Friday, August 15, 2008

Seeds of The Monocle

While most of the people I talk to about our book seem to get it, some have commented on how dark it is. Personally, I don't see it that way at all.

Below are two pages from a series DC did in the eighties called Crisis on Infinite Earths. Before Crisis, whenever DC bought a new property, they wouldn't blend it into their existing universe. Instead, they'd claim the characters existed in another dimension, which is why, say, Captain Marvel and Superman didn't hang out. Also, they explained the fact that the DC heros like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman had been in their prime for over 50 years by claiming that heros in their prime in the forties ("Earth-Two") and the heros in their prime in the eighties ("Earth-One") were actually entirely different people existing on different dimensions. Furthermore, sometimes DC writers would make up whole new dimensions just for fun. Finally, some editor decided it was all too confusing and initiated this mini-series to squish all the characters into one, tidy dimension. 

The premise is that this anti-matter monster called the Anti-Monitor is devouring the dimensions one-by-one, so the various remaining heros need to band together to stop it.

The two pages below are from the first issue. They're set on "Earth-Three", where all the good guys are bad guys and visa versa. For example, the Justice League of America is the Crime Syndicate of America. As the Anti-Monitor wipes out their existence, the good guys and the bad guys team up to stop it. They know it's futile, but they fight anyway.

It's a little goofy, but these two pages struck me as poetic from the first time I read them, especially the line, "We've spent a lifetime terrorizing this world, yet our last moments alive are spent trying to save it." It's heroism completely void of logic, consequence or any other external motivation. It's doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing.

Of the hundreds of comics I've owned and the thousands I've read, these two pages have stuck with me more than any other (except maybe some Jimmy Corrigan stuff) and it's caused me to meditate on the nature of heroism over and over again. What is the "right" thing to do? I think most people think they're doing the right thing, for the most part. Yet those people still tend to screw other people up pretty badly and pretty consistently.

Granted, the story of The Monocle strays a lot from the pages below, but these were the seeds. The old man in our book thinks he's doing the right thing, but given the other choices he's made in life, what he considers the right thing suffers a lack of clarity. Yet, I think there's a beauty to the purity of his actions and I hope that leads to his salvation. At least that's what I tried to write.

If you can't read these panels on your computer, drop me a line and I'll send you something larger.

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