Saturday, June 10, 2006

Meeting Morrison

On my list of idols there's many people, but I think no one has had a bigger influence on my life, both creatively and just day to day, than Grant Morrison. When I read The Invisibles in high school it totally revolutionized the way that I view the very act of reading and creating fiction and reality, blurring the lines between the two. That was my first experience of Morrison's work, and in many ways it's the nexus from which everything else branches off. You can see pieces of nearly everything he's done in The Invisibles, and it's the crucial building block of the personal philosopy/worldview he's created in his work. Since then, The Filth has built on what he did with The Invisibles and if you've been reading the blog, you're well aware of my love for Seven Soldiers. And that's without going in to the many other astonishing pieces of work including Animal Man, Kill Your Boyfriend, Flex Mentallo, We3 and New X-Men.

The major reason I'm making comics and films right now is because I read The Invisibles and seeing how much I was changed by an encounter with this fictional universe made me want to create a work that would make a similarly large impact on the universe.

I was actually working my booth at the MoCCA Art Festival, but I had to abandon it for a bit to go over and see Morrison. Waiting on the line took forever and I was perplexed by why it was moving so slow. While I was waiting, they were raffling off books and I won a copy of Invisibles 2.1, 1.13 and 1.12, 'Best Man Fall,' an issue I remember reading and being blown away by. I'd had a very similar idea for a story, the idea of following this peripheral action movie character and giving him a life was something I'd been thinking about for a whiles, so when I read the issue I was simultaneously annoyed that he took the idea, but also stunned by the issue itself. That was I knew this was a really special series, by the time I opened 'Entropy in the UK,' I was obsessed with the series.

The first time I heard about The Invisibles was around the time The Matrix came out, and people were claiming that the film was heavily 'inspired' by this series called The Invisibles. I was contemplating picking it up for a while, and I finally did in May 2002, I was in my junior year of high school and I remember reading the book and really liking it. Even after that first volume, I thought it was better than The Matrix, but I wasn't totally sold.

So, I grabbed 'Apocalipstick,' and I remember I started to look on Deja News to find out peoples' reactions to the issues when they were first released. I bought 'Entropy in the UK' off Ebay along with the first volume of Animal Man, and I grabbed 'Bloody Hell in America' at a comicon in Madison Square Garden.

It took me a while to actually read the series, I believe it was in August of 2003 that I read 'Kissing Mister Quimper,' and then I found out that Volume three would be out in trade in November. In October, I began a reread, a very intense read, poring over every word to try to really understand the series, and it was during this read that the series moved from an amazing piece of work to a life changing experience. I remember reading 'Kissing Mister Quimper' for the second time and having to stop reading on practically every page because I was making connections and really starting to understand the series.

The first read of Volume Three took place over a 24 hour period that was frustrating at times, but when Robin came back from the supercontext, and Jack spoke, I wasn't sure what I had read, but I knew it was something amazing. From there, I spread the series around, and with my friends I continued to ponder the meaning of the series, exploring Morrison's worldview and developing all kinds of new ideas. It was such an amazing time because I felt like the universe was alive and I was seeing it in a totally new way. Following this, I reaffirmed my commitment to films, started writing comics and that's basically led me to where I am today.

So, this is a guy who's been built up to a legend in my mind. There's always a certain oddness of seeing someone you've seen in pictures in person, and also a bit of awkwardness going to someone to get your stuff signed. But, I walked up to the table, and told him how big an impact his stuff had on me, and then asked him about the new Invisibles project that was mentioned a while back. I was expecting him to be a bit guarded about it, but he told me seemingly everything that was set about it.

Here's the news, the new Invisibles book will take place between the end of issue 3.2 and 2012, showing the characters on the way to becoming who they are in the final issue. He's talking to artists about it, and it'll be somewhat like Endless Nights, but with more connection between the different stories. The reason he's making it is because he likes the characters and wants to do more with them, it sounds kind of like David Lynch and Fire Walk With Me, where he just needed to return to the world. Part of me feels like the series was perfect as is, but I would absolutely love new Invisibles material, and I'd be intrigued to see how he reconciles the 2005 Ragged Robin lived in with the 2006 we live in. I remember reading the book in 2002 and wishing that I could be immersing myself in the fiction tank in three years, alas it was not to be.

I would imagine that we'll actually get a chance to see more young Robin, pre-jump. I would love that because some of my favorite stuff in the whole series are the parts in 'Kissing Mister Quimper' where she's at college and is talking about reading a book called The Invisibles and fancying the author. And just the coloring on those red tank sequences was awesome. I suppose we'll see King Mob building his corporation, probably paralleling Grant himself, who's got the mock GMWord thing up on his site. Dane is likely recruiting Invisibles around, building his new cell, Fanny's getting fat and Boy's probably just hanging out. I think it'd be a really interesting opportunity to assess the successes and failures of the work and the world as a whole in moving towards this jump into the supercontext that Grant's talked about.

One thing I've always wondered is the exact nature of the supercontext, and I asked him if we were going to see any post supercontext stuff in the new volume. He told me that it would be impossible to represent the supercontext in a 2-D book. He then told me a lot about the supercontext. The basic idea seems pretty close to what I'd deduced, it all ties into the idea of "As above, so below." The cells in our bodies are all working together and form something greater than the sum of their parts, a fully functional organism. And on a global scale, humanity is like this, we're individual cells that mistakenly believe in the illusion that we are individuals, not part of the collective. The supercontext is basically the point at which this organism becomes self aware and the illusion of individuality is destroyed.

Now, I've had some issues with the idea that we lose our individuality, and I asked him about this. He was very adamant about the fact that individuality is an illusion to begin with, so moving into the supercontext isn't losing anything at all. I'd heard about this in theory, but it didn't really work for me. However, he took things to another level with his explanation for this. The idea of the 'timeworm,' all your history stretching back behind you, through time, was present in issue 3.2, however, I'd always thought of the timeworm as an individual thing. Grant said that the timeworm extends from you now, back all through your history, up into your mother before you were born, and hers extends back to her mother, and it goes back like this all the way until the very first single celled organism. So, all of life is quite literally connected because we are born out of the same parent organism, and like a tree, we have branched out through time and space. So, if you were to view things from an outside of time perspective, you wouldn't see individuals at all, you would see just one massive organism growing out of itself and expanding.

So, once we move into the supercontext, we would be able to perceive things in this way, and experience any piece of the organism at once. This is what the John a Dreams story is all about, this is a guy who was liberated from the illusion of individuality, so he could move through and inhabit various forms, as well as his own native body. Because it's all branches of the same thing, he has the perception of everyone who's been part of this one organism, and that's everyone.

This fills in a critical piece of what I could never figure out about the supercontext. It's this literal connection between everyone, I conceived of it in theory, but the moment he talked about the timeworm stretching back up into your mother, it clicked for me, and I totally understood how he would conceive of each of us as just a small part of a much larger organism that stretches through time. And using this logic, to move outside of time is inevitably to move beyond individuality. To enter into the supercontext means to become aware of your lineage within the massive organism that is life on Earth, and in that context, you really are just a cell in something much larger. The jump in the supercontext is basically like John going into the timesuit, but on a planetary scale.

It was almost surreal to be talking with him about this stuff, this was a guy who seemed like he knew everything, I talked with him for a few minutes about this stuff, and he was very open, answering all my questions, basically talking about the stuff I discussed above. I would love to see him do a seminar or a Q&A and just hear more about how he views the world. I talked to him about a very specific piece of his output, a critical piece, but I would love to hear more, about his conceptions of fiction in relation to reality, the Flex Mentallo stuff. After talking to him for a while, I realized why the line was moving so slow, he was giving everyone a lot of time, and that's fantastic. I got the sense that he really enjoyed talking with people about the work, and I know that if he's anywhere near the area, I would love to see him again and hopefully get to hear him talk more. The five minutes I did have with him was one of the best conversations of my life.

Related Posts
The Invisibles: Vintage Reactions (3/1/2004)
The Filth: Issues 1 and 2 (12/18/2004)
Seaguy (4/9/2005)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Division Shadow: The Graphic Novel is Now Available

One of my big ongoing projects for the past year or so has been writing and producing a graphic novel, Division Shadow. If you've read the site for a while, and find yourself agreeing with most of the stuff I'm talking about, you'll probably really enjoy the book. The book is a big ensemble drama, with three seperate storylines, all connected through a covert military organization called Division Shadow.

The book's drawn by three great artists, you can read the serialized web version for free, or grab the complete graphic novel right here. It's 184 pages for only $15. I think it turned out great, and I'd definitely encourage you to give it a look.

Also, if you're going to be in New York City this weekend, I'm going to be doing a booth at the MoCCA Art Festival, which should be quite a gathering of indie comics people. I'm doing the booth with Jameson Lee, who made the sci-fi comics anthology Zebra, which will hopefully feature a short story by me in its second volume.

Ironically, I will have to abandon the booth for a while on Saturday to go over to the Grant Morrison signing at Forbidden Planet. Morrison's my favorite creator of fiction ever, and a huge influence on both my creative work and my life in general. He's been top on the list of people I want to meet for a while, so it'll be great to finally get the chance.

Related Posts
Creative Projects (8/28/2005)
Division Shadow #1 Now Available (10/31/2005)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: Season 2, part 2 and 'Downloaded'

I've been going through the second chunk of Battlestar Galactica's second season and on the whole it's been rather disappointing. The opening Resurection Ship two parter was solid, but from there we went into a bunch of forgettable episodes. For some reason, the producers decided to focus nearly every episode on the series' weakest character, Lee, the man who is put in mortal danger every week, but always survives it, the man who's loved by all women, the man who's very boring to watch. He's the Riley of this series, and to focus on him at the expense of the more interesting characters is ridiculous.

The show's always had a wide variety of elements, the military elements, the political elements and the cylon stuff. The military stuff is usually the weakest, only Starbuck can make those stories interesting, even though I like Edward James Olmos as an actor, most of his storylines are pretty boring. So, to focus most of the episodes on random military adventures is a big mistake. There's no sense of mortal danger from the cylons anymore, so the episodes where they fight rarely lead to major consequences.

There's some interesting elements, like the Cylon sympathizer group and the physical Six, but they quickly disappear and we're stuck with three out of four episodes in which Lee is in mortal danger. When he didn't die after the stranded in space adventure, it felt like a bit of a cop out, and that led to the showdown on the black market ship where he again survived. So, by the time we got to the hostage episode it was almost comical to see him in mortal danger again. Lee is pretty clearly a boring character, he's got no layers, and sleeping with a hooker doesn't instantly give him edge. He just drains the energy off the screen whenever he's on, so why give him all these episodes?

The thing that makes this worse is that for nearly the entire season we've got virtually nothing on the cylons. Every scene with Sharon was great, but she got very little to do, locked in a cell. The thing that makes this show unique is the cylons and the choice to not focus on them at all for the entire season was a huge mistake. There's no way to justify Lee nearly dying for the third time when you've got all this good story material out there untouched.

This part of the season exposed the fact that the creators built the show for the first season's plots and weren't really able to adjust after it ended. This leads to a lot of characters with no particular purpose and who haven't been given any new storylines.

So, with the show drifting away, everything snaps back with one fantastic episode, 'Downloaded.' The first scene of this episode had more interesting stuff than the previous seven episodes combined. One of the most interesting themes in the series is the increasing similarity between humans and cylons. This episode pushes that to an extreme, focusing on two humanized cylons.

I love the fact that Six has her own imaginary Baltar. That would apparently confirm that Baltar's Six is a hallucination, not the original Six manipulating him through a chip. I loved the Cylon bar, and seeing Sharon in her apartment, struggling to readjust to life in the cylon world.

The ending of the episode sets up a fantastic situation, where Six and Sharon will use their status as cylon heroes to subvert the collective mentality of the cylon world. Because they stand out, they have the influence to alter the direction of the cylons' war. It's also notable that they acknowledge it's wrong to wage war on humans.

At this point, I would be happy to never see the Galactica again and focus solely on the two Cylon heroes and their quest to change the world. I don't know if it's a deliberate choice, but the entire season, and this episode in particular, seems designed to make the cylons more sympathetic than the humans. The way Sharon's birth plays out, they're making Adama and Roslin into easily hatable characters. And it's not just because the perspective was switched here, Sharon has been extremely loyal to them and they give her no repsect whatsoever. Roslin's became a very unlikable character because of this.

The humans who raise the issue of trying to resolve things with the cylons are dismissed, but it looks the cylons themselves are going to make an effort. So, the cylon heroes are the most heroic people on the show right, and also the most interesting. I hope we get to see a lot more of them soon.

Related Posts
Battlestar Galactica (2x01-2x04) (3/24/2006)
Battlestar Galactica (2x04-2x07) (3/26/2006)
Battlestar Galactica (2x08-2x10) (5/19/2006)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Sopranos: 'Kaisha' (6x12)

The first half of this season was arguably the best the show's ever been. The intensity of the first six episodes was unmatched, from the shocking first episode ender to the innovative Kevin Finnerty stuff, up through Tony's rebirth with a new worldview and Vito's exile to New Hampshire. There was a sense of the show moving forward, interrogating its own world and building something new. However, in the second half of the season, things began to drift, first the Artie episode, which at the time was a disappointment, but is actually one of the strongest episodes in the season's second half.

Starting with The Ride, things drifted into a gloomy haze, where stuff happened, but there was no sense of forward momentum. There's certainly good moments in every episode of the season, but it was hard to shake the sense that nothing was moving anywhere. The show was so tight and focused last season, each episode an emotional journey, it was odd to see the drifting, sloppy storytelling we got with the past couple of episodes. I was wondering if this was all about lulling us into a calm before the season finale, it definitely wasn't.

This is an episode that's alright, there's some really strong moments, but at this point in the story, we needed a bit more. The chronology of the episode was part of the problem. For one thing, it felt odd to have a Christmas episode in the middle of the summer. However, there's also the fact that some very big storylines got compressed into one episode, where they might have worked better with some room to breath.

The episode tracks the diverging fates of Tony's two "sons," Christopher and A.J. As A.J. is finally getting things together, Christopher is falling apart. The choice to makes Kelli such a non-character creates an interesting audience reaction to the scenes with Julianna. Even though they're clearly destructive together, and Christopher is cheating on his pregnant wife, I was more behind Chris's relationship with Julianna than his marriage. It may be designed to mirror Christopher's own view of things, he got married on an impulse and doesn't really love Kelli, so we barely see her, just like he barely sees her. So, we are complicit in his infidelity.

I did like the scenes of their relationship together, particularly the dissolved together scene of them watching a movie and doing coke. That was visually striking, but the chronology mixing used to introduce the relationship was just odd. Chase has been using a bunch of odd narrative devices recently, the flashback to Chris telling Tony about Ade, Vito's voiceover, and those worked, but this just feels sloppy. The story would have had more impact if we had seen it in chronological order, and that would also have emphasized the irony of Christopher going to seek help ultimately leading to his falll into greater drug problems.

The really confounding thing about the episode, and the second chunk of the season as a whole, is Chase's utter disregard for the basic rules of narrative storytelling. He's always refused to play on the traditional TV rhythms, not giving viewers what they want, but here he's going beyond not playing with traditional TV conventions, he's abandoned any sense of dramatic storytelling, quelling most of the big emotional moments before they happen and playing the major events in a nonchalant way. Look at the death of Vito, one could argue that the emotional moment was when he leaves New Hampshire, and from that moment on, he's dead, but the actual murder was so anticlimactic it made the whole arc seem less important in retrospect.

I'm assuming this is deliberate, the first half of the season showed that Chase still could do tight drama as well as anyone, and this episode presents a bunch of opportunities to rev things up, but he always chooses to go with a more relaxed, resigned mode. I think it's getting a bit ridiculous at this point to keep teasing war with New York when it's inevitably defused before it starts. This same stuff has been going since season four, if you keep going back to the same situation without ever actually playing it out, it stops having any impact.

I'm guessing that Chase's motivation is to make the show itself mirror Tony's new mental state. When he first feels that way, he's excited with the new possibilities of the world, but as things go on, everyday's gift turns into a pair of socks, and so did the show. There's major stuff going on, but it's not played up in the way that previous seasons had.

This episode does confirm that Tony's had a lasting change. After some shakiness in the last couple of episodes, we see his new mental state on display when he chooses to give Christopher a pass about Julianna, and again tells Phil that "there's enough to go around." That scene was the best in the episode, Tony's very real emotion was powerful to watch, you got the sense that he was making a final reachout to Phil, to put the death of Billy behind them and really move on. And in the end, when A.J. brings Blanca home, he's the one who tells Carmela to accept her. This is huge growth from the experience with Noah and Meadow in season three.

So, as Tony becomes more accepting, Carmela is shown as callous and manipulative. In light of the episode's ending, it's pretty clear that she knows what happened to Adrianna, and was just using the threat of getting a private investigator as a way to put pressure on Tony. She can use it as an all purpose upper hand when dealing with Tony, for the first time, she has actual power in the relationship. She may not be Angie yet, but she's got something.

A.J. goes through the most growth here, and actually gets a nice, if slightly rushed, resolution to his season long arc. Tony's words have clearly made an impact on him because he's giving his all at the construction job. The key moment is when he doesn't use violence to get rid of the guys outside Blanca's apartment, but instead chooses to stick with what he knows works and bribe them with a bike. Now, this strategy might not be best for the long term, but it represents A.J. moving beyond being just Tony Soprano's kid. After being used by countless people to get to his father at the clubs, A.J. uses his own wiles, not his name, to win over Blanca.

Even if it's drifted a bit, the show can still be so tight, conveying volumes with one line. At the Christmas party, someone asks A.J. where he got the necklace and he says "The mall," a foreign concept for people who always have to know a guy. A.J. best asserts his independence when Tony says he's got a guy and A.J. says "I've got a job." Tony has been so successful that his son now seems to be on the path to the legitimate life that he could never acheive. Tony, for all his new worldview and goofy beret, still thinks in a box where he has to use force and bribes to get his way, he can't get it through hard work. It's the same for Carmela, who never thinks about actually making her house comply with the building code, it's got to be a shady deal to make things happen.

If Meadow really has left Jersey behind, it'd be fitting to end things with Tony and Carmela watching their kids move out of the mob world, feeling a touch bittersweet that their children succeeded where they could not. The message of the series is clearly once you're in, you never get out. That was established with Eugene in the premiere, with Vito's arc and now with Christopher's drug addiction. So, the fact that A.J. never got involved could be his salvation.

Because Chase is so maverick in creating the show, I hesitate to speculate on the final eight episodes. People are talking about this episode as the calm before the storm, but I just don't see it that way. I don't think there will be a storm, and if there is, I doubt it'll be played up in the way that people are expecting. I think things will finish out like this, with Christopher and the other mobsters getting gradually destroyed, with only the next generation potentially escaping. And, at the end, I'm guessing that Tony will be right where he is now, with a new outlook, but ultimately bored with his life, watching his kids leave him behind.

Now, it's possible that Chase really is lulling us into a false sense of security, but considering the way the show's been going, I doubt it. The Golden Age of the mob is gone, it's now just a gradual move towards extinction.

Ultimately, while I respect Chase for telling the story in such a bold, nontraditional way, there's a reason that certain tenets of drama exist, and to violate so many rules means you end up with a show that's ultimately rather flat. We need some kind of payoff or change to remain interested and, while the show's certainly still good, this second chunk of season six is the weakest the show's ever been. This episode was alright, but I just neeeded a little more.

Related Posts
The Sopranos: 'The Ride' (6x09) (5/9/2006)
The Sopranos: 'Moe and Joe' (6x10) (5/15/2006)
The Sopranos: 'Cold Stones' (6x11) (5/22/2006)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Seven Soldiers: Manhattan Guardian #4

The second trade closes with this issue, a major departure from the previous Manhattan Guardian stuff, and probably the strongest issue in the series. I was a bit wary as the issue began because Morrison seemed to be doing the same kind of Silver Age pastiche that Alan Moore did in Tom Strong, the kind of stuff that seems to be more fun for the writer than the reader. However, as the connections get revealed, the real purpose of these flashbacks become apparent.

Like Zatanna #3, this issue is remarkable in the way it draws the different story strands together, connecting all the Seven Soldiers titles and filling in the background on a lot of what we'd seen before. Throughout the series, we've seen many hero teams take on the Sheeda and fail, the knights, the heroes from SS0 and now the Newsboy Army. In the overall context of the series, this is setting us up for the union of the seven different miniseries characters in SS1. There's a major emphasison the failures of groups of six, all seven are needed in order for things to succeed.

If I have one major problem with this issue, it's the fact that it basically abandons Jake's story. In light of this and Shining Knight #4, it looks like SS1 is either going to be a really crammed issue, or we won't be getting too much resolution for the individual characters. Like Shining Knight, this issue ends with Jake claiming his role as hero and setting out to fight for good. Each of the series involves a crisis of purpose for the hero involved, every one of the major characters is feeling depressed, and uncertain of their fight, but by the end, their commitment to doing good is reaffirmed and they set out to battle the Sheeda.

Tracking back a bit, this issue does a great job of filling in some of the relationships we'd previously seen alluded to. It turns out that many of the supporting characters who've passed through the books were part of a superhero team in the past, the original Newsboy army. So, we find out why Ali Ka-Zoom was so sad about the death of Don Vincenzo a.k.a Kid Scarface, they were teammates on this vintage team.

The adventures of this kid gang parallel what happened in Klarion #3, where we saw a group of kids living a utopian, Lost Boys style existence. The gang here pledges to create a United Nations of kids, and never succumb to the problems that plague grown ups. However, as is inevitable with the passage of time, the kids move beyond this childlike state and take on the characteristics of adults.

One thing I didn't catch on the first read was the sexual relationship between Chop Suzi and Captain 7. She's become pregnant, and their move into the adult world of sexuality is what makes them reluctant to embark on the childish mission to Slaughter Swamp. The brilliance of Baby Brain is that this is a character who literally cannot grow up. So, the process of change is most painful for him, he's got to watch all his friends mmove on, while he is unable to move into the adult world. And the only method of persuasion he has is to cry until they agree to go to Slaughter Swamp with him.

Slaughter Swamp is a place of transformation, and hence the ultimate enemy for these kids who seek to live forever in a pre-adolescent world of imagination and wonder. I loved this whole sequence, it's very creepy, disturbing in a way that few comics are. There's a sense of everything breaking apart, the era that was being brought to a quick and drastic close.

As they approach the house, they see a lot of black flowers, each one representing someone lost to the Sheeda. Seeing the Queen watching the kids through the mirror is a throwback to Snow White and reinforces the fairy tale feeling that's present in the whole series. Apparently, the Time Tailor is different from the other bald men, they seemed to be working against the Sheeda, outfitting the new Seven Soldiers for battle, while the Tailor works for the Queen, gathering people for her to transform, as he did to Spyder in SS0.

Considering the chronology, I wonder if Spyder was working for the Queen when he went to Miracle Mesa, as a mole inside the group of heroes. I had always assumed that he was turned after the fight, but it would make a lot more sense for him to have been transformed in the swamp and sent in to facilitate their destruction. That's why he's the only one who made it out.

I love the tie in with SS0, when Ed talks about places unhinged from time and space, and indeed, I can feel the "strands of the web tightening." Ed himself sums up the theme of the issue eloquently when he says "In the end, the world just got too big...and too real for our little band of neighborhood heroes," the fantasy of childhood was over, the possibility inherent in being young destroyed when the Time Tailor reveals their future lives to them.

The idea of identity as a suit that you wear is a Morrison staple, tying back to fiction suits in The Invisibles. It's an idea reflective of the fact that personality is largely a construction and we can choose to reinvent ourselves with a different identity. Here, it seems like the Time Tailor is literally making their destinies and forcing it upon them. I'm not sure whether it's the same process that Spyder went through back in SS0, but it's a similar co-option of fate. The page in which their destinies are revealed is disturbing, and lends a poignancy to the previous issues. In light of what we know now, Don Vincenzo's final stand against the Sheeda isn't just about defending his home, it's about getting revenge for the fate that was forced upon him in the Swamp, a final act of defiance. Similarly, Ali's last stop to help Zatanna is a chance to make up for his failure here.

The background narrative of Chop Suzi and Captain 7 continues here as we find out that Suzi likely died in childbirth, and Captain 7 was branded a child molester for his relationship with her. He claims that it was consesual, but as of now, we have no way of knowing. I'm hoping that will be followed up on in one of the other books. For these characters, being a child molester is the ultimate crime, it represents bringing the adult world of deviant sexual desire into the innocence of childhood and puncturing the imaginative world that children lived in. Because he's older than Suzi, regardless of whether it was consesual, that puncturing of innocence definitely happened to Suzi because of Captain 7. However, it's still disturbing to see the team turning on their own and sending him into Ali's cabinet.

One ambiguity in this issue is whether Lil' Hollywood is meant to be Gimmix. They share a lot of characteristics, and Gimmix could certainly be an alcoholic. I'm guessing that'll be followed up on in one of the next issues. Another lingering issue is the idea of the Sheeda insects taking control of peoples' heads. In this issue, we see Mo Colley possessed by the Sheeda, but it's unclear whether this is the process that controls Spyder or if the thing that the Time Tailor does is something totally different.

The issue ends with Jake reclaiming the mantle of hero. The panel of Ed holding the gun is excellent, and all of the moody, blue art in the finale is fantastic. I think this is the best thing Cameron Stewart's ever done, bouncing between the crazy Silver Age stuff and the rainy present.

And emotionally, we get to see the resolution of Jake's dilemma. In issue three, he bottomed out, and decided that his personal life was more important than being a hero. Here, he becomes aware of the threat that the Earth is facing and decides that he needs to do something. I love the tie back to Larry, revealing that he was a superhero in the old days is perfect, in Jake he sees someone with the potential to pick up where he left off, and when Jake reclaims the mantle of hero, he atones for any culpability he had in Larry's death.

The ending reminds me of the final moments of Angel, rain pouring down, invaders from another dimension flooding in and no hope of victory, only the commitment to fight for good. I love Jake taking Ed with him and his final conversation with Carla. Then, the closing page hits the perfect high note to send our hero off for the final battle with the Sheeda.

With this each issue, this series gets deeper, adding thematic and narrative layers that enhance the reader's emotional involvement. With each series, Morrison is developing his trademark themes in new ways, and the interlocking narratives are something really unique. This issue was not only great on its own, it made the recent issues of Shining Knight and Zatanna better as well.

I've got the third trade on order, so it should be here soon. I can't wait.

Related Posts
Seven Soldiers #0 (5/17/2006)
Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #1-2, Zatanna #1, Manhattan Guardian #1, Klarion #1 (5/21/2006)
Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #4 (6/15/2006)