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Nota bene/Warning: I'm neither a Christian (nor, for that matter, a believer in any religion) nor very well versed in theology. Nor is this more than speculative thinking-aloud-while typing. If the use of religious images to muse about comics might be offensive to you, I apologize, and ask you not to keep reading.

After the recent SD post, I went and read the entirety of Black Summer. That it's not really very original doesn't detract from its interest, although it was so Bush-specific (without ever naming him) that I suspect it won't age very well. In that sense, it's a lighter version of Kingdom Come, without the biblical approach and gravitas of the narrative, not to mention the art. The carnage is more graphic (although I think the Kansas Incident was worse in any objective sense), but, well, these are clearly just people with powers. They have no other narrative or social standing, which I think is closer to how our world works than DC.

In some aspects, the Kingdom Come disaster comes because Superman couldn't be anything else than Superman, and the Black Summer disaster comes because John Horus tried to do what he thinks Superman should do, but because he isn't Superman, it doesn't work.

The question remains: would it work if Superman did it? A Better World *dared* to suggest that yes, up to a point, it would. That's one of the moments in which comics mythology came the closest to implode and break under the weight of its own contradictions without approaching it from the satirical or the grotesque, and it's still pivotal, I think, to understanding the DC multiverse.

You can't quite do the Superman thing with other characters (e.g., Apollo or Majestic), because, fantastic and interesting as they are, they just don't have the same narrative and cultural specific weight, both intra- and inter-textually. I mean, even leaving aside the latest, not lamented at all Superman movie, the Christological element has always been clear in all sorts of ways (although some writers have tried to go for a more Greek-like approach, e.g. Morrison's JLA).

Perhaps it'd be interesting to compare the Lords' Earth of A Better World with descriptions of how some Christians expect a post-Second Coming kingdom of Jesus on Earth to look like. In a way, Superman *is* the all-powerful man-and-God who never sought secular power (in his case, defending individual lives, etc). And DC 1,000,000 was practically explicit in their apotheosis of late-future!Superman. So you might very well look at A Better World as what'd happened if at some point during the Calvary Jesus would have dropped the cross and said "You know what, fuck this, let's do it the direct way. I'm going to fix _this_ world, and I'm going to do it _now_."

While standing over the burnt ashes of the Roman Emperor.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
philippos42
Feb. 20th, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
I think the point of some of Alan Moore's work on Supreme (& to some degree & in a different way, Marvelman) was to have a character with that kind of weight intra-textually.

If you pull this with a character & trademark with that level of extra-textual weight, it can be a problem. You will probably fall into "imaginary story" territory, & if you don't, you may just "ruin" the character in the eyes of fans.
__marcelo
Feb. 21st, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
I'll try to read it.

Yeah, it's definitely an issue. AUs and Elseworlds can be very useful in that regard, although often they are mostly gimmicky.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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