Review: Seven Soldiers of Victory Volume 4 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Well, I'm sorry to say, as perhaps had to be the case, the end of Seven Soldiers of Victory did not live up to my expectations. Certainly I was riveted throughout the four trades, and that it wasn't until the end that the story felt to me like it couldn't own up to its ambitions actually says something very good about Seven Soldiers, in something of a roundabout way.

Frankenstein defeats Dark Memnoth on the planet Mars, foiling Memnoth's plan to stop the Sheeda; later, the Bride of Frankenstein recruits him to work for the covert superhero force SHADE, and in the future, Frankenstein infiltrates the floating Sheeda Castle Revolving. Amidst the Infinite Crisis, the Guardian fights the Sheeda invasion in the streets while the Shining Knight fights Gloriana Tenebrae in the Sheeda castle; Misty, Zatanna's apprentice, is revealed as a Sheeda princess, but Klarion ultimately steals the Fatherbox die from her and becomes King of the Sheeda.

I enjoyed the miniseries issues that made up most of Seven Soldiers volume four, though I couldn't help but feel at times that some seemed more like filler, to get to the end of the trade, rather than stories themselves. I loved the weird horror of Frankenstein, perhaps best of all seven miniseries, but his battle with a proto-Chemo hardly had anything to do with the Sheeda. The Bulleteer's story, while also interesting, dealt more with her personal life and the story of Sally Sonic than with the Sheeda; and Mister Miracle's entire four issues turn out to be a dream! The four trades in this series have run the gamut from remarkably connected (ah, volume two) to completely disconnected, but here it's as if it hardly matters what happens in between as long as the characters get from point A to point B--the Bulleteer at the superhero convention, for instance, is not so important as her fight with Sally Sonic, which is not even so important as simply getting the character into a wildly careening car.

What disappointed me most about the final chapter of Seven Soldiers was what a great part so many of the soldiers didn't get to play. Frankenstein, my ultimate favorite, gets the biggest shaft, ushered off into the ether under Klarion's control. Zatanna orders the Soldiers to strike, and they proceed ... not to strike, really. The Guardian is mostly in the background (though at least he gets a happy ending), and the ambiguous Spyder is the one who actually takes Gloriana out ... but as ambiguous as the Spyder was, it made it terriby hard to cheer his appearance. The Bulleteer's epilogue was meaningful but short; of them all, the Shining Knight fares best, and I'd still be happy to see her appear again, alongside the Titans or another super-team.

And Mister Miracle ... I was very, very excited to see the New Gods appear in Seven Soldiers, in line with their rumored appearance in DC's upcoming Countdown. But I found Mister Miracle so unreadable--the plot constantly confusing, the character somewhat wooden, the whole thing turning out to be a dream--that the long-teased death in Seven Soldiers turns out to be Miracle, who we'd already been lead to believe died once, contained about as much impact as the appearance of the Spyder--very little. Coming at the end as it did, and with the various art team problems that I've heard it had, what I believe was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of the Seven Soldiers saga didn't quite fire. And faithful Seven Soldiers readers know what happens when all seven soldiers aren't up and running ...

[Contains full covers, final issue annotations]

Well, in four reviews I've really gone back and forth about a series that, overall, I very much liked and admired. I'm going to go and do some research on Seven Soldiers and find out everything I missed, and then report back here. So one more Seven Soldiers review still to come ... tune in tomorrow.
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