Thursday, 6 September 2007

The DC Morrisonverse Part 4: They All Float Down Here

This entry isn't going to be as in-depth as the other posts I've been doing on Seven Soldiers as I'm not identifying any new themes or ways of looking at the material, merely pointing out a novel that I think almost certainly provided some of the inspiration for the series, but that I don't recall being mentioned anywhere else. As a result, it's only a few paragraphs long, and I'm just pointing out similarities, not drawing conclusions. I'll be doing more of that in tomorrow's post, which will be much longer than this one.

Morrison has described the structure of the collected versions of Seven Soldiers as being "like a Stephen King book", and I'm pretty sure he had a specific Stephen King book in mind when he said that, because the parallels with King's book It are much greater than most people appear to have picked up on.

It is represented as the personification of destruction and consumption, somewhat equivalent to the personifications of entropy scattered throughout Seven Soldiers, and is also portrayed as a giant spider. It is from a realm outside spacetime known as the Macroverse.

All these things are parallels, as is the fact that It mentions a Roanoke-like event in Derry' s past. But there are closer similarities.

It, like Seven Soldiers, deals with a team of seven. In fact their story in many ways parallels that of the Newsboy Legion - working together as children to defeat a menace that the adults don't believe in, but drifting apart after that, then working together when the menace resurfaces. The seven are all damaged in some way by the event, but most go on to wealth and fame.

In both stories when the menace returns in the present day, it is fought by a team of six, rather than seven.

Almost all King's characters have fathers who are absent or outright evil.

I'm not sure what to make of these similarities, but I thought I'd throw them out there for people to comment on - a more thorough, analytical post will be up tomorrow.


Madeley said...

I think there's probably a lot of parallels between King's work and Morrison's. Much of King's work overlaps as part of a huge tapestry of different stories, and crossovers from different universes. Plus, with the Dark Tower series, he's created a backbone that connects all of his work, crosses over with the works of others (Richard Adams, of all authors, and L. Frank Baum for example), deals with themes of modern mythology and, most significantly, enters the story himself as a character.

No Radio said...

I think it's important to differeniate one thing, though: King pulls out those tricks purely to talk about narrative and creativity/creative process. Which is to say that King doesn't believe in a Dark Tower that is the lynchpin of a multiverse, it's a way to talk about the linkages between, as you say, his work and the work of other authors. Morrison is more often using narrative to talk about the nature of reality: Barbelith, Castle Revolving, the Archons, the Sheeda, these are all "fiction suits" for actual ideas that Morrison sees as having implications in the real world.

elias A. said...

No offense, but I think you're over-interpreting Seven Soldiers in a ridiculous way.
I've just written a long, irreverent review of it on my blog:

Andrew Hickey said...

No offence taken. However, I'd suggest you're not reading the stories carefully enough. There are a lot of *very* close thematic connections between the different stories, on many different levels, some of which you're just not seeing. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it really does sound like you're not used to reading on anything more than the most literal levels.

Something like "For example if the Sheeda provided each Soldier with a method to gain immortality, with similar powers, temptations and prices to pay, and so each Soldier would experience a different aspect of the same conflict that made the Sheeda what they are. Then we could really speak of a deeper meaning for the whole event. But something like that is just not there." - that would be each miniseries just telling *the same story*, rather than being part of a larger, more complex one.

There's a *lot* more there...

elias A. said...

I didn't mean that each mini should tell the same story, but that they should have a common theme, a shared plot element besides the villains they indirectly fight.
The example I gave could have let to very different stories, just like a genie offering three wishes could lead to totally different consequences depending on the person.

And if I am to start to look beyond the most literal levels, there has to be some incentive to start looking, some hint of the intent. I prefer authors who actually mention the topics they want to address.
What the author might have intended is very different from what he actually manages to implement.

I think I noted deeper meaning when it is there, like in Klarion for example, but I believe that the Seven Soldiers minis should be rated as separate stories to their own terms, and focussing on the connections will only lead to seeing connections that just are not there.

elias A. said...

I just read again what you have written, and while I admit that you have not finished yet, I have to say the connections you pointed out so far have been very vague.

Just for the record, gravity has nothing whatsoever to do with entropy.

In a superhero story it is not TERRIBLY uncommon that characters are flying or in space, without any hidden symbolism.
If some of the occurence that supposedly make gravity a common motive are already allegorical (absence etc.) you don't need to be surprised you can find it everywhere.
Gravity as "being pulled down" is a pretty basic metaphor for bad stuff. As is entropy - entropy as symbol for decay and hopelessness is so common in science fiction it can be called a cliche.

What you say about all the stories addressing entropy means not much more than each being a heroic story about characters doing heroic things. That is nothing remarkable - the HOW would make it remarkable, if the stories are GOOD (and some actually are, but not for those reasons).

I could easily invent other "hidden symbolism". Why not, say, water, for example? Klarion is using tunnels half full of water to escape to freedom. On Mars Frankenstein finds a desert - a symbol for the slavery he encounters there? Zatanna crosses Golden Gate bridge over WATER on her way to gain back her self-esteem. And in Frankenstein water also becomes sentinent and dangerous- meaning a positive symbol can also be corrupted if you lose contact to the heroic conscience. In contrast, Arthur and his Knights used a SHIP to get to castle revolving, symbol of their noble bravery. And the mermaid at Bulleteers convention is KILLED in water! Highly symbolic, don't you think?

And just wait till we talk about the symbolism of BREATHING! And WALKING! And CARS, and TRANSPORT! Each of that is found in each of the seven minis, and we can construct infinite layers of hidden depth!

Andrew Hickey said...

Elias, I don't mean to sound harsh here, but you really should consider the possibility that your failure to see anything other than the most obvious, literal levels of meaning in these stories says more about you than it does about the work in question. In fact, looking through your posts suggests you've actually missed quite a bit of the surface story too (and incidentally, Guardian 4 *is* possibly the most important issue of the entire series, and makes sense of a *lot* of otherwise apparently uncorrelated material).

Just because you don't get what an artist is doing doesn't mean they're not doing it. You seem, in fact, to be angry about the very idea of things being implicit rather than explicit. It's OK that you prefer Batgirl to Seven Soldiers, but please don't try to imply that those of us who don't are being dishonest in our expressed preferences...

elias A. said...

Sorry if I was being sarcastic. I didn't want to imply that you are being dishonest at all. And as I said, I don't want to say Seven Soldiers is bad or anything.

Just when you make points like you do in your blog here, you should be prepared for people questioning and debating your conclusions. And as I said, I didn't even question the connections you found, only that as yet you have not really pointed out why those connections should be particularily meaningful.

I hope I didn't sound like a troll. I only wanted to contribute to start an interesting discussion, admittedly by means of ironic exaggeration.

Andrew Hickey said...

Apology accepted. And I'm *perfectly* prepared for people debating my points - but you've not really done that as yet.

I think I've made a fairly coherent case that the whole of Seven Soldiers is about opening up closed systems, both literally in terms of the DC Universe and figuratively in terms of closed systems of thought - and using that opening to escape from inevitable destruction. That's not the only thing that's in there, but it *is* in there, and so is a lot more.

John Seavey said...

Have you read Peter Straub's "Floating Dragon", by any chance? I ask because it was a strong influence on Stephen King's 'It', and I wondered if you thought about looking to it for parallels as well.