For some reason, comics publishing appears highly prone to extreme hype. Perhaps it comes from comics’ legacy as the poor cousin of literature, art and entertainment in general – if no-one else is going to shout about you, you have to shout yourself. But in reality it probably stems from the deeply commercial nature of the business, not least of all because it’s the most commercial publishers that seem to insist on creating the greatest noise about stories that really don’t deserve it.
Seven Soldiers of Victory is a case in point. It’s not a terrible read – we even gushed over the first volume ourselves. But we perhaps should have known better – Grant Morrison’s insistence on telling us how unique the publishing model he devised was (seven monthly mini-series of four chapters each, book-ended by a prologue and epilogue) should have set alarm bells ringing. Hyping a product because of the way it’s being published – effectively a honey trap that neither comic collectors or casual readers can easily escape from once they’ve committed their time and money to it – is an innovation in nothing but marketing. With the four collected editions we’ve reviewed here on Grovel, perhaps the marketing magic got watered down and the effect was lost. But when you take away the novelty, you’re left with an over-wrought story, possibly spoiled by its needless adherence to an unnecessary marketing ploy.
We’re not being fair to all concerned here: the art is of a high standard throughout and the dream-team of names Morrison has brought to the party do their best to lift the story beyond its means. But as we’ve seen with Morrison in the past, great art can’t always disguise an average story.
The biggest disappointment of all is that it started so beautifully, with a shock early twist that leaves you reeling but also raises expectations to a level that Morrison is unable to deliver. The series bottomed out and dragged on through volumes two and three, while this fourth and final book doesn’t gather enough of the early crumbs of genius to let it off the hook. It’s not terrible, but you need to be pretty keen to spend $60 or £40 on all four volumes and, to top it all off, we all know Morrison can do better. If you’ve already read the other three you may as well see if you can lay your hands on this one – at least you’ll get closure. But if you were sensibly waiting for volume four before making any decisions about whether you were going to jump on the bandwagon, we’d seriously recommend you don’t bother.
Other titles in the Seven Soldiers of Victory series:
[catlist orderby=title numberposts=-1 id=144 order=asc thumbnail=yes template=new]