DC Comics has kicked off the summer early with a slate of titles that have me feeling high as a kite. Old friends return, old enemies resurface, heroes come back from the dead and that’s just the beginning of the adventure. Summer 2010 has all the makings of a DCU-owned summer. Though, indeed, the path is treacherous and may contain more than a few Missed Directions along the way.
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“Lord, you play a hard game, you know we follow every rule.
Then you take the one thing we thought we’d never lose.
All I ask if she’s with you, please keep her warm and safe.
And if it’s in your power, please, purge the memory of this place.”
—Cowboy Junkies, “This Street, That Man, This Life”
“Nobody does it alone, Jack.”
—Christian Shephard, Lost episode 6x18 - “The End, Part II”
I know it’s probably foolish to have held out hope for as long as I did, but I wanted confirmation. As you’re probably aware by now, I’m someone who needs hope in varying forms to get by. I need hope that somehow the economy, the environment, the nations of the world will all be as they need to be sometime soon if we are to survive and prosper in any form as a species. And I know it seems foolish to lament the death of a sole individual during another Vatican sex scandal, a catastrophic oil spill, a global economic depression, a catastrophic war on abstract concepts, the constant stripping of human rights worldwide and more.
But I have to.
Like many others, I knew logically that the public announcement of the death of Stephen Perry wasn’t far away following the extremely suspicious news of his disappearance. My heart, though, told me to hold out hope, as it always does.
When the notorious serial killer Carl Panzram stood on the gallows in 1930, he’s reported to have told the hangman to hurry up: “I could hang a dozen men while you’re fooling around.” That moment, along with the life of brutality that led to it, inspires one of the stories in Joe Coleman’s magnificent collection, Muzzlers, Guzzlers and Good Yeggs, published by Fantagraphics.
Not so much a comic as a book of illustrated stories, Coleman’s book adapts four autobiographies of people who led infamous lives of crime, and whose stories span much of the twentieth century: Jack Black (no, not that one), “Boxcar” Bertha Thompson, Panzram and Paul John Knowles.
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face,
—George Orwell, (1903-1950), 1984
“’We were making the future,’ he said, ‘and hardly any of us troubled to think what future we were making. And here it is!’”
—H.G. Wells (1866-1946), When the Sleeper Wakes
“I guess all this history is just a mystery to me.”
—Wilco, “Hotel Arizona”
It has long been said that the United States is a nation of immigrants, a melting pot of various cultures from all over the world. Many of the same people who say that are also familiar with the so-called “golden rule”, the notion that we should treat others as we fish to be treated. It’s very telling, then, how America tends to treat its immigrants, or rather, the Americans of tomorrow. Our immigrants, ourselves.
Though most growing up in the States following the Second World War remained blissfully unaware, thanks to the American government and the then-current education system, of the German, Japanese and Italian interment camps that existed on American soil during the War, many eventually wizened up and learned of it. “It can’t happen here”, they used to say. “It can never happen here. Not again.”
Well, as most people who have uttered that rallying cry against fascism, when “it” happens again, when it comes knocking on our door and takes our neighbors into a darkly-lit, packed detention center, what do we do?
The cast of characters includes a terminally ill survivor of childhood sexual abuse, now a sadist, kidnapper and murderer, and a Catholic priest who is not only the killer’s lover, and true love, but also the person who abused him 15 years ago.
More than 30 years after its initial publication, MW still has the power to unsettle. The themes in this stark manga by Osamu Tezuka cover not just the nature of evil, guilt, and sexual and personal identity, but also post-war Japanese history, terrorism, protest and governmental abuse and mistrust.