The new comic I bought this day.

Seven Soldiers - Guardian #2 (of 4)

Well, forget what I said in my "Shining Knight" review from two weeks ago, since it doen't look like the Seven Old Men will be making cameos as matched to the 'all headshot' cover scheme. So the anticipation goes in the land of extended stories.

Morrison smartly shifts the weight of the story onto the Subway Pirates this issue, leaving the dull title character to hit some people and strike Kirby-influenced poses and glower for the last few pages (which doesn't make sense at all - the attack on his family had absolutely no connection to his being the Guardian, as Mr. Floating Head notes). The script seems to liven up whenever the baddies are on the page, Morrison tossing out lines like "I prepared myself for this with a fiery cocktail of absinthe and crack," and setting up a near-mythical confrontation between opposing pirate captains, as everyone races toward the Foundation Stone.

A theme for this segment of the book is emerging: the superhero as reader surrogate in exploring alternate culture. This won't be a tough one to pick up, as Mr. Floating Head spells it out at the end of the issue. Naturally, the question then arises from the thoughtful reader as to why we need superheroes in particular to tell "stories about human dignity", but I get the feeling that Morrison is accepting the presence of superheroes as a given (after all, this is a DCU comic), and shifting the focus of the query onto what superheroes can do, considering that their presence is mandatory. Guardian plunges into danger, going places where normal people could not, to bring normal people stories. All fizzy and poppy stories (as the characters essentially acknowledged in issue #1), granted, but we are working in a superhero world.

Aside from spelling out the themes, Morrison also throws in some remarkably unsubtle references to "Klarion", and at one point everybody quite literally runs into a likely plot point from a different miniseries under the project umbrella. I presume that some of the more puzzling bits near the end of the subway chase will become clearer in time, though I must repeat that the final game of chance in that glowing pool does manage a sort of legendary swing, aided greatly through the fun Morrison has with the lines.

"Evens ye die, All-Beard! And odds, 'tis I!"

Artist Cameron Stewart does a decent job of hitting the right action beats, shifting his style gently in homage to the King. Everything is underground in this story, or under dull lights or rainclouds, so the colors are muted, and maybe a bit muddy. It doesn't hamper the action, though the visuals here largely draw their power from Morrison's script, its electricity charging the socks to the jaw. There's omniscient narration bookending the issue, explaining the first-page visual metaphor for the villains' character arcs, and filling in some gaps for the final page's reveal, but doing it all with verve. Hints are dropped in dialogue as to the larger culture that Guardian hastily explores. If he reports for the people of the city, Morrison reports for us, and he'd hate for anyone to miss a beat, hence the abundance of explanation. It's hard to tell quite where the book is going from here, but I doubt it won't be spelled out for us once we're there.