Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gods and Goo at Reason (and DC Comics)


My cover article about nanotech, which as the title says, will turn us into “Neither Gods Nor Goo” anytime in the foreseeable future, is now up on Reason magazine’s website (and is in their March print issue, as noted before), almost exactly one year after the junket to Scotland that forms part of the story — but I get around to everything eventually. (I still owe the masses a serious article on evolutionary psychology, I realize.)

As it happens, at precisely the time online readers are seeing my thoughts on nanobots and trying to transform ourselves into gods, DC Comics is depicting a war between nanobots and gods (as I have learned online, not by making any actual purchases, mind you, having kept pretty much clean for over a year now, aside from that stack of trade paperbacks I reviewed on this site over the summer). You see, starting in May, my favorite comics writer, Grant Morrison, is doing a seven-issue miniseries called Final Crisis in which new, deadlier gods take over the world and do terrible things to its superheroes, or something like that.

And since Morrison is the kind of do-things-my-own-way guy who needs the fictional playing field made clean before he romps insanely all over it, DC is preceding his miniseries with a (now nearly-finished) year-long Countdown to Final Crisis weekly series in which nanobots destroy those parts of the Earth — and the pagan and Jack Kirby-created heavens — that don’t suit Morrison’s narrative purposes. So, the “Fourth World” of DC Comics “New Gods” characters gets blown up (after four decades of use) by another Kirby character, the sentient machine Brother Eye, who commands swarms of nanobots and OMAC cyborgs, using them to bring about the long-prophecied “Great Disaster,” to be followed immediately by the aforementioned “Final Crisis,” so it’s a rough time for Superman and his pals (not to mention for three versions of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Anthro the First Boy, Kamandi the Last Boy, and even, Morrison promises, Streaky the Super-Cat like you’ve never seen him before).

On the bright side, since the title of this blog entry refers to my nanotech article, the current plotline in DC Comics, and by poetic resonance to the first book written by the late William F. Buckley, I have achieved a personal trifecta of scientific, genre-fiction, and political allusion that helps me feel there is a beautiful underlying orderliness to life.

And speaking of such things, since I mentioned in a prior entry during this nearly-ended “Month Without God” on the blog that I think religious people tend to be less imaginative than the non-religious, I may as well go ahead and say more explicitly that I think if you grow up reading sci-fi and comics, in which things like nanobots fighting New Gods happen every day, you’re less likely to be struck dumb (and I do mean dumb) by some ostensibly mind-blowing old goatherd’s tale about a shrub catching on fire, a donkey talking, or a carpenter turning water into wine. Big deal. Omnipotence gets you that? I think Jack Kirby could have come up with some cooler things to do with omnipotence. The desert-dwelling yokels who fabricated the stories in the Bible, on the other hand, weren’t quite so inspired.

(And let me add that May’s Final Crisis miniseries starts in the same month that, as I’ve noted before, brings Iron Man [UPDATE 2/29/08: New trailer!], Speed Racer, Prince Caspian, and Indiana Jones to the big screen, so there’s unavoidable nerdery ahead. Alas, we have to wait until May 2009 for the Wolverine movie, though, and I can only hope until then that in recounting Wolverine’s origin, they avoid the stupidest thing about Wolverine’s past in the comics: very long-lived, he has served, in chronological order, as part of CIA’s Team X, Weapon Plus’s secretive Weapon X project, and Prof. Charles Xavier’s X-Men — yet we’re supposed to believe those three different X’s are all pure coincidence. That’s retarded — one of those sadly premodern cases of storytellers liking some trope so much they just keep coming back to it with no concern for realism — like having some knight encounter a kidnapped princess in every single stinking town he rides through. Feh.)

And for those nerdy enough to have made it this far, I reward you with an amusing photo (pointed out to me by Reid Mihalko) of what it would be like if Spider-Man operated in Wyoming and an even more entertaining photo of what it would look like if Wonder Woman’s costume were made out of body paint (pointed out to me by Caryn Solly, who happens to be a friend of Reid, so you see a pattern or two emerging here).

By the way, one complaint about (what I’ve read about) the Countdown to Final Crisis comic book: it features one third of Triplicate Girl (the member of the Legion of Super-Heroes who can split into three separate but identical people), calling herself Una during her solo adventures. So her power is: being one person. I also have that superpower.

I also read that Karate Kid has spurned her romantic advances during this series. And if I were being pursued by only one of a woman who normally had the power to be three women at the same time, I too might feel a bit less than enthused.


toddseavey said...

Another Kirby note while I’m at it: can’t resist noting the planetoid Transilvane as an example of his outsider-art weirdness (even weirder than the Hairies):

Sean Dougherty said...

And the March issue of Reason finally came in to the Times Square newsstand over the weekend.

I’m getting it framed.

Thanks again for a great job,