Lying In The Gutters

Mon, September 19th, 2005 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 18

Welcome to the most popular and longest running comics column on the internet. In its various forms, Lying In the Gutters has covered rumours and gossip in the comics industry for twelve long glorious and quite scary years. All stories are sourced from well connected sources and checked with respective publisher representatives before publication. The veracity of each story is judged by me and given a spotlight - Green is the most reliable, Amber means there's likely an interest involved or the likelihood isn't set and Red means even I can't quite bring myself to believe it.

Lying In The Gutters is for your entertainment. Neither Fair Nor Balanced.

INSIDE CONTACT FOR OUTSIDE

[Green Light]Last Monday's Lying In The Gutters caused a bit of a stir by disseminating Diamond's new Publisher Terms far and wide.

A number of companies have been taking new steps to avoid being dropped by Diamond or having their orders cut off and not being passed on. Of course, the obvious solution would be to sell more copies through Diamond, but as last week showed, not everyone is in a position to do so that easily.

Buying "Diamond Previews" ads is a popular choice-- there is a belief that not only might that possibly increase sales through exposure, but it makes it far harder an item for Diamond to drop, let alone cancel orders on, if they were so minded. Certainly, the profit/loss balance as far as Diamond are concerned, is suddenly swung in the books favour to continue being listed, if they buy adverts as part of that deal.

But you have to give "Arcana" the prize for the sneakiest way to keep in

Previews, even if sales might not support it. The cover for the title "Dead Men Tell No Tales #1B" is drawn by none other than Filip Sablik. Otherwise known as a Diamond brand manager. Now that really is thinking outside of the box.

Newsarama presented the story in what was seen as sober, considered terms, stating that not much had really changed, the benchmark figure was the same and this were part of Diamond's business plan.

However the author, Matt Brady, did have to rely on some Bad Maths to justify this position. He read on the Diamond website, the unchanged submission policies giving the wholesale figure for Diamond sales per item at $2500-- and stated that this had been the same for years.

That is, Diamond requires that anything listed as a comic or trade garner a purchase order that the distributor would then issue to the publisher for at least $1500 per issue or trade. Given the 60% discount Diamond (generally) receives, $1500 wholesale translates roughly into $2500 retail, which has been the standard benchmark Diamond has applied to new titles for years, and is stated plainly in their submission guidelines for creators and publishers looking to solicit their projects through Diamond:

Except that's not 60% discount, that's 40% discount. The new retail benchmark, not yet on the submission forms, was not $2500, but more like $3750, upping the new terms for Diamond considerably. This is a significant change to the benchmark figure for Diamond and not one to be easily dismissed as "it's always been like that."

The maths wer subsequently changed, as was the statement that the benchmark figure had remained unchanged for years.

Diamond have also been spinning that titles deemed agreeable by their employees can be saved, and indeed this has often been the case. I used to self publish "Dirtbag" and that title needed all the help it could get. And Diamond were very generous.

But even for the exceptions, Diamond have exceptions. There are no excuses for adult books that fail to reach the new higher benchmark, such as "Wild," a furry anthology from MU. It would have met the previous benchmark, but not the new one. As a result, Diamond is dropping it.

FILTHY DRAGONS

[Green Light]What with Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely bringing back the comics-book-creators-do-album-covers schtick for Robbie Williams' new album, time for another Grant Morrison associate to join the crowd.

Chris Weston told me, "Apparently, the record label's art supervisor, Matt Cooper, award winning designer of Franz Ferdinand's artwork, was asked by the band's management to 'get someone who's art was just like the guy that draws the Filth.' Stuart Wright, one of the managers, was a big fan apparently. After a bit of googling to check out what my particular art-style was like, Matt stumbled upon my own website and got in touch.


"I've always wanted to have a go at doing an album cover, what comic strip artist hasn't, so I jumped at the chance... and besides, the pay was incredible! It's amazing just how much you can earn outside of the comics market... where illustration is properly respected and valued!

"The next part was to meet the band and I went along to their gig supporting 'Therapy?' at the Astoria. It was a real 'Almost Famous' experience, as I got to swan past the queues, proudly bearing my 'access all areas' pass, and exclaim those immortal words at the door: 'I'm with the band.'

"It was the first time I heard the 'Tokyo Dragons'... and they rocked! Irony-free retro-metal in the vein of AC/DC, I'd describe it as. And, unlike 'The Darkness,' there's no doubt that they mean it, man.

"I was allowed to jump about the stage, photographing and filming the band while they played their set... and that was all the reference I needed. I've since done several pieces of promotional art for the band including a comic strip about how they formed that was supposed to appear in 'Kerrang!' but was pulled when they replaced their bass player. The best piece is the picturedisc artwork for the single, 'What the Hell.'

"The brief for the album art was to pay homage to Thin Lizzy's 'jail-break' cover, but with a 21st Century 'Filth'-like feel. The original version featured a backdrop of a bombed-out London Underground station, which had to be painted out after certain recent events. Those familiar with my comic strip history will find several references to various series I've worked on hidden away on the back cover...!"

SPELLING ALAN MOORE

[Green Light]"Alan Moore Spells It Out" is a new book buried in the back of the most recent Previews from Airwave Publishing (page 213).

It features the first in-print appearance of an in-depth interviews with Moore over the creative process as he sees it, with Bill Baker.

Which means language, creativity, magic, and good comics. Can't wait.

DEERING DILEMMA

[Green Light]Marc Deering isn't the most prominent inker in the world. He generally works for smaller publishers, with an eye on breaking into the big time.

So he would be an unlikely subject to receive plagiarism to the point of someone using his name to get work.

But that's exactly what appears to have happened with a book called "Jendai" from Zenoscope.

Marc has never heard of the book, or the publisher, and attempts to clarify who is exactly inking this book under his name haven't proved exactly fruitful. Tracy Duty of Atomic Pop Art is one suspect according to Deering, but Duty is pointing at others.

Still, maybe Marc should just invoice the company. After all, if he's getting the credit, he might as well get the payment to boot.

BISLEY LIVE AT BRIGHTON

[Green Light]Simon Bisley is to perform a live art show at the Brighton Comic Con this November. Massive easel and massive paintings in a goldfish bowl while everyone stares round watching.

Those who won the Bisley "Kaotika" CDs last week, they should be on their way to you. Those who got on their guest list, well, I hope your ears have recovered.

JOHN BYRNE VS WIKIPEDIA

[Green Light]It's what all the message boards have been talking about this week.

It does seem odd that by John Byrne's sledgehammer approach to tackling something he felt personally offensive and factually incorrect, he has only exacerbated the very problem he was attempting to correct.

Here are some very unflattering examples.

Let's invent some kind of sickening homily to illustrate this. Um. I know, "You open more doors with an open hand than a clenched fist." That'll do.

AMAZON ATTACKED

[Green Light]After the ludicrous levels of detail Amazon has exposed about Marvel's publishing plans, it looks like they've been tidying up a bit. A number of spoiler-tastic Marvel listing have been ripped out from Amazon.com. Previously there were around 60 books if not more listed, now there are only 31 covering just January and February, save for a stray "New Avengers" vol. 4 HC listed for November 2006.

There are a few remaining oddities. There's an "Ultimate Annuals" Volume 1 TPB listed for January for $12.99, but the "Fantastic Four" annual was already supposed to be collected in a trade due shortly. Also a JMS/McKone hardcover of their first six "Fantastic Four" issues, in the normal sized format. Which may annoy Marvel oversized hardcover buyers as they'll have a longer wait for their (and my) preferred format.

Also, the info for the trade paperback of the new "What If?" event is up. Entitled "Mirror Mirror," there seems to be an overarching story. The trade solicitations state, "What if... Captain America fought in the Civil War? What if... the Fantastic Four were Cosmonauts? What if... Daredevil lived in feudal Japan? What if... Namor grew up on land? Hacking into the internet of an adjacent reality, teenager Hector Espejo discovers these and other startling stories - and learns that eavesdropping on a sinister parallel universe can be highly addictive! Collects What If: Captain America, What If: Daredevil, What If: Fantastic Four, What If: Sub-Mariner, What If: Thor and What If: Wovlerine." (sic)

One thing of possible interest is in the cancelled-in-mid-shoot Epic title, "Gun Theory" and still-born "Quest" trade. However, the listings have had a bit of a revamp, with a page count, a price and release dates. Fingers crossed.

Amazon is also having quite the sale on certain graphic novels while you're at it.

DOONESBACK

Regular Doonesbury returned to The Guardian newspaper today.

I had the opportunity to remind Ian Katz, the editor of G2 of The Guardian, who recently had to run 5 Doonesbury strips on Friday to make up for all the cut strips last week of Will Corbin, the editor of the Escondido Times-Advocate. Who, when dropping Doonesbury a couple of decades ago, wrote "If it's the only basis upon which a decision to buy this newspaper is made, then I might as well be selling shoes." After the re-instatement of the strip, the paper featured a photograph of Corbin selling shoes.

SELLING UP, SELLING OUT

[Green Light]It's been a while, but I'm clearing out my graphic novel/TPB bookshelves on eBay. Drop by and take the pickings. More going up later in the week.

SEVENTH HOUSE

[Yellow Light]While everyone has been running around headless-chicken style over either "House Of M" (dramatic reduction of number of mutants in the Marvel Universe, hence "Decimation" and "X-Men: The 198") or "Infinite Crisis" (separation of DC characters into 'houses,' reminiscient of "Twilight"), "Seven Soldiers" has kind of fallen into the gap. This is a mistake. So thank goodness for Lindsay Duff and the Legions Of The V, giving a guide to all the links and references you may have missed when reading "Klarion," "Manhattan Guardian," "Zatanna," "Shining Knight" and more. Take it away Lindsay!

Seven Soldiers #0

  • "Seven Soldiers Of Victory" - at no point in any of the books so far do we see any of the soldiers, teams or groups achieving victory.

  • Are the elements of the Seven Soldiers 'crest' from the front of #0 important? A skull, a lightning bolt, a sword, flames, an eagle, stars and a shield...?

  • The prologue is called 'True Thomas' - presumably the remade Thomas Dalt (I, Spyder) is a False Thomas? Also refers to the song the Ferryman sings.

  • Thomas is being carried by an enigmatic ferryman who speaks only in italics - is he already dead?

  • "They say a black flower grows for every secret drowned in Slaughter Swamp..." - dismissed as a 'creepy local legend' - first instance of myth and legend being discredited.

  • Gold's transformation to Grundy - alchemy in reverse? Clear link to Thomas's subsequent tranformation as well.

  • "Slaughter Swamp is one of those in-between places, where solid things turn soft and change, like Cyrus did... Like Justice and Humanity sometimes do... Into monsters." - Reference to good becoming bad, to betrayal? Dismissed by Thomas as 'fairy tales'.

  • "You've got a bit more depth to you, eh? Two sides, at least." - first appearance of the 2D/3D theme.

  • "O see ye not yon narrow road..." - a song with particularly interesting connotations.

  • 'Mosquitoes' biting the Spider - an inversion of the natural order? Is this the point where Dalt is compromised? Certainly, it is where he is poisoned.

  • "Sometimes, in an emergency like this, we have to let you locals into one or two of our secrets." - the Seven Unknown Men are from elsewhere, or elsewhen.

  • "Another schmuck with a bow and arrows!" - was the previous 'schmuck' Dalt's father, the original Alias the Spider? Originally, Alias the Spider was a good guy who pretended to be a crook to infiltrate criminal gangs. In Geoff Johns' Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E., that was flipped - the original Alias the Spider became a bad guy who pretended to be a hero to infiltrate teams of good guys, in particular the original Seven Soldiers. He tampered with a weapon they were going to use on the Nebula Man, but Wing defeated him, used the weapon, and gave his life to save the rest of the team, although they were subsequently scattered through time, which is how Vigilante became stranded in the Old West.

  • "Where's the twist? Where's the gimmick?" - overt reference to the 'twist' motif that is present in all the books; also, possible reference to Gimmix?

  • "Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp... Mystery Men..." - the 'Mystery Men' motif is repeated elsewhere.

  • Dalt - assisted suicide? The only person he has to kill is himself? How does this fit with the other soldiers; are they expected to die as well?

  • "We have to... well... tailor you to fit the job." - overt link between the S.U.M. and the Tailor.

  • "Thomas, see that old poem I read to you? [...] There's a third road..." - the ferryman was one of the S.U.M. The verse referred to, and the 'third road', is this:


    And see not ye that bonny road


    That winds about the ferny brae?


    That is the road to fair Elfland,


    Where thou and I this night maun gae.

  • "It was my dad's tunic... And my brother... I... I just don't want to lose it." - reference to the importance of predecessors and family, especially parents, and how their children need them.

  • Skull & crossbones motif on the Black Piss Beer bottle.

  • "In the world of the Super-Cowboys, there's always blood." - first appearance of the blood motif.

  • "There are always special destinies. Tales of loss and vengeance. Family obligations. Blood. Spilled or otherwise." - Seven Soldiers in a nutshell? Also, does this suggest that there will always be teams of seven to fight against Gloriana in perpetuity?

  • Powerhouse Magazine #172 - headline is "Why all the symbolism?" A wry joke.

  • On Shelly's bookshelf are the titles "Super Men & Women of the Golden Age" and "Mystery Men". History and mystery - both important.

  • "Isn't it funny how everything connects?" - overt reference to the connections; link to Ali-Ka-Zoom's concept of 'Mystery String'.

  • "...preferably with a veteran, some newcomers, a tough guy..." - archetypal team makeup. Does this refer to all of the teams of seven? Of the main Seven, Justin is the 'veteran' member of the team, as he has fought the Sheeda before, Guardian and presumably Bulleteer are the newcomers, and Frankenstein the hard case..? Or is Frankenstein the veteran, if Vigilante's reference to a 'Johnny Frankenstein' rounding up the Buffalo Spider in 1875 is the same person...?

  • Shelly's book is entitled "Body Thunder - How I Turned My Body Into A Living Weapon To Beat the 21st Century Blues". - transformation again; reference to Dyno-mite Dan and possibly Bulleteer?

  • "Maybe then my mother will take my life seriously." - more concern over absent, disapproving parents - the only way to gain approval is by dying?

  • "Is it when the joke becomes real?" - reference to grim reality destroying fantasy again - cf. the Newsboy Army's dissolution, among others.

  • "For a moment, I feel the presence of a much bigger reality. Like mountains looming all around me." - reality pressing in, after 2-3 pages of references to things like Zorro and CGI - fantasy being subsumed by reality again.

  • "You won't find Miracle Mesa on any map; it's a legend. A place that comes and goes." - another 'In-between Place'.

  • "I'm talking big ideas about space and time and how we got here an' all. They say Miracle Mesa revolves through many worlds." - are Miracle Mesa and Castle Revolving one and the same place, or do they just share traits?

  • "They call this place the hunting ground of gods and wild riders." - reference to the 'Huntsman' aspect of Neh-Buh-Loh; also to the Wild Hunt of fairy lore.

  • "The indians say the Buffalo Spider is a ghost animal. From the Ghost Country. Bad luck, omen of doom." - Is the 'Ghost Country' Summer's End? Does this link to other images of bad luck, like the broken mirror in Zatanna?

  • Vigilante - a similar sort of character to Ebeneezer Badde? Craggy, unshaven, gun-toting, sardonic, resigned, but still a man of action?

  • "My Seventh Soldier got cold feet at the last minute." - who was that supposed to have been? Johnny Frankenstein?

  • Gimmix - possibly the adult version of L'il Hollywood - certainly bears the hallmarks of a faded star (older than she makes out to be, facelift, makes a living off the convention circuit, plus she looks like a stereotypical starlet.

  • Where did Boy Blue get his horn?

  • Dyno-Mite Dan's rings are "Golden-Age Mystery Rings".

  • Spyder - skin is grey like all the other creatures ensorcelled - Grundies, Galahad, the golem? Also he is marked upon his skin with tattoos - 'branded'.

  • Gimmix - fallen asleep clutching a bottle of 'Blood Red Whisky'.

  • "I hate this whole stupid thing" - skull motif again. Perhaps death has become their seventh member?

  • "Giovanni Zatara. Wonderful man. What a dancer. Old school. I know his daughter from my therapy group. JLA girl." - why is Gimmix discussing G.Z., of all people?

  • "[Greg Sanders] could have been the singing country cook on TV instead of wasting all his time with all this Super-Cowboy stuff." - again, reality is regarded as more important than fantasy.

  • Spyder's information about spiders - irrelevant, considering they may be robots/constructs? Or is it relevant to the Sheeda as well as their mounts?

  • "Sleeping with 'I, Spyder' (whose real name is Thomas Ludlow Dalt) is my contribution to the complex intergroup dynamics essential for any superteam. Playing the diva asshole is Jackie's." - again, pooh-poohing the artifice of fantasy, and mocking the fabric of the group already.

  • "We bait the beast, just like I did. Make it waltz right into our trap." - obvious double-meaning here, as Spyder is leading the group into a trap as well. But is it also a reference to what the S.U.M. are doing with the real Seven Soldiers?

  • "The number seven is very important. There were seven champions of Christendom, seven spirits of the throne of God, seven virtues, seven sins, seven sleepers, seven wise masters..." - I don't think any of these instances of seven are referred to elsewhere in the series - not relevant? Too obvious?

  • "Nah, it's just a shell. It shed its skin after the collision, molted to a more adult form." - reference to becoming an adult; also the casting-off of outer (dead) 'skin', like Justin's deception being uncovered, Guardian quitting his position, Zatanna losing her magic (?) and Klarion becoming a Witch-Man/leaving Limbo Town. Also a reference to the 'suits' made by the Tailor, and also the S.U.M.

  • "The spider is my totem. One day a spider will kill me." - Spyder knows the circumstance of his own death - reference to Klarion's ability? Is this a curse? Does it mean that he will kill himself, or perhaps be killed by the Sheeda?

  • Spyder - draws bow left-handed - 'sinister'?

  • Buffalo Spider - has 'a saddle and reins around its head' - where is its rider? What is it doing there?

  • Gimmix - knew the 'real' Boy Blue.

  • "Our 'secret identities' are forgotten." - blurring of reality and fantasy. Which identities; their heroic lives, or their mundane ones?

  • "Is this what real superheroes feel?" - overt confession that they are false, a failed team, before they've even started.

  • "I'm all wrapped up in prophecy and myth." - again, the appearance of myth as a concept, but also as an entanglement - myth as a bad thing. Possible reference to the suits of the Tailor; also to a spider cocooning its prey?

  • "It's some kind of a machine, man." - the enslaved 'construct' motif again. Also means their victory over the Buffalo Spider is hollow?

  • Miracle Mesa - appears as a sort of revolving castle.

  • "What kind of prey do you suppose Gods might lower themselves to hunt, hmm?" - hunting and gods linked; what does this mean for the likes of Croatoan? Is he absent because he is hunting? Are superheroes the only prey of hunting gods?

  • First reference to the 'Harrowing', and first appearance of Neh-Buh-Loh following his creation in JLA:Classified.

  • "Except seven none returned from Castle Revolving." - does this refer to the Knights of the Shattered Table, or is it a prophecy fortelling the success of the Seven Soldiers?

  • "Plan B is already under way, gentlemen." - this failed attempt was the S.U.M.'s first attempt at stopping the Sheeda?

  • "Seven more conscripts?" - none of the Soldiers are willing participants?

  • The S.U.M. are packing Justin's tabard, Guardian's helmet, the 'train gun', a glove and a pentagram/hex symbol (among others?) into boxes - presents for the 'conscripts' - the 'King's Shilling', as it were?

  • "Leave the Time-Sewing Machine!" - vital tool abandoned? It looks almost like a vehicle, like a train - are the secret tunnels and trains in Guardian some sort of cloth or pattern being woven?

  • The fact that the S.U.M. are leaving means Ali-Ka-Zoom's statement in Zatanna that only the S.U.M. can help now is false?

  • There are six (new?) black flowers in Slaughter Swamp at the foot of the page - do they represent the dead Soldiers (although Spyder is still alive) or do they represent the members of the S.U.M. - presuming the Tailor to be a rogue element therein - wwho have departed, leaving secrets buried in the swamp?

Shining Knight #1 - 4

  • The cauldron brings the dead back to life - perhaps it will not matter who dies?

  • Olwen refers to Summer's End being located in the "Land of the Vampire Sun" - a black hole reference?

  • Castle Revolving - doesn't look like Miracle Mesa... but doesn't it look a little like a Bleed vessel like the Carrier? Certainly it looks more like a vessel than a fortress.

  • Some bizarre numbers in this issue; it's not clear is they're some sort of intentional and utterly esoteric code of Morrison's, or just artistic whimsy from someone who may not be familiar with US conventions. Here are some of them: in SK1, one car numberplate reads 'S.C.155Q.' The police badge Justin sees is number 00391, and the building looks a bit like the Guardian headquarters. In SK2, the policecar numberplate is P955699. The bumper that Justin lashes out with has the plate 19SABQU on it, and this is repeated in two frames. Finally, the police car door has a curious crest on it, and the letters TOYYC.

  • The hoarding for the film 'Cup of Blood' is presumably a reference to both the Grail and the Cauldron (which are presumably the same thing). The fact that the male character is a 'spy' and the female a 'mermaid' is difficult to tally with the title of the film. Is this another illustration of the ridiculousness of fantasy? The actress' surname, Stellamaris, means something alone the lines of 'sea of stars' in mangled latin.

  • The 'weapon even unstoppable Mordredd might fear' could be the 'Power-Stone' - or some sort of nuclear bomb? - as in forging it, the Dwarrows and the knights of the Broken Table 'split the building blocks of matter itself', and once All-Beard and No-Beard have fought in the House of Croatoan, the apparent resting-place of the Power-Stone, No-Beard is contaminated by radiation... The delirious All-Beard says 'is that you, Fights-With-Chains? Can't you see I'm walking barefoot on tiles of radioactive pearl? There's a God in burning shackles! He lifts his awful, star-maned head and says... says...' And Ebeneezer Badde, in the House of Croatoan, says, 'Maybe there WAS a god here once but he's long, long gone. He ESCAPED and left us on here alone. Only his dreadful CHAINS remain.' - these chains have been split asunder and their captive released, so maybe Croatoan is some sort of atomic thing? Or a god of radiation? Or perhaps Neh-Buh-Loh, given the reference to a 'star-maned head', and the fact that N-B-L was, in his nascent form as the Universe of Qwewq, a cube-shape.

  • 'Sky-High' Helligan - perhaps this character is one of the 'unsung heroes' who crop up in the books as supporting characters? Like Don Vicenzo, Cassandra, Ebeneezer Badde... perhaps they are the real Seven Soldiers, while the title characters are decoys? Helligan's talents are pattern recognition and being pure of heart; is this why Gloriana takes particular steps to incapacitate/poison/enslave her? If these heroes are 'unsung', does it mean that they have not been given a story or a suit by the Tailor, and thus are free to make their own narratives?

  • The 'Silencio' that Don Vicenzo is fighting is a member of Melmoth's organisation, and is seen giving the presentation on Roanoke and Limbo Town in Klarion. Melmoth's organisation is, presumably, the 'East Coast Mob'.

  • Gloriana's husband seems to be Melmoth, and she appears surprised that he is alive.

  • "This is fucking mythology calling." - Don Vincenzo prefers the wonder of myth to reality - a common theme among the Newsboy Army - Gimmix clings to faded youth, Baby Brain to the illusion of being a normal adult, and Ali-Ka-Zoom to still being alive...

  • Crazyface refers to the 'four tops' guarding Don Vincenzo - the number four is repeated throughout the series.

  • The spider mounts of the Sheeda are again referred to as being 'cheap robots'. Is this a reference to the ex-military robots at Century Hollow? Or to the robotic back-up JLA that Batman used in JLA:C?

  • Neh-Buh-Loh crushes the fantasy and mythology of Don Vicenzo, describing it as "just blood and mud and heat leaving meat." - another blood reference, and also one to the mention in Guardian of clay being the link between organic and inorganic matter. This is also perhaps how a celestial and possibly divine being like Neh-Buh-Loh might regard humanity, in the most simple terms.

  • Sir Justin is both a 'falsebeard' and a 'no-beard'.

Manhattan Guardian #1 - 4

  • The headline from the front page of the Guardian - 'headless horror in haunted hospital' - a reference to the beheaded Galahad, perhaps?

  • Jake goes for a job interview with a 'Mr Stargard' - more references to stars?

  • Brutus, the last of the 'golems four' (Is Don Vincenzo's bodyguard Strato, the 'air-golem of the east', another?), is a branded construct or enslaved being, just like I, Spyder, the Grundies, Mo Colley, the Century Hollow ex-war-robots from Guardian #3, Galahad in Shining Knight, Batman's robotic stand-in JLA in JLA:C, and the brainwashed members of the Ultramarines.

  • Perhaps the golem inscription, Galahad's pentagram, the programs of the Century Hollow robots - they are their 'stories'? Maybe the 'time tailor' is fiction-suiting around the narrative within these characters...

  • "Clay is the missing link between organic and inorganic matter" - see previous notes to SK4; also, does it explain the grey pallor of the enslaved? Also, the Muslim creation story holds that God created man by breathing into clay and clotted blood.

  • The date of Tyree Plantain's death is 9.13.03, as displayed on the CCTV recording. Is this significant?

  • The 'Ghost Pirates' article appears to mention The Authority (although it is almost certainly a truncation of 'the authorities', but it remains a curious possibility).

  • Behind the stranded Guardian-Mobile is a Pumpkin Taxi - contrast to the 'Gypsy Taxi' in Zatanna and to the Pumpkin Taxi being joyridden by the Deviant Ones in Klarion. Is this a Cinderella reference? - In the DCU, New York is referred to as the "Cinderella city", with its two "ugly stepsisters", Metropolis and Gotham, grabbing all the attention. Is some grand illusion going to fade at midnight? The clock in the police station when Gloriana abandons her historian disguise was reading midnight...

  • The map of the secret tunnels looks more like the London tube map than the New York one... or more like a spider's web, perhaps.

  • The reference to Mister Miracle trying to escape an artificial black hole links to Gloriana Tenebrae in Shining Knight, when she's disguised as the historian, talking about Caliburn Ex Calibur - 'something forged at the dawn of time to endure until the last black star swallows it whole'.

  • Perhaps Edward J. Lincoln of the Newsboy Army (#49 - 7x7) is another unsung hero?

  • Skull & Crossbones motif on the front of the President Clinton.

  • The secret words to open the way to the hidden lines - "the words God spoke when he made it all" - are 'IIIIAMMMYUUUHUAMIIIII' - 'I am you who am I'. Which God? the Christian one? Croatoan? The Red God of Ys? Ra-Man? Neh-Buh-Loh? Or the Supreme Architect that Gwydion mentions, if that is different to the other members of this list?

  • The Horigal from Klarion is the creature that the President Clinton tube train smashes through on its way through the secret tube lines - is this the closest the action comes in the books so far? As concurrent events are described in 2 different books?

  • The station through which the Pres. Clinton passes is 'Cenozoic Station' - where is this station?

  • After the train's plunge into Dead Man's Junction, a rat is sat atop the junction lever - did the rat cause the crash, is it a "smart rat", and could it be the same rat, perhaps, that Teekl kills in Klarion #1?

  • The House of Croatoan is where All-Beard and No-Beard fight over the 'Power-Stone'. The radiation of the chains or the blue-glowing liquid seems enough to poison the (presumably) victorious No-Beard so that he becomes "sick and soon to die", but Klarion and Badde seem relatively unaffected by it, not to mention the submissionaries to must have preceded them. Perhaps they are already tainted?

  • The die, the power-stone, is incomplete. It only has six sides. However, a die represents 7 options, you can roll and get 1 through 6. Or, you can chose not to roll at all.

  • A skeleton in the House of Croatoan is holding a tattered red flag in the background of the pirates' fight, which is a possible link to Lancelot on the first page of Shining Knight #1.

  • Do the grave markers at Jake's father in law's funeral have any significance? The names are [?Ge?]rrard, McLeod, Shannon, Murray, Bluth and Christine Taylor...

  • No-Beard transforms from just a crazy guy called Eamon Garcia to the main figure in a ghost story all of his own - a "bizarre legend" of a "mad pirate king" - fantasy triumphing over reality? Is No-Beard an 'Unsung Hero'?

  • In Century Hollow, the rogue robots' numerical utterances are as follows: 00911, 00711, 00511, 00311, 00811, 00811, 00211.

  • Jorge refers to Century Hollow as being a '3D map of political and social reality' - another 2D/3D reference; the map of the hidden tunnels was by contrast a 2D map of political and social fantasy... Is Century Hollow one of the metaplots of Seven Soldiers? A man creates a kingdom, then loses it to the woman he created - possible Eden reference?

  • The tourist Ike is 75 years old, like the childlike superhero at Zatanna's 'AA'-style meeting.

  • Jake's engagement ring - a reference to the rings of Dyno-Mite Dan, the ring Zatanna holds up in the magic shop, and possibly to Green Lantern? Is it a representation that his relationship is as bogus or doomed as the rings of Dan?

  • Jorge's excuse/alibi, that there were three or five attackers, and their leader had a tattooed amish-style beard, (a False-Beard?) is a curious amount of detail to put into a cover story.

  • Hanna Control is possibly also a construct, if Jorge is to be believed - her having sex with "those machines" and him crying "I made you" suggest that she is also a machine - a Stepford Wife, perhaps.

  • The Newsboy Army's adventures are pure fantasy - "wouldja believe...?", the land of Golden Top Hats (another reference to gold?), the reference to 'another story'. Ironic that the arch storyteller of their group, Baby Brains, should become the 'brains' behind a supposed conveyor of reality - the Guardian newspaper.

  • Mo Colley's best friend is a police horse - a familiar? A reference to Shining Knight?

  • The Castle Revolving is a 'murder factory', perhaps? When Gloriana screams at Justin in SK1 that "you don't know what Castle Revolving is!" is this what she is referring to? Or is it more than this as well?

  • The Newsboy Army's headquarters was located at the corner of Nowhere St and Nowhere Square - a fiction? Or was it another In-between Place?

  • The Newsboy Army encounter the Tailor, presumably after the S.U.M. have abandoned the Gold place, as the time-sewing machine is still there. There are 'halos' of flying Sheeda here - has Misty been here before?

  • The Tailor is trying to cover the world in the black flowers, which represent secrets and possibly death - also a reference to the corruption planted inside Qwewq in JLA:C?

  • The Tailor might be a traitor in the Seven Unknown Men, as they too could be a team of seven destroyed by Gloriana Tenebrae...

  • "The end of the Queen of Terror's reign with a spear that never was thrown" - riff on Longinus' Spear? The Dolorous Blow to the Fisher King in the Morte D'Arthur? Again, just like Spyder, Gloriana knows the circumstances of her doom - are the 'villains' fated to lose? Have their 'suits' already been decided, just like those of the 'heroes'?

  • The Tailor says to the Newsboy Army, 'give me that silly outsize TOP HAT you wear, Ali. I'LL look good in that.' ...and so perhaps it is him, not Ali, that appears in SK#2 on the bench next to Justin, or in Cass' magic shop? Or perhaps A-K-Z becomes his fiction suit?

  • The mentions of the Gold place here and the Red Place in Klarion tally with Gloriana's statement after the Harrowing of Camelot - "like red and bleeding gold are the sunsets of this age."

  • Larry Marcus (Jake's late father-in-law) was known to the Newsboy Army as 'El Mar' - another secret?

Zatanna #1 - 3

  • Zatanna's first words concern her guilt. Guilt stalks most, if not all, of the Soldiers. Vincenzo, Kid Scarface from the Newsboy Army, is wracked with guilt (as is Baby Brains) for what they did to Cap, and only when Ali-Ka-Zoom absolves him is he able to die peacefully. Justin is stalked by a literal Guilt Figure - the Mood 7 Mind Destroyer - for his failure to avert the Harrowing of Camelot; Zatanna's first words are "You want guilt?" Guardian is suffering with guilt for shooting the innocent Tyree Plantain, and Klarion is later made guilty by Teekl for abandoning both the Deviant Ones and Limbo Town to the predations of Melmoth.

  • Is the chaos symbol on her shirt seven-pointed? Or eight? 6 seems to be the number of imperfection, of incompleteness, whereas 8 is the number of the spider-linked Sheeda...

  • Giovanni Zatara's top hat - refers to both the Tailor and to Ali-Ka-Zoom? IS it the same topper?

  • The secret 13th month of magic as called 'Arachne', and it's on the 7th day of this month that Zatanna has the seance with the Invincibles at Winter's house. Among the Invincibles is 'Doctor 13', the "professional skeptic", who is a common associate of the Phantom Stranger.

  • Zatanna's seance very closely parallels the post-Crisis seance at Winter's House in Swamp Thing #50, in which Constantine, Zatanna, Zatara, Winter, Mento, Sargon and Dr. Occult tried to help in the ultimate battle of good and evil. Much like Zatanna's seance, they didn't do much good and managed to get most of themselves killed or maimed instead. Zatara died in this conflict (the flashback in Zatanna #1 of Zatara burning: "Too late, my love, too late") by taking an energy bullet meant for Zatanna. Interestingly enough, the bolt was targeting the weakest link in the chain and beelined for Zatanna. Zatara forced it towards himself magically -- "Ssenkrad ekat em daestni." Gwydion's appearance is extremely similar to Zatara's death; perhaps this indicates something of an Elektra complex on Zatanna's part?

  • The Invincibles convene their seance about a round - and unshattered - table, although there are scorched hand-marks from the seance in which her father died still in evidence on the table.

  • The jumping between brane universes is much like the Bleed of the WSU, and is also more fusion between the 2D and 3D universes. Of course, the way to picture three dimensions is like a cube... or a die... The 'green six-sided sun' of the Interreality of Ra is a clear link to the dice motif - a 'cube star from the bright-world' - as well as the dimensional references. Timothy Ravenwind refers to having to jump across the universes as beng 'just like changing trains while they're moving' - see Guardian #2.

  • Justin's name in the tongue of Avalon is 'Ystin'. Zatanna, when travelling through the dimensions with the Invincibles, encounters the 'Red God of Ys', frozen before it can swallow the universe (like a black hole?). Justin also says after killing the fallen Galahad that 'red I am with blood'.

  • The realm of 'Never-Be-Found' - is this a tenuous link to Neh-Buh-Loh? Or just more secrets and obscurity?

  • The realm of "human knowledge" is a rare allusion to Christian religious mythology - the tree of knowledge, the tempting shapeshifting 'dragon' (Gwydion) who leads them all to destruction...

  • The four treasures of Camelot link to the four books of Giovanni Zatara (and fits in with the numbers themes - seven soldiers, four issues each, and so on).

  • Time distortion appears to happen in this realm, as Taia becomes old and then young again - another form of transformation?

  • Is this place an antidote to the secrets and the black flowers of Slaughter Swamp? For instance, Timothy Ravenwind finds the 'final secret' of Crowley - his Book of the Perplexed...

  • The seance takes place in 'Winter's House' - is this a link to Summer's End? He says, "my house will survive the coming storm and plague, as ever, but it will survive alone." Is this the Harrowing, or the impending Crisis?

  • Mention of "2D plate holographic theory" - more dimensional stuff. Holographic theory is crudely along these lines: The entropy/information of a black hole is proportional to the surface area, not volume. ie: 2D not 3D. A good representation of this would be a die, it's what's on the surface that counts.

  • Mention of both Starro and the 'JLA star tent' - more star references? Zatanna herself is also something of a faded 'star' - as is Gimmix, if she is a mature L'il Hollywood - and everyone seems to make a big deal out of her having been in the JLA. She is also an 'air sign'. Are these star references links to Neh-Buh-Loh?

  • The Gypsy cab that Misty calls is number 013. On the advert on the roof of the cab are legible the words 'Orphelia 9-12'.

  • Is 'IXAT' an intentional, concrete reference to the Invisibles? Or just Morrison being playful?

  • Misty's die has roman numerals as numbers. Klarion's one and the one fought over the the pirates (probably the same artifact?) have conventional 'pips' on them.

  • The magic shop is number 818 - an entirely symmetrical number.

  • Misty is only "mostly innocent" - perhaps her 'Snow White'-ness is not so totally clear-cut...

  • * The passage of writing that Gwydion inhabits in Zatanna #2 is full of clues and hints: he has been 'the narrow blade of a sword', a 'shining star', a 'light in a lantern for a year and a half' - the lantern that Justin uses in SK#1? - a 'shield in fight', the 'seventh letter in an alphabet'. He turns into a 'g' shortly after, but given the other alphabets used throughout - Ogham, hieroglyphics - it would not be surprising if he was in them too. Given the large numbers of characters whose names begin with 'g' - Gloriana (herself a shapeshifter), Gwydion, Galahad, Guardian, Gimmix, Goldenboy, Gold, Grundy, Golem... Is this significant, or merely coincidence?

  • Gwydion is referred to as the 'Shapeless One' and is perhaps the 'Royal Were-Dragon' aspect of Merlin? Who is/was the 'Golden Age Shapeless-One' referred to by Zatanna? Presumably Justin will be able to recognise Gwydion as Merlin. Gimmix also refers to being molested by a shapeshifter. Gwydion is also 'the man of [Zatanna's] dreams', but this doesn't necessarily mean in a straightforward amorous sense.

  • Misty finds what appears to be a sundered head in a box in the magic shop. A reference to Se7en, perhaps?

  • Prowley the cat, who speaks in hieroglyphics, is a pun on Crowley, presumably.

  • It's likely that Cass sold the dud rings to Dyno-Mite Dan (or sold dud rings much like them), but who bought the 'imitation ruby of life'?

  • Zatanna's rules of magic are thus:

    1. Nothing is what it seems

    2. Learn to fool the experts

    3. If you can't keep it down, don't bring it up

    4. Preparation - always keep one card up your sleeve


      ...and the last rule is: the magician has to vanish with his trick, leaving the audience and his beautiful assistants to go on without him.

  • Does that mean that Zatanna is going to die?

  • The 'big man with an accent' who was in Cass' shop - was he A-K-Z or the Tailor? His hands seem to be those of a black man, but he is dressed much more smartly that A-K-Z, who is also not at all big...

  • A-K-Z is referred to by Zatanna as 'the Merlin of the Ghetto'. - Link to Gwydion?

  • Reference to the "Newsboy Army Murder Case" - who got murdered? Chop Suzi? Or Cap 7? Or both?

  • Gwydion serves "the new supreme architect of the universe whose name is yet hidden" - is this Grant Morrison? the Tailor? Or someone we've not met yet?

  • Kid William Tell's crossbow bolt - was he a Golden Age character? Just some other schmuck with a bow? Or a Newsboy-Army-style kid adventurer?

  • The ghost bus from Shining Knight reappears to deliver A-K-Z.

  • Is the Tempter like the Mood 7 Mind Destroyer?

  • Is the secret about Misty just her parentage? Or is there more?

  • "Logical immunity" seems to be the way to confront and defeat minor demons - Would someone from eons ago like Justin not have this defence, therefore he cannot easily defeat Guilt?

  • Zatanna confesses she "used my powers to change people's lives and memories." - more guilt? Perhaps it's not so easy to defeat?

  • A-K-Z: "there's nothing in that box but a big deep hole where we dropped a poor foolish boy once and you know why? Because he did something the rest of us decided was wrong." - another black hole reference? Contrast with the door to the Red Place. More guilt?

  • "Mystery string" holds everything together - theme of connection; also a reference to the 'time-sewing machine', perhaps?

  • "Mighty and unseen hands shape our mortal clay" - more clay references, more control references. Are the unseen hands those of the S.U.M. or Morrison? Or this unnamed 'supreme architect'?

  • A-K-Z to Zatanna: "Don't tell me you can't recognise a trick when you see one?" - does he mean the Seven Soldiers? Or something smaller in focus?

  • A-K-Z on Kid Scarface/Don Vincenzo: "we're here to attend the end of empires and childhood dreams, ladies." - once again, dreams and fantasy have come to an end - the death of mythology once more.

  • The spider carcass that Misty finds doesn't seem to be a machine this time. However, she does compare it to "one of her favourite toys". It's been "all the way from the dawn of time to the last days and back".

  • Zatanna: "Ali, if anything happens to her, it's my fault and her mother will probably kill me." - Zatanna seemingly dooming herself there.

  • Neh-Buh-Loh is referred to as the 'celestial huntsman'.

  • "This is a ghost story, Zatanna." - airy, insubstantial fiction?

  • "the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp are your best hope now." - Surely they've already gone, though?

  • The Tempter knows Kid Scarface (Don Vicenzo) - "we met in that Haunted Hall Of Mirrors when you were just eleven, remember?" - was this when KS was still in the Newsboy Army? What was he tempted with? Did he succumb to the temptation? Did this have anything to do with Cap 7 and Chop Suzi's fates?

  • More Zatanna guilt: "I was a really bad superhero, Misty. I did lots of stuff superheroes shouldn't do and what's worse is, I got caught."

  • Misty is a 'princess', and N-B-L is a 'huntsman'. - Fairy tale fiction roles? Like Snow White? Gloriana is Misty's wicked stepmother, orders N-B-L the huntsman to take Misty into the woods and kill her, but N-B-L is struck by remorse and lets Misty escape. Misty flees ends up unwittingly siding with seven dwarves... Or soldiers? Also, Gloriana bites into an apple in the first issue of Shining Knight and receive prophetic proclamations from a magic mirror in Guardian #4. However, as Misty is only the STEPdaughter of Gloriana, perhaps she is a changeling baby? Chop Suzi and Cap 7's daughter, maybe? Or Zatanna's, in some round-about way? Is she related to the other parentless main protagonist, Klarion?

  • Misty was saved by her 'symmetry' - does symmetry fit into the numerology of the narrative - ie is seven (or six) a 'symmetrical' number?

  • N-B-L substituted the "beautiful brain of a 31st-century savant" in her place. Whose brain was that - Braniac 5?

  • There were 13 months of mourning - is that a year? (12 months + secret month of Arachne?)

  • "They made me spin a cobweb dress and the more I spun, the less I remembered... In Castle Revolving... Around and around..." - clear reference to the Tailor's suits, and how he wants to cover the world in black flowers/secrets - forgetfulness? Also the twist/turn/revolution motif again.

  • N-B-L: "I see no beauty in you now. I see Guilt made Flesh." This brings together the themes of corporeality and guilt nicely; it also contrasts with the Mood 7 Mind Destroyer, which was an entirely insubstantial manifestation of guilt.

  • If Gloriana gets the Cauldron / Grail / fountain of youth, she'll live forever. Another common fairy tale motif.

Klarion #1 - 3

  • "One day they will bury us too" - to rise again? Is Klarion going to die?

  • The Book of Shadows - reference to Zatara's books, perhaps? Certainly, it is a symbol of knowledge and learning that promotes nothing but ignorance and repression - the Blakean imagery of 'iron pages' adds that sort of tone to it. The 'shadows' also ties in with the prevailing idea of secrets and obscurity.

  • Klarion's "true dad" Mordecai is referred to as being a 'rebel', and not unburied. Like father, like son? Also, again with the parent theme.

  • Book of Shadows - preserves Croatoan against "taint... that condemned our fathers here to Limbo Town for their sins." - is this a reference to the Roanoke colonists having 'intimate contact' with the Sheeda? Or the radioactivity of the House of Croatoan leaving a genetic legacy?

  • Is this taint also a representation of collective generational guilt? Or is it linked with the 'septic mire' that turns them into Grundies? If the Limbo Town residents have always changed into Grundies, does that mean that Cyrus Gold was not the first to be so transformed?

  • Ezekiel to Klarion: "You'll be a Witch-Man, like me, soon enough and you'll find out the sad, miraculous truth behind the old stories." - again, the death of story and myth. 'Miraculous' is also a curious choice of word - presumably a link to Mr Miracle?

  • "How long is it now till you're baptized and they take you to Croatoan?"

  • "167 bells." - possible link to the number inscribed on the side of the helicopter that brought Gloriana to the police station in her disguise in SK3 - that was emblazoned with 'N761S'.

  • The tunnels are "rock-holes in solid space." Solidity is a key theme, and the holes in space might be referring to the black hole again?

  • What is the 'stone harvest' traded with the Trolley Men? Is it some sort of radioactive material? It looks like some sort of glowing blue stone.

  • Are the inhabitants of Limbo Town a modern equivalent to the Dwarrows mentioned in Shining Knight?

  • "Now have the Sheeda returned as the book said they would, and all flesh must perish." - they are aware of the Sheeda, and the book dates back to at least the time of their last visit; might it date back all the way to the Harrowing of Camelot? Also, while they may be ignorant of modernity, they have knowledge of the Sheeda that the surface dwellers do not. The flesh motif is repeated here as well.

  • Are the hex signs being hung around the house a reference to the pentagram sign seen with the S.U.M. in #0?

  • "The lawbook says Sheeda won't harm our folk come the Harrowing..." - why not? Is it because they are descended from the Sheeda, (the inhabitants of Limbo Town have "the Sheeda face", after all) or because they are in league with them? Or are they just not important?

  • The Horigal - a fusion of men and their draaga (familiars)? Is this akin to Melmoth saying later that he has his familiar "small [...] and inside"? And if the purpose of the Horigal is to "destroy the enemies of Croatoan", why is it killing the ostensibly innocent inhabitants of Limbo Town? The transformation of the submissionaries into the Horigal occurs in front of the same 1600s map of the world that Silencio is speaking in front of in the meeting with Melmoth later - is there a link between Melmoth and the submissionaries?.

  • The "engine of light and iron" is the President Clinton from Guardian #2.

  • Klarion is still young enough (by contrast to the bitter and cynical Ebeneezer Badde) to be gripped with the sense of fantasy: "Here I am on behemoth's back, in a world that's hollow and filled with a thousand wondrous holes that might lead anywhere!" - he has not yet been betrayed by Badde or Melmoth. Also, many references to holes and the world being hollow - worthless?

  • Is the lantern that Ebeneezer Badde has the same as Justin's one? Was Ebeneezer Badde ever a seven-team member, as he seems to be guilt-stricken as well?

  • The gestalt Leviathan entity is similar to Gwydion, in that it has many different shapes and forms, perhaps?

  • "It's just a world, Klarion... You'll soon get bored." Is this the voice of experience?

  • "If this is what Witch-Men know, I'll stay a boy forever!" - a rejection of knowledge and embracing of the innocence of youth? Or using knowledge to maintain perpetual youth, a la Gloriana using the cauldron?

  • The trading posts of the upper levels near the tunnels are confusing. There is reference made to 'Vanity Fair', to 'Goblin Market' and to 'High Market'. We only see Vanity Fair; could it be that all three places are the same?

  • "Buncha scientists dumped some smart chemicals into the drains and a year later the rats discover how to make fire, then tools..." - mankind playing God again; also how 'real' science can create the fantasy of tool-using intelligent Rat Kings. Also, more transformation, and more buried or hidden or discarded knowledge.

  • Klarion to Badde: "If there is no Witch-God, we can easily make our own Gods out of hopes and dreams and the stories of unsung heroes like you..." - Overt mention of the 'unsung heroes'; also a very Voltairean philosophy. Speaking of Voltaire, is the DCU the 'best of all possible worlds'?

  • Klarion can write, he can make stories - is he like the Tailor (and Morrison)?

  • Is Badde the Hunter of Children? Or is it, by extension, Melmoth? Certainly Leviathan attacks Badde, although he has a moment of moral crisis and tries to help Klarion (much as when Klarion turns back at Teekl's insistence to help the Deviant Ones later).

  • "Would I not know my own kin?" - does this suggest that Badde is kin to Klarion? Perhaps he is Mordecai? Certainly, he is a rebel...

  • The trolley girl member of Leviathan received Guardian's helmet as barter for his using the trolley. Klarion inverts it, and removes its position of pomp and glory, by suggesting that it would make a "fine pot". If the helmet is one of the treasures, or one of the S.U.M.'s gifts to the Soldiers, is that all it's fit for?

  • "All we can trust is chance and change" - links to Zatanna's rules of magic; if all we can trust is change, then nothing will be as it seems.

  • The reference to the Roanoke colonists having had contact with something 'not entirely human' suggests that they may be changelings? Certainly the Horigal might suggest that; however, Gloriana (and presumably the rest of the Sheeda) have blue blood, whereas the submissionaries' blood that stains the 'iron pages' of the Book of Shadows is normal-looking. Blue skin, though.

  • The Deviant Ones drive a Pumpkin Taxi, as discussed in the notes to Guardian.

  • Goldenboy - again a gold reference; again the theme of forced servitude.

  • "Team Red" - links to the 'red' of Justin in SK4, and to the 'Red Place' where the 16+ youths are sent to work.

  • The Hall of Superheroes museum is again full of artifacts presumably from the Golden Age - a 'weather generator', an 'iron hand', and the 'sapper drill from WW2'.

  • "This thing helped win the war for the Allied Forces" - double meaning - presumably this refers not only to WW2, but possibly also the Harrowing?

  • Melmoth refers to himself as 'Mister M' - link to Mister Miracle? Possibly to Mordecai? Certianly, him saying "we are very much alike, you and I" suggests that if he is not Klarion's kin, then they are both perhaps related to the Sheeda - Melmoth by marriage (and possibly by having sold his soul to them?) and Klarion by descent?

  • Melmoth - name derived from Maturin's gothic novel, Melmoth the Wanderer. That book was described, interestingly enough, thusly: "A worse constructed book hardly exists: for it is a perfect tangle of stories within stories." A synopsis of the book is this: "In a satanic bargain, Melmoth exchanges his soul for immortality. The story of his tortured wanderings through the centuries is pieced together by those who he implored to take over his pact with the devil."

  • Are familiars important? Klarion, most obviously, has his 'draaga-cat' Teekl, and Justin has Vanguard. Do either Gwydion or Misty count as such for Zatanna? Or Spoo the rabbit? Badde has Fear-Naught, the Newsboy Army has Millions... Melmoth, by contrast, says that his is 'small' and 'hidden'. Is he lying, and he doesn't have one? Badde says, "Thy familiar will find thee if he has the will, and if not, ye shall both die." Do all the Seven need to be found by their familiars?

  • When Badde says, 'Why bother with Gods and heroes at all?' could this be the point of the series? That the soldiers are some kind of decoy? It seems to fit with the Century Hollow 'grim real world' theme, and makes an interesting counterpoint to the preponderance of old-school pulp stories, of fairy tales and of 'mythology'...

  • "True leaders are chosen, not born." - like the Soldiers themselves? Do the soldiers have a chosen leader? How can they, if they are destined never to meet?

  • Is Klarion able to fortell the time and manner of people's deaths? What other curses can he muster?

  • Goldenboy: "You and me, Billy; remember the dreams we had? But it's lies, Billy, and pink skies and gold." The pink skies are a clear reference to the beloved 'blue rafters' of the outer world for Klarion. Goldenboy is again a very 'fairy tale' sort of name (possible link to Boy Blue?), and once again, the idea of gold and of the transformation of gold is apparent.

  • "The gold in the red place" - presumably, not just whatever is being mined on Mars (a lot of mining going on in these series - digging for hidden treasure/secrets?), but also a link the the sunsets of the age of the Harrowing of Camelot.

  • 'The Erdel Gate' is a reference to the Martian Manhunter's origin.

Contributions / corrections / suggestions by Al Kennedy, Paul Pogue, Adi Tantimedh, Ryan Rempel, Nick Locking, Alex Sarll, Harris O'Malley, Travis Johnson, Neil Bennett, Mark Schepp, Alex Pascover, Dennis Culver, Benjamin Russell, Stephen Shevlin, 'gabethebabe' and 'Rkarol.'

All characters, extracts and trademarks are copyright their respective owners, and are used here in a purely referential and academic manner.

Still with me? Good. Next week, the latest DC titles being launched… possibly…

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