PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

My Flesh Is Cool #1-3

Ryan Paul

The nature of Freedom, with a capital-F, and how people judge their freedom, is a central concern of Stephen Grant's series.

My Flesh Is Cool #1-3

Publisher: Avatar Press
Contributors: Sebastian Fiumara (Artist), Jacen Burrows (Covers) (Artist)
Price: $3.50 each
Writer: Steven Grant
Item Type: Comic
Length: 32
End Date: 2004-03
Start Date: 2011-01

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose

In an early scene of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, the female protagonist shatters a sculpture, a piece of art she loves so much that she cannot bare for it to be viewed by others. Even in my younger, Randian days, I always found this extreme display of selfishness and possessiveness to be a bit disturbing. How is her freedom to love a beautiful thing damaged by others having the same freedom? How is her freedom more fully expressed by the ability to destroy it? Then as now, I always felt this act was a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

The nature of Freedom, with a capital-F, and how people judge their freedom, is a central concern of Stephen Grant's My Flesh Is Cool. This three-issue series tells the story of Evan Knox, the world's most dangerous and mysterious hitman, and the chaos unleashed when the secret of his skills is discovered.

Evan's prowess as an assassin derives from his anonymity. Just as the question "Who is John Galt?" haunts the pages of Rand's epic, the question "Who is Evan Knox?" graces the inside cover of each issue of Grant's story. No one knows who Knox is, what he looks like, or just how he manages to infiltrate the most heavily guarded areas, take out his targets, and escape unscathed. The answer, of course, is deceptively simple: Evan Knox is everyone and no one.

Yes, there is a man, born and raised Evan Knox, who happily collects large sums of money for contract killings. But he never comes anywhere near his intended targets. His secret is one word: Go. Go is a drug, specially designed for Evan. Once he's mainlined it, his body goes into hibernation, and his mind is set free. In this state, Evan can take over the mind of anyone, anywhere. Under a series of human masks, Knox can kill with impunity, because he never actually pulls the trigger.

But Evan is soon betrayed, and a ruthless mafiosa puts him temporarily out of commission and starts mass-producing the drug for her own profit. A few months later, Evan wakes up in a hospital to a country in shambles. As another proverb goes, "give 'em an inch, and they'll take a mile". With the newfound freedom to escape the confines of their flesh, Go-junkies all over the country are hoping from body to body, looting, murdering, and raping. With the power to be anonymous, personal morals are thrown out the window in favor of doing what you want, when you want.

For all the sex and violence, Grant's story is primarily a character study of Knox, an examination of his completely self-centered, amoral personality. The story itself is fun, high-energy action, with the kind of slightly excessive blood and nudity that readers have come to know and love from publisher Avatar's line of creator-owned titles. Grant manages to avoid most of the problems that tend to plague stories based on such paradox-creating concepts as time-travel and identity-conundrums (ie. the terrible and nonsensical Identity). The only problems seem to come near the end, where the interesting revelation about Evan's betrayer is resolved a bit too quickly in order to make room for the climax and resolution.

But back to the story itself: while I can understand, and certainly imagine, such mass anarchy erupting, it is predicated on a view of freedom (which is obviously the characters' view, not writer Grant's view) that strikes me as odd in the same way as does Rand's view. Do the freedoms of individuals conflict with one another, such that for one person to be truly free means that he or she can violate another? Or can individual freedoms be fully expressed without impinging on each other? It seems to me that the heart of a truly democratic society must uphold the latter value, in which individuals are both wholly individual, yet also part of a society in which their freedoms are protected and experienced. The former view of freedom, that I will have mine even if it means you can't have yours, is more an expression of childish selfishness, a solipsistic, ego-centric idea that only what I directly experience and believe is important, a view that when taken to its logical conclusion, such as by the characters in Grant's story, causes society's very foundation to crack and falter.

No one more fully embodies such a mercenary outlook than Evan Knox. When he embarks on a mission to stop the flow of Go, it isn't out of any desire to save the country. It is strictly so that he can get back his special toy, and so no one else can have it. Ultimately, that's what freedom is to Evan. It is having something that no one else can have.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.