Overview

Seven Soldiers #1

Review

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Seven Soldiers #1

Credits

  • Words: Grant Morrison
  • Art: J.H. Williams III
  • Inks: J.H. Williams III
  • Colors: J.H. Williams III and Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: The Miser?s Coat
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Oct 25, 2006

The conclusion to Grant Morrison’s mind-bending superhero epic is finally here. But is it everything fans have waited for?

The hour has come! The Harrowing of Earth has begun! Queen Gloriana Tenebrae and the dark faerie-like Sheeda have launched an all-out attack upon the human race, ready to ravage and devour our civilization. Standing in their way are seven heroes who each have a part to play in the battle…and yet they have never met. Humanity’s hope lies with an odd mishmash of champions: The Shining Knight, The Guardian, Zatanna, Klarion the Witch Boy, Mr. Miracle, The Bulleteer, and Frankenstein. In a tale spanning from the dawn of man to the end of time, these heroes answer the call of destiny.

From the start, Seven Soldiers was one of the most impressive and staggeringly ambitious comics I’ve ever read. Grant Morrison created a sprawling thirty-part epic that re-imagined obscure characters, delved into Celtic mythology, and dabbled in several genres. He intertwined multiple narratives and other groups of seven like the sad, doomed Newsboy Army and the original Seven Soldiers of DC’s Golden Age. He even returned to a favorite meta-textual theme of his by toying with the very nature of fictional reality (Okay, readers, be honest. Who else touched Zatanna’s hand when she tried to reach out of the panel in her miniseries?). Though in the past I had been ambivalent about Morrison’s writing, I had to admit that this was some of his best work to date.

But then came the heartbreaking news—a wait of half a year for the final issue. Such a gap between chapters was sure to kill any sense of momentum that the story had built and the characters’ cameos throughout the DCU would undermine the promise that "a Soldier will die." Still, here we are months later and the saga at last reaches its conclusion. Was it worth the wait?

To this, I can only answer "Yes and no." The story presented here once again shows all the ambition, metaphor, and high concept ideas that Morrison has built his career on. Fans of the series will find it gratifying to see plot threads at last come together, characters’ lives intersect, and prophecies come to fruition. Morrison shows a great deal of innovation in the structure of this issue, blending the story with flashbacks, text pieces, and newspaper pages (the crossword puzzle alone will have fans scrambling to decipher the meaning). Throughout, there is the heady theme that mythology can be ordinary and the mundane can be as potent as myth.

However, there are still the inescapable facts that the issue is months late and this is Grant Morrison we’re talking about. To put it plainly, this is a challenging read. The story jumps to and fro, with characters and plots long forgotten flitting through the pages in a fever dream fashion. Twenty nine previous chapters and about six months lie behind this issue and readers are thrown into the thick of it, left to piece it all together as best they can. Even coming off a massive reread of the series as preparation, I still found a few elements disorienting. A fan who hasn’t looked at the earlier issues since their publication may fare even worse.

However, he or she will no doubt be dazzled by the incredible artwork of J.H. Williams III. I was constantly flipping back to the credits page to double-check that there was indeed only one illustrator on this issue. The phrase "visual chameleon" does not even begin to describe Williams’ work here. On his own, he encapsulates the style of each character’s individual miniseries. He delivers a thick blocky Jack Kirby homage, elegantly painted fantasy art, and realistic black and white newspaper photos. With an assist on colors from Dave Stewart, Williams provides a smorgasbord for the eyes.

Had this issue been released shortly after the individual characters’ miniseries-within-a-miniseries, it would have been a fantastic conclusion to the Seven Soldiers saga. As it stands, the long wait and the dense, challenging style may leave as many fans scratching their heads as cheering the resolution. Nonetheless, I would like to thank Mr. Morrison for one of the wildest rides I’ve yet had as a fan of this medium.

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