I am one of those people who will buy anything that has Harlan Ellison’s name on it. I know that his name isn’t always a guarantee for the quality of the work inside, but it is more often than not, and I can certainly expect something a little out of the ordinary with Ellison.
And then we get this graphic novel.
I really wanted to believe that someone else wrote the script, based on a Harlan Ellison story, but the credits all point to Ellison as the author which is really too bad because the story was dull.
We’re far into the future and the Earth is in danger. Reality is unraveling. Natural disasters are destroying the planet and souls from the past are popping up. Seven aliens with different, necessary abilities come together to save the earth. But they don’t exactly get along. So while the planet crumbles, these seven squabble and must learn to accept one another before they can get to work.
With the word “chaos” in the title and the Earth itself in danger, one might expect a rip-roaring adventure, but what we get is a long, heady, nostalgic trip back in time. The book talks to the reader. We are not brought in to the story so much as force-fed the story by an omniscient narrator. This might be great in a short story or a novel, but for a graphic novel, where the art is supposed to help tell the story, we should be told a story. We should be invited in, allowed to participate, but that is not the case.
I don’t enjoy be talked at this way and I wanted to get through this as quickly as possible, but there’s nothing quick or easy about this book. A challenge is okay, but not if it’s simply because it’s dull.
The art by Paul Chadwick did not help this story. It definitely reflected the tenor of the story, but it too lacked passion and excitement. I really thought that this might have been a reprint from the 1950’s or 1960’s as the art had that sort of feel – the sort of flat art with some Jack Kirby’ish cross-hatching to suggest depth.
I wanted to like this. I’m a die-hard Ellison fan, but this one just didn’t work for me.
Looking for a good book? Harlan Ellison’s 7 Against Chaos is a graphic novel that doesn’t entertain or inspire but may have you reminiscing about comics from three decades past.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Harlan Ellison’s 7 Against Chaos
author: Harlan Ellison
artist: Paul Chadwick
publisher: DC Comics
paperback, 208 pages