Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Doomsday Clock #5

Nostalgia's branding efforts might be a little off the rails.

Today on Facebook, my cousin Laurie said, "Your thought process fascinates me." So I decided to give everybody an insight into my thought process!

My thought process: think something nobody should ever say. Say it. Pretend you were being hyperbolic and facetious when people get annoyed. Experience your twentieth shame spiral of the day. Eat a whole carton of Oreos. Fall asleep lonely and humiliated.

Or, if I wanted to be honest (which I never am! (although sometimes I am but I'm pretending I'm being facetious and hyperbolic so that when I'm judged harshly, I can distance myself from that judgment)), it's more that when I post something to Facebook, it's usually somewhere so far down the "thought process" that all context has been lost. I suppose I could explain every single thing that led up to me having a thought that makes me laugh but that's too close to just walking around naked in public. And I would never do that! Wink, wink.

So, um, Doomsday Clock! After last issue, I had forgotten that this comic book was meant to be a severe lecture to the fans who never wanted the whimsy and fun taken out of comics but are being blamed by Geoff Johns for DC doing it anyway. That might not actually be what this book is about but it's what my issues have decided it's about anyway. What made me spontaneously remember that was this scene in the hospital where Ozymandias wound up after falling out of the LexCorp building.

Dammit. I had almost forgotten how everybody blamed and mistrusted superheroes!

Of course there's always been a long history of Gotham Police mistrusting and hating Batman (if only because he does their job better than they do and obviously has way better pay and benefits). But DC really fucked up when they decided that level of mistrust should be applied more broadly so that every citizen suddenly turned against even Superman, the universally acknowledged boy scout. I'm not a comic book historian so I don't know when that attitude began but I think it's generally acknowledged that it was a byproduct of Watchmen and similar comic books of the time. "Look at how more realistic this is! Why should a world embrace and trust masked heroes?! And Watchmen was so popular, that aspect of it must be what made so much money!" But, of course, that's the kind of thing people who didn't read Marv Wolfman's New Teen Titans believe. Because if I had to pick a starting point for when the mistrust of heroes seriously got rolling (I'm not saying it wasn't there before! It just wasn't the standard reaction of the public), I'd point to Wolfman's work trying to adapt The X-men feel to DC's superheroes. In the X-men, the "heroes" were actually mutants enrolled in a school where they could feel safe and learn to control their powers. They were hated by the public due to bigotry and a misunderstanding of what they represented to humanity's future. They were constantly attacked by "evil mutants" due to a disagreement on what mutants meant to the world. This worked as a plot point because of the bigotry aspect and the underlying difference between mutants and superheroes. But translating that to DC's world where mutants don't exist completely missed the mark. Wolfman's world became a place where The New Titans formed to help the world but never actually did. They simply created a headquarters in New York where they were constantly attacked by family members. Of course the people of New York would begin hating them for bringing danger and destruction to the city. Because they were actually doing that! And since The New Titans became DC's biggest seller for quite some time, every comic book writer on Earth learned that Wolfman's model was acceptable to readers. Instead of having heroes exist for saving the world, they could just exist to be targeted by super villains. And if that's all super villains seemed interested in then isn't it true that heroes are the root cause of all the problems with super villains? It's one thing to comment on bigotry in America by portraying people's hatred of mutants. It's a totally stupid other thing to have people hate heroes because of the destruction caused by the heroes attempting to simply save themselves from their enemies. In the first one, you side with the mutants because the people hate them for irrational reasons. In the second one, you have to side with the citizens because who wouldn't be upset if their house was destroyed and their dog was killed because The Joker was trying to kill Batman?

I've said all of that before. Sometimes, I feel that's all I have left to say about DC. At least when Priest recently had the public hating the Justice League, it was because the Justice League was racist! Not in the regular racist way where Batman is using slurs and Superman is flying around in blackface and a sombrero but in the systemic way where they don't realize they're being racist but they just are. That was at least different (even if I still wasn't happy about it).

I don't understand people who prefer heroes who are mistrusted and hated over heroes who are inspiring, loved, and embraced by the public. Wasn't the latter version the whole point of them in the first place?

Dammit! I should really read ahead before I go on a rant! Although, technically, I think this somehow proves my point about how this is all supposed to fix what went wrong with The New 52.

This issue is called "There is no God." I'm guessing at the capitalization because the font actually reads "THERE IS NO GOD". But it doesn't end in an exclamation point (or any other kind of punctuation, being a title and all) so I'm assuming it isn't meant to be yelled and it's just DC's perverse avoidance of lower case letters.

Anyway, "There is no God" is the perfect title to ruffle religious feathers. But I bet it's a set-up! I bet Geoff Johns is going to write a story about how God does exist, even if only in a metaphorical way that gives hope to people who need more than a few decades of random, chaotic life! I mean, I would like more than a few decades of life too! But I wouldn't mind if it remained meaningless. Who needs a purpose? That's just adding obligation to this precious gift! Why do people want that?! I think that's why "being inspiring" has become such a huge achievement for so many people. Because it seems to give meaning to your life without you having to actually do anything except exactly the thing you want to do. So, say, I was coming up with a completely hypothetical situation where a guy I know survived an IED attack in Iraq but the four other people in his Humvee were killed, he might want to find meaning in why only he survived. He might feel somehow responsible for carrying on in a meaningful way to make their deaths less random and nonsensical. He might also become religious because it's too painful to believe that those four other guys simply winked out of existence in a meaningless war that didn't do anything for anybody (aside from some people making a lot of money (and aside from opening up the country to more chaos and instability)). And the meaning he might find in his life is becoming the center of attention just like he always wanted but could never attain. He became a comedian who also inspires people because he's so badly burnt and disfigured, how can he tell jokes?! Now his life has meaning even if his jokes and his poetry never get any better because the people who hear and read them are Christian and patriotic supporters who can't be critical of anything he does. So if he says in a poem that his daughter is crying "alligator tears," nobody tells him that they're "crocodile tears" and that if his daughter is crying them, it means she doesn't actually care that he's off in Iraq. And when his only joke is that he was blown up and set on fire, nobody minds because he was blown up and set on fire and—look at that!—he can still stand up and tell jokes! So inspiring!

Now if my thought process were better than it is, I would delete all of that so that I don't sound like a jealous and bitter friend. But I explained my thought process earlier so you can judge me but I've got my Oreos ready to go after you misunderstand the hyperbole and facetiousness. Also, I'm not jealous and bitter. I'm supportive but critical! Which is why I didn't post what I just wrote on his wall. Because he can take supportive but I don't think he's up for critical. Especially hyperbolic and super truthful critical. Hypothetically, I mean!

Back to how this comic book is doing its part to reset the DC Universe into the Post-Zero-Hour, Pre-New 52, Post and Pre a bunch of other stuff I can hardly guess at because DC Continuity is super fucked, a news report on a hospital television reports on Hawk, Dove, Red Star, and the Rocket Reds. So maybe I was wrong about Post-Zero-Hour! Maybe this reboot is post-Crisis only? And I might be wrong about that too! Isn't the current Superman from the Crisis timeline where they actually beat the Anti-Monitor? It's hard to remember Convergence because it was super boring and terribly written. It rated 5 Flaccid Penises out of 5. Unless you're totally into flaccid penises and then it rated zero of them.

Along with the Rocket Reds and Red Star gearing up for an anti-west battle, Pozhar has stepped up to the plate as well. Or whatever you step up to in Russian baseball. Do they have something akin to baseball in Russia? Maybe cement-block-call? If we're going by themes, it's beginning to look like we're headed back to the eighties cold war, so a reboot to pre-Crisis levels of continuity isn't completely off the table! If I didn't know Geoff Johns was writing this, I'd be tempted to guess it was Dan Jurgens.

The Cold War of this ear isn't about nuclear superiority but about metahuman superiority. But that's just a superficial difference, really! What's actually happening in Watchmen 2: Doomsday Clocks is identical to what was happening in Watchmen. Which means everybody will get along at the end not when Mister Terrific teleports a fake space creature into the middle of New York but when an actual cosmic threat attacks Earth and all the American and Russian metahumans have to team up to save the day. Then everybody will be inspired and begin fucking. Right on panel! I hope.

In Moore's Watchmen, there was a thread with that kid reading the pirate book. I wasn't smart enough to know what that was about. Maybe it had something to do with how, to survive, the lead turned himself into a monster the way Ozymandias did. Or maybe it was just about the kinds of things media used to distract the populace. Who can tell?! Not me! Anyway, this series has Nathaniel Dusk stories as the story within a story. I guess it's the only way DC could get people to read them. So boring! You can tell they were boring if you read them in 1984. Also because an old man really loves them in this comic book. That old man is Johnny Thunder! His name makes him sound exciting but you'd be wrong! More boring! And he's trying to get the Justice Society back into continuity. Most boring of all!

Some of you might be bristling at my description of the Justice Society as "most boring of all." But you've forgotten about the hyperbole and facetiousness! There's a twenty-five percent chance that I actually liked the Justice Society and own a bunch of their comic books!

The Superman Theory states that the American government is in the business of making metahumans to make sure they retain control on the world stage. Most of the heroes deny that they were made by the government because they were actually made when they were exposed to Nth Metal. Duh. Everybody who believes The Superman Theory must not have read Metal. How did they miss it? It was the biggest and longest blockbuster ever produced! Anyway, Lois thinks Lex Luthor is the one behind this propaganda. But Lex denies it. In fact, he says somebody in the government is creating metahumans and that person was once a member of the Justice League! So, um, like Lex?

Hopefully the reveal of the person behind The Superman Theory doesn't wind up being somebody like Commander Steel. With a twist like this, it's got to be somebody you generally associate with the League, like Martian Manhunter or Gleek.

Here Ozymandias lectures Batman thanks to years of terrible comic book writers.

By the end of this issue, Rorschach and Saturn Girl have caught up with Johnny Thunder who finally found Alan Scott's lantern. Batman has been captured by The Joker. And Geoff Johns is well on his way to telling comic book fans how dumb they've been accepting the bullshit narrative they've been fed for years that super villains only exist because super heroes exist.

Rating: This issue was called "There is no God" and it had nothing to do with the story inside. But it was used because it was part of the Eugene O'Neill quote that closes the issue: "When men make Gods, there is no God!" Is that how every issue has been titled so far? Using a bit of the quote at the end? I haven't been paying close enough attention to know. Anyway, I have a few issues with that quote. First off, you shouldn't capitalize "Gods." I suppose you can argue that you would capitalize "Johns" but if you choose to do that, I probably don't like you and would discount your argument on that basis alone. I mean, the point is that men are making little gods which kills the proper noun God. Second, why does it end in an exclamation point? Is the second half of that statement such a huge twist that it needed the surprise element of the exclamation point? Maybe Eugene knew it was a fairly week turn to the phrase and thought the exclamation point would bolster the sentiment. I know that trick! The third problem I have with it is that I don't understand it in the context of this story. Is Johns saying that super heroes have replaced God? Are fans now supposed to feel reprimanded for being blasphemous monsters?! Am I supposed to believe that if we rely on heroes, we have lost our faith in God? Is Johns saying inaction through faith is better than relying on super heroes? Or is he saying that we lose our own motivation and free will when we expect heroes to save the day? How is that any different than expecting God to save the day? I guess in that context, I understand the quote! "When we come up with something more entertaining that still doesn't actually help or save humanity, we've forgotten the original concept we came up with that doesn't actually help or save humanity!" Hmm, good quote! I've won myself over! Five out of five stars! Not for this issue but for my twisted logic!

For more of this sweet, sweet writing, subscribe to my newsletter: E!TACT the Newsletter.

No comments:

Post a Comment