Comics

Red #1-3

Ryan Paul

Red traces society's need to kill history. The present is not based upon truth, but built on a collective myth, romanticized by years of revisionism.

Red #1-3

Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics
Contributors: Culler Hamner (Artist), with David Self and John Costanza (Artist)
Price: $2.95
Writer: Warren Ellis
Item Type: Comic
Length: 22
Publication Date: 2003-09
Amazon

Those Who Know History

The great bugbear of democracy: how much deceit can a "free society" tolerate in the name of end results? Hard times call for hard decisions call for hard actions. That political exigency requires Machiavellian policies is an unpleasant truth for most; but at what point does necessity become the mother of betrayal and invalidate the values it intends to uphold?

Warren Ellis' Red traces society's need to kill history. The present is not based upon truth, but built on a collective myth, romanticized by years of revisionism. Paul Moses, ur-assassin, political and military tool of American interests. He is history, the past incarnate, the great evil id of American life, uneasily lurking beneath the veneer of civilized society. Ostensibly, his status is retired, or "green" in CIA-speak. But the red-tinted cover of issue #1 belies this; he is still active, "red", because history cannot merely be "retired".

Enter Michael Beesley, political appointee, CIA director. Unlike the hard angles and lean lines of Moses, Beesley is plump, soft. He is the New Man, but hardly a man at all. Existing in a world created by Moses, but ignorant of the blood and the truly hard decisions and harder actions that built it. When faced with the horrific history, he wants nothing more than to destroy it. Purge America's seething id, erase it from the history books.

What Beesley doesn't know is that reality cannot be purged in favor of the myth. To destroy history is to destroy oneself, and Moses brings all the fire and brimstone of his Old Testament America crashing down in judgment upon the weak Michael Beesley.

Moses laments not his existence, which has caused so much pain to others as well as himself. The trauma he can live with, because he once believed that he committed atrocities in the name of a greater good. What he laments is the Lapsarian moment, the fall from grace, when men could no longer face up to their deeds and accept their punishment. If men are no longer men, then what was the fighting and killing for?

It becomes easy to side with Moses. He is strong, he is firm. He stands for something, although it may not be something we like. He is a Man, while Beesley is some unspeakable invertebrate in a man's skin. But is he just a part of his own myth? Even if we know the truth of yesterday, and accept it was an Age more Gilded than Golden, the rationalizations craft a new collective story to ease our minds. "They did it for something greater" sounds comforting, but is it possible that the great men and women of history were as petty and small-minded as those of today?

The green-tinted cover of issue #3 suggests a resolution. To "retire" the past is a false hope, but we can come face to face with it, as Moses and Beesley come face to face. But to demonize it, as Beesley attempted to demonize Moses, only implicates us in the same cycle of blame, because it exists within us. Face it, understand it, question it, and learn.

The most beautiful principles of society, when enacted in the real world, will always require ugly deeds to survive. But necessity does not grant carte blanche, and especially today, one must always debate the efficacy and true purpose of laws and policies that threaten to undermine what they should instead protect. History cannot be ignored or forgotten. But if the past is not to be repeated, the future must be reformed.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image