Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Seven Soldiers: Incredibly Awesome Characters That You've Never Heard Of

Okay, time to come out of my post Christmas hibernation. So, we'll kick things off with the comic that I finished on Christmas Eve:
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I'll be honest, I find it very difficult to get into a lot of the mainstream comics, I read just about nothing that takes place in either the main Marvel or DC universes. The amount of backstory that one must swallow down to get into the character is almost as staggering as the constant crossover events. Deadpool seems to be the exception, I think the reason behind that is that he's just so over the top silly that it allows him to poke fun at all of the ridiculous meth addicted soap opera crap that's going on in the world.
Enough griping about comics in general, we're here to talk about Seven Soldiers. Seven Soldiers is an epic storyline by Grant Morrison about a race called that come to Earth during the height of each civilization, and then wipe out the human race to the point of a few thousand people living in mud huts. It seems to take place in the regular DC universe, but it uses very few existing characters (I believe Zatanna is the only one of the seven that wasn't created for this) and none of the mainstream heroes are ever seen, although a lot of them are referred to. The concept of the Seven Soldiers is that there is a prophecy that the only ones who will bring down the Sheeda are a group of seven warriors, and indeed, seven seems to figure very prominently into the mythos behind them, there are seven ancicent artificats, seven survivors of King Arthur's Knights of the Round, and so on.
The problem is that every time a group of seven warriors gets together, and finds out about the Sheeda, the Sheeda find out about them, and destroy, corrupt or break apart the members. So, the seven that this story deals with all end up working independently, with no knowledge of any of the others, guided by some cosmic hand.
With this in mind, the story rolls out in seven separate four issue miniseries, with two book ends in the form of Seven Soldiers #0 and #1. The stories are structure such that you can simply pick up Zatanna and read issues 1-4 straight, but there's a cross sectional order that I found, where when you read them, you can slowly see the buildup of where the story is going, and what the Sheeda are. I had a lot of fun reading the first few issues, but once the big picture started to form, I was enraptured by it. All of the Seven are incredibly characters, from the humorless revenge seeking Frankenstein, to the Bulleteer, who gained super powers because her husband was a superhero fetishist, and tried to give himself powers, but died in the process, leaving her an out of work metal skinned psychologist.
The only part of the story that I was not completely in love with, were oddly the book ends. The Actual Seven Soldiers issues, while completely necessary to the overall story, are very confusingly laid out, I'm not sure if it's the writing, or just the way that the cells on the page are ordered, but I found I had to read each page a couple of times to really get a sense of what was going on, and even after finishing the last book, I was left with quite a few questions.
So, do you like the bizarre? Want to read a story where a newspaper creates it's own in-house superhero who fights subway riding pirates under New York? This is the book for you!

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