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Seven Soldiers of Victory

The Seven Soldiers of Victory (also known as Law's Legionnaires) is a fictional team of comic book superheroes in the DC Comics universe. They first appeared in Leading Comics #1 (Winter, 1941), and were created by Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin.

Seven Soldiers of Victory

Pre-Crisis

The Seven Soldiers of Victory (also known as the Law's Legionnaires) was DC Comics' second super-hero team, following the Justice Society of America. Like the Justice Society, the membership of the Seven Soldiers was drawn from DC's anthology comics: The Vigilante (from Action Comics); the Crimson Avenger (from Detective Comics); the Green Arrow and Speedy (from More Fun Comics); the Shining Knight (from Adventure Comics); and the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy (from Star-Spangled Comics). It is worth noting that, unlike almost every other superhero team, this one included two sidekicks, Speedy and Stripesy, as members. (Stripesy was a rarity, an adult sidekick to a "kid" lead character.) On the other hand, the Crimson Avenger's sidekick Wing also took part in the team's adventures, and was in every other way an "eighth Soldier", but was never considered an "official" member of the team.

The Seven Soldiers of Victory appeared in the first fifteen issues of Leading Comics. Notable villains included the Black Star, the Iron Hand, the Dummy (enemy of the Vigilante), and Dr. Doome, one of several villains the team faced who had a time machine. A script by Joseph Samachson from the 1940s was later serialized in 1975 in Adventure Comics #438-443, with each chapter illustrated by a different artist (including Dick Dillin, Mike Grell, Lee Elias, and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez).

The team was resurrected in the seventies in Justice League of America #100-102. During the celebration of the 100th meeting of the JLA, the team was summoned to Earth-Two by the Justice Society of America, where a giant ethereal hand controlled by the Iron Hand threatened to destroy their world. The only way to stop the hand was to find the legendary Seven Soldiers of Victory, who defeated a similar menace in the form of the Nebula Man many years previously, though at the seeming cost of their existences, since no one could remember who they were. An unearthly Oracle revealed to the JLA and the JSA that the Seven Soldiers had been scattered through time, and the multitude of heroes were sent back to find them.

Doctor Fate, the Atom and the Elongated Man found the Crimson Avenger in Mexico, where he had amnesia and believed he was the Aztec Sun God. Superman, The Sandman and Metamorpho rescued the Shining Knight from the hordes of Genghis Khan. Hawkman, Doctor Mid-Nite, and the Golden Age Wonder Woman found the Golden Age Green Arrow in medieval England, where he had been mistaken for Robin Hood. Batman, Hourman and Starman retrieved Stripesy from ancient Egypt. The Silver Age Green Arrow, Black Canary and Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt saved the Vigilante from a tribe of Indians in the Old West. Aquaman, Wildcat and the Silver Age Green Lantern rescued the Star-Spangled Kid, who was 50,000 years in the past. Zatanna, the Silver Age Flash and the Red Tornado freed Speedy (and themselves) from the clutches of Circe (comics) in ancient Greece. The Golden Age Green Lantern, Mister Terrific and the Golden Age Robin went on a quest to discover the identity of the Unknown Soldier of Victory, whose tomb lay in the mountains of Tibet, where the Seven Soldiers had fallen after defeating the Nebula Man.

The Seven Soldiers were reunited and created a new Nebula Rod to deal with the giant hand that the Iron Hand devised. Unfortunately, whoever used the Nebula Rod to destroy the Hand was certain to perish (as did the Crimson Avenger's partner Wing, revealed to be the Unknown Soldier of Victory, when the Nebula Man was stopped). While the heroes argued over who would sacrifice themselves, the android Red Tornado took the Nebula Rod and destroyed the Hand, apparently destroying himself in the process.

The only other modern meeting of the team (either in pre- or post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity) took place in Infinity, Inc. #11, in which the Vigilante, the Shining Knight, Green Arrow, Speedy and the Star-Spangled Kid gathered at the grave of Lee Travis, the man known as the Crimson Avenger. It had taken two years for the team to confirm his death (having died saving Gotham City from a boatload of explosives in DC Comics Presents #38).

Post-Crisis 1st team

In the original Post-Crisis retcon of the team, both Wing and the Vigilante's sidekick Stuff, the Chinatown Kid were promoted to full membership, to replace the Golden Age Green Arrow and Speedy, who had been removed from active continuity. Stuff had never appeared with the team during the original Leading Comics run, while an older man named Billy Gunn helped out the Vigilante on his cases in the comic.

That particular retcon was yet again changed in the late nineties, in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #9. While Stuff remained a full member (and the Vigilante's mentor Billy Gunn was also present), Wing was not an official Soldier (because his mentor the Crimson Avenger wanted him to do something more important with his life). The remaining spot on the team was filled by the Spider, an archer who had originally appeared in Quality Comics' Crack Comics in a feature called Alias the Spider. The twist on the new Spider was that he was really a villain - and in this particular adventure, had been working with the team's arch-enemy the Hand, who created the original Nebula Man. The Spider sabotaged the Nebula Rod that the Soldiers had built to stop the Nebula Man and sent the team off to fight a fruitless battle. The villain then killed Billy Gunn (who had discovered his deception) and tried to kill Wing, but failed. Wing reached the other Soldiers and repaired the Nebula Rod, using it to destroy the Nebula Man. Wing died, and his teammates were again tossed through time and later retrieved by the JLA and JSA. The only major difference between this story and the original was that this time the Vigilante had been found after he had spent nearly 20 years fighting crime in the Old West.

The Seven Soldiers have not reformed in the Modern Age (partly due to Grant Morrison's project; see below). Three of the originals--Shining Knight, Vigilante and Stripesy (now STRIPE)--remain. The team has inspired a few legacies. The first is Stargirl, who at first carried the mantle of Star-Spangled Kid in memory of Sylvester Pemberton. She is now a double legacy, as she also carries on the legacy of Starman. The second SSoV legacy is the new Crimson Avenger, who has appeared sporadically in the series JSA. She has yet to make an appearance One Year Later, though she was seen towards the end of Infinite Crisis. The third one is Gardner Grayle, the Atomic Knight (see below). The last one is the new Sir Justin in Grant Morrison's project. (The current Green Arrow and Speedy, as well as Arsenal, could also count as SSoV legacies, but due to retcons, Green Arrow and the original Speedy were never members of the team.)

Post-Crisis 2nd team

Another group took the name of the Seven Soldiers of Victory in the Showcase issue of the limited series known as Silver Age. This group, brought together to help the Justice League of America and the other major heroes and teams of the sixties to battle the menace of Agamemno, consisted of: Adam Strange, Batgirl, Blackhawk, Deadman, Mento, Metamorpho, and a new Shining Knight.

This group's Shining Knight was Gardner Grayle, from the Silver Age feature The Atomic Knights; in previously published stories that occurred after the Silver Age limited series, he became the Atomic Knight and joined the Outsiders. This was the only appearance of this particular assemblage.

Members

Pre-Crisis

Post-Crisis 1st team

Post-Crisis 2nd team

Seven Soldiers

In 2005, Grant Morrison and artist J. H. Williams III launched a retooled version of the Seven Soldiers, in what Morrison terms a "megaseries" of seven interrelated miniseries and two bookend titles. While some members of this new team are long-running DC Universe superheroes, none were members of the previous incarnation of the team. Together, they fight to save Earth and its environs from the Sheeda.

The maxi-series won the 2006 Best Finite/Limited Series Eisner Award.

Fictional history

In the first issue of this story (which was part of a two-issue framework for the project), the Vigilante gathers together a new Spider (called "I, Spyder" and apparently the son of the original), Gimmix (the estranged daughter of Merry, the Girl of a Thousand Gimmicks), a new Boy Blue, Dyno-Mite Dan (owner of two "working fakes" imitations of the explosive rings of T.N.T. and Dan the Dyna-Mite), and the Whip, the granddaughter of the Golden Age Whip. The team sets out to battle the Buffalo Spider (later on, the Sheeda are betrayed by Spyder in SSoV#1 in another nod to the original), only to be killed during an event known as the Harrowing.

The seven miniseries follow seven other characters with indirect connections to the first group, each with their own art styles, genres and character arcs. A central part of Morrison's idea for the current series is that although the seven characters in question are each a part of the same struggle, they never actually meet (although there are references to each other in the various titles). Thus, the team is actually not a team.

An explanation for this is presented in Manhattan Guardian and Zatanna. In the first, a man named Ed Starsgard (aka Baby Brain) tells Guardian that the Sheeda have been attacking humanity in periodic waves, taking everything of value (physical & mental) and leaving behind just enough for the survivors to rebuild for next time. It is prophesied that the Sheeda will eventually be stopped by seven soldiers, so they target teams of seven, including the Ultramarine Corps and the Justice League of America (JLA: Classified #1-3) But, because the Seven Soldiers have never met, they stand a chance of doing the job.

In Zatanna, a ghost remarks that there are too many coincidences in the story and it feels like there is a "mystery string tying it all together". It eventually emerges that the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp are driving the Seven Soldiers to stop the Sheeda.

In an interview, Grant remarked that this series of stories, (which he calls a "megaseries", also known as a metaseries), takes place after Infinite Crisis (this may explain some apparent plot holes or inconsistencies in the series). Dan DiDio has stated that, after careful consultation with Morrison, the series is now considered to take place a week before Infinite Crisis.

The comic Seven Soldiers of Victory #1 was originally scheduled for release on April 1, 2006, but was delayed and eventually released on October 25, 2006.

The last battle

After undergoing various trials and tribulations in their own miniseries, the soldiers eventually take part in the climactic battle against the Queen of the Sheeda in New York, each affecting different parts of the battle without having any idea of the larger picture.

The climactic sequence is initiated by Zatanna casting a spell: "Seven Soldiers Strike!" This is the final push the universe required to move the soldiers into position.

After travelling into the future kingdom where the Sheeda live, Frankenstein takes Castle Revolving, the Queen's time-travelling floating kingdom, to present-day New York so that the Queen can be brought to justice by the paranormal special ops group S.H.A.D.E.. Once Castle Revolving arrives, the Shining Knight - who had chased the queen to the future - successfully attacks the Queen, severely injuring her and leaving her open to an attack by supporting character Spyder, who shoots an arrow into her and knocks her down to the New York streets below.

There, Guardian has rounded up thousands of New Yorkers into a militia that is successfully fighting off the Sheeda invasion. At approximately the same time, Bulleteer comes tearing down the street in her car, hoping to take her critically ill arch-nemesis, Sally Sonic, to a hospital. Sally, utterly insane, attacks Bulleteer, who loses control of her vehicle and crashes into the Queen. Guardian arrives on the scene, but Bulleteer is the only survivor.

Prior to all of this, Klarion, who had drilled up into New York from hidden caves beneath the city, had stolen a magic die from Misty, Zatanna's sidekick. Together with his own die, the two dice comprise Fatherbox, one of the lost treasures of the ancient superhero Aurakles. Klarion had then travelled up to Castle Revolving. With the Sheeda Queen dead, Klarion uses a binding spell on Frankenstein, forcing him to pilot the ship back into the future where Klarion becomes the new King of the Sheeda. Thus, Klarion becomes the "traitor" that was prophesied.

Finally, Mister Miracle confronts Darkseid in his club. There, Darkseid explains that he gave Earth to the Sheeda in return for them giving him Aurakles, the primordial superhero. Mister Miracle offers himself in exchange for Aurakles' freedom and Darkseid accepts. However, once Aurakles is freed and Mister Miracle is shackled, Darkseid shoots him through the head - thus making him the soldier that was prophesied to die. Shilo Norman is later seen emerging alive from his own grave, "escaping death".

Character endings

  • Shining Knight is shown attending the H.S. Johnson School for Heroes, where Ali Ka Zoom (Zatanna's ghostly friend) promises that he will give her the advice she needs, and that she can continue to fight evil with Horsefeathers on weekends. He gives her Aurakles's sword and hints that she may yet return to her period of time and become Queen Ystina the Good.
  • Guardian survives the attack on New York, after raising an army to fight off the Sheeda. He wins back the heart of his estranged wife.
  • Bulleteer is briefly arrested after the accident, but later told that she is free to go. Although she questions if she really is free, because she played right into what destiny had in store for her.
  • Klarion is shown cackling madly as Sheeda women crawl at his heels.
  • Frankenstein is last seen under the control of Klarion, although he still seems to have retained his mind.
  • Zatanna is almost run over by Guardian's wife and subsequently vanishes. The most famous of the soldiers, she survives, appearing in stories set "One Year Later", though her newly acquired apprentice Misty Kilgore has yet to appear.
  • Mister Miracle is buried in a grave engraved only with his stage-name. It is visited by Darkseid, who deposits a black flower on the grave and leaves. Once he is gone, however, Mister Miracle's hands burst out of the ground. He has since turned up in Final Crisis #2, having escaped death. His escape from the grave is mentioned.

Membership

First group

Second group

Other media

The original lineup of the Seven Soldiers appeared in the animated series Justice League Unlimited as members of the League. In an episode entitled "Patriot Act", they, along with other non-powered members of the League, faced a rogue super-soldier while representing the League at a parade.

The team essentially was the DCAU versions of the original Golden Age Seven Soldiers including:

The sixth and seventh members, The Crimson Avenger and Speedy, arrived in the middle of the battle as reinforcements. The character of Speedy is the Roy Harper version who has also appeared in the animated Teen Titans series. He appears to be older than his Titans appearance, and both versions were voiced by Mike Erwin, which has led many to wonder about the connection between Teen Titans and JLU.

Collections/Reprints

Archive editions

  • The Seven Soldiers of Victory Archives Volume 1 (collects Leading Comics #1-4, DC, 2005 ISBN 1-4012-0401-5)
  • The Seven Soldiers of Victory Archives Volume 2 (collects Leading Comics #5-8, DC, 2007)
  • The Seven Soldiers of Victory Archives Volume 3 (collects Leading Comics #9-14 & script for a #15, DC, 2008)

Trade paperbacks

  • Seven Soldiers: Volume 1 (collects Seven Soldiers of Victory #0, Shining Knight #1-2, The Guardian #1-2, Zatanna #1-2 and Klarion #1; Titan, ISBN 1-84576-236-3; DC ISBN 1-4012-0925-4)
  • Seven Soldiers: Volume 2 (collects Klarion #2-3, Shining Knight #3-4, The Guardian #3-4 and Zatanna #3; Titan, ISBN 1-84576-237-1; DC ISBN 1-4012-0975-0)
  • Seven Soldiers: Volume 3 (collects Mister Miracle #1-2, Zatanna #4, Klarion #4, Bulleteer #1-2 and Frankenstein #1; Titan, ISBN 1-84576-288-6; DC ISBN 1-4012-0976-9)
  • Seven Soldiers: Volume 4 (collects Frankenstein #2-4, Mister Miracle #3-4, Bulleteer #3-4 and Seven Soldiers of Victory #1; DC ISBN 1-4012-0977-7)

See also

References

External links

Interviews

Reviews

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