TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Geo-Force. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Geo-Force. Show all posts

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Symbols of Immortality 2: The Blood Countess

Countess Dracula poster image from Wiki, reproduced by Wiki from MGM/Hammer under Fair Use.

In honour of  its 75th anniversary this year, DC Comics is doing a series called DC Universe Legacies, which retells the history of the DC Universe; it's drawn by a host of famous artists and penned by the great Len Wein (preview of #2 here; reviews here and here).  Of course, like any history there is an opportunity to throw in a few retcons.  While reading DC Universe Legacies #2 (August 2010), what did my eagle eyes spy but a plot to steal the Markovian Crown Jewels

If you've been following my comics entries, you'll know I'm writing a history of the infamous character Tara Markov here.  The Markovs were only invented in the 1980s, but with this issue, their family is being inserted into Golden Age DC arcs.  Golden Age stories were originally published by DC in the 1940s; the stories summarized by Wein's DC Universe Legacies have so far covered events inside the DC Universe of the 1920s and 1930s.  And in this issue, a gang of 1930s thieves break into a museum (in Gotham?) to steal the Crown Jewels and a portrait of an eighteenth or nineteenth century Markovian royal - who looks suspiciously like Tara Markov, the Titan who died in a DCU story set in the 1980s.  Many will say this is just a family resemblance to an ancestor.  But these are comic books, where such obvious explanations will never do.  Seeing that portrait, I immediately thought of the old Hammer horror film, Countess Dracula.  That movie picked up on an idea in other Hammer films and in other contemporary horror films, like The Haunted Palace, starring Vincent Price and based on the story by H. P. Lovecraft.  A noble family has a female member of dubious parentage who is introduced as a daughter, niece or cousin.  Yet curious visitors are puzzled to see her exact likeness reappearing in a much older portrait or a statue at a gravesite. It turns out that the obscure, eternally young girl is the immortal founder of the whole family legacy.  This is the kind of mystery that might suit Tara Markov, if her immortality depended on her status as an earth elemental, rather than as a vampire.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reflections on the Revolving Door of Death 2: The Death of the Postmodern Hero

Death of the Flash, COIE #8 (Nov. 1985)

In pulp fiction, character-driven stories, so beloved from the 1970s to the mid-1980s, are now a thing of the past. For many years, but especially since about 2003, DC's comics universe has been awash in death, legacy characters doing the rounds in their fourth versions, dying, and coming back in fifth versions (see my blog entry on this here). DC’s two big events in 2009-2010, Blackest Night and Brightest Day, epitomize the morbid fascination with death and resurrection. Yet the leading lights of the company proclaim that these events in fact will halt the tide of death and reinvest it with meaning, a message that was carried out of Blackest Night. In BN issue #8, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) announces that ‘dead is dead from here on out.’

While we wait for Brightest Day to deliver on writer Geoff Johns’s promise to give death meaning again, it’s obvious that DC and its competitor Marvel have a problem on their hands. During the Modern Age of Comics, which has run from the mid-1980s to the present, the mainstream comics companies painted themselves into a corner when they created the so-called ‘revolving door of death.’ Now, characters die so often in the name of ‘grim drama,’ that readers and critics cynically, or wearily, do body counts at the end of every crossover event. Why has DC killed off more than 650 (at latest fan count here at Legion World) of its characters since 2003? In all this overkill, the 2010 death of the young character Lian Harper aroused outrage at the company for gratuitously manipulating its readers, by taking excess to a new low. There is a deviantART site devoted to the topic here.  Yet DC mistakenly took this emotional response to mean that its creative team had created a dramatic story that moved its readers, rather than comprehending that their audience was expressing annoyance and genuine death trope exhaustion. Why is DC so tone deaf when it comes to hearing what fans are saying? A flood of gore cannot be used to revive the seriousness of already-overused death memes that once were sacrosanct.
 
X-Men #136 (Aug. 1980)

There’s more to this than a vicious circle of commercialism. Let’s go back. The death of a hero in any medium, let alone in comics, was once the height of drama. It grew out of older roots in epics, fairy tales, literature and religious sources. It was a narrative line that was almost never crossed. It carried weight. And because it was a powerful dramatic tool, it was invariably a commercially successful plot device. Practically every comics fan recognizes the famous X-men cover of Cyclops holding a half-dead Jean Grey. The cover foreshadowed her death in the next issue, when she sacrificed herself to save the universe in the Dark Phoenix Saga. According to Marvel wikia, issue #137 from September 1980 was “the first time that a major Marvel Comics super-hero [wa]s killed off on-panel.” Jean Grey’s death might be considered a harbinger of the Modern Age.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Unforgiven: DCU Continuity for Terra

Tales of the Teen Titans, Vol. 1 Annual (1984) The Judas Contract, Part 4: "Finale"

I’m putting together a continuity for Terra to place the famous Judas Contract story in the larger context related to Geo-Force, Markovia, Titans and Outsiders, because recently it seems that many readers look at the four issues of the JC story, and only that, to get their whole take on this character.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 2.2 - The Elemental: Terra in the 1990s

Dick Grayson remembers parallel karmic figures, Tara Markov and Joseph Wilson. NT #113 (Aug. 1994)

1990s Continuity continued

Titans Hunt Aftermath. Karma Karma Karma.
In the Titans Hunt aftermath, Tara Markov I and Joseph Wilson are confirmed as karmically-related characters – for Deathstroke, Dick, Gar and Raven. The post-Titans Hunt arcs repeat the theme that Joe’s death is Deathstroke’s payback for what happened to Tara. The fallout from the Judas Contract and Titans Hunt tie Tara Markov I and Joseph Wilson to Deathstroke’s relationship with Dick and Gar. Raven quickly becomes part of that chessboard of characters as well.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 3.1 - A Remade Reboot of the Original: Terra in the 2000s

Gar meets Black Lantern Terra. Blackest Night: Titans #1 (Oct. 2009)

The 2000s

By 1997-1998, the comics industry had slumped to one of its lowest points ever, although it was revived in the crisis atmosphere after 9/11. The Titans came out of the 1990s reeling, but the team had a hopeful string of reboots. Initial optimism from the turn of the millennium is evident in issues from 1999-2000. This was quickly replaced after 9/11 with hard, grim themes, and even more characters’ deaths in sweeping successive crossover events.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 3.2 - A Remade Reboot of the Original: Terra in the 2000s

Black Adam kills Terra 2. 52: World War III #3 (June 2007)

2000s Continuity continued

Graduation Day.
In the 2003 Titans/Young Justice Graduation Day arc, DC killed off Donna Troy. In fact, they had just sent her on an inter-dimensional exploration of her identity. While reassuring fans that Donna was alive in other dimensions, the impact on the Titans was huge. DC used the opportunity to do a complete overhaul of the Titans franchise, reflecting deep crises in leadership. DC mashed up one half of the NTT with Young Justice and the other half of the NTT with the Outsiders.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 3.3 - A Remade Reboot of the Original: Terra in the 2000s

Working for Deathstroke? Ravager accused by Bombshell of being a Titans traitor. TT #39 (Nov. 2006)

2000s Continuity continued

One Year Later: Interlude.
During the period between Terra 2's death (2007) and Terra 3's Miniseries (2009), the legacy of Terra 1's betrayal runs through several storylines. Terra 1 is a foil for Raven and Jericho, and her lingering influence still hangs over Deathstroke, Gar Logan and Brion Markov.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 3.4 - A Remade Reboot of the Original: Terra in the 2000s

 
Terra 3 is a perfect genetic match with Terra 2, who was a perfect genetic match with Terra 1.  Terra #1 (Jan. 2009)

2000s Continuity concluded.

Geo-Force: Walking a mile in his sister’s shoes? 2001-2010.
The seductive injustice of scapegoating goes a long way to explaining why Brion Markov’s unwavering loyalty to his sister is justified. If Brion is still in Tara’s corner after all this, even if it means his destruction as a hero, then we may have to ask again who Tara really was. We may have to look beneath the cardboard-cut-out ‘traitor-who-deserved-to-die’ label that’s been slapped on her, and question the double standard that condemned her, while forgiving others who have done the same or worse. DC is currently making Geo-Force, a clearly heroic character, relive his sister’s hellish descent. We have to go back to Markovia and ask: who are the Markovs and what is their legacy?

Through this period, Brion shows growing signs of mental instability followed by a frightening decline into madness. He has blackouts and acquires Terra’s powers. His wife Denise has already died under unknown circumstances. He begins wearing the same uniform that both siblings wore when they first appeared, signifying his growing identification with Terra 1. The same themes begin to surround him: insanity, drugs, Deathstroke, mental manipulation, brainwashing, memory wipes, and a loss of moral direction combined with a massive increase in his geo-powers.