Monday, March 17, 2014

Harlan Ellison's 7 Against Chaos: Mini-Review

Harlan Ellison's 7 Against Chaos is a rare thing for me...a graphic novel. But, being the Ellison fan-girl that I am and having read the synopsis of the book sometime last year, I promptly put it on my Christmas wishlist, my own personal Santa came through, and I found it under the Christmas tree last December 25th. I was very excited that two of my category challenges called for a graphic novel, because I knew I had the very thing just waiting on the TBR pile.

Sometime in Earth's distant future, the planet is in danger--not just physical danger, but the very fabric of reality is being ripped apart. The elite call on once-decorated, but then disgraced General Roark to gather six others with special abilities to save them. With elaborate promises of rewards to come, Urr, the renegade robot; Mourna, the Amazon-like woman with steel claws for hands; Tantalus, the incredibly swift insect-man; Ayleen, a Venusian woman with quite literal fire-power; Hoorn, the stealthy and adept cat burglar; and Kenrus the brilliant, outcast technologist all agree to join Roark on a deadly journey to Earth's past on a mission to save its future.

As a graphic novel, the book is pleasing. It has an old-fashioned feel and reminds me of the comic books I used to buy when I was a preteen. I have a certain nostalgia for those stories--I would read everything from those with a science fiction feel to the mysterious and creepy (think Tales from the Crypt). I enjoyed those far more than most of the graphic novels I have tried in recent years. Paul Chadwick's artwork is fabulous.

The story, however, is a bit clunky. There are instances of Ellison's brilliance, but, as other reviewers on Goodreads have noted, there is a certain lack of continuity as if panels or even pages are missing. I'm not sure if that's a result of Ellison writing in short bursts for each panel or what. One can see the bones of a good story, but it is never completely covered with flesh and made whole. It begins with a bang--and I thoroughly enjoyed the stories of how Roark gathered his colleagues for the journey. The trip through the black hole is well done and enjoyable as well and there are moments when the Seven face the villain of the piece that are quite good.  Over all, a three star outing for an interesting story and great artwork. A more cohesive storyline would have brought up to four.


fredamans said...

I've been getting into graphic novels lately. Too bad the story isn't so great. Great review though!

Anonymous said...

Being a fairly well-read Ellison-ite, I am not at all familiar with this title! Sounds pretty good, despite some plot failings.

Bev Hankins said...

Katenread: I happened across it through Goodreads. I tried to win it in a give away and when I didn't win, I asked "Santa" for it.

shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

Thanks for sharing your Eclectic Reader Challenge review

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out