Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why I Should Write SEVEN SOLDIERS #2: Klarion the Witch-Boy & Frankenstein

Klarion the Witch-Boy & Frankenstein would be a much different series than Shining Knight. While SK is all about intrigue and a sprawling cast (that's what being a teenager felt like to me, at least), KtWB&F focuses more on the leads and their relationship. Think of it as the strangest buddy movie you’ve ever seen.

When last we left these two in Seven Soldiers #1, Klarion had become the new Sheeda King and master of Castle Revolving (which one page on Wikipedia describes as “a time-traveling fortress,” and that’s the best description I’ve ever heard of anything), and Frankenstein is in his thrall, since Klarion’s witch-brands control certain kinds of undead creatures like Big Frank.

Now, the problem set up in Seven Soldiers is that the Sheeda are us -- humanity on life support one billion years from today, their stale culture kept alive by dipping back into the past and “harvesting” healthier civilizations. As Queen Gloriana asks Frankenstein in the last issue of his mini-series, “Are we not human? Would you have our people starve, thou very moral monster?” In Zatanna, Gloriana’s daughter Misty knows that if she defeats her mother, she’ll have to keep her people alive by preying on the past as well. Dilemma, right?

But in 7S #1, we are assured “there’s a third way,” and since the very next page shows us Klarion as Sheeda King, it suggests Klarion will be the one to reject binary ideas and come up with a mutually beneficial solution; he’s been shown not to follow precedent just because that’s the way it’s always been done. He is a child, however, so his motives are going to be a little immature: he won’t destroy the present because his family lives there and he’s charmed by our world, but he won’t let the Sheeda go extinct, because then who would worship him as king? So don’t expect a Superman-style heroic speech, but rather something a little more characteristically understated for Klarion. “Plunder the past or starve? I think neither. Surely with this fantastic castle at my disposal I can figure a way out of this.” And so, the main thrust of the series is Klarion moving through time and space, investigating other civilizations and enlisting history’s great thinkers to come up with that third way.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it goes smoothly. When Castle Revolving shows up in Ancient Greece, it invokes the ire of the Greek gods. Klarion loses track of Leonardo da Vinci, and thus nearly gets the legendary polymath vaporized in New Mexico on the date of the first atomic bomb test. Klarion’s trip to the 853rd century very nearly undoes millennia of planning by the Justice League. And might we expect him to cross paths with the Shining Knight and the Three King Arthurs on their quest?

Of course, this mucking about with the timestream is bound to attract the attention of Rip Hunter and Booster Gold. Klarion finds time to have a great deal of fun with his time travel capabilities and power as King of the Sheeda; inspired by the incident with Mr. Mxyzptlk when Castle Revolving accidentally rotated up into the fifth dimension, Klarion finds playing pranks on Rip and Booster are a good release from the stresses of his kingly duties.

But I’ve left out Frankenstein’s role in all this. Initially, Klarion sees him as little more than muscle to back his brains, a means to an end, and keeps him under the witch brand. As time goes on, they get to know each other better, and Klarion finds the monster’s centuries of experience very helpful. Frankenstein’s grim, dry comments also keep Klarion grounded when his fawning subjects threaten his sense of perspective. Klarion is infuriated to no end by Frankenstein’s protests and by the many times he points out glaring holes in Klarion’s plans, but the Witch-Boy recognizes the value of keeping Big Frank around. It is Frankenstein, for example, who helps Klarion through the difficult, desperate choice he has to make on Krypton one week before its destruction (those Kryptonians are, after all, just going to die anyway when the planet explodes, right?). And in turn, Frankenstein’s strict, black-and-white view of good and evil (he is of the opinion, after all, that simply wiping out the Sheeda is the easiest solution) may be softened by Klarion’s moral flexibility.

I think there’s room in there for some touching character growth. Oh, they’ll never be friends, especially since Klarion never completely releases Frankenstein from the witch brand’s control. Because if he did, Frankenstein might leave and never return…

…that is, if he doesn’t exact his revenge on Klarion first. It’s said, after all, that one of Frankenstein’s arms is that of a former slave, and the flesh remembers.

That’s also something that would come up in the book: Frankenstein’s ability to integrate body parts. Frankenstein isn’t some guy with other people’s limbs sewn on, he’s actually made out of different pieces, and they all become Frankenstein (and he becomes them). What did the dead man hear before he was killed? Sew his ear onto Frankenstein, and he’ll know. Think of him as having the potential to become a sort of macabre version of Amazo. Upon the discovery of a recently slain Green Lantern, Frankenstein will take the creature’s arm and ring to make sure the death is avenged.

Ah, but hold on a moment! If Klarion and Frankenstein are combined into one book, doesn't that leave a vacancy? Next time we’ll see that Frankenstein’s book has been taken over … by his would-be “bride.”


plok said...

The bit in the 853rd century has to do with Starman, right? Right?

Honestly, who wouldn't want to read this. Also might be fun to Tardis-ize Castle Revolving just a little...Klarion's bright, but he's new: maybe he doesn't exactly have pinpoint accuracy as far as time-piloting goes.

There! Done! SIGN ME UP!

Justin said...

Remember the deal: The only way to get these ideas out of me is for DC to offer me a contract, or for someone to buy me drinks. And look, with all the things my laptop can do, I refuse to believe the sending and receiving of whiskey via e-mail isn't one of them.

I am leaving a little glass with ice by my USB port just in case. I will say, though, that I loved the One Million-verse's rogue Starman, and I wouldn't mind seeing him again!

I *was* kinda thinking that it might be a good idea to sort of play up any kind of Doctor Who parallels just so that all the divergences would stand out and you could have fun with it. Replacing the ancient Time Lord with a bratty 14-year-old, swapping the Doctor/companion dynamic with a master/servant one, and of course, imagine a TARDIS the size of a city block.

I did envision at least one scene with Klarion accidentally landing at some important historical event (whether it be the Battle of Hastings or the night Barry Allen got hit by electrified chemicals) and going, "Hm, this isn't where I wanted to be at all. Quickly, let's get out of here before we get dragged into some business or other." Right? You keep thinking Klarion's going to be the reason that apple falls on Newton's head, but he's just, "Much too busy to stop for an apple today. Come along, Frankenstein." Klarion as anti-Marty McFly.

Justin said...

(Issue to be addressed: Klarion has a very distinctive way of speaking, of course, and I'd need to really sit down with Morrison's series and study the voice because I don't quite have it down.)