Readers of The Lost Art

Snake Woman: Pilgrim’s Progress (vol. 2)

March 4th, 2009

Snake Woman vol. 2 

Created by: Shekhar Kapur
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Michael Gaydos

Reviewer: Louise


Snake Woman volume 2, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” continues the tale of Jessica Petersen. In volume 1, “A Snake in the Grass”, Jessica, a twenty-something waitress in Los Angeles, discovered that she is the reincarnation of Janahara, an ancient Indian snake goddess. Over 150 years ago, a party of marauding British soldiers descrated her temple and murdered her followers. Since then, Janahara and the souls of the soldiers in the party – the 68 – have been fated to be reincarnated in each generation. Only if the goddess, through her new human host, can kill all of them in the course of a single lifetime, will the cycle be broken.

Volume 2 deals with the consequences of the bargain Jessica struck with Harker, the head of the 68, who has his own motives for wanting the 68 dead. The story twists and turns; Jess is becoming more comfortable with her snakish side (and the parts where she morphs into a half-human, half reptilian shape can be very gruesome), but at the same time, she learns that no-one can be trusted.

“Snake Woman: A Pilgrim’s Progress” is a gripping read. In many ways it reads like a pleasingly darker and more twisted version of Buffy; the young woman gifted with supernatural strength and abilities, both blessed and cursed by her destiny. (And at this point I shall take a moment to enjoy the feeling of reading a book with a female protagonist who actually resembles a real living woman in personality, figure, and wardrobe. Well, apart from the whole “scales and fangs” thing.)

Unlike Buffy, however, Jessica isn’t killing soulless vampires, but human beings, and the source of her power appears ever more amoral as the series unfolds. This volume contains the Snake Woman origin story, narrated from the point of view of the snake goddess herself, Janahara, who appears to have chillingly little conscience or concern for the women who are her instruments of revenge. Whether Jessica will use or be used by her powers – and whether she can ever stop killing – becomes ever more pressing as the story unfolds and her battle against the 68 and their servants becomes even nastier. Harker is a very effective adversary; both brutal and clever, he’s far from the one-note villains that drag down many otherwise promising series.

The artwork is pretty spare, but appropriate for the story, and the cover art is also pretty good. I finished the book wanting to go find the first volume to fill in the bits I’d missed, and thinking “Hmm, I might well pick up the next one in the series” which is one of the marks of a good book. So, all in all, recommended, but I’d more strongly recommend picking up volume 1 first and starting from the beginning.

• Paperback: 144 pages
• Publisher: Virgin Comics (15 Oct 2007)
• Language English
• ISBN-10: 1934413070

(First published 08/02/2008.)

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