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Apr 05

Seven Soldiers: Klarion #1 (SPOILERS)

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 350 views

Grant Morrison has a rep for being an ideas man but what he’s really good at is creating and sustaining a mood. A Morrison first issue generally presents you with a fully-formed aesthetic and if it hits your particular frequencies you’ll spend the story in wide-eyed wonder and never ask silly questions about the plot. You find yourself groping for words to describe the peculiar feel of his comics, only to find he’s gone and done it for you. Klarion, he’s claimed in interviews, is “weird puritan Goth horror”, and he’s exactly right.

Klarion The Witch Boy was an old 70s Jack Kirby character, a creepy little kid with a magical pet cat. Morrison has meditated on that fantastic character name and come up with a creepy teen with a magical pet cat, except the cat now seems to be a Pullman-style familiar and the creepy teen is a hero by virtue of everyone else in his subsurface society being even creepier. Klarion’s underground town, it’s strongly implied, are the descendents of the notorious lost Roanoke colony, which was found abandoned by later settlers in North America with the disquieting message “Gone to Croatoan”. The town subsists on zombie labour, raising the bodies of its forefathers to become ‘Grundies’ and working them until they fall apart. Klarion doesn’t want to end up a Grundy and has a pouting curiosity about the world up above: his rebellion is more mischevious than malicious but by the end of the issue he’s still in big trouble.

Klarion #1 is part of Morrison’s Seven Soldiers project, seven interconnected short series each re-imagining some old DC Comics character, building into one complex and myth-driven tale. It’s the fourth first issue to be published: so far the stories have been an absolute treat, but Klarion is probably the best yet. In large part this is nothing to do with Morrison – Frazer Irving’s artwork is perfect for the title, his mix of cartoon purity and rainswept bleakness catching the script’s mood exactly, and his colouring of the corpse-blue world Klarion lives in is superb.

There isn’t much original about Klarion – plot-wise it’s an absolutely standard fantasy novel set-up – but Morrison and Irving have worked out such an exquisite aesthetic that it’s hard not to be seduced.

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