This is an internet post.

*This is a preliminary review, pending a bigger one in a few(?) days.

Seven Soldiers #1

I guess only 2/3 of the US got this today.

It’s 40 pages of story, two more than Seven Soldiers #0. Missed the symmetry by that much. Fitting.

The revelation of the traitor and the traitorous activities that follow are the funniest bits of the issue - and there’s plenty of funny bits. You sure can’t accuse Morrison of taking himself too seriously. I mean, just look at Gloriana at the end.

I’m pretty stunned that so much stuff got crammed into a fairly small space. Some things are directly explained. Some things are left implied. Some things might require a tour through the prior 29 comics.

Oh, and the book is 100% incomprehensible for those who haven’t read the rest of the megaproject, but I’m sure you expected that.

Emotional beats are hidden in games you can play along with. Various storytelling styles are adopted. Visual approaches shift on the fly. What is this, Acme Novelty Library?!

Note the pin on that guy’s tie.

The finale to Guardian’s arc is so cheesy and awesome it actually hurts.

J.H. Williams III draws pretty good.

I come with GOD-SIGHT now.”

Cute final page.

*This is a full-length review.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #9

This issue, the spirit of Not Brand Echh is duly evoked as writer Warren Ellis presents his dark, brooding revamp of Forbush Man, leading a gigantic squad of unfortunate parodic superheroes into battle with the also not-terribly-serious Nextwave. There’s a reference in the credits to the book insulting its readers, and a lot of this issue feels like Ellis working to fit his approach on the title into a certain Marvel tradition of tomfoolery. The last page gave me a solid horselaugh, but I’d have probably cackled harder at the many ‘poorly conceived superheroes’ gags if 52 hadn’t unfortunately done the same thing last week. I entirely doubt any of that was planned.

And there is really very little more to say.

*This is not a review of a final issue.

Planetary #26


There’s still another issue of this due out early next year, but this one’s been hyped to us as the ending to the main story, with only an epilogue yet to come. And sure enough, there’s a definite sense of finality about the proceedings, and not an inconsiderable whiff of self-satisfaction over what the book is about, an aroma I’m not quite convinced the book has earned the right to exude, though I can’t deny there’s real entertainment here for the longtime reader.

Elijah Snow, archeologist of the weird, century baby, and human defense mechanism for our Earth out of many in the Multiverse, really needs to take care of the wicked Randall Dowling and the remnants of his evil Fantastic Four, the dastards who traveled the Bleed, became superhuman, hoarded all the world’s wonders for their own, and sold out the planet to the interdimensional robber barons of Not Apokolips (or, “Earth Toilet-On-Fire” as it’s deemed by the Drummer). It might be a trick of the release schedule coloring my vision, but the setup for the final clash seems oddly similar to that of Seven Soldiers, especially in the extra-fictional sense of an extremely tardy series working double-time to wrap its plot up in a very small space.

Ellis and artist John Cassaday actually pull the wrap-up off quite smoothly, not just fitting in seemingly all the revelations that they need to, but even preserving the series’ sense of wide-open, big-paneled discovery. It’s also nicely amusing, in that Snow’s huge plan for dealing with the Four is so simple it seems ripped straight out of Looney Tunes. Seriously: this is some straight-up Coyote/Road Runner shit, even taking place in the desert, and while the reader may have to wonder about the elaborate nature of the plan given the ease with which it’s pulled off, there’s no doubt that it’s kind of fun, willing to incarnate Snow’s masterstroke in the form of a grand, concluding jest.

Even the series’ ongoing ‘archeologists’ riff gets a climactic airing as part of the gag - it’s amusing enough that it kind of drowns the hollow ring of Snow’s later self-congratulatory mini-speech on how he’s learned to circumvent the Evil Fantastic Four way of looking at problems in terms of shooting and destroying by… thinking up a more elaborate, hands-off means of smashing his opponents to bloody death. Hey, the Four were evil folks and all, but the smugness comes off as more than slightly unearned; that’s a joke that belongs in Nextwave, where it’ll fit in with the quick ’n dirty laughs and not point so much at the strain in the longer work’s themes and character development.

I like to imagine that the cover art of this issue is not so much symbolic of Snow preparing to fit the final piece of the puzzle into place, but rather removing a crucial bit to hold - his heart is now in his hand. At the end of this issue, Snow symbolically throws away his cigarettes, declaring that such habits are the business of the 20th Century; it’s time to put all the badass posturing away and redistribute the lost advances of the world back to the people. And yet, Snow shows nary a sign of development in the actual comic, save for his declarations - it's just an additional dose of bruising (dare I say superheroic?) badassery.

There were some tantalizing teases in the prior issue that perhaps Snow’s increasingly violent, aggressive nature could be attributable to Dowling’s stretchy mental influence, or even that ‘Snow’ as a personal might be an extension of the lead villain’s personality. Hope you didn’t bank on that, or really any sense of substantial shading; Snow’s character arc here ends exactly where you’d expect it to land. There are no surprises. It just seems from what we can read that Snow became better by becoming even more of a badass than before, apparently through the spiritual intervention of glimpsing his role in the universe, releasing him from blame for any of his activities. Don’t many of the emperors claim a calling from beyond, after all? Ah, but we’re assured that Snow’s violent, domineering ways can only lead to the people thriving, because that’s The Way It Is. Divine right, eh? Like a good superhuman, the world-protecting superhero displacing the more overt cruelty of an old generation of superhumans.

But was Planetary always going to boil down to differing flavors of superpowered entities clashing over the world? Maybe I just need to re-read it. Ah well - the notion of making all the world's seemingly fictional wonders a reality for the betterment of all still retains a core of sweetness, no matter how intermittently troublesome and ordinary the path to get there seems.

On the plus side, Ellis has left himself an additional issue to actually explore this new frontier, which is invaluable - the conclusions of this issue might have come off as intolerable if the curtain closed here. This is not the final chapter, and one can feel some relief for that.