Fractal Shock

I had planned to flip the switch on Animal Man after yesterday’s mammoth post… However, since I spent my whole shift at the store muttering to myself about limbo, and the relationship between Buddy’s reunion with his family and George Bailey’s return to Bedford Falls in IAWL, and long marches home cradling dead monkeys, and politicized lettercols, and the benefits of using a few different artists on a run (which Morrison seems to have gone on to make a point of), and the Overman as a brutal incursion of Foucaultian superheroism into a series that had completely defied the Geoff Klock power critique up until that point, and, most importantly, the acrostic “myths of the creation” (which are emphatically not “creation myths”) –I think I’m gonna be fixating on Morrison’s series for a while longer!

However, if you’re sick of AM, the Dark Knight fun is really in full swing over at Peiratikos and The Intermittent (in light of Dirk Deppey’s “good news for him/bad news for us” surprise today–I’m going to make a real effort to link more from this page. The man is going to leave an awful hole…) Here’s hoping some bright mind at Ninth Art or somewhere gets going on filling a real need. To tell you the truth, I’d love to see Neilalien in that role, but it doesn’t seem likely that he (is it sacreligious to use pronouns even in reference to the “mysterious palindrome”?) would relish that flirtation with “insider” status… and I can’t say I blame him! Sean Collins would be wonderful too, and he has expressed more concern about the “business side” of things, although he has never been “all comics all the time”… I guess we’ll see what happens!!)

Before I go any further, I want to address a point made by Jim Henley, a little while back:

This just in: Dave Fiore thinks that superhero comics have a lot to do with Transcendentalism. I’ve figured out one particular thing he’s been saying that bothers me though. I realize there’s a lot of controversy about the relative contributions of Stan Lee versus Jack Kirby on the one hand and Steve Ditko on the other. Dave takes this to the extreme of suggesting, usually tacitly, that Ditko was essentially the author of Spider-man and Doctor Strange, while Kirby was the author of the Fantastic Four, Hulk and Thor. He seems to base this on the undeniable difference in sensibilities between the two titles.

This strikes me as dicey. To quote a member in good standing of Dave’s beloved American Renaissance, “I am large. I contain multitudes.” The fact that Whitman was basically wrong about himself – far as I’m concerned, any two pages of Leaves of Grass will pretty much resemble each other – doesn’t mean he wasn’t right about others. Some authors obsessively pursue a handful of themes. Others range widely among tones, subjects and approaches. This is especially true of early-midcentury American commercial writers, and whatever else Lee was, he was one of those.

Actually Jim–I agree with you completely! I will never overlook Stan’s contributions in any systematic work that I do on on the Silver Age. The Ditko/Kirby opposition is very useful to me, because it’s a nice analogue for the centrifugal-antinomian/centripetal-covenantal tension within American Puritanism–but Stan Lee is the guy who made it possible for these two strong sensibilities to coexist within the same imaginative structure, and to generate the debates that my dissertation will stress! Lee’s sense of humour and focus upon human relationships (in the text proper and in his interaction with the readers) prevented Ditko from “failing the Rorschach test”, and, for the most part, kept Kirby’s mythologizing energies in check–and neither excess would have been good for the Silver Age!

Also, if I’m going to keep banging away at this Animal Man stuff, I figure the least I can do is provide you with a few links to interesting writing on the series elsewhere:

1. Big Sunny D blogged the series a year and a half ago, and I particularly like his use of the “with great power comes great responsibility” refrain… Although, after yesterday’s rantings, I’m ready to conclude that the real convert to this motto in the series is “Grant-Morrison-as-writer” himself! It’s a call for creators to impose limits upon their own omnipotence.

2.This review of the series by Matt Craig at Robotfist is excellent… However, I do take violent issue with his claim that “Grant Morrison’s Animal Man is two very complicated-sounding things, wrapped up in the purest of trappings. It’s a treatise on the nature of reality one minute, and an examination of the relationship between the creator and the created the next.” I think it’s all about the latter, actually–the stoner-monist philosophy that’s behind door number one is a smokescreen…

3.Also, this Craig McGill piece makes a few cogent points, particularly about the impact of the Animal Rights/anti-Apartheid content…

Now I have to go to bed–but I’ll be back soon for more Morrison!

Good night friends!


One comment

  1. About applying the “power and responsibility” riff to Morrison/authorship – yes! That’s so totally a huge part of the whole series, as your post yersterday so neatly showed. Loved your points on the Time Commander by the way – loved them!


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