The Jolly Corner:
I’m deeply indebted to folks like Tim O’Neil for giving me opportunities to jump back into discussions of comics that I acquire later than most of my blogopeers, due to financial limitations… (there’s an excellent review of We3 just waiting for you at Tim’s place…)
Tim and I rarely agree, and so it should come as no surprise that I take issue with his approach to this book. As is often the case, it comes down to a difference of opinion concerning authorial intention (or agency, pure and simple). Here’s Tim:
It’s one thing to change the rules as you go (which, as Dave Fiore accurately points out, is pretty much what Dave Sim did for the entirety of Cerebus), another entirely to insert a blatant deus ex machina simply because you have written yourself into a corner.
…the basic fact is that if the animal’s armor could be taken off with the apparent ease that my dog can slip out of the cone we put around his neck after a visit to the vet (which is essentially what Bandit and Tinker do in the final pages of the third book), there is no conceivable way that the plot hangs together. If the doctor who freed them from the lab knew that the animals could be liberated from their metal armor in just a few moments, and that their cybernetic enhancements were no more involved than something a homeless man with no obvious medical training could harmlessly remove, than even if you accept that the Powers That Be wanted the animals dead (which is a dicey proposition considering the nature of the science involved), if she had been so set on ensuring the animals survived despite her bosses’ wishes, she could simply have absconded with the three of them – sans armor – and taken them home in her car.
Please don’t take that the wrong way… Let’s just say that I think it’s a storyteller’s job to write her/himself “into a corner”… Anything less would be false to the human condition… Let’s face it–we’re all cornered. A great story doesn’t place us on the freeway, it studies the alley–and a “laughing philosopher”, like Morrison, will always find a way to throw a block(ed)-party, just before they hit the wall… As I noted, in Tim’s comment-thread, he’s like Capra and Dickens that way. This is what melodrama is all about–it exhibits the “improbably human” in action… This whole series (like Animal Man before it) progresses inexorably toward that shining moment in which an omnipotent–but simultaneously human, and very flawed–deity (Morrison himself in AM; Doctor Trendle in We3), motivated by a newfound respect for the puppets that he’s been manipulating (for his own purposes) throughout the story, allows something ridiculous to happen… Dr. Berry couldn’t have just slipped the armor off of the animals and gone home, because it wasn’t her decision to make. It’s Trendle’s. That’s why the final moment is so powerful–it’s not the “family tableau” itself–it’s the fact that we know it defies all logic…and we are joyously complicit in the smashing of commandments that the text itself sets in stone! The abrogation of the law. That’s why Jesus came here, remember? What else could goodness be? The only appropriate response to a cul-de-sac is deus ex machina.
Good Afternoon Friends!