Monday, March 19, 2007

Anti-Marvels













RUINS (1995)
by Warren Ellis with Cliff Nielsen, Terese Nielsen and Chris Moeller


Marvels - - -or its cracked mirror self, right down to Phil Sheldon slowly and inexorably dying of the virus in its plot twist. That's the high concept, anyway. And this manner of wholesale black comic cul-de-sac nihilism is the specific make and model of kung fu Ellis is a master of. Structurally wonky as Marvels,sure. And the story feels more like extended prologue than narrative with arc. But you're meant to digest this in pockets. Spasms of viscous imagery like fever-dream hallucinations. That crackling airport set piece with Magneto for one. And T'Challa in cahoots with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. In no more than a single panel sometimes or a single , precise line of prose, Ellis enlivens Marvel's haggard franchises - - - " . . .they called her a shapeshifter and said that being so many people in a short space of time gave her multiple personality disorder" is Mystique, " . . .then he started to swell" is Bruce Banner's metamorphosis, " . . . technically dead - - -facial fat flying off his torched head like hot rain" is Ghost Rider - - -before vandalising them beyond repair. You can almost hear him cackle with thick and palpable and catchy-like-dengue glee at his flambuoyant desecration of the Marvel Universe. Maybe it's the space my head's in now - - -superhero comics suck eggs - - -that makes all this sacred cow buttfucking , all this geek fetish soiling, ring with blunt force trauma and makes me cackle with glee,too : President Xavier, Quicksilver a human torso, Silver Surfer as space junk, Galactus is God and God is dead , Thor as crackpot cult guru, Captain America as outlaw - - -whoa! Back up. Hmmmm. The Ultimates/Civil War in embryo? Oh, Mark Millar, you naughty boy.
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1 comment:

PAOLO CRUZ said...

Damn! Why had I not read about this before?

I still hope that Darwyn Cooke will eventually "sell out", and write a Marvel equivalent of New Frontier; that is, instead of retro-fitting classic Marvel stories to play out against the everyday social context of the Cold War era (as Marvels did), I'd like to read a completely original story that uses Marvel mythology (particularly epoch-relevant B-listers like Machine Man) as storytelling devices to comment on the zeitgeist of jet age: the wide-eyed technophilia and sense of possibility that characterized the Kennedy era, but with a modern sensibility. To do for superheroics what Down With Love did for romantic comedies, I guess.