30 in 30 - Day 23: Seven Soldiers – Zatanna / by Frank Gogol

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With just two days left of Seven Soldiers of Victory Week, I’m reading the Zatanna miniseries today. Like Bulleteer and Frankenstein, this series felt more intrinsically important to the ongoing narrative, with many of the threads connecting and being expanded upon. That all said, he and Sook tell a great Zatanna story about addiction and, again, the more human side of being a costumed hero. 

Synopsis

Title: Seven Soldiers – Zatanna
Storytellers: Grant Morrison & Ryan Sook
Publisher: DC Comics
Year of Publication: 2005
Page Count: 88

Zatanna tries to get her head together and figure out what to do with her life. She's come to an emotional impasse as her magical powers are waning, resulting in an obsession with finding her father's lost magical journals hoping they contain the secrets she needs of his black art.

SPOILERS FOR SEVEN SOLDIERS – ZATANNA BELOW

What I learned about Comic Book Storytelling in Writing

One of the most delightful aspects of the Seven Soldier of Victory has been the extreme focus on the human foibles of the characters. Morrison has found really human dilemmas for the larger-than-life figures to be struggling with in spite of the larger Crisis-level narrative that connects them all. These are the kinds of issue creator-owned books tend to talk more intimately these days, but Morrison was putting them front-and-center more than a decade ago and with some noteworthy characters. Morrison deals with big, big ideas in his writing. Sometimes it’s next to impossible to even make sense of it all. But he tends to tell great human stories while he’s blowing readers’ minds. And it’s the human aspects of the character that make readers care about them. Though it doesn’t always feel that way, Morrison understands that writing is about character first and plot second. 

What I learned about Comic Book Storytelling in Art

This story takes the reader to some strange metaphysical, pseudo-science landscapes. In the first issue, Morrison writes a couple of two-page spreads that are visually confusing to drive home the idea that these places are strange. Sook, however, illustrates these pages masterfully, staging them landscapes and the characters so that the reader can decipher the images. In fact, he draw the page so expertly, that even when the lettering is removed, there’s still a clear visual flow to the pages and the eye is lead where it needs to go to make sense of things. Sook understands how to present complex images simply to the reader. It’s a skill that’s handy when working with complex images and writers, who like Morrison, push the bounds of what a comic book can do. 

Recommendation: A (Must Read)

Check back tomorrow when I tackle the bookend one-shot—Seven Soldiers of Victory 1.

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