Seven Soldiers of Victory

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For the DC Comics metaseries written by Grant Morrison, see Seven Soldiers.
Seven Soldiers of Victory
The original Seven Soldiers.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Leading Comics #1
(Winter 1941)
Created by Mort Weisinger (writer)
Mort Meskin

The Seven Soldiers of Victory (also known as Law's Legionnaires) is a fictional team of comic book superheroes in the DC Comics universe. They first appeared in Leading Comics #1 (Winter, 1941), and were created by Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin.

Seven Soldiers of Victory[edit]

Pre-Crisis[edit]

The Seven Soldiers of Victory (also known as the Law's Legionnaires) was DC Comics' second super-hero team, following the Justice Society of America. Like the Justice Society, the membership of the Seven Soldiers was drawn from DC's anthology comics: The Vigilante (from Action Comics); the Crimson Avenger (from Detective Comics); the Green Arrow and Speedy (from More Fun Comics); the Shining Knight (from Adventure Comics); and the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy (from Star-Spangled Comics). It is worth noting that, unlike most superhero teams, this one included two sidekicks, Speedy and Stripesy, as members. (Stripesy was a rarity, an adult sidekick to a "kid" lead character.) On the other hand, the Crimson Avenger's sidekick Wing also took part in the team's adventures, and was in every other way an "eighth Soldier," but was never considered an "official" member of the team. It is also relatively unique among super-hero teams in that all but one of its members—the Shining Knight, a time-displaced Arthurian knight who rode a winged horse—were non-powered humans with comparatively mundane backgrounds, who relied on more-or-less conventional weapons or training in place of superhuman abilities.

Per Leading Comics #1, the team's origin came about when the criminal mastermind called the Hand (later the Iron Hand), believing himself terminally ill, gave his greatest unused schemes to five other criminals who he saved from the police—Big Caesar, the Dummy, the Needle, Professor Merlin, and the Red Dragon—to commit crimes across the USA as "the Hand's Five Fingers" and prove his genius to the world. The Hand further challenged the five criminals' enemies—the Crimson Avenger, the Vigilante, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, Green Arrow and Speedy, and the Shining Knight, respectively—to stop the criminals, presuming they would fail, further highlighting the Hand's criminal genius. However, the heroes defeated their enemies. Green Arrow and Speedy stopped Merlin's plan to steal gold from an old prospector that could wreck the nations economy, and Merlin was apparently killed when the mine collapsed in an explosion he set off to open a locked door. The Kid and Stripesy prevented the Needle using a stolen ray gun to destroy the Panama Canal's locks to demonstrate its power so he could sell it. The Avenger and Wing defeated Big Caesar's gang during their plan to turn off power by disguising themselves as workmen and digging a hole to wires so they could commit robberies in darkness. The Red Dragon exploited a legend to make a Native American tribe mine radium for him after shooting their Chief dead, but the Shining Knight freed the tribe. The Dummy kidnapped people and left statues behind to make it seem they had turned to stone, hoping to extort money, but the Vigilante exposed this and freed the three prisoners. The Heroes then converged at the Hand's base after he contacted them about his whereabouts; the villain found out a cure had been found for his condition and decided to eliminate the heroes so he could remain free, but the heroes evaded his traps. When the villain tried to use a lightning ray machine against them, the Vigilante shot a crucial component of the device, bringing machinery down upon the Hand and apparently killing him. Deciding they worked well together, the heroes thus formed the Seven Soldiers of Victory.

The Seven Soldiers of Victory appeared in the first fourteen issues of Leading Comics (which changed to an all-humor format in #15). Notable enemies included (Leading Comics #2) the Black Star, who used "black light" to transform himself into a giant; (#3) Dr. Wilfred Doome, who used a time machine to summon historic tyrants as his operatives to steal materials allowing his time machine to send him into the Future; (#4) the Sense-Master, who attempted to assemble a "lifestone" to animate an army of stone; (#5) the Skull, who paid criminals to steal an experimental age-reversing device; (#6) the Copperhead (not to be confused with Batman's enemy Copperhead), who briefly turned the Soldiers against each other during an Andes treasure hunt; (#7) the democracy-suppressing Wizards of Stanovia; (#8) the Dummy (enemy of the Vigilante and former operative of the Hand (see #1)), who, in a reversal of Doome's tactics, used a time machine to send the Soldiers into the past; (#9) Mr. X, who wagered with several of the heroes' individual enemies that he can defeat the entire team; (#10) gangster Baby-Face Johnson; (#11) various criminals attempting to acquire gangster Handsome Harry's "lucky hat"; (#12) an unidentified criminal who manipulated them into recovering treasure; (#13) the Barracuda, who sought powerful artifacts used by earlier criminals; (#14) several fictional character inadvertently brought to life by Dr. Wimsett. A script by Joseph Samachson from the 1940s—in which the elflike Willie Wisher banishes the Soldiers to "the Land of Magic," where they encounter various supernatural characters—was later serialized in 1975 in Adventure Comics #438-443, with each chapter illustrated by a different artist (including Dick Dillin, Howard Chaykin, Lee Elias, Mike Grell, Ernie Chan, and José Luis García-López).[1][2][3]

The team was resurrected in 1972 in Justice League of America #100-102.[4] During the celebration of the 100th meeting of the JLA, the team was summoned to Earth-Two by the Justice Society of America, where a giant ethereal hand controlled by the Iron Hand threatened to destroy their world unless he was given control over it, the villain had not died but he had to replace his hand. The JSA had been unable to stop the hand. The only way to stop the hand was to find the legendary Seven Soldiers of Victory, who defeated a similar menace in the form of the Nebula Man many years previously, though at the seeming cost of their existences, since no one could remember who they were. An unearthly Oracle summoned up by Doctor Fate, Zatanna, and the Thunderbolt of Johnny Thunder, revealed to the JLA and the JSA that the Seven Soldiers had been scattered through time, and the multitude of heroes were sent back to find them, the powerless Diana Prince remained behind.

Doctor Fate, the Atom and the Elongated Man found the Crimson Avenger in Mexico, where he had amnesia and strange powers and believed he was the Aztec Sun God. Superman, The Sandman and Metamorpho rescued the amnesic Shining Knight from the hordes of Genghis Khan, who he was helping in battle. Hawkman, Doctor Mid-Nite, and the Golden Age Wonder Woman found the Golden Age Green Arrow in medieval England, where he had been mistaken for Robin Hood, who was recovering from his wounds while Green Arrow was about to be hanged after being imprisoned in the castle of the Sheriff. Batman, Hourman and Starman retrieved Stripesy from ancient Egypt despite being tied up and trapped in a pyramid. The Silver Age Green Arrow, Black Canary and Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt saved the Vigilante from a tribe of Indians in the Old West who felt that eventually the white men would take over their land. Aquaman, Wildcat and the Silver Age Green Lantern rescued the Star-Spangled Kid, who was 50,000 years in the past and hiding in a cave so his flu would not wipe out humanity. Zatanna, the Silver Age Flash and the Red Tornado freed Speedy, transformed into a centaur, (and themselves) from the clutches of Circe in ancient Greece, despite being transformed. The Golden Age Green Lantern, Mister Terrific and the Golden Age Robin went on a quest to discover the identity of the Unknown Soldier of Victory, whose tomb lay in the mountains of Tibet, where the Seven Soldiers had fallen after defeating the Nebula Man.

The Seven Soldiers were reunited but the Earth-1 Diana Prince had been attacked by the Iron Hand. However she was able to overcome him, but this damaged his hand, meaning he could no longer stop the giant hand. The heroes created a new Nebula Rod to deal with the giant hand that the Iron Hand devised. Unfortunately, whoever would use the Nebula Rod to destroy the Hand was certain to perish (as did the Crimson Avenger's partner Wing, revealed to be the Unknown Soldier of Victory, when the Nebula Man was stopped). Not even Superman could survive this due to its magical nature. While the heroes argued over who will make the sacrifice, the android Red Tornado took the Nebula Rod and destroyed the Hand, apparently destroying himself in the process, though leaving a recording and saying he did it as he was an android.

The only other modern meeting of the team (either in pre- or post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity) took place in Infinity, Inc. #11, in which the Vigilante, the Shining Knight, Green Arrow, Speedy and the Star-Spangled Kid gathered at the grave of Lee Travis, the man known as the Crimson Avenger. It had taken two years for the team to confirm his death (having died saving Gotham City from a boatload of explosives in DC Comics Presents #38).

Post-Crisis first team[edit]

In the original Post-Crisis retcon of the team, both Wing and the Vigilante's sidekick Stuff, the Chinatown Kid were promoted to full membership, to replace the Golden Age Green Arrow and Speedy, who had been removed from active continuity. Stuff had never appeared with the team during the original Leading Comics run, while an older man named Billy Gunn helped out the Vigilante on his cases in the comic.

That particular retcon was yet again changed in the late nineties, in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #9. While Stuff remained a full member (and the Vigilante's mentor Billy Gunn was also present), Wing was not an official Soldier (because his mentor the Crimson Avenger wanted him to do something more important with his life). The remaining spot on the team was filled by the Spider, an archer who had originally appeared in Quality Comics' Crack Comics in a feature called Alias the Spider. The twist on the new Spider was that he was really a villain - and in this particular adventure, had been working with the team's arch-enemy the Hand, who created the original Nebula Man. The Spider sabotaged the Nebula Rod that the Soldiers had built to stop the Nebula Man and sent the team off to fight a fruitless battle. The villain then killed Billy Gunn (who had discovered his deception) and tried to kill Wing, but failed. Wing reached the other Soldiers and repaired the Nebula Rod, using it to destroy the Nebula Man. Wing died, and his teammates were again tossed through time and later retrieved by the JLA and JSA. The only major difference between this story and the original was that this time the Vigilante had been found after he had spent nearly 20 years fighting crime in the Old West.

In 2010's DC Universe: Legacies #2, TNT and Dyna-Mite are retconned into the team's original line-up.[5][6][7] It has not yet been revealed precisely how this retcon affects the respective histories of the Spider, TNT or Dyna-Mite.

The Seven Soldiers have not reformed in the Modern Age (partly due to Grant Morrison's project; see below). Three of the originals--Shining Knight, Vigilante and Stripesy (now STRIPE)--remain. The team has inspired a few legacies. The first is Stargirl, who at first carried the mantle of Star-Spangled Kid in memory of Sylvester Pemberton. She is now a double legacy, as she also carries on the legacy of Starman. The second SSoV legacy is the new Crimson Avenger, who has appeared sporadically in the series JSA. She has yet to make an appearance One Year Later, though she was seen towards the end of Infinite Crisis. The third one is Gardner Grayle, the Atomic Knight (see below). The last one is the new Sir Justin in Grant Morrison's project. (The current Green Arrow and Speedy, as well as Arsenal, could also count as SSoV legacies, but due to retcons, Green Arrow and the original Speedy were never members of the team.)

Post-Crisis second team[edit]

Another group took the name of the Seven Soldiers of Victory in the Showcase issue of the limited series known as Silver Age. This group, brought together to help the Justice League of America and the other major heroes and teams of the sixties to battle the menace of Agamemno, consisted of: Adam Strange, Batgirl, Blackhawk, Deadman, Mento, Metamorpho, and a new Shining Knight.

This group's Shining Knight was Gardner Grayle, from the Silver Age feature The Atomic Knights; in previously published stories that occurred after the Silver Age limited series, he became the Atomic Knight and joined the Outsiders. This was the only appearance of this particular assemblage.

Seven Soldiers[edit]

Main article: Seven Soldiers

Members[edit]

Pre-Crisis[edit]

Post-Crisis first team[edit]

Post-Crisis second team[edit]

Seven Soldiers[edit]

In other media[edit]

The original line-up of the Seven Soldiers (with one exception) appeared in "Patriot Act", an episode of the animated series Justice League Unlimited.[8] While representing Superman at a parade in Metropolis, seven members of the Justice League faced General Wade Eiling, a rogue super-soldier.

The team was composed of the DCAU versions of the original Golden Age Seven Soldiers, including:

The sixth and seventh members, Speedy and the Crimson Avenger, arrived in the middle of the battle as reinforcements. Speedy appears to be modeled after the animated Teen Titans series version, though older and better built than his Titans counterpart. Both versions of Speedy were voiced by Mike Erwin.

Collected editions[edit]

The original appearances have been collected as part of the DC Archive Editions:

  • The Seven Soldiers of Victory Archives

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "An unpublished Seven Soldiers of Victory story finally saw print as a backup feature in Adventure Comics #438 - three decades after it was written. Noted scientist and author Joseph Samachson had penned his last Soldiers story in 1945, when the super hero team were a regular feature in Leading Comics." 
  2. ^ Cronin, Brian (February 18, 2010). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #248". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2013. "An unpublished script starring the Seven Soldiers of Victory was published within five issues of Adventure Comics…Thirty years after the Seven Soldiers of Victory feature was canceled!" 
  3. ^ Abramowitz, Jack (May 2013). "Seven Soldiers of Victory: Lost in Time Again". Back Issue (TwoMorrows Publishing) (64): 33–37. 
  4. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 152: "Through an impromptu team-up of the JLA and the Justice Society on Earth-2, writer Len Wein and artist Dick Dillin ushered in the return of DC's Seven Soldiers of Victory."
  5. ^ "DC Universe: The Source » Blog Archive » Continue to explore the history of the DCU with LEGACIES #2". Dcu.blog.dccomics.com. 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  6. ^ "Newest Seven Soldiers in DC Legacies #2 (Spoilers) - The Comic Bloc Forums". Comicbloc.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  7. ^ "Dueling Review: DC Universe: Legacies #2 | Major Spoilers - Comic Book Reviews and News". Major Spoilers. 2010-06-21. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  8. ^ Matt Wayne (writer); Joaquim Dos Santos (director) (2006-02-25). "Patriot Act". Justice League Unlimited. Season 3. Episode 7. Cartoon Network.

External links[edit]