Comic Book: Seven Soldiers
The unsung Seven Soldiers of Victory... Stripesy and Wing are off fighting for the last slot.
The very first super hero team in The DCU
was the Justice Society of America
. Following the success of that team, a second was created, named the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Much like the Justice Society, the Seven Soldiers were heroes from several DC anthology comics. The Seven Soldiers was made up of:
- The Crimson Avenger: Lee Travis, newspaper publisher by day and crime-fighter by night who battles crime with his fists and with his crimson gas gun. His chauffeur Wing acts as his sidekick, and is the unofficial eighth member of the team.
- Vigilante: Greg Sanders (later Saunders), singing cowboy, who adopted the identity of the Vigilante after he brought his father’s killers to justice. Sanders is an excellent hand to hand fighter, trick shooter, sharpshooter, horseman and motorcycle rider, and an expert with the lariat.
- The Star Spangled Kid: Wealthy Sylvester Pemberton, secretly fighting crime with the aid of his acrobatic skills and hand to hand combat prowess. He and his adult sidekick Stripesy have a series of codes worked out for their various fighting maneuvers, and a mechanical car named the Star Rocket Racer that can change into a jet.
- Green Arrow and Speedy: The Golden Age Oliver Queen and Roy Harper differ in many details from the modern version of these characters, but they are still incredibly talented archers and use this talent to fight crime.
- Shining Knight: Sir Justin, a knight of King Arthur, was given by Merlin a suit of magical armor that would protect him from all harm, and a magical sword that would cut through anything. Merlin also gave Justin’s horse wings and the ability to fly. Justin was frozen for centuries and revived in the 1940s, where he applies his honor as a knight to fighting crime in the present day.
Most of their adventures would follow a standard format: the team would meet in the first chapter of each issue, split up and fight the mastermind's henchmen for five chapters, then unite at the end to defeat the main villain. Criminal mastermind The Hand was responsible for the team's formation, after which they dealt with such criminals as the Black Star, Dr. Doome, and the Sixth Sense. There were a few attempts to vary the formula in later issues, with team members turned against each other in Leading Comics #7, or the team members working with someone other than their usual partner in #9 due to being shipwrecked and scattered across some islands. The Seven Soldiers appeared in the first 14 issues of Leading Comics, but the series ended when Leading changed to an all-humor format with issue 15.
Years later in the 1970s
, during the celebration of the 100th meeting of the Justice League of America
(i.e. the 100th issue
), the League is summoned to Earth-Two by the JSA in order to help them combat a giant ethereal hand. They summoned a mysterious Oracle for help, who revealed that the Seven Soldiers had died fighting an entity called The Nebula Man which was created by their arch-foe, the Hand.
Because of the similarities between the giant hand and the Nebula Man, it was concluded that the team who defeated the Nebula Man would be needed. However, in the Soldiers' final battle they were apparently erased from existence and no one could remember who they were. The Oracle explained that following the defeat of the Nebula Man, the seven of the eight heroes were scattered in time, with the last one having perished during the battle. The JSA and JLA traveled through time to recover the Soldiers and help them build a new Nebula Rod, while they were opposed by the giant hand's creator. The villain turned out to be the Hand, now calling himself the Iron Hand. It was eventually revealed that the fallen hero, The Unknown Soldier of Victory, was Wing who had to sacrifice himself to use the Nebula Rod and defeat the Nebula Man. Knowing that whoever used the Nebula Rod would have to die, the android hero, Red Tornado
, stole the rod and sacrificed himself to destroy the hand.
Then the Crisis on Infinite Earths
, the Soldiers still existed, more or less. Because the original team were all Golden Age
heroes, their history had to be changed: Green Arrow and Speedy were never on the team, Vigilante's sidekick Stuff the Chinatown Kid was officially a member and Vigilante's mentor Billy Gunn was present but was never a member, and the final member was an archer called Alias The Spider. The Spider was really a villain working with the Iron Hand and sabotaged the Nebula Rod, killed Billy Gunn and attempted to kill Wing. The Soldiers still succeeded, Wing died, the Soldiers were scattered through time (But this time Vigilante was found after
he spent twenty years in the Old West).There never was a second Seven Soldiers team, made up of Batgirl, Blackhawk, Metamorpho, Mento, Deadman, Adam Strange, and a new Shining Knight who gathered together only once...
team only met up in an Elseworlds
story. The true successors of the Seven Soldiers of Victory 'formed' much more recently, about one week before
the events of Infinite Crisis
Their teamwork focuses less on the "team" and more on the "work" part.
The "Seven Soldiers" maxi-series, written by Grant Morrison
, started in 2005 and ended in 2006. With two bookend issues, the bulk of the series was comprised of seven four issue miniseries, each one focusing on each one of the titular seven members. This series is notable in that none of the members of the team ever meet each other (with one or two exceptions)
The series starts with the son of the original Spider, Thomas Dalt AKA "I, Spyder", visiting Slaughter Swamp outside of Gotham City, and encountering the "Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp" who have chosen him for a certain task. Meanwhile, an about to retire Greg Saunders AKA Vigilante (who was later revealed to be finally submitting to his werewolfism
) creates a new Seven Soldiers of Victory team, made up of Spyder, a new Boy Blue, Merry the Gimmick Girl (called Gimmix), Dyno-Mite Dan, and the Whip to defeat a giant spider that was supposed to have been destroyed during Saunders' tenure in the old West. The team kill the spider, but in turn are decimated by the mysterious Sheeda, lead by the Neh-Buh-Loh Man, who have come to destroy the world in "The Harrowing".
Each of the miniseries focuses on each member:
- Zatanna: After the events of Identity Crisis came to light and an incident in which she was indirectly responsible for the deaths of several of her friends and the release of a mysterious shape-shifting demon, Zatanna has lost all confidence in herself. But after meeting a mysterious young girl who asks to be her apprentice, Zatanna begins to travel down a path to learn the secrets of her father's legacy and regain her resolve. However, she soon discovers that her new apprentice is not entirely what she seems...
- Shining Knight: In the age of King Arthur Dragonhead, young Sir Ystin (pronounced Justin) and the flying horse Vanguard invade the mysterious Castle Revolving belonging to the Sheeda to kill their queen and recover one of the Seven Imperishable Treasures, the Cauldron of Rebirth. In order to ensure its safety, Ystin tosses the cauldron out of the castle and escapes, but ends up in modern times due to Castle Revolving's time traveling capabilities. After coming to terms with the loss of Camelot and all of its knights, Ystin goes forth to search for a way to end the Sheeda. Meanwhile, Vanguard, who was separated from his rider, is found by a mob boss, who is placed in a mysterious cauldron when ever he dies...
- Klarion: In the underground Puritan village of Limbo Town, lives the young Witch-Boy Klarion. After the discovery of a Sheeda rider, the elders of the village announced the sealing of the only gate to the upper "High Market", much to the frustration of Klarion who dreamed of seeing the outside world. Upon seeing the elders turning into a vile monster, Klarion escapes and eventually makes his way to the surface world of New York City. Being approached by a mysterious man named Melmoth to join a gang of childish thugs to steal a giant drill, one Klarion eventually discovers is to be used to enslave Limbo Town...
- Manhattan Guardian: Jake Jordan is going through a rough patch in his life: he's been fired from his job as a police officer after a nervous breakdown and his fiance, Carla, holds no respect for him. After his future father-in-law points him to a job for the mysterious "Manhattan Guardian" newspaper, the paper's founder, Ed Stargard, hires Jake as their "in-house superhero". While being the Manhattan Guardian has brought Jake out of his funk, multiple tragedies occur during the job, and Jake goes to confront Stargard. Upon meeting Stargard in person for the first time, Jake is told the story of the Newsboy Legion of Nowhere Street and their encounter with the Sheeda...
- Frankenstein: The "Spawn of Frankenstein" himself. After fighting against the evil machinations of Dark Melmoth, Frankenstein (The Monster, who is shown to have taken his creator's name) goes into a deep slumber for many years. Upon an invasion of a high school by the Sheeda, Frankenstein revives to continue his work. After coming across his foe on Mars, Frankenstein discovers that Melmoth is the former Sheeda King trying to defeat his wife and that Frankenstein partially owes his existence to him. After defeating his foe in a particularly spectacular manner, Frankenstein is inducted into the mysterious agency, S.H.A.D.E. who send him on a mission to stop the Sheeda-affiliated Neh-Buh-Loh Man...
- Bulleteer: Alix Harrower is an average woman, married to a Mad Scientist husband, Lance. Lance is attempting to create a new metallic superskin to become a superhero so he could live out his fantasy life with his wife or hook up with a superchick he met online. Unfortunately he Jumped at the Call, covering himself with his superskin, accidentally does the same to his wife, and dies in the process. Alix, who survives by a mere fluke, manages to stumble into the life of a C-list superhero while trying to deal with the husband's death and infidelity. All the while, she only really wants to be normal...
- Mister Miracle: Shilo Norman, one-time apprentice to the New God Scott Free, is doing pretty good for himself; he has achieved great fame as a master escape artist, just like his mentor. When attempting his greatest stunt yet, escaping a miniature black hole, he encounters the mysterious Metron in the event horizon, who desires to test him. Suddenly he finds himself in an alternate version of his own life, dealing with the problems of his fame while encountering people strangely similar to Kirby's New Gods... particularly one Mr. Dark Side... This series is frequently considered a Stealth Pilot for Final Crisis.
Pre-Crisis Seven Soldiers provides examples of:
Modern day Seven Soldiers provides examples of:
- Abusive Precursors: Inverted. They're from THE FUTURE!
- Alliterative Name: Helen "Sky-High" Helligan
- Sally Smart, alias Sally Sonic, alias Sara Smart
- Arc Number: In Victory, it's seven, of course. #0 even has a character note how important the number seven seems to be. It's the equivalent of Morrison smacking the reader upside the head and going "Oi! Pay attention!" However, it's also eight, just like the way there were actually eight people in the original Seven Soldiers. The things you need to pay attention to are stuff like Zatanna's "-Anonymous" meeting. Notice how there are eight people there. The eighth is Misty. Sevens-that-are-actually-eights recur throughout the story.
- Author Avatar: Nobeard of the Subway Pirates who bedevil the Manhattan Guardian is unilaterally considered a rendition of Morrison himself. Nobeard's archrival Allbeard thus represents Morrison's hated enemy Alan Moore. Since Morrison is writing the story, Nobeard is the one who wins. ...Except for the subtext that Nobeard got exposed to radioactive material and got fatal cancers all in his body. But yeah, he came out of the fight alive...
- According to Word of God, The Seven Unknown Men are all the authors who wrote themselves into DC Comics - meaning, of course, Morrison is among them (though not for Nobeard; he literally appeared as himself in Animal Man).
- Badass: Frankenstein, to a deliberately immense extent. He has been described as "making Lobo look like Charlie Brown".
- Badass Normal: The Guardian follows this trope, as does Sky-High Helligan.
- Big Bad: The Sheeda in Morrison's series, led by Gloriana Tenebrae. However, they're not necessarily the Big Bad in each character's individual series. In fact, most of the series have their own Big Bads.
- Zatanna: Zor, who is something of a Man Behind the Man to the Sheeda.
- Shining Knight: Gloriana Tenebrae.
- Klarion: Melmoth
- The Manhattan Guardian: None, though he leads the charge against the Sheeda's armies in in the meta-series's final issue
- Frankenstein: Melmoth for the first two issues, then the Neh-Buh-Loh Man in the final issue.
- Bulleteer: Sally Sonic
- Mister Miracle: Mr. Dark Side, also the Bigger Bad of the meta-series.
- Bifauxnen/Sweet Polly Oliver: The Shining Knight in Grant Morrison's maxi-series.
- Bishonen Line: The Nebula Man actually becomes smaller when he returns as the Neh-Buh-Loh Man; he's clearly seen towering over the Soldiers in Justice League of America #100.
- Blessed with Suck: Bulleteer. Alix didn't want to be a superhero, her husband did. She was perfectly happy with a normal life, and after she received her powers she had to quit her job as a special needs teacher, then discovered her husband's second life and in a fit of despair tried to commit suicide by running until she hit something strong enough to kill her.
- Book Ends: Morrison's issue #0 ends with the deaths of Greg Saunders's team of Soldiers; the conclusion in issue #1 ends with the resurrection of the one slain Soldier, Mister Miracle.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: All over the place in Morrison's version, as is his wont, but most apparent in the two scenes where Zatanna directly addresses the reader.
- Breakout Character: Frankenstein appeared in both Final Crisis and Blackest Night, got his own Flashpoint mini-series and had his own title for a while after the reboot. Sir Ystin also appeared in Paul Cornell's Demon Knights.
- Canon Discontinuity: Morrison's Bulleteer made a number of cameos in other stories after hers ended. The catch? She quit superheroing in the last issue of her series. It's most egregious when she appears in an incarnation of the Justice League seen in the series 52...a series co-written by Morrison himself!note
- Incidentally, Morrison himself considers the Young Justice comic version of Klarion to be this. Why? Because he thought that version - best known for introducing himself as "Klarion... Bum, Bum, Bum... The Witch Boy!" - was silly.
- Captain Colorbeard: The Subway Pirates in Manhattan Guardian - though their names are Nobeard and Allbeard, more all around descriptions.
- Celestial Body: The Nebula/Neh-Buh-Loh Man. In Morrison's series it's explained that he was originally a miniature universe named Qwewq.
- Chekhov's Gunman: I, Spyder's revamp in the 0 issue becomes very important in the conclusion.
- Continuity Porn: Victory references an absurd number of minor characters throughout DC history.
- Cowboy: Greg Saunders was a singing cowboy in his Secret Identity.
- Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: The Guardian was sponsored by a newspaper.
- Death by Despair: The method of attack of one Sheeda weapon, a sentient ...thing... that torments it victims with painful truths much like a Harpy.
- Developing Doomed Characters: for 22 pages. Seven Soldiers #0 follows a team of fairly unlikable Z-list heroes who all die at the end, at the hands of the newly introduced main threat. The story of the real protagonists starts after this.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The panel where Lance's smartware begins to spread to Alix and the look on her face.
- It should be noted that the artist for Bulleteer purposefully drew Alix, Sally Sonic, and every other female heroine in poses reminiscent of supermodels in just about every panel.
- Eldritch Abomination: Nebula/Neh-Buh-Loh Man, for starters. The flesh-eating Martian mantis-horses, and many of the Sheeda's 'pets', also probably count.
- Evil Is Sterile: The Sheeda are so incapable of creating things that they have to travel through time and pillage previous civilizations in order to get the resources to maintain their own. The series as a whole could be considered a meta-commentary on the comic-book industry's tendency to plunder its own continuity for ideas.
- Expy: The Newsboy Army are an In-Universe one for classic Jack Kirby characters the Newsboy Legion, where the Guardian character originated.
- The Fair Folk: The Sheeda were stated to be based on, and In-Universe source of the stories about, the Unseelie Court.
- Familiar: Teekl and the other draaga of Limbo Town act as these to their owners.
- Fanservice: Zatanna goes through a few of her old costumes in Victory, all of which are sexy. She says she "likes to look good".
- Fetish: Bulleteer's husband, in-canon, had a superhero fetish. It turns out that he wasn't exactly unique...
- Genre Savvy: The Sheeda Queen deliberately attempts to kill any superhero team with seven members. The only reason she doesn't do it to the 'right' Seven Soldiers is that the soldiers never actually meet and form a team.
- Fate Worse Than Death: The Terrible Time Tailor, an alias of Zor, imposes one on the members of the Newsboy Army.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Gloriana Tenebrae, The Queen of Terror, is right up there among Morrison's biggest monsters, and very scary indeed. (Not that her husband was much better...)
- Growing Up Sucks: The absolutely horrible fate of the Newsboy Legion, see Tear Jerker. (Also probably a metaphor of the transition from The Silver Age of Comic Books to The Dark Age of Comic Books).
- Hoist by His Own Petard: As revealed in an issue of Bulleteer, Boy Blue summoned the Sheeda on the Iron Hand's behalf in #0 by blowing his horn; thus he unwittingly ensures that he's one of their first victims.
- Horrible Judge of Character: The first team let the archer, Alias The Spider on their team (Post-Crisis). Now, Spider was a villain who tried to kill the team (he nearly succeeded too) and managed to get away with his "heroic" reputation intact. Now to be fair, no one knew Spider was evil until he struck and this info couldn't be shared since the Soldiers were either lost in time or dead. He even tricked the Jay Garrick Flash and the Shade until he made his move, but that time he didn't get away.
- The Greg Saunders team in the newer maxi-series did this too; hell they hired I, Spyder, the son of the original! Sheeda Queen Gloriana made the same mistake. Not to mention the "new" Little Boy Blue who summoned the Sheeda to decimate the team. It's subverted in the case of I, Spyder, who only turns traitor at the end and thereby helps destroy Gloriana.
- Hyperlink Story: Morrison's series.
- Ironic Echo: One of these connects Morrison's version with the Retcon regarding how the 1940s iteration ended, to wit, the Spider's betrayal of the 1940s team is matched and inverted by I, Spyder betraying Gloriana and thus helping the newer Soldiers defeat her.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: A standard aspect of Morrison's stories but this is probably the best and most deliberate example besides The Invisibles.
- Knight in Shining Armor: The Shining Knights, of course.
- Legacy Character: Bulleteer (based on Bulletman and Bulletgirl), the Manhattan Guardian (based on Guardian and the Newsboy Legion) and Mr Miracle. Shining Knight is an odd case (she's from before the original) and it's not clear if Klarion is meant to be the same character as the 1970s Klarion or what. And all of the Vigilante's ill-fated team.
- Spin-Offspring: The short lived incarnation of the Seven Soldiers of Victory in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers #0 included the Whip III, granddaughter of the Whip II (a New Old West Zorro wannabe) and great-great-granddaughter of the Whip I (an Old West Zorro wannabe); I, Spyder, son of the original 7SoV member (and traitor) Alias the Spider; and Gimmix, daughter of Merry the Gimmick Girl and, therefore, niece of the first Star-Spangled Kid, who was also an original 7SoV member. In Seven Soldiers #1, the Bulleteer turns out to be directly descended from Aurakles, the world's first superhero.
- Word of God is that Klarion is intended to be the same character as from The Demon comics, though from an earlier point on the timeline. After conquering the Sheeda, he uses Castle Revolving to go back in time to the 70s comics. However, it doesn't appear that any writer other than Morrison was aware of this, based on his subsequent appearances post-7SoV.
- Let's Split Up, Gang: The Grant Morrison series was simply the Leading Comics formula, but on a grander, more epic scale.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Qwewq. Look at the first three letters of a QWERTY keyboard.
- Meaningful Rename: When the original Seven Soldiers returned in the Justice League story, the Hand renamed himself the Iron Hand. In Grant Morrson's version, the Nebula Man now calls himself the Neh-Buh-Loh Man while the Oracle's name turns out to be a corruption of "Aurakles".
- Mind Screw: The Morrison version, as to be expected.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Bride
- Necromancer: All of the residents of Limbo Town use necromancy as a way to survive, which makes controlling Frankenstein an easy task for Klarion.
- No Periods, Period: Averted as Sheeda Queen Glorianna discovers Justin's gender by smelling "the blood of the womb."
- Of Corsets Sexy: Zatanna
- One Extra Member: In the conclusion of Morrison's version, I Spyder acts as an unofficial "eighth soldier" and helps defeat the villain. Given that he was remade by the Seven Unknown Men, this was probably the whole point of the character both in and out of universe.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Zatanna
- Painting the Medium: There's a sequence in Victory where Zatanna and a few friends go through another dimension, and the scenery shifts to compensate. The panels become cubes, for starters, and—it's remarkably difficult to describe.
- During Zatanna's fight with Zor, he eventually starts ripping apart other panels, and Zatanna defeats him by falling through the empty space on the page so she can beat him to the future. Immediately following that, she tries to reach out of the comic itself, through a window to the Seven Unknown Men bordered with gears, typewriter heads, and colored ink.
- A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: The Subway Pirates
- Poor Communication Kills: The Iron Hand spends decades hating Greg Saunders, the original Vigilante, and even orchestrates the coming of the Sheeda and the deaths of Saunders's new Seven Soldiers team in the mistaken belief that Saunders was a racist after hearing him refer to one of the Hand's henchmen as "your kind." In fact, Saunders had recognized that said henchmen was a werewolf because Saunders was too.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: Morrison's Seven Soldiers had something of a prologue in JLA Classified #1-3 (collected in the trade paperback JLA: Ultramarine Corps), which introduced the Sheeda and the Neh-Buh-Loh Man (well, reintroduced in the latter's case).
- Prophecy Twist: In Morrison's series, "The spear that was never thrown". It turns out to refer to Aurakles's descendants. One of them is Alix Harrower/Bulleteer, who delivers the final blow to Gloriana Tenebrae when she accidentally rams her with a car while struggling with Sally Sonic for control of the vehicle.
- There is a prophecy that the Sheeda will be defeated by a group of seven soldiers, so they pragmatically look out for groups of seven and either eliminate them or run away when they can't win (as they did when they fought the Justice League). But no-one said the seven soldiers had to be part of a single group.
- Retcon/Remember the New Guy: That whole thing about the Nebula Man? That was created wholesale in Justice League of America #100, along with the Oracle character. Grant Morrison's series helped fill in the blanks through a bit of Arc Welding.
- Shout-Out: Bulleteer's fight with Sally Sonic involved the two beating each other with Alix's refrigerator. The entire Bulleteer miniseries seemed to be a nod towards Women in Refrigerators, as Alix is a woman whose entire life has become one tragic mistake because of her husband, same said for Sally Sonic.
- Spiritual Successor: Has one in Demon Knights, which amongst other things reintroduces the cyclic nature of Camelot, as well as the Seven Soldiers version of Shining Knight fighting with six other bad-asses to stop someone from misusing a grail. Sound familiar?
- Stock Unsolved Mysteries: Morrison's Seven Soldiers has a rather unique solution to famous 16th-century mystery of the missing colony of Roanoke Island.
- Stocking Filler: Zatanna
- Take That:
- Time Abyss: The Nebula Man is three billion years old. The Sheeda may or may not count, but Aurakles is certainly another.
- Total Party Kill: Issue #0 sees Greg Saunder's team get completely wiped out.
- Trauma Conga Line: See Bulleteer.
- Warrior Poet: Frankenstein can lengthily quote Milton or The Bible even - or especially - in the middle of combat.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It actually happens to quite a few characters at the end of Grant Morrison's series. Klarion's fate is entirely Word of God and was likely ignored by later writers. Frankenstein was last seen under Klarion's control, which seems entirely ignored in his subsequent appearances (in Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis, though the former may be justified). The worst offender is Misty Kilgore - she just (metaphorically) vanishes from the story, and has subsequently undergone Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
- Whip It Good: Victory's Legacy Character The Whip (3). She even has a sexy, impractical costume.
- She actually lampshades this, calling herself a superhero fetishist.
- Whole Plot Reference: Misty Kilgore's backstory is a retelling of the "Snow White" tale.
- Witch Species: Klarion along with all the other residents of Limbo Town due to being of Sheeda descendant.
- You Fight Like a Cow: "You have a stupid hat!"
- Zerg Rush: Frankenstein at one point has to fight off a huge horde of vicious, chemically-maddened woodland critters. There are enough that their combined body masses add up to several tons, which mean that when they all pile on they don't so much hurt him as bury him.