31 Days of Seven Soldiers, Day 23 - <i>Bulleteer</i> #2

As the Yuletide season heats up, we see the light at the end of the tunnel that is the Seven Soldiers Saga!  Don't give up on me now!

Gosh oh gee, I wonder if there could be SPOILERS in this post?  Why yes, I suppose there are SPOILERS!  I'm glad I mentioned the SPOILERS!

Of course, before we begin, I must mention something about the first issue in the series.  This will prove once again that I am the dumbest person in the world!  As if you needed more proof!

So.  Last issue, I briefly mentioned that Alix works with autistic kids.  In the comments section, commenter extraordinaire FunkyGreenJerusalem asked why I didn't go into that more.  I misunderstood him (the stupidity thing again), but he explained that he meant that Alix actually has a "grown-up" job and Morrison takes that away from her.  This is an excellent point, and it's not the first time Morrison has done something like this in the series.  Remember, Jake Jorden has a reputable job as well, and it is taken away from him.  Only by becoming a superhero can he regain what his job gave him - self-respect.  This is a different situation, as Alix loses her job because she becomes a superhero, which seems to contradict one of the major themes of the series, that these people need to grow up to become true heroes.  Why does Morrison give Alix this job?  Is it just for cheap shock value, so that we're much sadder that she can no longer do it?  I have more faith in Morrison than that, but I do wonder about it, especially because it's never mentioned again.  What is the connection between autism and how Morrison wants to examine the growth of these people from "children" - in a developmental sense - to "adults."  I mentioned that Alix is vain, although not as vain as her husband.  We've seen what she wears to work, and that's to "work with autistic kids."  Perhaps Morrison is making the point that even though she does something that is worthwhile, she is still preening, taking a job that allows her to show off her compassion.  Maybe.  It's vexing.

If anyone has any thoughts about it, feel free to chime in.  Meanwhile, let's move on, because Helen "Sky-High" Helligan is making another appearance in the saga!  The first page of issue #2 shows us a slide of Lucas Ludlow Dalt, alias the Spider, crucified to a wall, with arrows through his hands and one through his heart.  Gee, not too much Christ-like imagery!  Someone is saying that the chief suspect in the murder is Tom Dalt, who is desperate to prove himself to his family - another example of someone with low self-esteem.  Tom disappeared the day of his brother's murder and appeared, "seven days later," in Arizona.  We see that the voice belongs to Helen Helligan, last seen in Shining Knight #3, when she seemed ... less together than she does now, thanks to a bite from the Queen of Terror.  Alix is in the room, as well as three men.  Helligan shows the next slide, which is Jackie Pemberton, whose "bag of trix" was found scattered across the desert near Pepper City, Arizona.  She shows Shelly Gaynor, a columnist for the New York Daily Recorder, who went missing.  She shows Harris D. Ledbetter, or Dyno-Mite Dan, who bought two hero rings off the Internet.  They were "working fakes," and we know he got them from Cassandra Craft, even though Helligan does not.  Alix asks what this has to do with her, and Helligan shows her the ad that Greg Saunders placed in the trade magazine asking for superheroes.  Alix suddenly realizes that this is the "seven soldiers thing," and we learn that she was the seventh soldier - she had even bought a plane ticket.  At the last moment, she realized that she didn't want to see people who were just like her - unlike the "original" soldiers, Alix is completely uncomfortable with being a superhero.  Helligan tells her that she's lucky she missed out on what happened, and they roll the footage they got from the bikes - they were equipped with cameras, remember?  Helligan mentions that Greg Saunders was dying of some unnamed illness, and that's why he wanted to get the spider at last.  We see the same scenes we saw in Seven Soldiers #0, and we watch as Neh-buh-loh skewers Greg and Shelly at the same time (yet another version of Neh-buh-loh by a different artist, as Paquette draws him with what looks like more body armor - he's not as starry).  We also see a spider tearing Tom Dalt's intestines out, which makes the fact that he's alive (as we know from Shining Knight) rather intriguing.  Is the new Tom Dalt a robot, like the spiders?  The Time Tailors seem to able to take people apart and put them back together - did Zor have a hand in resurrecting Dalt?  It wasn't the cauldron, as the Queen didn't have access to it.  It's rather interesting.

Helligan and Alix drive to the penitentiary, and Helligan tells Alix to keep away from the girls on the superhero porn sites, because they're kind of nasty.  Alix, of course, will ignore her advice, although she won't know it until it's too late.  Helligan coughs for the second time in the issue, and when Alix asks her if she's okay, she says she's reacting to the antibiotics and tetanus shots they gave her after Gloriana Tenebrae bit her.  She also brings up her sister again, who's getting married in two hours, and we learn a bit more about the groom - he beats her up.  So Helligan is trying to stop the wedding.  She tells Alix that she shouldn't get involved in superheroes, because "the only way in here is in over your head."  Inside the penitentiary, we see again that Morrison is playing with the conventions of female superhero sexiness.  Alix is uncomfortable wearing her slinky costume in a male prison, but Helligan asks her to trust her - she knows a thing or two about supervillains, and believes Alix's presence will help.  It's interesting that Alix never had a problem showing off her body before, but now that she's coated with a metallic substance, she's suddenly shy.  They get to their destination, where Ramon Solomano - Ramon One-Hand - is waiting.  He's known as "The Hand," "The Iron Hand," and the "Napoleon of Crime."  Wow.  Helligan wants to talk about Greg Saunders and the Seven Soldiers.  Ramon tells her that the doctors told him he had a month to live and he went a little crazy.  Helligan reminds him about the original Seven Soldiers of Victory fighting his Nebula Man in the Himalayas 40 years ago.  One died, and the others were lost in time for 30 years.  She then tells him that the Nebula Man returned a week ago and killed a new bunch of Soldiers.  She is referencing events that occurred in JLA #100-102, the first appearance of the Nebula Man.  Ramon tells her he had nothing to dow with it, but the Nebula Man can "ride through dimensions of time the way you and I walk through a door," so he's glad Saunders is suffering.  Helligan tells him that when Klarion and the Deviants stole the sapper drill from the Museum of Superhumanity, nobody noticed that Helligan "borrowed" Ramon's Iron Hand.  Remember the prominence Morrison and Irving gave to the Iron Hand in the scene in the museum?  Ah, the crafty Grant!  She holds it up for Ramon to see, and Alix breaks the thumb off, just to piss him off.  She breaks the pinky off before Ramon caves in and tells them about the Nebula Man.  This is a fascinating page, because Morrison explains a lot with very little and manages to integrate a comic book from 1972 into the whole thing.  Ramon used a horn to summon Neh-buh-loh from his "terrible, distant homeland."  He was in the Himalayas looking for a treasure in a lost citadel.  We know that this is Gorias, where Misty went with Vanguard.  We also know Neh-buh-loh is looking for the Seven Treasures of Camelot.  He is also trying to find a "tribe of winged horses, from before the flood ..."  These are the descendants of Pegazeus, and the idea that they are from "before the flood" brings us back to Camelot's "pre-historic" founding and the notion of civilizations rising and falling, which we have seen before.  The flood legends in the Seven Soldiers saga are remnants of the Sheeda, destroying their way through the past.  Note here too that Neh-buh-loh is a time traveler, so we don't know if this Neh-buh-loh is from before or after the events of these issues.  Ramon happily pointed him toward the Seven Soldiers of Victory, because he was looking for seven soldiers to kill.  Ramon tells Helligan that his nephew spotted the advertisement for the heroes and he helped Ramon gain his revenge on Saunders - he used the horn to summon Neh-buh-loh, and we know the rest.  This "nephew" is Boy Blue, who died to help Ramon get his revenge.  Now that's a loyal nephew!  The idea of a horn to summon Neh-buh-loh reminds me of Roland's horn, which he blew to no avail.  It could be just me.  Ramon says that Saunders was a racist and deserved to be punished.  Helligan doesn't know what he means, and Ramon tells her that when Saunders busted his gang once (with Shelly Gaynor's grandfather riding shotgun), he told one of the gang, whom he calls Lupelino, "I catch you or any more of your filthy kin round here come moonrise, I'll flay your hides and hang 'em out to dry."  Helligan laughs, because Saunders wasn't being racist, he was recognizing that the man was a werewolf, because Saunders was one too.  He had found out that the disease was coming back, and that's why it became so important to try to destroy the spider - he was saving a silver bullet for himself.  He almost admits it to Shelly Gaynor in Seven Soldiers #0, but doesn't quite get it out.  Helligan tells this to Ramon and gets angry, asking where the Nebula Man comes from and what he knows about Gloriana Tenebrae.  All Ramon says is that they come from a place "at the end of all hope."  More clues about the origin of the Sheeda.  He tells her that last night, "something that once was Saunders" came to him, "like a dream," and shot him in the soul.  He starts bleeding, and the interview is effectively over.  Outside, Alix says she feels like Alice through the looking glass.  I don't have to mention that chess plays a significant part in that book, too.

Helligan believes that she is going to die, apparently, because she calls her brother and apologizes to him about putting fish oil in his milkshake, which we saw in Shining Knight #3 is the only sin on her soul, and once she confesses it, she's able to lift Excalibur.  Brian, not surprisingly, doesn't remember anything about the milkshake.  Helligan, you'll remember, always looks at the "big picture," and she makes an intuitive leap and realizes that "the starry guy and the fairy folk are from the future."  As she begins to bleed, she asks Alix to get her to the church on time.  It's nice to know that Helligan can make pop culture references even as she feels her life slipping away!  We get a full-page shot of Alix carrying Helligan over the roofs of cars, and I was struck by the pizza parlor in the background.  Its awning says "1=4 (PIE - of pizza - it's a picture)" with the tag line, "We bend the laws of physics with pizza."  I assume the pizza pie is supposed to represent pi (π), but I can't really figure out what the equation means.  I just thought it was funny.  They reach the courthouse just as Helligan's sister, Rose, is about to say "I do" to Lido Lupelino - not the same guy who was busted by the Vigilante, we have to assume, but maybe his son?  Alix bursts in with Helligan, who manages to yell out "The guy's a werewolf!" before dying.  Lido Lupelino looks somewhat sheepish, which I thought was a nice touch.

It turns out the entire story is being told in flashback, as Alix is talking to "Sara," who is renting a room in her house.  Alix tells her she's going to Zenith City for an "insane" body-guard job, but she'll be back.  Sara says she thinks Alix would make a great superhero, and maybe she just needs a nemesis.  As the book ends, we see Sara has destroyed an umbrella behind her back, and we realize she probably wants to be that nemesis herself!  As it turns out, Sara is Sally Sonic, with whom Lance Harrower was having an online relationship.  That can't be good that she's turning up here.  Or coincidental.

It's a good issue, as it gives us a lot of information that we need to know about the greater saga.  It's nice to see Helligan again, even though this is her swan song, and although we don't know yet who Sara is, her introduction shows us that bad things are on the horizon for Alix Harrower.  Interestingly enough, because of the plot-heavy elements of the issue, there's not really a lot to look at in terms of grand themes.  Alix stands around listening to other people talk - she doesn't really grow in terms of what it means to be a hero, and the oversexualized undercurrent of the first issue is only brought up when Alix visits the prison, and even then it's far more subtle than in issue #1.  We do get a few references to the nature of superheroes and how "do-it-yourself" heroes are in over their head, something that Alix quickly agrees with when she hears Ramon's tale of Neh-buh-loh and then when she witnesses a werewolf trying to get married.  We go back to Seven Soldiers #0, where the "heroes" were desperate to be heroic and paid the price for their folly.  Alix is the same kind of hero, but she has a much more level head on her shoulders.  That's why she resisted going to Arizona in the first place.  Alix has the potential to be a true hero, because she doesn't want to be one.  Yes, it's paradoxical, but that's kind of the point: a true hero does things not for the thrill of it, but because it's necessary, and it's not always "fun."  Shelly Gaynor was looking for fun.  The others were too.  Greg Saunders, foolishly, trusted the heroes.

There's not much else to say about the issue.  As infodumps go, it doesn't pack the same punch as The Manhattan Guardian #4, because that tied into the themes of the bigger story.  This does too, but not as well as that one did.  It's an entertaining issue, and it's important for the information it does give us.  But in terms of a deeper meaning, it's kind of lacking.  Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Of course there are annotations!  As for reviews, Jog finds himself similarly stymied, but puts it far better than I can, and Marc Singer has deeper thoughts than I did about the issue.  So you can check those out, because I know you have nothing but time this time of year!

Next: Frankenstein goes to Mars.  Sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?

Spider-Man JJ Abrams
Marvel Just Introduced a New Spider-Man and His Amazing Sidekick

More in Comics