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Rereading East of West

I've mostly given up on liking Hickman's Everything Dies arc for the Avengers — the overall architecture and mythology has gotten too baroque, with comings and goings and Mapmakers and Builders and Alephs and oh my — but when he gets the chance to delineate an universe (partially in his S.H.I.E.L.D. covert takeover of MCU history, and more fully in his separate work, like Pax Romana, Secret, and East of West) he's probably my favorite (among the well-known) conceptual writer in comics these days. Warren Ellis is better, I think, at SF-ish aspects (e.g., weird-seeming but actually true details, together with self-consistent but tight extrapolations of the fantastic premises), but Hickman's flair for creating interesting universes, and the way he comes up with phrases that feel like blueprints for self-aware weapons (in the positive sense of the metaphor), is quite remarkable (when it doesn't get away from him and he ends up building a Rube Goldberg universe).

(Wow, am I parenthesis-happy tonight.)



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 10th, 2015 09:08 pm (UTC)
I look at the "Everything Dies" arc as a man who can write killer frameworks having to re-architecture legacy code to export a compatible format to some new system. "Everything Dies" is too busy because it's trying to cram fifty years of business logic into sentient SOAP envelope.
Mar. 11th, 2015 12:18 am (UTC)
That's a very Hickman way of putting it!

Damn it, now I'm thinking of the Leonardo vs Newton vs Michelangelo S.H.I.E.L.D. arc as a metaphor for comic book continuities as conceptual engineering. Newton speaks for the Big Event as a fixed point in time, an inescapable singularity both in the past and in the future, Leonardo for an infinite continuity of ongoing creation, and Michelangelo for the co-existence of simultaneous possibilities (as much as the Illuminati are trying to keep Earth-616 as an infinite ongoing continuity, the Cabal sees world-ending as an infinitely repeating inescapable event... and I don't think we've seen yet somebody trying to rebuild a multiverse, although that might be the outcome of the Secret Wars, after both longitudinal (the time runs out thing) and orthogonal (the multiversal collapse) time are destroyed and all worlds end, there's nothing, and then there's everything, in the rebooted system you describe).

It's a bit like the Nu52 reboot in DC, ongoing (and ever-faster?) cycles of time/possibility collapse and re-creation, although every time the mythology (OS layer) gets more complex. You can't really re-engineer a system if you aren't willing to remove code!
Mar. 11th, 2015 03:46 am (UTC)
Now with 100% logged in
If my creaky memory serves me didn't Leonardo vs. Newton kind of play out like Tony vs. Cap? Leonid in the former and Franklin in the latter saying they were both right and both wrong, hinting at a third option in the middle? In hindsight so much of Hickman's work seems to have been laying the foundation for his Avengers run.

You can't really re-engineer a system if you aren't willing to remove code!

It's not so much a wave form collapse as it is a branch merge.
Mar. 11th, 2015 06:19 am (UTC)
Re: Now with 100% logged in
Didn't Tony vs Cap end with the Skrull Invasion, and Franklin intervene at the end of the attack of Mad Celestials? (Or am I confusing it with another Tony vs Cap?) I think in Everything Dies Val is attempting (again) to play that orthogonal role with her advice to "figure out how not to lose" (she's kind of over-ambitious and ruthless at the same time; she'd be repelled by Ultimate Reed, but she might work with his more morally utilitarian projects, and given his response to seeing her picture during his visit to 616, he might very well want to impress/steal her).

Perhaps one of the things that makes Everything Dies more tangled than usual (and in agreement with your metaphor of a total migration to a new system) is that pretty much every factor with arguably enough power is coming at this problem from angle or another... And it's fascinating that Cap and S.H.I.E.L.D. are *not* working on a solution, just doing emotionally-driven police work... S.H.I.E.L.D. just isn't equipped to deal with this kind of thing.

It's not so much a wave form collapse as it is a branch merge.

Ah, the old "keep all the features from all the branches and platforms ever" development strategy. *g*
Mar. 11th, 2015 01:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Now with 100% logged in
Didn't Tony vs Cap end with the Skrull Invasion...

I'm thinking of the issue where Cap gets sent to the future and meets Franklin along the way.
Mar. 11th, 2015 08:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Now with 100% logged in
Ah, yes. I forgot.

If Tony was considering destroying worlds (never mind that at the end he didn't, although I have to notice that nobody tried to stop Namor during his monologue), and Cap refused to (never mind that he neither figured out nor worked on an alternative way to stop everything from dying), what's Franklin's alternative to them, and is the timeline Cap et al traveled through the post Secret Wars future, or was that just the future of that particular Earth, and hence rendered moot post-collapse?

Will the rogue planet be planet-sized lifeboat? (Reed has already seen how an Earth copy is built) Or did the Illuminati already tried that and failed? Was Doom behind at least some of the failures, trying to prevent them from messing with his game? Or is that like DC's Earth-2 "inverted rules" thing, and they were destined to fail because the multiversal collapse is, well, predestined or something.

Doom's priority is of course his Latveria (well, Doom, and then Latveria), so his endgame has to be at least the saving of his Earth, but I wonder if it's not more than that. He found being a god beneath him, but he certainly has the experience, and maybe the Black Swans' sacrifice of Earths is part of a ritual to give him enough power to re-create an Earth after everything collapses, and the Secret Wars is somebody's trying to stop him...

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


cass, can you not

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