Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: In a complete change of pace from last issue, we journey to Mars, to settle old debts in grandiose style.
Whatís interesting: Itís possible to look at the abrupt style changes from issue to issue in Morrisonís ambitious project as a flailing about for ideas.
Unable to commit to one approach or to find the best direction, each issue of several of the ongoing titles (at least the four I read: Frankenstein, Zatanna, Bulleteer, and Klarion) has had the potential to veer off the rails, to jump wildly in tone to a seemingly unrelated new territory. Zatanna had a self-help issue, and a girl-power adventure. Klarion started a boyís own story, veered into Les Miserables and wound up as a tale of revenge. One might say Morrison runs a risk of giving an uneven reading experience (I certainly have had less favorite issues of each title thus far).
But I donít think thatís whatís happening. I think, rather, Morrison has so many clever ideas heís not sure which one to put down first, and has designed himself a project that allows him to touch on all of them, at least for a moment, as one small particle of a much larger wave-front. His metaphorical promise of this series as a geodesic dome of interlocking parts, as some sort of multi-faceted gemstone, has come true now that we're almost 2/3 of the way along. His has been the most honest advertising hype in comics in the past year and a half. Every series may not be to one readerís taste in Seven Soldiers, and every issue may not even please, but thatís fine, you can skip those and read the rest, and be assured that somewhere in these syncopated beats will be a tune you find simultaneously familiar and fresh. For each issue, in this way, does remain its own complete tale.
Here I think (though I can only conjecture) Morrison has gone for high dudgeon John Carter Warlord of Mars style, as we have sword and sorcery meeting science fiction on the Martian Manhunterís dead world. The prose is nearly purple, but itís another fun faÁade to try on this one most gloomy character of the Seven, and if the tone changes abruptly when we meet the villain of the piece, a familiar one to Klarion readers, who drags us back from elegiacally stoic nobility to the grubby world of men and murderers and more colloquial speech, well, thatís just one more plane of the shimmering surface Morrison is piecing together so lovingly.
And we all know, even the most beautiful gem has its requisite flaws.
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