As David said, I am through and through a Grant Morrison fanboy. In all honesty, I can’t think of a single thing the man wrote that I have not thoroughly enjoyed. I also frequently defend his work because, due to most of it being rather avant-garde, his audience tends to diminish when people can’t understand his writing. It usually takes a bit of time to sit and think about it before it really sits in. However, this is something I will deal with explaining and reasoning on another day (in the Author Retrospective of Grant Morrison). Today I want to talk about Seven Soldiers.
Let me start simply with an answer to the question most people want asked when they read a review: did I like it? Yes. Yes I did. Seven Soldiers of Victory is eff-star-star-kay-ing good. It’s so eff-star-star-kay-ing good I could barely contain my excitement when I finished it. If it were up to me, that’d be enough to convince you to go out right now, find all four volumes, and sit down and read it. It is easily one of the best things I’ve read all year, although it came out some time ago. So if all you want to know is, do I recommend it? Yes. Go get it. If you want to know more about why, though, please read on.
Seven Soldiers of Victory is a megaseries that starts with Seven Soldiers of Victory #0 and ends with Seven Soldiers of Victory #1. You might ask yourself now, how on Earth does that work out? A 2-issue megaseries? Not quite. See, in re-creating a new team of Seven Soldiers, Morrison wrote a series of inter-connected minis, one for each of the soldiers. Issues #0 and #1 act as bookends to the entire series: a curious introduction followed by a concise and definitive ending. The story opens with the Vigilante putting together a new Seven Soldiers who, on a hunt to kill a giant spider, end up being attacked and killed by a mysterious and unknown being, and it is up to the reader to keep this in mind in order to try and put together the pieces of the puzzle. We’re introduced to our new Seven slowly yet surely, with them being Shining Knight, Zatanna, Bulleteer, Frankenstein, Miracle Man, Klarion, and Manhattan Guardian. Each member’s mini lasts for about 4 issues with each mini having it’s own artist, and although seemingly unrelated at first, we begin to see little intertwining bits and pieces as we move forward until all of it ties together in the end for an absolutely dynamite tale.
The thing about Grant Morrison is that he doesn’t write comic books for the casual reader. Sure, he makes his own creator owned series, but when he steps into DC and Marvel and uses their characters, he writes a story that assumes the people reading know enough about the universes to keep up. He doesn’t pull any punches, and this is easily my favorite thing about him. Seven Soldiers takes at the very least a basic knowledge of the DC Universe, but if you’ve ever read JLA Unclassified (which I have), Seven Soldiers makes sense right off the bat. The slower you read the stories, the more things become clear as well, as you notice the frequent mentions of seven along with the repeat characters and settings. Morrison essentially takes other people’s characters and concepts and makes them his own, crafting his own unique and singular universe for the characters to interact in. The best part is that the pay-off at the ending is definitely the most satisfying pay-off he has ever created. The more you question about the endgame, the less it becomes clear, and when you finally see it it knocks your socks clean off. I can’t remember the last time I was ever as satisfied at the end of a limited series as I was at the end of this one. I also gained a deep love for all the characters involved in the story because Morrison’s writing and character portrayal resulted in a deep connection within the story that a lot of writer’s can only really wish to convey.Continued below
I ultimately feel that, all things considered, Seven Soldiers is the perfect place for anyone who has never really read Grant Morrison’s writing should start. While this story is most definitely connected to the rest of the DCU (and is referenced in Final Crisis several times), this book mostly acts as a self contained story. All of the characters do appear outside the book, but inside this book there is not a large amount of references to their other adventures. For the most part you meet a character, you learn the character, and you love the character. Seven Soldiers is also a perfect representation of Morrison’s writing style, which is to think of the ending at the beginning and work backwards through various paths unseen until you know the ending. His crazy styles appear in Zatanna’s mini, his quirky take on pop culture vs. superhero culture appears in Bulleteer, and his grandiose action scale appears in both Shining Knight and Frankenstein. The different artists on each mini also help to enrich the story and make it feel like you’re really reading something much bigger yet just as epic. To be honest, I absolutely feel that this book should be a cornerstone in anyone’s library who fancies themselves to be a writer. This truly is the way to tell a great story with intertwining characters.
All in all, I feel like this is one of his best works, right up there with the previously recommended New X-Men. In fact, I would recommend this over New X-Men because with that, Morrison assumes you’ve been reading X-Men previously. Seven Soldiers starts right off the bat with a mystery and ends with a colossal bang. If nothing else, Morrison is an expert story teller, and while some feel like his work can be jumbled and confusing, I feel like this work is pretty straight forward if you keep your eyes open. If you’re curious as to how to write a really great story, look no further.