Overview

Seven Soldiers: Guardian #1

Review

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Seven Soldiers: Guardian #1

Credits

  • Words: Grant Morrison
  • Art: Cameron Stewart
  • Inks: Cameron Stewart
  • Colors: Moose Bauman
  • Story Title: Pirates of Manhattan
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Mar 23, 2005

The Manhattan Guardian newspaper creates its own personal superhero as Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers epic continues.

Ex-cop Jake Jordan is a man haunted by his past and struggling to maintain a relationship with his girlfriend, Carla. Her parents believe the key to saving Jake from his depression is a new focus for his life, a new sense of purpose. Responding to a want ad, Jake is recruited to become the superheroic Guardian, public face of the Manhattan Guardian newspaper. This thrusts him into a world of subway pirates, super-geniuses, and golem bodyguards—a world he’s not certain he belongs in.

Guardian is the latest chapter of Grant Morrison’s ambitious interconnected series of miniseries, Seven Soldiers. As with any project involving Mr. Morrison, this book is teeming with ideas and packed with crazy off-the-wall concepts that beg to be explored. From the archaic subterranean world of the subway pirates to the surreal past of the Guardian’s employer, this story seems endlessly inventive and at times, quite knowingly silly. I have to admire a comic that can pull off a line about "a team of elementals I created to help me fight crime when I was ten years old."

In the past, I’ve sometimes felt that Morrison’s trademark weirdness can overwhelm a comic and slightly muddy the clarity of the storytelling. His unbridled imagination is always a wonder to behold but it can sometimes leave the readers scratching their heads over what precisely is going on. This has not been an issue with Seven Soldiers thus far. The juxtaposition of the mundane and the ridiculous aspects of Jake’s new life make this a very enjoyable read and quite commendably establish the character. Tying the Guardian in with a newspaper is an interesting contemporary spin and the story cleverly updates the Newsboy Legion (kid sidekicks of the original Guardian). Morrison also works in a little wry satire of tabloid journalism and the sensationalism of today’s media. What could be more audacious than a paper that doesn’t just report crime but actively fights it as well?

The artwork by Cameron Stewart is as equally enjoyable as Morrison’s story. Stewart’s smooth and graceful style has long been a favorite of mine. His work on Guardian is not as noticeably cartoony as on other series but it retains his wonderful sense of caricature and elegant shapes. Stewart matches the inventiveness of Morrison’s script in the illustrations of the subway pirates, incorporating bric-a-brac like cell phone belts and lightbulb earrings. The design of the Guardian is one of the more convincing superhero costumes around as it bears more than a passing resemblance to police riot gear. Moose Bauman gives the Guardian an appropriately colorful world but makes sure the murky grays of Jake’s depression are never far away.

If you’re a die-hard Morrison fan waiting for your mind to be blown, be forewarned that beneath the nuttiness, Guardian is a fairly straightforward origin story. But as Seven Soldiers continues and the connections between the series become more apparent, I can only imagine the bizarre worlds we will be treated to.

-Eric Lindberg

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