This post knows what you want.

*And what you need. You certainly don’t need free time. No you don’t. All you really need is Dumb: The Game. Lots of puzzles. Lots of minutes you’ll never recover. Oh how you’ll lament in later years. Good fun.

*Feel-Good Hit of the Year Dept: Chris Ware is apparently writing a screenplay. A level of high-stepping exuberance unseen since the glory years of Busby Berkeley will no doubt arrive pursuant. (Found at TCJ)

Seven Soldiers - Bulleteer #1 (of 4)


Now this thing here - it’s a clever little devil. It’s certainly one of the better Seven Soldiers first issues, probably the best since Klarion.

Just look at that cover. Note the most pronounced elements. It’s about what we’d expect from penciler Yanick Paquette, who brought his bountiful cheesecake aesthetic to Terra Obscura (he’s inked by DCU vet Michael Bair, recently of Identity Crisis), but he’s really striving to outdo himself this time. Alix Harrower (cute Sheeda reference there) is the young lady portrayed, and she’s rarely positioned more modestly than she is out on front - posing in the opening splash in her bra and panties, slinking around her husband’s laboratory basement wearing little more, posing in a succession of revealing dresses, constantly arching her back or bending forward, the reader’s eye forced towards her bust and bottom at least once per page. It’s a bonanza of chintzy titillation, yet there’s some thought behind it, believe it or not.

You see, Alix’s husband is busy at work on SmartSkin, a drifting mass of liquid metal that coats living beings and renders them super-strong and virtually impervious to harm. You’d think that millions of dollars would drop from the sky (or at least the military) for access to such technology, and Alix would agree with you. But she’s still living in a small home, because her husband wants them both to be superheroes, inspired by a Golden Age husband/wife team he’s researched. You’ve got to make a splashy debut just to be seen in this world of wonders, after all.

But Alix isn’t interested. And maybe it’s because there’s something creepy about her husband’s demeanor. He keeps ranting about youth, about how superheroes never seem to grow old. “…you never used to have those little lines, you know?” he callously asks her. Naturally, Paquette never allows us the readers to see such things; it apparently takes a certain eye to catch such flaws. Is such sight bred through familiarity? Is Alix’s beloved simply pining to maintain the pair’s slipping youth?

No, it’s something deeper, something that takes us all the way back to the beginning - Seven Soldiers #0, to be exact. We’ve been through a number of different environments in this project: heroes-for-hire, established heroes, fantasy heroes, cosmic celebrity heroes. But now we’re back in the realm of folks attempting to buy super-gear on eBay, young and strange revamps, untested novices. The sort of D-list folks itching for a big break, half of them having lived all their lives surrounded by an established, crouded, supersaturated DCU. There’s subcultures established by hero prospects, internet communities, hospitals filled with reckless ‘origin attempts’ (and despite all that world-building, it’s nice to know that writer Grant Morrison still set aside some space to take a quick jab at J. Michael Straczynski). And that’s not counting the porno.

Oh yes, the porn! Mr. Harrower has quite a cache, as his wife eventually finds out. Fetish shots of bullets bouncing off exposed flesh, caustic chemicals eating away at spandex (but never super-skin). It all reminded me of a sequence from Flex Mentallo, as the title hero wanders through a metahuman orgy, all of the dreams of heroic youth transmuted before him to a sweating mass of debauched adult grasping. That’s a little of what we’ve got here, except we’re constantly forced by Paquette’s pencils into adopting the lecher husband’s leering point of view, such as when an action sequence tears the clothes away from Our Heroine’s gleaming chrome skin. Oh, did I mention she gets splashed with the SmartSkin? We couldn’t have a miniseries without that, after all - her husband gets a coating too, but he winds up merely experiencing a round of super-asphyxiation, a teardrop tumbling from his shimmering naked Adonis body. Damn irony.

Of course, Alix survives. More irony - she loses her job because she looks too scary for the children she works with, though the book’s art would never let us feel that way. If Mister Miracle #1 erred in not giving Pasqual Ferry ample material with which to strut his stuff, this title does just the opposite: it perfectly harnesses the particular talent of its visual team to play with the script’s themes, to implicate the reader, to tease us in more ways than one. Script/visual interplay aside, it’s not a perfect display; one particular gap in understanding between the line art and Alex Sinclair’s colors leaves Alix temporarily with the butt of a Barbie doll (which actually sort of fits the theme anyway). Still, Paquette is an able storyteller beyond the pretty girls, and you only become distracted when you’re supposed to be.

But how long with the distraction last? Judging from the 'next issue' box, we’re due to delve deeper into the neophyte fringe of the DCU, and I’m betting it’s going to be a fairly interesting trip, based on what we‘re seeing here. All of the title characters in Seven Soldiers begin their series in a confused state, until they are transformed somehow into proper heroes - it’s the path of the revamp, and it’s taken over and over in every single miniseries. The Bulleteer basically has no economic choice but to join the ranks of the costumed legion, paying for her husband’s yen, but maybe trying to extract something more decent from it. We’ll have to see what she does under the unflinching gaze of sexualization, lowered into the grave and reincarnated as us.