There’ll be chaos and destruction in the later pages of H’el on Earth, what else could there be with a full-blooded Kryptonian (in the personage of H’el) arriving on Earth? But before the coming mayhem, writer Scott Lobdell makes the far more interesting creative choice of framing the physical coming-to-blows as an external metaphor of Kal-El’s internal battle to make a home for himself in Metropolis, and more broadly on Earth. In doing so, Lobdell seems to parallel the conflicts involved in Mozart writing his 38th Symphony, “Prague.”
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You can’t say for certain unless you check to make sure, but Joe Kubert’s career seems to span the entire history of comics. He appears at the very end of the Golden Age, makes a mile-deep impression on the Silver Age, then watches as both his sons Adam and Andy enter the industry, all will starting a school to teach the next of generations.
Can a character become a genre? During the ‘70s and ‘80s, publishing house DC’s main competitor, Marvel, had phenomenal success in that arena with characters like the Hulk, and particularly Wolverine. With a story setting that had Dr Bruce Banner (the Hulk’s alter ego) wandering the cultural landscape of ‘70s America, Incredible Hulk became the perfect platform for a wide array of genres—everything from romance to conspiracy theory to epimythic struggles against polluters or the politically corrupt. Wolverine was even more successful. Breaking away from his comparatively sedate life with the X-Men, Logan saw himself unleashed to his full feral potential in the pages of Wolverine.
In 1985, with flagging interest in the Old West, DC experimented in the same concept with the legendary scar-faced, Old West bounty hunter, Jonah Hex. The original 1985 book ends on a serious cliffhanger, one only resolved in the successor title Hex, which explained that Jonah Hex had in fact been rocketed into the distant future, there to begin his surly, steely-eyed, scar-faced search for justice all over again. But this time, among the stars and in the new genre of space opera. Hex failed to find its audience, and soon enough, found itself cancelled.
During the dying days of the Cold War (when were there Cold War days that didn’t involve American deaths, many of them secret and on a distant soil), the Suicide Squad appeared out of nowhere and presented a new kind of storytelling to mainstream comics. Maybe experiments of this kind wouldn’t have been possible without the direct market, but the raw premise of the book was this—forget heroes, even superheroes, and think about the murky of half-truths and hidden-mirrors and psych-ops, and the heavy price paid by nameless, faceless Cold Warriors.
There’s a piece of example art, a small cartoon about a man leaving work then entering into his daily commute home (but the plot twist comes as, that commute is via rocket-pack), that Will Eisner uses to make a point in his book on comics pedagogics, Graphic Storytelling. It’s a piece from Eisner’s own illustrious body of work, but I can’t get to the name right now. I could get at the name if I wanted, and writing as little as one generation ago, I probably would have needed to. And the ref is real easy to come by. The piece is more than likely referenced in Graphic Storytelling itself, and not even in the notes at the back of the book, but right there where the cartoon is excerpted. And it’s not like Eisner’s book isn’t on the shelf right beside where I write. But after Google, after Napster, after Facebook and Twitter, after everything these last few years, that’s not the way the world works anymore. Not when anyone can reach out discover the title for themselves. Not when we’re all at an equal distance to every kind of information conceivable, even if that distance is as close as “only a click away.” In this world, after everything we’ve been thru digitally, culturally, it just doesn’t work like that anymore. After everything we’ve been thru, it’s better for me to just kick back and turn up H.I.M.‘s Uneasy Listening.
// Notes from the Road
"With vibrant performances by artists including St. Vincent and TV on the Radio, the first half of the bi-annual Boston Calling Festival brought additional excitement to Memorial Day weekend.READ the article