In the second volume of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory, the various connections between the soldiers become startlingly more obvious. Though I was pleased to see this, and increasingly intrigued by the characters' rich backgrounds and detailed common history, parts of the story still disappoint me as a whole--to wit, the evil Sheeda, who seem both one-note in their villainy, and--even though Morrison takes great pains to discuss the Sheeda as extra-dimensional beings--somewhat generic in terms of standard alien invaders. I have found myself checking online to see which, if any, of the Soldiers appear in other DCU titles--while I like these characters and am enjoying their adventures, I think I'm too much of a universe-addict to become too invested in these characters if they'll never appear again.
Picking up from the last volume, Klarion escapes the Horigal monster with help from the Guardian's subway pirates' train, freeing a group of enslaved children and finding the dice cube left behind by the subway pirates. Meanwhile, the Shining Knight surrenders to the police, only to be attacked and captured by the leader of the Sheeda, Gloriana Tenebrae. Klarion is taken in by Tenebrae's estranged husband Melmoth, and escapes to return home to warn his people of Melmoth's threat. Justin is made to fight the resurrected Galahad, while mob leader Don Vincezno and Justin's horse Vanguard try to stop the Sheeda Hunstman from retrieving the Sheeda's powerful cauldron; the ghostly Ali Ka-Zoom brings Zatanna and her apprentice to Vincezno's mansion, where they rescue Vanguard. The Guardian tries to quit after a difficult mission, but learns that his boss was once a member of a Newsboy Army that included Ali Ka-Zoom and Vincezno, and that he's purposefully been brought together with six other soldiers, without meeting one another, in order to fulfill a prophecy to defeat the Sheeda.
The last three chapters of Seven Soldiers of Victory Volume 2 read almost like one story--which, depending on whether you see these are independent miniseries that connect or a connected series able to be read separately, suggests that at least one goal of Seven Soldiers was met. Certainly, after finishing Volume 2, I can see why DC chose to reprint these titles chronologically rather than series by series--Zatanna #3 follows immediately on the heels of Shining Knight #4, such that reading them separately would steal some of this project's epic fun. (At the same time, one might be tempted to call foul in regards to the whole "the Soldiers never meet one another" thing, considering that Zatanna flies away on the Shining Knight's horse, but I digress.)
And though the last issue of The Manhattan Guardian doesn't deal directly with the events going on in Los Angeles (and kudos to Morrison for setting his heroes not only in different mini-series, but even on different coastlines), the revelations in Guardian #4 certainly explain some of the relationships between the supporting characters. While I like the idea that Stargard, Larry, Don Vincezno and others know each other from the Newsboy Army, it feels at the same time like a bit of a cop-out--there's no way for these brand new heroes to know each other, so their supporting casts (interesting, but not as interesting as the heroes themselves) are the real movers and shakers of the story.
I've decided that I fall in the camp of enjoying connected stories over one-off tales, given how the Shining Knight/Zatanna crossover piqued my interest--can you imagine if Grant Morrison orchestrated a DC Universe crossover this way? Because indeed, what is Seven Soldiers but the countdown to Infinite Crisis on a smaller scale, and with mini-series instead of regular titles? We saw some of this in the Superman/Wonder Woman/OMAC Project crossover, "Sacrifice," but I'd be eager to see it happen again with this greater level of detail.
[Contains full covers, "what came before" page.]
Continuing on now to volumes three and four, and then to our Seven Soldiers wrap-up.