Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Seven Soldiers Of Victory #1 - II

Part II: Battle For New York

pp 13-15 We first see the battle through three pages of the Manhattan Guardian newspaper, edition 777. The Guardian seems to know a lot about the Sheeda. That they are the Sheeda, that they are the for inspiration the fairy legends, why they are here, and that they are from a doomed world. It’s not a great leap to assume the editor – Ed Stargard – knows that they are from the future, but he’s not saying so. Perhaps the implications are just too grim to contemplate. The paper gives a lot of coverage to the unfolding event, but it also has a lot of the peripheral soft news items, cartoons, and crosswords you’d expect to find in a paper. Not surprisingly, it all sees to tie into the greater story.

The shorter news items tell us that a police horse, Harry, is retiring after twelve years of service. That doesn’t seem long enough for him to be Mo Colley’s old friend. Maybe he is somehow related to Horsefeathers. Maybe he’s the horse Jake is riding. Maybe he’s a red herring and not everything is related to the Seven Soldiers saga. Actually, that last one is the least likely to be true. We find out that Antonio Silencio, Melmoth’s patron, died of a heart attack when he learned of his son’s death. That Shilo Norman really did disappear into the Black Hole for a week – implying that the events in his mini were only a possible alternative and not necessarily what had to/has to happen. We also learn that shortly after his return he disappeared again! And, finally, the weather. Hurricane Gloria has struck the city.

On the next page we get a comic strip, ‘Carla’, with Jake’s girlfriend and her mother fleeing the city. Carla says she can’t stand the thought of Jake risking his life. Her mother tells her that she has to accept who he is. “This isn’t some fairytale, mom!” Carla replies, even as fairies chase the car. Not very funny, I know, but Carla probably wouldn't appreciate her relationship to the newspaper’s champion being turned into cartoon fodder anyway.

And we get the crossword.

Starting with Across:

1 – Its Lena! The other twin would be Lars, assumed dead. So Suzy gave birth to a couple of blue eyed blond kids. Obviously not Captain 7’s. Before this revelation many assumed that he had gotten pregnant, that she had died in childbirth – though we only know that she died at age 14, we don’t know how – and that the others blamed him and forced him into Ali Ka Zoom's cabinet. With the knowledge that he wasn’t the father, it was speculated that he assumed he was and killed her when he realised he wasn’t. If that were true, why would Ka Zoom go on to question their actions? Some have speculated that Ed might be the father, but that’s just more speculation.

3 – Bors was the knight with the hammer. The disordered orbs are the atoms smashed by him and, a hundred centuries later, by Oppenheimer.

4 – Yep. Ebeneezer Badde was Klarion’s dad (“Ebeneezer Badde/ He’s DAD!”).

7 – Gloriana, obviously. It all comes down to the big bad.

9 - “This wino penitent contains a receptive state of mind (4).” The answer, open, is contained in “win(o pen)itent”. But who is the wino?

1 – If would be interesting if Morrison were to work the New Gods into Voodun rituals, but this is only a play on words. The Voodun gods are called Loa, and the capitals of “Life Or Anti-Life” are L.O.A.

2 – The named Submissionaries were Judah and Shadrach. The three Hebrew children, thrown into a fire for not worshipping idols were Meschach, Shadrach, and Abednego. It might have been more consistent if Judah was named Meschach, but “a bad ego” is Abednego.

4 and 5 – The guys at Barbelith nailed this one. It’s an old Socrates, Sartre, Sinatra joke about being and acting. Kind of.

6 – This is a double reference to Alix. We already know that she is Aurakles’ “spear.” Her husband name was Lance, and a husband turns a maiden into a wife.

7 – “G.M.” is one of the Unknown Men and it you didn’t realise that this meant Grant Morrison…

8 – “Seven into seven”? Seven goes into seven one time.
The distinction between newspaper-within-a-comic and comic page breaks down as Ed and Jake talk across the photos as though they were panels. Jake contacts Ed and thanks him for the riding lessons. Ed tells him that Jake has carried the fight far enough and that he should look for his folks. Ed is now driving a bus, leading his Legion and addressing his readers – us! – both ‘live’ and in the pages of his tabloid. He quotes Shelley Gaynor, the Whip in Seven Soldiers #0, “Every day is mythology when you use your x-ray vision to really, really LOOK.” His own paraphrase is “Instant myth.” It’s a theme that has run throughout the series. The time of heroes isn’t behind us, it’s right now. Something made all the more real when you think of the mythic nature of the attackers. In his editorial Ed mentions that it is all happening on “a night without super-heroes,” a reminder that the Infinite Crisis was supposed to be reaching its climax right now (though, in fact, we were already into the One Year Later DCU).

p 16 The Bulleteer is introduced on a page entitled ‘Never Be Nice To Your Nemesis’. She is driving Sally Sonic to the nearest hospital and is nothing if not apologetic. As Sonic comes round, however, it’s obvious that she does appreciate the gesture. On the same page we see Justina drive a sword through Gloriana. She’s not getting the response she wanted, either.

pp 17-18 Zatanna and Misty arrive with a squadron of flying horses. Squadron is an old cavalry term adopted by the air force, so its doubly fitting here. Vanguard and Misty found them in the Himalayas, but we've already seen them in Frankenstein #4. What we didn't see is that they have laser beam eyes! Once they arrive Vanguard announces that he senses his knight nearby and must go to him... her. Far be it for me to question the bond between and horse and his rider, but Justina isn't there yet. She's aboard the Revolving Castle and that does arrive from the future for five more pages. Still, his departure leaves our heroine and her sidekick alone. Zee assures the horse that she'll be fine. She's "attended several Justice League of America seminars on how to stay calm during the apocalypse." It’s an opportunity for Misty. She casts a sleep spell on Zee and takes off alone to defeat her mother. Zee collapses in a pile of playing cards, all the seven of diamonds, while her protege explains that she can only stop Gloriana by usurping the throne. Being Princess Rhiannon – her real name – of the Sheeda makes her the true heir. As she says this she is again surrounded by a halo of spine riders, this time there is a green flash and her human appearance gives way to something more Sheeda-like. I assume that Neh-Buh-Loh had disguised her as a twenty first century human in order to hide her from her evil step-mother. I have no idea why she thinks that leaving Zatanna behind is a part of accepting her responsibilities. Zee awakes a moment later, her self-doubt reinforced once again. Magically, Ka Zoom appears to advise her on her next step. She is 'surfing' the Spell of Seven. She needs use Gwydion and "make her daddy proud one more time."

pp 19-20 Klarion arrives right in the thick of battle and is thrilled at all the exciting things happening in the Blue Rafters. Where we see firemen trying to save a building, he sees an elemental battle of fire, water, and air. He may have no idea whats happening, or going is to happen, but he understands that he is the author of his own story. As he considers his next step, which side of the battle to join, he is approached by the Princess. Her tone is condescending, but what immediately grabs their attention is the pinging sound their dice are making. She makes the mistake of telling him that it’s an important weapon. Rhiannon tries to intimidate him, but he counters her threat with a paradox. Which of the two came first? If she harms him, could she possibly be harming herself? In the moment of her hesitation, Teekl leaps at a spine rider and in her surprise she drops her die. Now Klarion has both, he has the whole Fatherbox. He and Teekl board and giant fly, "On Beelzebottle, on to Glory!"

pp 21-23 A million things are happen at once. Rhiannon realizes her mistake and runs back to Zee, who isn't as trusting as she once was. Sally Sonic demonstrates that she's a girl of very little brain, kicking her driver in the head, while the car is speeding on to the hospital. Justina is still proving her mettle, holding out against the Sheeda Queen. Carla and her mother are driving through the chaos as George and Hanna, from Manhattan Guardian #3, continue to argue. Yes, she's another one of his robots. Castle Revolving appears over Manhattan, crashing into its skyline, and Zee realises its time to put her doubts aside and be a superhero. And just where the superheroes are is what the President is demanding of Father Time; who is in the old S.H.A.D.E. headquarters beneath the UN building, receiving a transmission from Frankenstein. He contacts the Bride – she's commanding the battle at the Superhero Museum – and gives her the startling news: the Sheeda aren't aliens, they are the future of mankind!

Not quite a startling as it once was.

Next: The Victory of the Seven Soldiers!