SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY
Mostly Spoiler-Free Review
Grant Morrison’s truly epic, innovative masterwork, the Seven Soldiers of Victory maxi-series is truly brilliant. Morrison and all his artists build an incredible web of a story that remain both intertwined and uniquely individual. The story is roughly about an invasion by the Sheeda, a race of evil faeries from the future that feast on the past to survive, and the Seven Soldiers are a team of superheroes that never meet but together they defeat the Sheeda.
Bookended by Seven Soldiers of Victory #0 and #1, SSV is told in 7 different four issue miniseries following each of the seven soldiers that can be read in a few different ways. I think one of the best things about SSV is that it is truly a work that could not exist in any other medium. This is comics at it’s best. And I think it’s awesome that you really could read this series in a number of different orders, or only read the individual minis. And there’s truly no other medium that would allow you to do that. And it is also just mind boggling how interwoven this story is, and how much time and skill went into mapping out this gigantic plot. I think it’s definitely a story that you could read over and over again in a different way each time and have a different experience each time.
But while I am usually someone who scoffs at those who “don’t get Morrison,” I will say that this story is pretty complex in the sense that it is long, and very wide spread. It’s a lot to keep track of. It’s a lot to figure out as you go. And that’s not even really a knock, but I can see how the entire thing can get overwhelming. Especially when dealing with so many of Morrison’s high concepts. I think my personal reading experience was made a little more difficult by reading the whole thing digitally, as opposed to having a physical copy I could flip around through.
It’s also worth noting that we have a very diverse cast for a superhero comic. Three ladies, two black men, and a blue guy and a green guy. Even within the stories we get a lot of really different types of characters. Each of the Soldiers is unique and has a less traditional cast. Zatanna's focus on female friendships, Shining Knight's gender fluidity, a lot of POC in Guardian, makes the book feel really fresh and different in a good way.
The Shining Knight story was good. I think Ystin is a good character, I liked all the Arthurian stuff and its connection to the Sheeda. I thought that we got to see a really character driven story, dealing with Ystin’s personal demons (which we see literalized). And it’s a nice tale with a little tragic romance and a dramatic confrontation. The art isn’t my favorite, I think it’s good, it’s just not the type of style I usually enjoy, so that brought down the story a little for me.
Zatanna's story is one of my favorites. From the first issue, the story was bonkers-awesome. I loved the high-concept magic stuff and I thought Zatanna and Misty were really great characters. I also think we had some of the best payoff in Zatanna, with the reveals of whom Misty is and the secret of Zatara’s books. I also really liked the Fourth Wall breaking stuff. Visually, this book is just A+. Ryan Sook does an amazing job on this series, especially when dealing with the alternative time warpy stuff.
Klairon's story was fun and interesting too. I thought Klarion was a likable character. I do wish a little more had happened throughout, but his final issue was really cool. The art here is also not my favorite, but it doesn't break the story and it does really fit the story and build the right atmosphere.
The Guardian was awesome! Even beyond Cameron Stewart’s incredibly beautiful work, Guardian is a really fun comic. It’s got a really awesome hook in the idea of the newspaper having their own hero to report the news and “not just report crime, but fight it.” Genius. And the Subway pirates, and the murderous Disneyworld, and the Newsboy Army. And Jake Jordan’s story was very personal too. I think it’s really disappointing we haven’t seen anything else of Jake Jordan’s the Guardian, I would love a monthly series.
Mister Miracle was my least favorite. The Mister Miracle story is the least connected to the rest of the Seven Soldiers, in that it has almost literally nothing to do with the Sheeda. It’s also surreal and vague to the point that it does break the story a little bit. I think it also really suffers in inconsistency of the art. The other series all have one artist that really builds the flavor of the story. But Pasqual Ferry does issue 1, then the rest of the issues are done primarily by Freddie Williams II. I am not the biggest fan of Williams’ work, and Ferry was pretty sorely missed by me. Mister Miracle was pretty disappointing, but does have a good pay off in SSV #1.
Frankenstein may be the best of the series. It’s hard to overstate how really awesome this series was. Doug Mahnke’s art was a perfect fit to begin with, but the stories we got out of this, and Frankenstein’s character of this immortal, vengeance fueled monster hunter was fantastic. The first issue, Uglyhead, may be one of the best individual issues I’ve ever read. And we get Frankenstein on Mars! What more could you want?
Bulleteer was weird. Certainly an interesting view on what superhero culture looks like in a world full of superheroes. I guess we kind of see the Z-List superhero world, with people obsessed with fame and power and immortality and sex. A lot of really weird sex stuff. I don’t really know how to feel about Bulleteer. I think it’s one of the weakest series on the SSV, and needed a little more direction to the concept. I also didn’t really like Alix’s character. Paquette’s art is beautiful though.
All in all, Seven Soldiers is probably one of the best comics I’ve ever read and definitely one of my favorites. This is a comic to read if you want to see what comics can do. This is a story that really punches you in the face, and scrambles your brain, and puts it all together again.