The Bricktosser

A place for me to rant, ramble and rave about all things comics related.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Seven Soldiers Appreciation [Big Pile o' Comics Part II]

Okay, so more superhero stuff today...

I just caught most of the way up with the Seven Soldiers of Victory series(es) that Grant Morrison has been writing. My Seven Soldiers experience highlights a problem I have with comics: I put off reading them, and I fall behind.

This is particularly a problem with good comics. Good comics usually require attention. They can be dense, challenging, oblique, subtle. A lot of comics I enjoy (such as Quasar, or Superman) do not require attention. They are fluff. They are, at best, the action movies of the comics world. I won't say they aren't good, but they are not the same animal as V for Vendetta.

So when I sit down with my week's worth of comics, there are comics I set aside to read later. I don't want to concentrate, I don't want to have to pay attention, my attentions are elsewhere. Add to this that there are some types of comics that I really need to warm up to, particularly fantasy comics. Something about a comic with a guy holding a sword always feels like more work that a straight-up cape-and-tights drama. Maybe it's all those "thees" "thous" and "forsooths." I never cared for Thor comics much, either, come to think of it.

That brings us to Seven Soldiers of Victory. Grant Morrison has set about telling a story made up of seven substories, each one a standalone story that can be read on its own, but that ties into a much larger saga. And you can read them all issue by issue at the same time and see them start to tie together and indirectly reference each other. They have allusions to a lot of comics history and lots of in-jokes which are subtle enough to not be annoying if you don't get them, but neato if you do. And each sub-story is a different style, and a different genre. All have some heroic elements, but they range from post-modern mainstream super-hero (Zatanna) to fringe super-hero satire (Bulleteer) to ...fantasy. And that's when my "this is too much work" voice kicked in, and I set aside Shining Knight #1 (one of the first chapters). And then I misplaced it. And once I was behind with such a complex story, I was sunk.

This happens to me a lot. I keep buying comics I do not read. I still have not read all of Alan Moore's Promethea, because the text was way too dense-- and when I went back, I couldn't find them all. It happens with other books, too, like Love and Rockets, which is neither fantasy-based nor dense, but certainly subtle and doesn't stop to catch you up with handy synopses the super-hero comics usually do. Eventually, I gather them up or buy a trade paperback verion (of comics I already own) and read them in one lump, and vow not to fall behind again.

So... Seven Soldiers. Second comic in the series-of-series is filled with Fake Welsh and plenty of brooding and dramatic dialoge and starts in medias res with an unfamiliar fantasty setting. Don't let that stop you, Seven Soldiers is good. Really Good. Reading it in a stack allows certain things to really pop, too, like the slowly-growing picture of what the menace behind the scenes is, and how elaborate and far-reaching the details of the backstory are. And for people like me, they just released a collected volume of the first part of it so you can read it when you're good and ready to pay attention.

If I haven't enticed you already, here are seven reasons to love Seven Soldiers:

  • Klarion, the little poor Goth Boy who makes good
  • Zatanna referring to herself as a Spellaholic
  • Some really amazing fantasy artwork in Shining Knight
  • Mister Miracle: Any comic starring an escape artist has got to be worth reading
  • A tough-guy hero who shouts out newspaper cliches
  • The bittersweet origin of the Bulleteer
  • ...and I can't say anyting about the Frankenstein chapter yet, because I put off reading it.

    I think this is where we came in.

    Blogger bluecanary said...

    The thing is, I prefer reading them in squarebound graphic novels too -- the question is, how do you tell if it's something you want to drop $12 on before you read it? Get a single issue, if it grabs you, wait for the collection? I just hate having to buy the same thing twice, but invariably I'm more likely to read it in a chunk than singly. When did I fall behind on Y? On Lucifer? When I ran out of graphic novels to read.

    For me it's more of a matter of physics and logistics, frankly. Something book-shaped is less slippery, more stackable by the bedside, and harder to lose or hurt. Those individual issues end up everywhere, or worse, the one issue in the middle ends up somewhere else...

    2:24 PM  

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