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“You make the world go ’round…”
(Soundtrack: The 6ths–Hyacinths and Thistles)

Anywhere you bite into Animal Man, you’ll draw the same thematic blood… That vivid colour? It’s traceable to the idea of “total recall” as divine madness. And the irony aftertaste? For that you can thank the text’s insistence upon looking every “creature” in the eye.

Yesterday, I implied that “Grant Morrison” is the real protagonist of the series. Today I’ll just come right out and say it. We’ve grown accustomed to thinking of deus ex machina for what it does (i.e. cuts the Gordian knots in a storyline) rather than for what it is (“the Lord” at play in his/her own imaginative field)… I don’t exactly relish quoting myself, but the ideas I put forth concerning It’s A Wonderful Life not too long ago are crucial to this discussion–i.e. in that film, George Bailey comes to understand that he is an immanent God holding the fabric of Bedford Falls in place, and he embraces the responsibility. I would argue that this is exactly what happens to the “Grant Morrison” character as he leads Buddy (whose role as a “binding agent” of his own reality is attested to by those wacky aliens) through a sepia Inferno in issue #26!

So much more to say, but a glance at the time–and the stack of pioneer poetry I still have to read for tomorrow’s class–tells me that my thoughts on the Psycho-Pirate, the Time Commander, the Red Mask and how all of this ties into “Ghosts of Stone” from Secret Origins #46 will have to wait!

Good night friends!
Dave

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5 comments

  1. You’ve probably already seen this, but you’ve got fans:

    i dont’ know who dave fiore is but i’m loving all these animal man and watchmen essays lately. i love animal man, but i gotta admit my reading wasn’t NEARLY as nuanced. my reading was more like “haha, animal man met phantom stranger. AWESOMENESS TIMES TWELVE!!!” so… yeah, i like that dave fiore…

    Steven Berg

  2. Yikes!

    I hadn’t seen that Steven! But thanks! It makes me very happy to think that people out there are enjoying this stuff–whether they agree or not!

    Dave

  3. I like your assertion that Morrison is the protagonist of the whole piece, but I think it needs some qualifying. If he is the protagonist, he’s a hidden protagonist, in that it’s 25 issues before we get our “hero’s” name. That certainly necessitates a little redfining of the term ‘protagonist’.

    I think, however, that it makes more sense to label Grant (or “Grant”) as a protagonist, though, than as a deus ex machina. (To qualify that, certainly we’re set up, as readers, to see him in that role at the end of the run. Isn’t that the title of the final issue, too?) I have to disagree with your assessment of that term–I don’t think you can be both protagonist and god-by-the-machine, narratively. By definition (at least as I understand it), the deus ex machina is action. Once we’re drawn into the narrative viewpoint of the god of a story, the machinations/actions of the deus become motivated, and cease to fall under the classic definition of the deus ex machina–he’s not so much a god on a pulley clearing the path for the character we care about as much as he becomes the character we care about, and reveals to us that he has been all along–everything we’ve come to love about Buddy has been Grant’s humanity coming through in his work.

    Sure, it seems a bit muddled, but Grant has seemingly developed a cottage industry based around stories that blur the line between god and man, creator and creation, storyteller and story. Flex Mentallo is a good example of this, as is The Invisibles, but so is his recent The Filth. This is the guy, after all, who has expressed a desire to work in the DC Universe in order to “wake it up,” and guide it into consciousness.

  4. “I like your assertion that Morrison is the protagonist of the whole piece, but I think it needs some qualifying.”

    I’m gonna try to do that tonight Matt–I should have the time!!!

    Dave

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