic who can slip into anybody’s identity as easily as an old loafer. He does tend to lose himself in the mimicry and let go of his own identity in order to please others. They get a suicidal soldier who if he doesn’t put himself down will happily slaughter everybody around him. Good skills. No off switch. There is a code breaker genius claiming he’s only in an institution because he’s studying their methodology of treatment. Riiiight. Last up for this merry team is a horribly deformed monster with a burned off face because every band needs a “cute one” and this guy fully qualifies. They talk him into directing his lethal rage against the Nazis as a means of revenge. Since he has no lips they assume his cessation of violence is an agreement. In just about all World War II movies the set up would now result in a harrowing mission that makes heroes out of a band of lovable misfits. Oh wait…this isn’t the 60’s anymore is it?  Lovable psychos just ain’t in fashionism anymore. read the label shoppers. 7 Psychopaths waiting to not serve you. They are nuckin’ futz.

You see Virginia there is no sanity clause and so this great plan goes all wrong while still in the air over Germany. Hilarity ensues. Well….if you’re bent like me and watching crazies try to function together is how you get your jollies. Back in England, Colonel Thompson does face palm for hours and the doubts which niggled him before are like piranhas on a tenderloin. One of the “heroes” starts killing the others, people get dropped at random and the plane explodes. See…hilarity.

The story is chock full of dark twists and turns just like what happens in war anyway and makes you wonder how much of what we know as history is a compendium of screw ups by not right-minded individuals spreading random destruction. All the characters are way laid by their own quirks and aberrations. Some of these situations I have seen in actual life by actual mentally ill or drug warped people. The female sniper’ s fear of everything skates over the edge of neuroses into debilitating psychoses. The code breaker’s clear implacable logic only serves to make his sort of lunacy that much more credible and he takes you into his delusions easy as pie. It is not fun, this gathering of over-the-top mental cases enlisted in serving a bigger cause. It is certainly plausible. It goes on a Philip K. Dick irreality path. Sean Phillips’ artwork is sparse and smooth in the same way Mike Mignola’s is. It has that compelling quality that makes you feel it’s like History Channel gone down the rabbit hole. This might not be how it went down but it sure goes a long way into making the World war II insanity a tad more understandable. I don’t think that romp was limited to 7 psychopaths.

by  Bill Hilburn

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