Friday, 19 December 2008

Seven Soldiers of Victory

What strikes you first about this daring project is the art, which is fantastic. As there are different artists working on each of the stories (each one following a different “soldier”), the art varies wildly from huge scenes of bustling energy and detail in overrun Camelot to crime chases in modern New York (think testosterone, grey subways and brute force), to eerie deep blue and turquoise frames which portray a lost village of witches from the Puritan era. I know, it's bizarre.

Once the art has intrigued and impressed you, then you will (probably) be strangely fascinated by the wealth of unusual and horrific ideas in each issue – and its presentation, particularly as it's told through dialogue which flirts with brilliance and yet can be totally bewildering. This latter point leads me to a warning: this four-volume series is clearly not for everyone.

It is an exciting and ambitious read though and Scottish scribe Grant Morrison is clearly pushing the envelope of the comic book medium to see what kind of mature, imaginative and multi-layered stories comics can tell. He takes locations as disparate as the dusty surface of Mars, a billionaire's mansion and a forgotten pirate culture deep underground and uses them to great effect – creating atmospheres of desolation or mayhem, and then injecting into each one confrontations between some of the oddest characters you are likely to find in comics: Big Ed/“Baby Brain” and the Newsboy Army, Gloriana the Queen of Sorrow and Mother of Monsters, and her servant Neh-Buh-Loh the huntsman (a wicked fantasy being who embodies a universe and also happens to look very cool), the former “new gods”, who appear to masquerade as the disabled and homeless, the ghost of a wizard, and a particularly brutal interpretation of Frankenstein (these books are not for the faint-hearted). Highly recommended fun.

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