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Seven Soldiers of Victory, Book 1 Hardcover – June 22, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Morrison's 2005 project, whose first half is collected here, is an astonishingly clever feat of superhero writing: eight simultaneous, interconnected serials (each drawn by a different artist) about a "team" that has to save the world despite the fact that its members' frames of reference are so disparate that they're unaware of each other's existence. It's a rich piece of work, full of bizarre conceits like pirates riding secret subway lines under New York City. After an ingenious fake-out in the opening chapter (a multi-stylistic tour de force drawn by J. H. Williams III), the "soldiers" are shown as recast versions of long-languishing comics characters, and each of their stories gets its own distinct tone. Simone Bianchi draws the Shining Knight (an Arthurian fish out of water in the big city) with high-fantasy invention surrounding photorealistic figures; the "Klarion the Witch Boy" sequence concerns a dissident in a subterranean Puritan village, drawn by Frazer Irving as creeping, blue-lit horror; the Manhattan Guardian stories tweak the character's Golden Age association with a "Newsboy Legion" to make him a newspaper's in-house superhero, drawn by Cameron Stewart as lightly satirical action-adventure; and Ryan Sook navigates the occult visions and fourth-wall breaking of the Zatanna chapters with admirable clarity.
Sending DC’s front line on cosmic adventures (Final Crisis) or using his own subversive narratives to push at the medium’s outer edges (Invisibles), Morrison is comicdom’s resident wild-idea man and metastoryteller. Here he redefines some of DC’s more obscure properties in a mad frenzy of concepts and twists, leading off with this hook: What if there was a team of superheroes who never met each other? Included are stories of four of the eventual seven members—the magician Zatanna is a highlight—all of whose adventures stand alone but also subtly interweave. The art is uniformly impressive, the standout being Frazer Irving’s Klarion the Witch Boy, pulsing with ominous supernatural life. Unfortunately, collecting the comics in publishing order doesn’t even provide the complete adventures of the four featured characters, let alone two of the best (a sword-wielding Frankenstein and the down-to-earth Bulleteer), who aren’t included at all. This is a grand presentation that feels disappointingly incomplete, but if you’re prepared to commit to future volumes, you’ll get one epic superhero wallop that’s worth the wait. --Jesse Karp
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Seven Soldiers of Victory is actually seven separate storylines with seven four-issue miniseries. The group consists of Shining Knight, The Guardian, Zatanna, Klarion the Witch Boy, Mister Miracle, Bulleteer and Frankenstein but this is not a team comic. The characters have little to no interaction with each other and the elements that bind these seven stories include a common enemy and some other artifacts. One of the big complaints about Morrison is that his stories are so bloody hard to understand and I think this is often because his stories often feel not fully formed but in this one Morrison manages to juggle seven balls at once and keep them in the air. There are bewildering moments but overall the story is understandable if you pay close attention and that is not always the case with Morrison. A second read through increased my appreciation and a third read through might be in order. As an example of a Morrison story I DIDN’T like I could point to Final Crisis which I read three times and never found it anything but a mess.
In book one we get only get the stories of the Shining Knight, Guardian, Zatanna and Klarion. It was Morrison’s intention to use these comics as possible springboards for possible series but as far as I know none of this ever happened which is a shame because they were very intriguing and had a lot of potential. This was the series that introduced me to a bunch of amazing artists including Cameron Stewart, Frazier Irving and Simone Bianchi.
I’ve said in past reviews that All-Star Superman is my all-time favorite Morrison story but having reread Seven Soldiers I may have changed my mind. Morrison is always trying to write some l kind of transcendent multi-dimensional storyline and when he fails it can be a flaming wreck but on those times when he succeeds in can be breathtaking. Stories like All-Star Superman, Seven Soldiers and Flex Mentallo hold special places in my collection. Then there are some other books like Morrison’s work on JLA that hold an *ahem* less prestigious position. I can understand why some people don’t like Seven Soldiers and unlike some Morrison superfans I don’t blame the reader. Seven Soldiers really resonated with me and it’s probably one of those stories you’ll either really love or really hate. My suggestion is if you’ve read it and hate it give it one more read through and see if it doesn’t improve. Otherwise it’s just not for you and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Sheeda, a terrifying royal court of villains, are stirring after centuries or relative inaction. This group begins to operate in the shadows, preparing for the full scale destruction of earth. The Justice League fail to take notice, leaving the first responders of various Sheeda incidents to fight back on their own. Thus, the Seven Soldiers of Victory, a completely uncoordinated group of small scale heroes, is born without any of the heroes being aware.
Each four issue arc focuses in a different minor hero. Sir Justin is an Arthurian knight flung into the future. Zatanna Zatara is a stage and real-life magician taking on a new apprentice. Jake Jordan is an ex-cop who takes over as a superhero/reporter for the Manhattan Guardian newspaper. Klarion is a would be escapee of a lost Puritanical colony. Each of these miniseries has a different artist, narrative style, and character personalities, so that you have to wonder how one man can write so much so well.
The seven soldiers battle continues in part 2. See you there!
The Seven Soldiers of Victory 30-issue epic by Grant Morrison is an ambitious reimagining of 7 third tier characters by introducing new concepts and settings into their back-stories. These are basically new characters as re-imagined by Morrison. The rejuvenated mythology was intended to provide fuel for new ongoing series.
Whether these lofty targets were achieved, I cannot say because I have only read the first part of the saga. Such, my thoughts on the entire story is reserved until I can get my paws on the second volume.
The entire 30 issues of Seven Soldiers are collected in two deluxe hard covers. It presents the seven miniseries and the two bookends in the order of release. This is the best way to enjoy the story. Although the Seven never meet, but they face a common foe and their stories intertwine.
The first volume contains the first bookend, the complete four issues of The Shining Knight, The Manhattan Guardian and Zatanna. The first three issues of Klarion, the Witch Boy round out the collection. This also includes concept art by both J. H. Williams, the artist on the bookend and Morrison on the characters. Morrison's initia; designs are almost the final look for all these characters.
Seven Soldiers features strong writing from Morrison. New concepts and milieus like post-Arthur Camelot and Knights of the Broken Table;, an underground Puritan colony; and the subterranean societies that surround it like the Pirate Kings of the hidden subway are introduced in the first volume and there are probably more in the next.
The artistic line up too is a veritable dream team. J. H. Williams, Ryan Sook, Simone Bianchi, Cameron Stewart and Frazier Irving could headline their own books now, and these Seven Soldiers issues are what started their rise as comic book stars.
I really enjoyed this volume and two of the miniseries stand out for me. The Shining Knight and Klarion, The Witch Boy is two of the titles that I would have been interested to follow should they get their own ongoing series. Morrison's new takes on Arthurian legend and the Croatoan mystery, is refreshing. The art complements Morrison's strong storytelling, Bianchi and Irving are indeed rising stars in the comics business. These two would prosper if they have monthly books to showcase their art on a regular basis.
I cannot recommend this book enough and I suggest getting the second volume to fully enjoy this wonderful story.