Stepping Back a bit… Yet more on Seven Soldiers

A revised and improved version of this essay is in my book Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! – hardback, paperback, PDF

I’ll be posting more about Final Crisis when the next issue comes out (and between following up on Batman on Thursday and then getting Superman Beyond 3D 2 next week, I’m tingling with anticipation (and incidentally, everyone, the title isn’t just Superman Beyond but Superman Beyond 3D – because he’s travelling beyond the third dimension…)). But before that I thought I’d post something briefly about Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle as that comic more than any other is the real prequel to Final Crisis.

One thing I was never entirely happy about in Seven Soldiers was the role of gravity in the story. I wrote about this on my old blog, because gravity is so important as a recurring theme throughout Seven Soldiers and the JLA: Classified story that led into it, but I couldn’t see why gravity was being used in such a similar way to entropy, which is an even bigger theme in Seven Soldiers generally. I came to the provisional conclusion that it was being used as a metaphor for the more difficult concept, as well as for the Life Trap, but I felt like I was still missing something. Given that the Mister Miracle story is about a plunge into and escape from a black hole, it was galling that the gravity and entropy themes didn’t fit together *quite* as neatly as they should.

This article has changed that. I always knew, of course, that black holes do strange things to entropy and information (once you’re in an event horizon, you can *only* move towards the singularity. That means that moving forward in time is equivalent to moving towards the singularity. As the ‘arrow of time’ is a thermodynamic one, that means that moving towards the singularity is equivalent to increasing in entropy. That’s a hopeless oversimplification, but it’s sort-of right).

Now, the whole of Seven Soldiers, and Morrison’s work generally, is a meditation on entropy, information and life. Life has been defined by some as localised patches of negative entropy – using energy to create order from disorder. If there’s a real ‘anti-life equation’ then the second law of thermodynamics has a strong claim to the title, because all life is essentially a battle against entropy, and a battle that will always be won by entropy.

But having said that, entropy is the only thing that allows us any freedom at all – entropy is the reason that all iron hands must eventually succumb to rust, the reason none of us can ever be controlled at all. Which is why Darkseid’s search for complete control must go along with his search for immortality – change is both freedom and death.

So I was absolutely delighted to read in the Discover Magazine article linked above that there’s a type of black hole that does even more interesting things with entropy, and that this was known about long enough ago that Morrison may have used it in Mister Miracle. In fact, given that this type of black hole is called an ‘extremal’ black hole, it seems obvious that this must have been the type that Shilo plunged into in his escape act. After all, what superhero comic is going to feature a normal black hole when it can feature an EXTREMal!! black hole?

Now the interesting thing about black holes is that if they’re charged, matter can enter them and *not* hit the singularity (which would again make it the perfect type for Shilo Norman to try to escape from. Admittedly, he’d still be trapped within the event horizon and crushed to death by unimaginable forces, but he’d have room to manoeuvre… ). But even more interestingly (at least if Stephen Hawking is correct in his mathematics, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one… ) , if you have a charged *extremal* black hole… it has *ZERO* entropy.

All of a sudden the gravity and entropy subtexts of Mister Miracle come together – Mister Miracle is the story of someone entering a realm with no entropy at all and coming out again. Keep this in mind and reread Mister Miracle and see how much more sense it makes.

Even more interesting is the result that caused the Discover Magazine article to be published – that there’s a range of spacetime in the centre of those black holes that pops out of existence at the same point the entropy becomes zero – effectively taking the entropy out of this universe altogether and into what the authors of the article call ‘whoville’.

Or, as they put it, the entropy…


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6 Responses to Stepping Back a bit… Yet more on Seven Soldiers

  1. James Graham says:

    Planning to reread Seven Soldiers followed by Final Crisis once the latter has done its thang.

    You’re right about Morrison’s work being preoccupied with entropy, but I hadn’t picked up on the gravity theme in Seven Soldiers. Clearly I need to give it another try.

  2. Well, this is very excellent. It is actually called Superman Beyond! 3-D; I think the exclamation point is tres importante – also judging by the previews of it and FC#6 we will be getting them in reverse chronological order but not to worry.

  3. Junit says:

    Maybe Superman Beyond! 3-D is coming out of chronological order due to the effect on Darkseid’s fall on time? …or a DC shipping mix-up. Who knows?

    As always Andrew, awesome analysis. I just finished FC#6 and it made me want to go back and read Seven Soldiers. I think you’re dead-on about Mr. Miracle being a true prequel to FC. Also, the Batman stuff is great.

    On an aside, I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed the Prometheus one-shot that just came out. Prometheus was one of my favorite villains of Grant’s in his JLA. The new scribe does a good job picking up the ball and establishing Prometheus as the anti-Batman and a rather terrifying one at that. If you get a chance I think it is worth a read. I hope someone can pick up on the character and make something interesting out of him.

    Anyway, killer stuff here.

    J-Unit 1

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