Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Seven Soldiers of Victory - Part 9

The final chapter of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, issue #1, really brought home how much of a creative experiment this entire series was. Knowing how good and reliable an artist J.H. Williams III already was, Morrison felt he could experiment even more with this final issue, knowing it would turn out good. What you see in this issue is a wide variety of different inter-cut scenes telling the concluding story of each of the 7 characters. Different perspectives, writing styles -- everything is just an insane conglomeration of everything that had come before in the series.

If you don't want to be confused about the various plot-points I'm going to be referencing here, you might want to read the first 8 series of posts I made on the individual characters, which you can find here:


For a story this large and this epic, starting from the beginning only seems natural. Morrison goes back a bit further than you'd expect - all the way back dawn of man!


It's revealed that the New Gods of New Genesis interacted with early man kind, introducing fire, inspiration, and magic. Great cities where built - and a new breed of man was created to lead mankind - combining primitive man with the power of the gods - Aurakles was born. The original Super Hero.


Aurakles is noted for having red hair and leading his people to create a vast empire. Before departing to leave Earth the gods gave Aurakles Seven Imperishable Items. (Some of which we've seen during the course of the series.) 1.) The Sword Caliburn Ex Calibur, 2.) The Cauldron of Rebirth, 3.) The All-Knowing Father Box (split apart, becoming two magical six-sided dies), 4.) A Hammer, or anvil, able to generate atomic fusion, 5.) The Merlin, a sprite made of living language, 6.) The winged steed Pegazeus.

The 7th item is somewhat shrouded in mystery - being a kind of riddle. The Seventh Imperishable Item is a Spear, never thrown, which can carry death across millennia.

Neanderthal Super Scientists created and launched a Time Engine - which traveled into the far distant future, to Summer's End - the end time on Earth and home to the Sheeda. The Time Engine is found by King Melmoth, who reverse engineers the technology - allowing the Sheeda to travel back in time. This lead to the first Harrowing of Man - as this entire pre-dawn civilization was annihilated and destroyed, with only the remains left to grow again into the next generation of man. (Sowing mankind for the next Harvest.)

The city Aurakles lived in, Gorias, lied in ruins when King Arthur and his knights, lead by the Merlin, discovered a treasure trove of the Imperishable Items -- the sword, and the winged horse, who where offspring of Pegazeus -- Arthur wasn't so callow as to guess the riddle of the Spear.

Arthur and his knights set out to recover the Cauldron of Rebirth from the Sheeda - who had come once again for the Harrowing of Man.

This story, the history of the early world, is being explained to a very specific person - inside the old shack, the Gold Place, located in Slaughter Swamp. It appears like the time Tailor is sewing something - but these scenes are somewhat confusing - even when revealed at the end of the issue. The tailor continues to describe the events that where happening in the present...

Manhattan Guardian


The Harrowing of Man had begun, and the Sheeda where launching a full-scale invasion on mankind, starting in New York. The Manhattan Guardian, Jake Jordan, rides a horse - leading the charge to fight back against the madness. Sheeda soldiers, small and large - and gigantic insects that can be ridden swam all over the city. A sort of "moving newspaper" is depicted in these scenes - combining the comic narrative with a a copy of the Manhattan Guardian Newspaper, explaining different facets of the invasion that was rocking the city.


Jake eventually encounters his girlfriend, Carla, who Jake is able to rescue and win back.

Zatanna


Arriving in New York with an army of winged horses - Zatanna and Misty arrive to try and battle the Sheeda. Misty runs off on her own - intent on taking the throne away from her mother. She has the six-sided die as her weapon, and the Small Flying Sheeda Spine-riders are all leaving her alone, recognizing her as Princess Rhiannon of the Sheeda.


Meanwhile Ali-ka-zoom appears again to Zatanna, urging her to use and release the Merlin (the little homunculus in the jar), and perform the Spell of the Seven. She does that, releasing the powerful Merlin who enhances the spell she enacts "Ekirts Sreidlos Neves!" = "Seven Soldiers Strike!"

Mister Miracle


Having become the avatar for the New Gods, an avatar for the Life Equation, Mister Miracle goes to the Dark Side Club to confront the Dark Gods. Inside he finds Boss Dark Side, where the giant god Aurakles is chained up. Boss Dark Side describes how he had made a deal with the Sheeda. In exchange for Earth, the Sheeda had delivered Aurakles, beloved of the New Gods into his hands.


Shilo tells Boss Dark Side that he can't hide himself anymore, saying he now possesses "God-Sight", and can see the real being within Boss Dark Side's mortal body. Shilo offers Darkseid the best death-defying trick imaginable, in exchange for Aurakles freedom. Darkseid takes that offer - freeing Aurakles and and chaining up Mister Miracle in his stead. Darkseid then draws a gun and promptly shoots Shilo straight through the head.

Frankenstein


From the Sheeda side of the time-stream Frankenstein is able to send a message to S.H.A.D.E., telling them about the treat. Father Time orders Frankenstein to steer that Time Ship, Castle Revolving, over to their side - hoping they can obtain it and use it against the Sheeda. Frankenstein fights off several Sheeda guards protecting the wheel room, taking Castle Revolving through time towards the present.

Klarion


Klarion has arrived once again on the surface, trilled about all the excitement swirling around him. He randomly runs into Misty who recognizes the six-sided die he carries. She asks if he knows what that is. Klarion says it's Croatoan, which means "Fatherbox" in Sheeda Croakspeak. Misty is overjoyed - knowing that combining the two dice it would become a powerful enough weapon for her to defeat her mother with. Klarion, though, is quite enchanted with the idea of knowing he's related to the Sheeda -- even having royal blood within his veins. Teekl distracts Misty and allows Klarion to steal her die, now possessing both. Taking one of the giant riding flies, Klarion escapes into the air.

Klarion is able sneak aboard Castle Revolving and makes his way into the wheel room where Frankenstein is. Using a Witch Brand Klarion takes control of Frankenstein's will and orders the ship to return to the Sheeda side.

Shining Knight


Justina, having snuck aboard Castle Revolving, has been fighting to the death with Goriana, Queen of the Sheeda. Their battle is fierce, with the Queen mocking her - saying the legends tell of how only a group of 7 would ever be able to kill her, and she doesn't see 7 people here. Justina is able to stab Goriana through the heart, and later hack off one of her eyes - but Justina is pushed back against a railing off the side of Castle Revolving. The Shining Knight falls down towards the streets, but is saved by Pegasus - who asks if she ever thought he'd let her fall.

Bulleteer

The Bulleteer is driving in a car through the chaotic streets of Manhattan, hoping to get the injured Sally Sonic to a hospital. Sally isn't quite dead yet, as she wakes up and tries to grab the wheel of the car.


Meanwhile the Queen, having finished with the Shining Knight, has called for their agent, I, Spyder. She asks if he had found the Spear like he had been ordered. I, Spyder, though, turns on her - as the ghost of Greg Sanders had freed him from the Sheeda's control - and fires, with his perfect aim, an arrow directly into the head of the evil Queen - knocking her over the railing and down to the streets below.


As the car Bulleteer drives swerves wildly, struggling with Sally Sonic, the Sheeda Queen is falling directly above them. The Queen hits the ground right in front of the out of control car - is struck by vehicle - fulfilling the prophecy of Aurakles' Spear, never thrown, that would kill the evil Queen. After all the damage she has suffered, Goriana dies for good - unable to ever get back to her Cauldron to heal.


The thing about Grant Morrison's writing is that he writes very smartly - and sometimes can expect too much from the readers to be just as smart. Often it's some in-consequential point in the story that if something flies over you're head, it doesn't matter that much - it's usually not detrimental to understanding the story as a whole. The Spear of Aurakles is probably the most perfect example of that in action. It's a spear, yes -- and the Seven Soldiers all contribute defeating the Sheeda, with the Bulleteer being the head of the spear actually striking the Queen. Yet the riddle of the spear maybe was obvious to Morrison - but I had to look up what it actually meant. In the pre-dawn opening Aurakles is depicted with red hair. Entire panels are in black and white, just to point out his red hair. After hitting the Sheeda Queen a scene later shows Bulleteer in a black and white scene - with her read hair being high-lighted. What exactly is that suppose to mean? Well - it seems scientists have come to the conclusion that red hair might be a hereditary trait from neanderthals. Aurakles being the farthest ancestor possible to Alix Harrower, the Bulleteer - making the Bulleteer driving into the Queen the final imperishable item of man; an attack, started with Aurakles existing - that would eventually lead to the Bulleteer being born and eventually hitting the Queen head, killing her. It's weird, I know - and stretches logic to it's breaking point -- but it all sort of comes together, and make sense.

Epilogues...

There are several epilogues at the end, detailing a bit more of the aftermath of the crisis.

The Tailor, who has been telling this entire tale to an unknown party, reveals that he has been sewing a special coat - a coat able to make a person look like anyone you want. Apparently this coat is suppose to make this person look like Cyrus Gold (Solomon Grundy). Before being sent out in this murder's guise, the tailor reveals who is actually who in this scene. Apparently the Tailor we've been seeing is actually one of the Seven Unknown Men - and the person who's being forced to wear the Cyrus Gold-coat is non-other than the Seven Unknown Men's way-word brother - Zachary Zor, also known as the Terrible Time Tailor, who has been orchestrating all the events of the universe in challenge of his 7 brothers. This entire scene is very confusing, and I still don't completely understand it -- but I think it's suffice to say they want Zor out there to meet the angry mob Cyrus Gold was suppose to encounter (in place of the real Cyrus Gold, who the Seven Unknown Men had killed and drowned already in Slaughter Swamp; to become Solomon Grundy.) Zor, looking like Cyrus, is probably murdered by the mob.


Justina, now in a different time, is set up with a new life at a High School. Ali-ka-zoom has arranged this for her. Justina doesn't know what to do - knowing that her love Galahad is dead, and that she couldn't save him. Ali-ka-zoom suggests that she try and live the life or a normal school girl - and she can go play knight with her flying horse on the weekends. He also tells her of a weird story from history -- of a Golden Age just prior to the great Flood, of a Queen who had supposedly ended the Age of Death -- and the name of this queen was, strangely enough, Queen Ystina The Good. Who knows what adventures are awaiting her.


A single page depicts Klarion, having taken the Sheeda Throne for himself - combining the two throwing dies into the All Powerful Father Box. (His future afterwards is largely left up to the reader - but I can imagine him coming back to the present, with more magical knowledge, to cause more mischief and have adventures.)


Jake Jordan and his family are seen visiting the grave of Mister Miracle. After they leave Boss Dark Side comes to pay his respects as well. He says to Shilo's grave "The Dark Aeon has come. Evil won the war. All is One in Dark Side." After leaving Mister Miracle escapes the greatest trap of all - death itself - with his hands rising out of the grave.

The ending, especially in regards to Mister Miracle's resurrection, is probably the most important part - as the War Darkseid says he won is played out in Morrison's next major project, The Final Crisis.

The Seven Soldier series may not have been a great commercial success - as ideas for on-going series for all seven series where never used. (I'd especially have loved to have seen whatever was planned with the Shining Knight, who form the ending I'm thinking would have involved a bit more time-travel with a rather ambitious goal and end-game for the character in mind.) The success the series saw was that of a creative success - as the medium of comic books was utilized in ways never seen before. The series has long since been labeled an instant classic, and I felt very privileged to have been able to get the Hardcover editions of the series and be able to read it.

While doing research for these series of posts I found an interview Morrison did, looking back on the series after it was over. The interview is no longer available, but using the internet Wayback Machine - I was able to get it. The images of the interview might not work, but Morrison has a lot of insight about how he thinks the series turned out. You can read the interview by clicking here: Looking Back at the Seven Soldiers with Grant Morrison.

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