Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
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!
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!
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