Harlan Ellison's 7 Against Chaos
Writer: Harlan Ellison
Artist: Paul Chadwick
DC Comics, $24.99, color, 208 pages
When I got this book, I couldn't wait to read it, and planned to build an entire Scripps column around it. It's a science fiction story by the legendary Harlan Ellison! It's drawn by the creator of Concrete, Paul Chadwick! This is going to be great!
But, boy, what a disappointment. 7 Against Chaos is essentially Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven set in the future, where reality is unraveling and seven characters (each with their own special talent, 'natch) are sent to stop the problem at the source. Some live, some die, some are heroic, some are not, problem is solved, the end.
Oops, spoiler. But, really, did you doubt the good guys would win? This story follows the plot of every "specialists called together for special mission" movie ever seen, from the aforementioned Magnificent Seven to The Dirty Dozen to The Guns of Navarone to ... ohhhh, that's enough. I'm getting tired now. But you get the idea. And in all of those movies, no matter what problems arise from within and without, the mission is always achieved. Which is the case here.
I guess you could call this an homage to that genre of storytelling. But it adhered so close to the norms of that genre that nothing whatsoever surprised me. Or even, to tell you the truth, engaged me. I was watching one-dimensional characters go through mummery so familiar I was bored.
And no one is more disappointed than me.
Talk about YMMV! My "M" couldn’t "V" more!
Whereas I don’t disagree with your description, I came to an entirely different conclusion. What you saw as cliché, I saw as archetypal. I tried to start a discussion last month, but it didn’t go anywhere. I was hoping you’d write a review.
Here’s what I had to say on July 18:
“I don’t have time for a full-blown review, but I do have time for a quick recommendation. Harlan Ellison and Paul Chadwick’s Seven Against Chaos is a shoo-in for best OGN of the year. Ellison’s story is rife with heroic archetypes. The structure is reminiscent of Giant-Size X-Men #1, but there’s more to it than that. The art, by turns, is reminiscent of Jim Steranko or Timothy Truman, but what it looks most like is Paul Chadwick at his best. I think those who like Saga will enjoy Seven Against Chaos, but it has more of a science fiction and less of a fantasy vibe.”
And here’s what Travis posted on July 19:
“I just started this last night, and I've been enjoying it immensely. Yes there are a lot of familiar themes going on here (the gathering of heroes) that we've all seen before, but Ellison pulls it of in a fun way. He also brings other fresh ideas to the table as well. I can't remember the last time I've seen Paul Chadwick doing non-Concrete work, so that is fun to see as well. Depending on how my time works out this weekend I should finish it up. I second Jeff's recommendation.”
Well, that's what makes horse races. I'm delighted you guys liked it!