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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 98: Seven Soldiers of Victory #1

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks (more or less), with each week devoted to a single writer. This week: Grant “Putting me with Williams is just asking for the book to be delayed two or three decades, man!” Morrison. Today’s page is from Seven Soldiers of Victory #1, which was published by DC and is cover dated December 2006. Enjoy!

So Morrisonian!

This is the infamous issue that took forever to come out, but let’s face it: It’s totally worth it. Both Morrison and J. H. Williams III are superb on this book, and we get a taste of it from this first page, which calls back to the zero issue that preceded the entire epic. It’s really an apotheosis of Morrison on this page, from the silliness to the wordplay to the breaking of the fourth wall. The Time Tailor is speaking to Zachary Zor, but he’s also speaking to the reader, because the story he’s about to tell Zachary is one we need to hear, too. This makes the dialogue particularly freighted – the Tailor is doing nasty things to Zachary, but because he’s looking at us directly, it feels more like a threat to us. The Tailor basically sets up the entire epic for us: Seven Soldiers are destined to save the world from an evil queen but never actually meet. Meanwhile, there’s a secret cabal of angels, one of whom “turned to harm” and had to be judged. He also re-introduces the concept of fate, which is a major component of the entire epic (the Tailor himself speaks of making “lives”). The final words on the page, cleverly, are “do you follow?” The Tailor wants us to turn the page, and because we feel that he is speaking directly to us (even though he’s not), we are more inclined to take his direction. This page is packed with information that brings us, if not completely up to speed, at least gives us a foundation for what’s to come.

Williams is a genius when it comes to art, and this entire issue is an example of that. He draws this in his “base” style, I suppose, and the layout is very nice. He and Dave Stewart work well with each other, as Stewart goes through the entire rainbow on this page, moving from cool to hot, foreshadowing the color scheme of the Sheeda’s floating citadel. The locomotive itself points us toward the first panel and the Tailor’s words. Williams works the story’s title in to the panel borders, which is a nice touch. I imagine the DC tie pin was Morrison’s idea, as was the Tailor knocking against the panel borders, two more nods to the metafictional aspects of this comic. Williams keeps our eye moving downward, which is natural, but he doesn’t go too far side to side, so the presence of Slaughter Swamp at the bottom of the page becomes more important – we are being drawn into the swamp by the Tailor’s words. Williams also gives the Tailor something to do – he puts on his tie over the progress of the page. I can’t remember whose coat that is, with the sleeves ripped off. I, Spyder’s? It’s been a while since I’ve read this, after all.

Obviously, when you put Morrison and Williams together, then add Stewart and even Todd Klein to the mix, you’re going to get a good comics page. Morrison can be a straight-forward storyteller even when he’s at his weirdest, and this is an example of that. It’s when his weirdness begins to overwhelm his chops is when he gets in trouble. But usually, his first pages work very well. I think this week has shown that!

Next: The writer who received the most votes from you, the readers. I’m warning you – I might not own the comics you thought of when you nominated this dude! So be prepared! Get so by checking out all the archives!

17 Comments

Seven Soldiers scrambled my brain. It was so worth it.

The Crazed Spruce

April 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I liked parts of it, but on a whole, I always thought that 7 Soldiers was overwritten and overrated. (And don’t get me started on Final Crisis….) But hey, that’s just my opinion.

Final Crisis is actually very underrated. But let’s not hijack the comments with such silliness!

I like your interpretation of the page, Greg. There really is a lot of stuff there! Even the word-balloons are located in such a way as to help the flow. Lot’s of clever people were working on this comic and it shows. Nice that you mentioned Klein and Stewart too.

It’s when his weirdness begins to overwhelm his chops is when he gets in trouble.

You have not the read Doom Patrol have you? There was no trouble there.

Travis Pelkie

April 7, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I was certainly helped out in figuring out what was going on with 7Soldiers by some weird guy on a blog :)

This book is so good art-wise. Kirby and McCay riffs, newspaper pages, and so on. Plus the electric boogaloo when Mister Miracle faces off against Darkseid.

Also on this page: roygbiv=7

Geez, Burgas, you’re posting so much I’m starting to think you have also been replaced by a robot duplicate, just like Croninbot 5000.

Travis Pelkie

April 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Wait a second, did I steal the “Croninbot 5000″ from you, Bill, or are you stealing it from me?

Burgas is trying to goad you back into posting again, Bill. C’mon, there’s a new Atomic Robo book, where have you been?!

I suspect Mark Waid is next. I know he got a lot of votes, and I know Burgas doesn’t own much of his Flash run. Though from looking at people’s comments, I would have thought Claremont got the most votes. But Burgas loves him some Claremont X-stuff, so that can’t be it.

The name I remember seeing most in suggestions was Larry Hama — but not everyone collects or collected GI Joe — what other comics has Hama done?

C. Towns: I would disagree that Doom Patrol was too weird. At its core, the characters are wonderfully sketched and they keep the weirdness from getting too out there. That’s why it’s so good, because of the nice balance.

Bill: Yeah, I noticed that no one else was putting anything up. I felt like Cronin most of today! I still have some more to post tomorrow, but then we’ll see. I have a ton of books to review, so I’m trying to get to them soon!

Third Man: Oh, you’re close! Waid is coming up, but not next!

Becca: One person kept suggesting Hama, so I only counted him once. But yes, you did see him a lot. :)

@BeccaBlast

I would say that even though GI Joe is Hama’s most loved work, he’s probably more well known for his lengthy run on Wolverine, which he wrote for about 7 years (1990-1997). Hama was the sole writer on the character during the comic boom market era, and it was one of Marvel’s perpetually highest selling titles, so from an exposure standpoint, certainly more people encountered Hama’s writing there than they ever did on GI Joe. I think he did issues 31-118 of the first Wolverine ongoing series, and for a long time he was probably the writer that people most associated with the character, other than maybe Chris Claremont. During that run, Hama had a great partnership with Marc Silvestri that covered his first two years on the title, then a long tenure with Adam Kubert after that. He wrote the death of Mariko in #57, the infamous bone claws reveal from #75, the great fight with Sabretooth in #90, and the Age of Apocalypse tie-in issues. I’ve read probably about 80% of the run, and it was often hit or miss, but the best stuff ranks among the best Wolverine stories, and Hama was probably the first writer other than Claremont to really make the character his own.

Yeah, I noticed that no one else was putting anything up. I felt like Cronin most of today…

We still have houseguests! I’ll have — one hopes– the ECCC report up sometime tomorrow…. the girls are still packing.

No way is Hama best known for Wolverine. Totally G.I. Joe. G.I. Joe was Marvel’s highest-selling title for years in the 1980s. In addition, while he hasn’t written Wolverine in nearly 20 years, he is still writing G.I. Joe (and doing a good job with it, I might add)!

Ohhhhhh, Third Man, Cronin is so totally gonna #%@#$ up your @#$#$!!!!! Oh no you di-int!!!

While Hama did have a lengthy Wolvey run, I’m not sure many people would go, oh yeah, Hama the Wolverine writer. I’m not sure people remember that anyone actually WROTE the Wolverine comic :) So yeah, I’m gonna agree with Cronin here.

And not just because he could totally delete all my comments :)

Ehh, I just don’t know if I agree. Of course this is just conjecture, and there’s no way to really prove either side, but I think the mere existence of a GI Joe comic flies too far under many people’s radar, or at least in the 25 years since the original series’ heyday. I mean, certainly the people that read GI Joe will always revere Hama as their Golden God, but GI Joe is one of those comics that if people aren’t reading it, it’s not even remotely in their orbit of awareness. I think Wolverine is a different type of title. I feel like (again, this is a bit of conjecture) whatever is happening in Wolverine’s title is something comic fans tend to be generally aware of to some degree, even if they’re not reading. And something as major as the reveal that Wolverine had bone claws in #75 was the talk of the comics world for a while there in 1993, in a way that I can’t imagine GI Joe ever was (though I didn’t get into comics until 1991, so I can’t claim full awareness of what comic fandom was like in the 80′s).

I would certainly never argue that GI Joe isn’t his more notable/loved/respected/important work, but from a pure numbers standpoint, I would guess more people have read a Larry Hama Wolverine comic than a Larry Hama GI Joe comic. But, perhaps there’s something to Travis Pelkie’s idea that people reading Wolverine in 1993 had no awareness of who was writing. And, I suppose that Brian’s point about how he’s been off Wolverine too long and he’s writing GI Joe again might have turned the tide back to GI Joe being his most famous work. But ten years ago, it would have been Wolverine by a landslide. At least I think.

I have to disagree, TM. I know of Hama – but I wasn’t even aware he’d done a run on Wolverine. I do only have a kind-of peripheral awareness of GI Joe – thanks largely to the film – but I am aware he’s basically famous for that over anything else.

Wow, I was totally unaware that Hama had ever written Wolverine. I just think of him as the GI Joe guy.

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