As I stated, I will re-read (or in some cases, really read) Grant Morrison's epic Seven Soldiers saga.

 

First is Seven Soldiers #0 (Ap'05). Has it been five years already?

 

It begins in Slaughter Swamp, birthplace of Solomon Grundy and already the twisting commences.

 

It introduces us to the younger son of Quality's archer, the Spider, transformed by James Robinson into a secret villain in The Shade, with the older son showing up in Starman. Geoff Johns ret-cons him as the betrayer of the original Seven Soldiers in Stars & STRIPE.

 

The Quality Comics feature was titled "Alias the Spider" and had one story reprinted in Detective #441 (Jl'74) which was one more than Uncle Sam or the Human Bomb got. He did not even receive an entry in Who's Who and made only a cameo in All-Star Squadron. Technically he was a Freedom Fighter but he was used as a substitute for the no longer existing Golden Age Green Arrow in the 7S lineup.

 

The opener is filled with prophecies and menace and the Sheeda and the Seven Unknown Men. It is an intriguing and complex beginning with great potential.

 

We meet the robust, dominatrix granddaughter of the Whip who, to me, is the most interesting of the new heroes.She apparently has issues!

 

We travel with her to the Southwest and ride with the Vigilante, an original 7S member. He's grizzled, ornery and charismatic. His time in the Old West was a Post-Crisis ret-con which explained why his period adventures in Western Comics and his exile into the past and his return from Justice League of America #100-102.

 

Miracle Mesa, the Ghost Country and the Buffalo Spider: all worthy of seperate tales to be sure!

 

Vig is showing his age yet appears younger in the Jimmy Olsen Special.

 

There are supposed to be seven heroes, but there are only six. Not a good sign!

 

The others and their inspirations:

Gimmix (Merry the Gimmick Girl), apparently related to the Star Spangled Kid, another original 7S member. The dilettante hero.

 

Boy Blue (Little Boy Blue), the mysterious youth.

 

Dyno-Mite Dan (TNT & Dan the Dynamite), the wanna-be who thinks he's ready.

 

adding the new altered Spider, Now I, Spyder, the team is complete with strange bondings!

 

They defeat the giant spider but it was a trap by the Sheeda. None survive.the Seven Unknown Men move to Plan B and we move to the minis next!

 

 

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I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be a different Vigilante than the one from the Jimmy Olsen book. I'm pretty sure the name is the only thing they have in common.
Back in the most recent thread for Seven Soldiers, I wrote:

I’d love to see what those fans who’ve known the DCU a long time, or those with an interest in the Golden Age comics that have recently been collected would make of it.

Looks like we’re going to find out! Morrison just loads these comics with Easter Eggs and throwaway lines that would ring bells with certain readers. There are some shout-outs in JLA: Ultramarine Corps too, that you’d probably like, especially if you get excited at the Earl of Wordenshire getting mentioned in a comic!

There is one run of old Len Wein Justice League comics that this series ties in very closely to – his redux of the Seven Soldiers story with Nebula Man in them. Possibly they are #100-2 that you refer to above. I must read them some day. JLA: Ultramarines Corps is the stepping stone between that story and this one.

What you say about the original Spider moving comics companies and becoming a retconned member of the original Seven Soldiers (long before COIE yet), perhaps points to his family being more involved in retcons and reboots than other heroes usually are. Maybe that’s why the Seven Unknown Men singled him out for their special treatment in the first place?

I got the impression that Gimmix is Merry the Gimmick Girl. There are a lot of hints that she’s really quite old, and she acts like an old pro at this hero business, albeit, a minor one that has stayed on the margins. Merry was one of a number of characters from this series I was amazed to see featured in Chip Kidd’s The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days . A book that I’ve had for a while but only gotten around to reading lately. It’s the kind of book you browse through rather than read from cover to cover.

Do you have these comics as ‘floppies’?
Merry was shown in Young Justice as being much older. And she's the mother of Brainwave, Jr. Her and the Brain Wave is NOT a visual I need!

It was the Crisis that necessitated the Spider's 7SV connection, though it took Geoff Johns to do it. As I stated before, the membership of the Golden Age Soldiers or the Law's Legionnaires, if you prefer, have be altered constantly for the last twenty-five years with the last dropping the Spider in favor of TNT.

Originally in Justice League #102, the destruction of the Nebula-Man (at the time, just a story mcguffin) sent Vig to the western U.S. alright but in pre-Columbus days. Post-Crisis, it became the Wild West and he met DC's other cowboy heroes and spent twenty years until he was retrieved.
Since I have just re-read Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special #1 (D'08), here are the facts:
This is clearly after Seven Soldiers and the Vigilante's death. It was written by James Robinson who loves old characters and killing them off as well.

Jimmy is being hunted down by 70s one-shot former hero Codename: Assassin or Code, to his friends, of which he has none. Jimmy's Kirby's days are demolished as we learn that (SPOILER ALERT UP) that Code killed the original Guardian, the entire grown up Newsboy Legion (that's harsh!!) and Dubbilex (but not before he tells Jimmy what he needs to know). Jimmy is nearly killed several times. Man. he really needs a signal-watch! zee-zee-zee already!

Anyway he tracks down the first and best clone of the Guardian to Warpath, Arizona whose sheriff is Greg Saunders, the Vigilante though he's never identified as such. He is described as a man cheated time and death and time again, and as someone who has "Been through a lot--time travel, death, rebirth--standard for some who don the mask and cape and cowl." And he's "young again with bright eyes but old, wise eyes, too. The only thing that betrayed the life and years he'd lived."

That sounds like he is the real, first and original Vigilante to me!

JeffCarter said:
I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be a different Vigilante than the one from the Jimmy Olsen book. I'm pretty sure the name is the only thing they have in common.
The Shining Knight #1-4 (My-O'05) :
Of all the 7S minis, this one has the most obvious link to the original 7SV as the Shining Knight was in both.

This Shining Knight is younger, less experienced and has a talking, winged horse.

There is a surprise twist at the end that I will not reveal, though if those answering want to talk about it, fine by me as it adds to the mythic aspects of this tale.

The Sheeda attack Camelot with its knights as their 7S (?). The enemies' great warrior is named Neh-Buh-Loh, a takeoff of the 7SV's final foe, the Nebula Man.

The young Justin and the winged steed, Vanguard, invade Castle Revolving using the True Lantern, glowing green. Will this become Alan Scott's lantern?

The Sheeda not only conquer, but corrupt. Their leader, Gloriana Tenebrae, is well-designed and sinisterly seductive. The mystic treasures like the Inexhaustible Cauldron and Arthur's sword, Caliburn become necessary part's of a knight's quest.

Trying to escape, they fall from Camelot to the present, which is quicker than being frozen in ice (Justin's original way of entering modern times).

Justin escapes the police and realizes that the Sheeda have followed, sending a Guilt demon while Vanguard is with Vincenzo the Undying Don, Crazyface and and Strato, an Air-Golem (there it is again!). Justin saves an old man (Merlin??) and conquers Guilt and is told that the world needs a Shining Knight!

Justin then surrenders to the police and is interviewed by an FBI agent and a medieval expert who turns out to be the Sheeda-Queen. There are a lot of characters in this mini!

The Sheeda resurrect an evil Sir Galahad, the Perfect Knight and mentor of Justin. Spyder is at her side. The Queen has Galahad attack Justin whose secret is revealed. Justin is forced to destroy (free?) Galahad and goes after Gloriana. Meanwhile Vanguard sees the Sheeda along with Neh-Bul-Loh attack Vincenzo and his men, killing them.

Not really a proper ending but sets up so much!

Arthurian legend is very powerful as its message still reverberate today. Having Vanguard be a descendent of Pegasus only adds to it.

Justin as the last and youngest of the Knights of the Round Table exemplifies how the young can survive over the experienced. The best and brightest seems to be cliched but it is true here. Inexperienced in deeds, but pure and noble of heart is an archtype in heroic fiction.

"The world needs a Shining Knight!"
More great posts. Your knowledge of all the continuity details adds another layer to the story stuff that myself and Mark discussed on the previous SSoV thread. Here's my take on the Shining Knight mini, if you want to have a look at it. (I'm still chuffed with the 'obvious but not obvious' connection I made between Ystin and a certain Defender!)

From what you are saying about Robinson's depiction of Vigilante, Robinson was 'playing fair' using a younger, actually alive Greg Saunders after he'd died in SSoV#0. In fact, from your quotes, Robinson explicitly states within the story what I take as given: that these heroes live in a universe where the most remarkable of them often come back from the dead, and where the minor ones have all kinds of adventures between appearances that allow for changes of situation and appearance.

Similarly, Morrison works lots of hints into SSoV that Gimmix has recently changed her name and that she has had both plastic surgery and paranormal superhero-universe type treatment to rejuvenate herself, so there is in fact no discrepency between the woman in Young Justice and Gimmix here. Morrison is 'playing fair' too.

Your recent posts show that you 'get' when comics are great stories in themselves. Your commentary earlier consisted of ONLY stating 'this contradicts that', as if that was the only point worth making. It seemed to me to be doing a narrow disservice to the craft that was put into them, and really narked me, for some reason! I'll try not to keep badgering you about it in future... :-)

...a takeoff of the 7SV's final foe, the Nebula Man

Neh-Buh-Loh is more than a take-off, as you'll see. You'll have to read JLA Ultramarines Corps some day. Nebula Man may have been something of a McGuffin in the old JL story, but in comics, everyone gets their backstory sooner or later. Neh-Buh-Loh's story is quite fascinating and goes back to that 70's JL story, but as it involves time-travel, it actually starts in JLA:Rock of Ages in the 90s, and continues in Ultramrine Corps in the 21st century! Neh-Buh-Loh's true origin is actually one of the wildest ideas that Morrison has ever put out there...

Justin is forced to destroy (free?) Galahad

I didn't realise it til you mentioned it, but this is another example of the old Buddhist addage: "Meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha. Meet your parents, kill your parents." An important stage in the hero's journey.
Sorry I didn't take part in your Morrison overview! I tried not to read it now so it won't influence my take on them. Hopefully I won't just repeat what was said!

Was I really that nit-picky? Maybe so! I wasn't trying to denigrate today's books as much as point out when thing don't make sense. Unfortunately I have all these facts stuck in my head that pop up when I read something contradictatory. I see it less as criticizing and more of sharing information! And showing off a little!

Should these minis be read in publishing order or as seperate minis? Or does it even matter?

For all our talk of mythology and legend, my first thought at Vanguard speaking was "Oh Great! A flying Mister Ed!!" Live and learn!
I see it less as criticizing and more of sharing information! And showing off a little!

I'll take your commentary in that spirit going forward...

Should these minis be read in publishing order or as seperate minis? Either is good.

Mini by mini, as you're doing probably suits best the way you are examining each character, but just be aware that things are happening in the other stories that have an impact on the story you are reading, and vice-versa.
JLA Classified #1-3 (Ja-Ma'05):

As we can see, this came before Seven Soldiers #0.

The Ultramarine Corps, a combination of Morrison's new heroes and the Global Guardians, take a lethal stance in defeating evil. That would put them at odds with the JLA no matter what!

Important fact: the JLA are not around.

This Jack O'Lantern seems demonic and unstable, like the Creeper.
The Knight IS the British Batman.

When did Gorilla Grodd start eating people? He used to be a lot more sophisticated. He prefered to use pawns and strategy, not brute force and terrorist tactics.

The new Squire is interesting as well, less of a sidekick than Robin. She has her own merits and spunk.

The Master (if that's his codename) seems to be Morrison again in a book like Animal Man though this time he's hidden, learned his lesson as the Writer from Suicide Squad!

Nebula Man in JLA files! Information sent through time! Neh-Bul-loh with Grodd, with all the backstory from 7S! It's all here! A prologue without being labelled a prologue!

Batman comes to save the day! Spaceships! Boom Tubes! JLA lab on freakin' Pluto! Infant Universe of Qwewq! Robot Justice League!

Again Morrison shoots out ideas and concepts faster than we can take them in!

The JLA chase down a villain, Black Death, into Qwewq and are unreachable though the Squire is on it!

Neh-Bul-Loh mentions the Sheeda. And the Ultramarines are put into thrall. They know they are being controlled but cannot resist. It does seem similar to the Anti-Life Equation.

Batman leads the robot JLA against Grodd and Neh-bul-Loh but they get destroyed and Batman gets captured. Not the best plan! Neb talks about destroying the "Seven"!

Luckily the Squire contacts the JLA and they return. Seven super-heroes confronting this corrupting evil.

While Grodd tries to COOK Batman, the others attack the enslaved UMC. John Stewart/GL is turned yellow! But in grand Hal tradition, just punches the Master!

Grodd pontificates to a simmering Dark Knight about new ape legends of a divine Grodd defeating human monsters, another example of the power of stories.

The controlled Olympian, another embodiment of the old myths, battles Martian Manhunter and Aquaman, themselves legends made real (the alien and the mer-man).

The Squire inspires the Knight to fight off and crush (literally) his controller.

Neb turns out to be the adult Universe of Qwewq, corrupted himself as an infant by Black Death and travelled back in time. Indeed, a truly bizarre and novel origin. But he can't fight Superman and retreats.

The JLA lays down the law, sending Grodd to the Phantom Zone (for a while anyway) and admonishes the UMC for their capital punishment attitude, stating that heroes willing to kill can be more easily coerced to kill. Some agree to stay in the infant universe of Qwewq to stop the corruption of it and be the champions it needs!

First of all, the UMC has untapped potential that apparently has stayed untapped.

The impact on 7S is there for the taking. Was it ever promoted as such?

The UMC's enslavement is strikingly similar to the Knights of Camelot from Shining Knight.

Superman calls Neh-Bul-Loh "Nebula Man". Is he really the same one in Justice League #100-102?
The Guardian #1-4 (My-N'05):

The cover says the Manhattan Guardian (MG) but the indicia simply has Guardian.

Subway pirates searching for New York City's secret subway line. An exciting beginning though No-Beard with two hooks is NOT someone to trifle with!

Jake Jordan, a former cop who quit because of a bad shootout , becomes the living symbol of the Manhattan Guardian, a for-the-public, by-the-public newspaper run by the mysterious Ed Stargard. After passing a test which involved a seeming terrorist attack and encountering Stargard's bodyguard, a Golem (Now I'm just going with it. No more questions!), He becomes part reporter, part independent cop.

He learns about the Newsboy Army, young people who are his back-up. But tragedy strikes when another subway pirate, All-Beardkills kidnaps his fiance, Carla, and kills her father in his first super-hero twist of fate!

After an action pack chase, he's forced to go with No-Beard after All-Beard and enter the secret subway. He learns about the Foundation Stone, a six-sided stone imbued with amazing powers by the architects of NYC. After one destructive train ride with many casualties, Jake rescues Carla. No-Beard and All-Beard expose themselves to radiation to find the Foundation Stone , the controller of destiny and it is a common dice!

After her father's death, Carla wants Jake to quit this dangerous job which he doesn't want to do. She says that she was happy when he stopped being a policeman even though he was miserable. You just feel for the guy. He's in a "no-win situation"!

Later he goes to rescue Century Hollow, a Westworld-type place that develops a Westworld-type problem as its artificial beings go berserk. In NYC, no less. The motivation behind this is both perverse and all-too-common.

Upset, MG returns to quit only to see Stargard's true form and gets some answers. He is told that Stargard was part of a kid-group, the original Newsboy Army, a combination of the Little Rascals, the X-Men and the Challengers of the Unknown. And there were seven of them. And they discovered the Sheeda on their last adventure and encounter the Terrible Time Tailor who revealed (manipulted or changed) their futures and the tragic results.

In the present, the Sheeda are attacking and MG is taking Stargard and his aide with him to fight...

I got a Marvel vibe from this mini. The action, the man with the shield, the soap opera dramatics all seem to have a Stan Lee influence.

Of course we all know the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion from Star Spangled Comics and Jimmy Olsen In the 80s both were featured in All-Star Squadron and the 90s in the multitude of Super-Titles. The final fates of all were revealed in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special from 2008. It also ties in with the Cadmus Project being abandoned.

That this Guardian is African-American is similar to when the Teen Titans' Mal Duncan became the New Guardian in the 70s. The Titans had the Guardian's costume and shield because Jim Harper was Roy (Speedy) Harper's uncle. He also used a strength increasing exo-armor. Actually, I liked Mal as the Guardian far better than as Hornblower. He was under acurse that the next fight he lost, he would die. Good, no pressure! He was later ret-conned into the Herald whose powers I still don't understand.

The MG has no super-powers but is a visually compelling figure. However there is still the clone of the original Guardian out there still so his future is uncertain.
The Ultramarine Corps, a combination of Morrison's new heroes and the Global Guardians...

The more I read of your posts, the more convinced I am that Grant uses virtually no new characters at all in his recent DCU work.

I'm surprised you haven't identified Black Death as an old character, but maybe he's changed his name? ( I don't know anything about him, but I'd be surprised if Grant made him up...)

That would put them at odds with the JLA no matter what!

In some ways their heart is in the right place. Their floating city has a population of refugees (and probably child soldiers being rehabilitated, too). Great ideas, but Morrison frustratingly doesn’t develop them. As you say, the Ultramarine Corps here are full of untapped potential, but writers since 2005 have been more interested in reworking the tired old stuff rather than running with anything genuinely new.

This Jack O'Lantern seems demonic and unstable, like the Creeper.
The Knight IS the British Batman.


Perhaps Jack is a benevolent Joker – ‘like the Creeper’. That the British Batman should be pestered by an Irish Joker has a certain appeal…

The Knight and Squire are great. I hope Cornell doesn’t mess them up in the new series! Knight’s relationship to Jack is intriguing (again we only get frustrating glimpses of their dynamic.) Given Cornell’s fellowship with the new Dr Who team, and that series quite ambivalent attitude to Britain’s colonial past, I don’t see Cornell being the man to explore the Knight/Jack dynamic well. His Captain Britain’s uncharacteristic ease with the vestiges of empire and trappings of militarism is another pointer.

When did Gorilla Grodd start eating people? He used to be a lot more sophisticated. He prefered to use pawns and strategy, not brute force and terrorist tactics.

Morrison is quite faithful to continuity, for the most part, while showing us that the characters grow and change as the decades pass. However, while his DCU work since 2005 can be fitted into DCU continuity, sometimes you have to allow that his DCU work is also a part of his broader output. More obviously, little bits from Doom Patrol and JLA have popped up in The Invisibles, Flex Mentallo sprang from Doom Patrol and has much in common with The Filth. Less obviously, there are themes and motifs that continue through all his work.

Evolution/Growth/the Destiny of Mankind is a big one (that even jumps companies, when Grant takes on the X-Men). Grodd is a DCU development of a nasty murderous little chimp in The Filth, who spouts ideology and hates humans. Notice that Grodd cites Darwin here. Humanity's animalistic, regressive, atavisitic impulses are embodied in Grodd, as opposed to the JLA’s enlightened, progressive, idealised version of what we might be. It’s the same area of thinking that means questing cave-men and unredeemed Cain-figure Vandal Savage keep popping up in Grant’s work too. (I noticed Savage appeared in both Zero Hour and Final Crisis, too. He’s more central to the DCU than his patchy appearances would attest. Symbolically, he’s very powerful.)

Nebula Man in JLA files!

‘JLA Classified Files’, mind you!

It does seem similar to the Anti-Life Equation.

Worth keeping in mind…

The controlled Olympian, another embodiment of the old myths, battles Martian Manhunter and Aquaman, themselves legends made real (the alien and the mer-man).

Good point! Specifically, the Olympian is referred to in passing as the ‘schizophrenic superman’. Weren’t all the old heroes and demi-gods ‘scizophrenic’ supermen to some extent? Pulled this way and that by their desires and selfish impulses, controlled by others and often embarking on murderous rampages?

This mini-series is a blizzard of wild ideas and concepts, but perhaps Demetrios’ little cameo is a quick reference to the fact that in the 20th Century, we finally got around to creating a Superman that only embodied our best traits with none of our baser ones? Quite an achievement, especially considering Superman/Clark Kent is just as complex, fascinating, and multi-faceted as any classical hero.

The impact on 7S is there for the taking. Was it ever promoted as such?

Maybe in passing, in ‘DC Nation’ or whatever it was called then. Certainly not in any big official way. As far as I know, the connection to SSoV isn’t even mentioned in the back cover to the recent JLA: Ultramarines collection.

I’d love to know the thinking behind it. Snobbery in dissociating the Vertigo-esque SS0V from a four-colour DCU superhero tale? Snobbery about the art in the JLA story? It's brilliant and perfect, but easy to dismiss as of the ‘long-johns and steroids’ school.

I think the overall SS0V is incomplete, as a story, without this prelude. It makes a lot of things clear that are less so in the main event.

Perhaps it isn’t something Morrison himself was committed to? I can see how DC would give him the nod for his ambitious 30-part epic about obscure characters, but only if he returned once more to the glory days of his bestselling JLA, and bring that burgeoning readership over to the less mainstream work, so it’s kind of contractually obliged, rather than something Grant had his heart in.

I could speculate forever. Someone should tweet someone, and put me out of my misery!
Black Death is no one I recognize but he's not clearly seen. He may just be a generic genocidal maniac.

I guess The Knight and the Squire didn't stay in Qwewq long. Have the others reappeared?

The Olympian is schizophrenic because he wears the Golden Fleece which gives him the powers and thoughts of ALL fifty Argonauts, including Heracles, a truly schizo character in the DCU. A villain to Wonder Woman, a rival to Superman, an elder to Captain Marvel and a hero in an apocolyptic future!

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