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Tuesday, Mar 23, 2010

We made mad love, shadow love
Random love and abandon love.
Accidentally like a martyr.
The hurt gets worse, and the heart gets harder.

- Warren Zevon, “Accidentally Like a Martyr”


Let a complex system repeat itself long enough, eventually something surprising will occur. That, too, is in God’s plan.
- Head-Six, Battlestar Galactica


When Warren Ellis took the reigns of three low-selling X-Men spin-offs—X-Man, Generation X and X-Force—around a decade ago, fans quickly weighed in, judging his ‘soft reboot’ of Nate Gray, the multiversal refugee and titular hero of X-Man, to be the greatest success of the ‘Counter X’ line. Transforming Nate from an angsty, displaced young man into a hero with a purpose, a literal shaman of the mutant ‘tribe’, Ellis tapped into the pre-millennial subconscious. It was this mood that had just been attempting to properly filter the alleged ‘Millennium Bug’, the upcoming elections in the United States, the creation of the Euro, a rash of high school shootings, and the resignation of Boris Yeltsin, which led to the subsequent rise to power of Vladimir Putin.


Instead of just another superhero, Nate Gray became a new man on the cusp of a new millennium, fulfilling all the duties of a shaman in the modern age, protecting his tribe, spinning stories and communing with those from worlds beyond our own. While a deeply spiritual work, the ‘Counter X’ run of X-Man also found time to play around with aspects of fringe science that reached a fever pitch in popularity at the turn of the millennium, most notably the genetics of mutation and multiversal travel.


But Ellis’ reinvention of Nate Gray as a spiritual vanguard of the new millennium didn’t emerge from a vacuum. Nothing artistic does.


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Monday, Mar 22, 2010

The Monkey King shouldn’t be cute. He’s a raging id, a shameless and dangerous trickster. He embodies Lewis Hyde’s definition of the trickster as “ridden by lust” and driven by “hyperactive sexuality.”


“Monkey…bears traces of an older lusty beast whose hungers might lead Ghandi himself to buy a gun,” Hyde writes in Trickster Makes This World. “In short, trickster is a boundary-crosser.”


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Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010

Even the greatest aficionados among us suffer from it from time to time – and that’s superhero fatigue. Even superheroes themselves get tired of being superheroes. It happens.


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Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010
'Befehl ist Befehl [Orders are orders]'. Transalted as “I was only following orders”, a defense used by many prosecuted Nazis during the Nuremburg Trials following World War II 'I am not guilty. I am only responsible for following an order I received from my superiors. It was not a criminal act'. Ex-CIA Agent Robert S. Lady, regarding his abduction of a Muslim cleric

On the anniversary of any number of major world events of the last several
decades, the press has a tendency to ask ‘Where were you when’ that event transpired. ‘Where were you when Richard Nixon resigned’? ‘Where were you when Bobby Kennedy was killed’? ‘Where were you when Columbia shattered over Texas’?
 
One song, a piece about the September 11th attacks, asked ‘Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning’?


When Major Zod’s (Callum Blue) world stopped turning in “Persuasion”, a recent episode of the long-running ‘Superman-in-training’ television series Smallville, he was at the Metropolis equivalent of Ground Zero.


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Monday, Mar 15, 2010
An Actor Prepares: Dr. Frederic Wertham reads

An Actor Prepares:
Dr. Frederic Wertham reads “Shock!”


Strange things happened to comic books in 1954. EC Comics chief Bill Gaines tore up two of his publications at a press conference in September and said, “I have now discontinued all horror and crime comics”. Two days later, the Comics Magazine Association of America held its own press conference, at which they announced the now-infamous Comics Code.


“A staff of five censors was working full-time, screening comic-book layouts after the inking stage”, writes David Hadju in The Ten-Cent Plague. “The Code was an unprecedented (and never surpassed) monument of self-imposed repression and prudery”.


In April that same year, the U.S. Senate subcommittee hearings on comic books and juvenile delinquency began, and the first person to give testimony was Dr. Frederick Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent, which had pretty much kicked off the brouhaha. Among the comics he cited were issues of Crime SuspenStories from EC Comics and The Thing by Charlton Comics.


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