Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Seven Soldiers of Victory; Civil War; Local # 8

Seven Soldiers of Victory
Grant Morrison-Various Artists

Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory is point blank, a tour-de-force, in every sense that word can mean. The premise off the series is seven heroes strung out through time, who never meet, are part of a team, unbeknownst to themselves, fighting to save the world against an aged fairy race called the Sheeda, who have come to harvest mankind.

The series is built on these seven mini-series, which though best read in the order they are collected in the trades in, can be read seperately as their own adventures, as their own self-contained origin stories.

The series starts at issue 0 and then has the seven mini-series, which are kind of origin tales, finally concluding with issue 1 of The Seven Soldiers of Victory. The structure alone of the story is worth the price of admission. To say nothing of Morrison's meditations on writing, magic, the devolution of society, history and time.

It would not be a stretch to compare Morrison's contemporary work to that of Robert Anton Wilson, Phillip K. Dick, and Alan Moore. The man is on top of his game, and the artists in this series respond to his call. Each series has it's own distinctive look and flavor. Just as an exercise in characterization the series is worthwhile.

I really do hope that DC collects the entire run in one huge absolute edition, because this work is that important. However, it would not be somewhat appropriate if they don't, because the series itself kind of operates through the seems of the DC universe. And I definitely think once you have read this, it changes the DC world for you. It's a definite companion piece to Infinite Crisis, and I highly reccomend it. But make sure you are in it for the long haul. This is a story that once it gets going is impossible to let go, but it's also an easy story to dismiss based on the early issues. Stick with it, because the payoff is worth it.

Civil War
Mark Millar-Steve McNiven

Well it's over now. The blueprint for the new Marvel World has been put forth. And now it's time to look back and see what what we've ended up with. Is Civil War perfect? For what it is supposed to be, in terms of setting new ground rules for the Marvel world it definitely accomplished it's task. Where a lot of the problems come in, are from expectations of this event to be like an Crisis on Infinite Earths, which it certainly is nowhere near that epic. And then on top of that, there is the predictable niggling over piddly details of whether you buy certain characters being one way or the other.

For me the character issue was never a huge one. Sure there are a few moments where you wonder if say, Reed Richards, would really be that devious. But I was able to suspend my disbelief as a reader, in large part thanks to the art of Steve McNiven, who I believe has set a new high water mark for the tighted ones. The emotion that he is able to convey in characters faces, and postures--you could read this book without Millar's words, and enjoy it as much, or more.

Millar's writing has been equally strong for the most part. There have been several brilliant exchanges through the book, in particular the one between the Punisher, Spider-man, and Captain America, that I will remember for awhile. Is this book as strong as Millar's Ultimates? No. But it's also only 7 issues long. And for being that cramped, I think Millar does a good enough job.

Where this book is important I believe, is in marking out the new direction for Marvel and the 616 universe. This work is nothing if not a manifesto for the new Marvel era. Hopefully we can expect more of these timely political books now that the Marvel world has been brought a little farther into the real world it's always said it's a part of. In many ways Civil War can servce as a refocusing point for the universe, and allow for a better exploitation of the advantages that the Marvel 616 has over say the DC universe. I think in that respect, whether it's everything you wanted or not, it is an extremely important book, and anyone wanting an entry point into Marvel Comics for the next year should pick up the core book(which reminds me, I've heard a lot of people complain about all of the extra books that you supposedly have to pick up--having finished Civil War, I really do think all that you need to know is contained within the pages of those 7 issues. If you are reading it, and want to know more about a specific character related event, you can definitely go pick up their book(as I did with Amazing Spider-man a few times) but it is hardly essential that you do this, and I can't really stress that enough. YOU ONLY NEED TO READ THE 7 MILLAR ISSUES).

And I know we aren't supposed to do this, but since both companies have been so event is my ranking of events between the two companies from the last two years:
1. 52
2. Civil War
3. Identity Crisis
4. Countdown to Infite Crisis
5. House of Stupid M
6. Infinite Crisis

Up next we have another DC countdown to something or other, and from Marvel World War Hulk.

Local # 8
Brian Wood-Ryan Kelly

Kind of a nice book to review as a change of pace from the superhero books up above. Local is this indie book that each issue takes place in a diffrent place of the country, and kind of is about the smaller things in life, which are usually the things that matter most.

This issue takes place in Wicker Park, Chicago, and takes place mostly between a diner and two apartments. It's about a waitress named Megan(who I gather most of the series is about) as she is kind of in that mid-20's crisis point of deciding what she wants to do with the love in her life. If she wants to stay with a nowhere guy who makes her happy, or go with a rich guy who can buy her things and give her a future, but who she doesn't really like.

It's really a wonderful piece of character writing, and it's a testament to the creative team that the story feels as quiet yet important as it does. Reading this book you really do hear the wind whipping leaves through the air, and all the diner sounds and congestion. You really do get into Megan's headspace for the duration of the book, and can understand where she's at as a person. It's definitely a wonderful book, and I look forward to catching the whole run in trade once it's collected. Supposedly the series basically follows Megan from 18-32, which is completely fascinating to me.

As an aside, in my creative writing class in college, the idea was thrown around that men could not write women characters believeably. This is another book that counteracts that arguement, as Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly do a wonderful job telling Megan's story. A lot of good writing can happen when your characters are treated as humans, not sex objects.

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