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Seven Soldiers and Dorkiness

Rose and I were going to have one of those What We Bought This Week posts, except it would be a What We Bought This Month post since that’s how often we go to the comic-book store. Except the store didn’t have a few of the things we wanted, so we still ended up with about half what the typical comic-book blogger buys in a week. We’d only embarrass ourselves by attempting such a post.

(Just kidding about embarrassing ourselves: I take much pleasure in not being a typical comic-book blogger w/r/t buying piles of comic books every week.)

Anyway, one of our books was Klarion the Witch Boy #1. I liked it lots. Zatanna and Klarion are my favorites so far, mostly because I prefer their kind of fantastic fiction to superhero fantastic fiction. I’ll probably wait until the series are finished to comment on them, though, because (despite Grant Morrison’s claims, blah blah blah) these first issues are not at all self-contained and I suspect some of the seeming flaws (which other bloggers have commented on) will not seem so flawed in light of the complete works. But I don’t want to jump to these stories’ defense prematurely.

I do want to talk about something related, though. A while ago, Tim O’Neil said:

While we’re tangentially on the subject, man, the more I think about it the more Seven Soldiers seems like the sophisticated-superhero version of bear-bating. It’s been designed to divide the comics electorate between “cool kids” and not-cool kids, people who “care” about old continuity and the people who are too cool for that. I’ve seen a number of people commenting on the series with something to the effect that “nobody cares about these characters in the first place” - but the fact that some people do care pretty much kills that theory. The fact that some people do care means that whether or not you will enjoy the series depends on a “litmus test” of sorts […] I don’t necessarily agree that characters should be wed to continuity one way or the other, but man, any book that makes a political imperative of chosing [sic] one side or the other of the debate in order to enjoy it is just too aggressively cynical in conception for me to get concerned about.

And—sorry, what? Seven Soldiers forces you to choose between adherence to continuity and rejection of continuity? It does? Are these miniseries even “in continuity”? I haven’t seen Morrison or anybody else comment on this, but they don’t look like they are. They’re totally cut off from the rest of the DC Universe. I guess some characters mentioned the JLA in Zatanna, but other than that? They’re totally irrelevant to the rest of the DC Universe. They have no effect on anything outside themselves, and even if they are “official” (which I suspect they’re not), all of Morrison’s changes will be retconned in two weeks anyway.

Moreover: where’s the “litmus test”? Are there mobs of comic-book bloggers waiting in ambuscade for anybody unhip enough to claim a dislike of Morrison’s reinterpretations? Is Morrison sitting in his lair, cackling cynically in anticipation of all the poor unhip losers who will be saddened by his disrespectful portrayal of Klarion the Witch Boy?

I doubt it.

Seriously, “political imperative”? It’s a superhero comic book. Nobody cares if you don’t like it, I promise. (OK, I can’t promise that, but I can promise that anybody who does care is definitely an even bigger dork than you.)

Seriously—Grant Morrison has founded his Seven Soldiers project on the aggressively cynical goal of making people who don’t like it feel like dorks? Um?

But frankly, anybody who feels genuinely victimized by Seven Soldiers is a dork. Harsh but true, I think.

Edit: By the way, before you get offended because I made fun of you for being a dork, consider that I just used the word “ambuscade” in public. I don’t have the moral high ground, here.


  1. Johnny Bee says:

    Me? I think that Morrison’s just trying to give us that rarest of rare things, a worthwhile crossover event, and flex his creative muscles while doing so. Maybe he’s just trying to be all Alan Moore and ABC, who knows. I’m just gonna enjoy these books for what they are, and not attach any more significance that is necessary.

    This “taking sides” notion is just silly. And if you don’t agree, you’re my enemy. ;)

    — 21 April 2005 at 2:23 am (Permalink)

  2. Sean says:

    From the Amen Corner: Amen.

    — 21 April 2005 at 1:56 pm (Permalink)

  3. Marc says:

    These books do have a real ABC vibe, don’t they? Whether it’s the surreal New York in the bookend, the magical tour in Zatanna, or even the stable of artists (Williams and Gray), Seven Soldiers falls somewhere between raiding the ABC line and responding to it. Fortunately Morrison’s managed to do it without the naked disdain that marked his response to Millar’s Authority/Ultimates over in JLA Classified. (Not that I minded; some things merit naked disdain.)

    — 21 April 2005 at 7:16 pm (Permalink)

  4. BeaucoupKevin says:

    Good Christ, just because a creator known for having a certain audience does something doesn’t mean that it’s an elitist statement. I’ve certainly got much more enthusiasm for Seven Soldiers than anything that’s coming out in the “main” DCU and that’s because it’s continuity-light superhero fare that (so far) manages to tell fun stories, which strikes me as less elitist than all of the Crisis oriented stuff. Give me the new Guardian series anytime over Blue Beetle getting a bulletized bit of brain buggery while Maxwell Lord looks on, as it’s not insulting to the character or to the reader. Some days, I think some people are just looking for a reason to insult the big two when one is not there.

    I honestly think somebody at DC signed off on Seven Soldiers because a proven moneymaker said “Hey, I wanna do something fun,” and not because they wanted to create some sort of cool-kids feel.

    — 22 April 2005 at 8:42 pm (Permalink)

  5. Steven says:

    In Tim’s defense, he does point the problems with Countdown to Infinite Crisis as well. But yeah… well, I don’t know about elitist, but Crisis and its ilk do some pretty pretentious in a bad way, which Morrison’s superhero comic books aren’t. Or when they are, they’re not in a bad way.

    — 22 April 2005 at 9:41 pm (Permalink)

  6. Jer says:

    I’d believe the thesis a lot more if it didn’t look like Morrison is actually trying to weave explanations for continuity shifts into the story while Countdown (and moreso Identity Crisis) actually ignore continuity to make their story work. It’s kind of an amusing argument.

    As for “In continuity or not”, the advertising for the event did say that it was supposed to be the DCU, so I’m assuming that this is all in continuity. Not that it matters - since this is mostly building new stuff Morrison doesn’t have to use old continuity to give his story importance or weight.

    One thought that I had about this whole thing: Is there any possibility that this is actually part of the whole Infinite Crisis after all? With Neb-Uh-Loh being a grim and gritty fictional world trying to conquer (supplant?) the DCU, it seems like a bit of meta-commentary on Morrison’s part, but maybe there’s more to it than that.

    — 23 April 2005 at 2:20 am (Permalink)

  7. Tim O'Neil says:

    Didn’t catch this until today… in short, I am not actually buying any current DC superhero books except for Plastic Man, so I am not currently oen for continuity at all, save perhaps in a slightly way. Whatever I read I download just to stay slightly current because most superhero comics just aren’t worth my money.

    But the point is that you’re taking my comments w-a-a-a-a-y too literally. I’m not Mike Wallace, and I don’t have a memo stating Morrison’s evil plot. I have just been getting an extremely elitist asshole vibe from everything he’s done in the pasy couple years or so, and it’s soured me. I liked the Filth and Seaguy, but everything since then has just seemed increasingly myopic and churlish. Like I said, he’s a few years away from becoming another Byrne. There’s a kind of metaphorical litmus test involved every time someone buys a Byrne book, too.

    — 29 April 2005 at 1:15 pm (Permalink)

  8. Tim O'Neil says:

    Boy I should really check these things for typos, shouldn’t I.

    — 29 April 2005 at 1:16 pm (Permalink)

  9. Steven says:


    Dude, you’re taking my reply to your comments way too literally! Because I don’t think I took you too literally; I thought you said Morrison is an elitist asshole and that seems to be what you’re saying.

    You said, “I have just been getting an extremely elitist asshole vibe from everything he????????s done in the pasy couple years or so, and it????????s soured me.”

    From the work itself, or from Morrison himself? Because I could almost see it in some of his interviews (most of which aren’t even worth reading, but that’s Newsarama’s fault almost as much as Morrison’s), but in We3? JLA Classified? Vimanarama? Seven Soldiers?

    JLA Classified is very obviously allegorically a rant against the Millar-style superheroes he’s complained about in recent interviews. The work does suffer for this, but I suppose I give Morrison the benefit of the doubt that Batman’s sci-fi closet and Superman’s lecture about super-powered gorillas are more because Morrison likes to have fun than because he’s churlish toward people who like what Brian Azzarello has done to Batman and Superman. So far, I think Seven Soldiers has exhibited none of the churlish contempt for some of his audience that Morrison has admitted in interviews.

    I’m fascinated by what I call remix aesthetic in all art forms, especially music and narrative, so Seven Soldiers is very much the book for me. But people also think Moulin Rouge and Beatles mashups are cynical or disrespectul, so it doesn’t surprise me that people are similarly put off by Morrison’s remixes of superhero comic books.

    — 29 April 2005 at 2:09 pm (Permalink)

  10. Steven says:

    Anyway, there are “litmus tests” involved every time you read any book (or do anything at all, I suppose), and one of the ones for Seven Soldiers is “Will you enjoy this story that riffs on and remixes a bunch of stuff you might be familiar with, or would you prefer a story simply about the stuff you’re already familiar with?” But where I disagree with you is about whether this is a moral test. It becomes moral when somebody decides that one answer is wrong—people who like the story are snobs who have contempt for the original characters, or people who don’t like it are continuity-obsessed dorks. Your thesis seems to be that Morrison moralizes the test, but I have seen no evidence for that in the texts.

    — 29 April 2005 at 2:47 pm (Permalink)

  11. Tim O'Neil says:

    Morrison doesn’t have to - it’s a function of the community. He has plausible deniability in the matter.

    — 30 April 2005 at 12:47 am (Permalink)

  12. Steven says:

    Oh, I see. There has been a lot of talk about Seven Soldiers vs. Infinite Crisis—at least on blogs—but the most common response I’ve seen, anyway, is people worrying whether they can morally enjoy Seven Soldiers after complaining about Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis. And people were quick to point out the silliness of Morrison’s complaints about readers not getting Seaguy. I suppose maybe some readers read Morrison’s superhero books to feel superior to those who don’t or something, but they’re dorks too.

    — 30 April 2005 at 1:07 am (Permalink)

  13. Tim O'Neil says:

    I don’t have to worry about it because I haven’t enjoyed any of the 7S books I’ve read so far, morally or otherwise. :)

    — 30 April 2005 at 12:43 pm (Permalink)

  14. Steven says:

    I don’t have to worry about it because it’s a silly thing to worry about. But I don’t feel superior to people who read continuity-obsessed mega-crossovers, so I don’t have to feel hypocritical about reading the “cool” mega-crossover.

    — 30 April 2005 at 1:38 pm (Permalink)

  15. Squashua says:

    I am having problems with distinguishing Seven Soldiers and Infinite Crisis.

    On one hand you have Shining Knight who was revived in “Star Spangled Kid” and re-joined the JSA and accidentally killed Firestorm, and a continually spell-casting Zatanna, and a Guardian with a long history that ends up working with grown-up Newsboy Legion clones at Cadmus.

    On the other hand you have a brand new Shining Knight, a magic-less Zatanna loser (”loser” as in “down on her luck”), and a new Guardian who works in New York City with a brand new Newsboy Legion.

    In addition, you have “Neb-U-Loh” and his mind-controlling winged sprites, who FIRST appeared in the recent “JLA: Classified” storyline by Morrison (JLA: Classified is possibly not rivited in continuity), where he said that his next assault will not be upfront, but more secretive. Note that both Neb-u-loh and “The Sheeda” (those sprites, I think) are appearing in Seven Soldiers.

    Then you have the “infant universe of Qwerq” which appeared in the Morrison story and (is/is not) the universe that spawned from the egg from the end of the JLA/Avengers story, which (is/is not) in continuity.

    I think we’re looking at two different timelines; one where JLA/Avengers happened and led to Seven Soldiers, and another one which is more traditional DC and ends currently with Identity Crisis and now all the other mini-series (OMAC, Villains United, etc.)

    These two realities will clash together during Infinite Crisis, where we’ll probably learn that everything (or at least many things in the Identity Crisis reality) became a giant pile of crap ever since Booster Gold travelled back in time, since HE is the one who brought Skeets back in time and with Skeets, Brother I (OMAC) was created, etc. ad nauseum.

    My money is on Booster Gold being the core of the problem.

    In other news, if they’re going to re-write the DCU with Infinite Crisis, they need to do another Silver Age retrospective, but they should do it from the poitn of two outsiders: The Silver Age Blue Beetle and Booster Gold… aka Dan Garret (Blue Beetle I) and … Captain Comet.

    — 11 May 2005 at 6:24 pm (Permalink)

  16. Steven says:


    I don’t follow your crazy logic or esoteric references to Booster Gold’s adventures in time, but I think it would be awesome if your theory is right.

    — 11 May 2005 at 6:37 pm (Permalink)

  17. Squashua says:

    It’s like this:

    Booster Gold is a time anomaly. He came (IIRC) from the future represented by the pre-Crisis Legion of Super-Heroes future, with his robot buddy, Skeets. He was a janitor in a future superhero museum.

    In “Countdown” it is revealed (though we know this from BG’s old series and numerous JLI adventures) that Booster Gold is a major media icon of some reknown (think “he’s that guy from all those commercials”). This means that even if BG hasnt’ made a physical impact, he, an artifact from our future, is in the group subconscious of the DCU, infecting more and more every day.

    When BG left to the past, there was likely no mention of Booster Gold in the museum archives, and BG had probably just gone back in time to not make much of an impact but to give his life more excitement. But Booster has had a huge (if not noticeable) impact. This means he has not just stepped on the proverbial pre-historic butterfly (destroying the symbol of peace for the future), he went around and said hi to all the dinosaurs and coughed on them, brushed their teeth, etc. He’s influenced the past irrevocably.

    Also in “Countdown” we learn that Brother I (aka Brother Eye, the OMAC Project) was created using technology that Batman snagged from Skeets, BG’s old robot pal that BG assumed had given up on the past and gone back to the future (a future that no longer exists).

    If OMAC is to impact the DCU, having been built from future technolgy, it is a true global anomaly.

    Not good.

    How it all ties into the Rann-Thanager War, the Villains United, etc… will DEFINATELY be revealed.

    In the meantime, how Seven Soldiers ties into the “Infinite Crisis” remains to be seen.

    — 11 May 2005 at 7:44 pm (Permalink)