Speaking of a funny ol' world, I spent the bulk of today re-reading Alan Moore's "Watchmen", which I just replaced for at least the third time. For those of you that have never had the good fortune to read this, well, it's a bit complex to describe here. It's superhero fiction, and yet so much more. Right off the bat, you're not dealing with presently active heroes, but rather retired ex-heroes. Only two of them do anything anymore; one is a scientist and potential superweapon in the global arena, used by the country like a bargaining chip, another is still a vigilante, and nowhere near one that is appreciated. It opens on the fact that one of these ex-heroes has just been murdered. Why? Not for any reason you'd ever guess...nor by anyone you'd figure. But even this pales besides the rest of the book. Action, sure, but not nearly as much as there is story, character, interplay, subtext...christ, this all sounds like an indie film review. Look, the point is, it's powerful. Fuckin' powerful.
I suppose that's one of the reasons I always loved it. I collected comics for a few years, in college, some because I got a kick out of a character, or a backstory, others just for the sheer shits'n'giggles of it. But a few, a few of them spoke to me on a deep level. They were more than comics...there was something in them, hidden below the ink and paint, something lurking down there...and dammit, that thing had GUTS. It had PURPOSE. It had MEANING. It had FEELING. It had POWER. If you took away the illustrations, they'd lose NOTHING. I was never one for the costumed hero team, full of steely-eyed justice, angst-ridden excess, and well-disciplined fighting against super-villains who were either the vilest of the vile or not much different than the heroes. A couple of the ones I liked might have touched on the edges of this sort of milieu, but it was only a facet (I'm sure that there are some hardcore comic fans who who debate me on these points and take me to task for those statements, but fuck 'em...my opinions).
Those few said something to me...because they had something to say. When I read them, I wasn't anticipating the next issue because I wanted to know if Our Hero would survive the death-trap, stop the bad guy, and get the girl...I wanted it to continue it's dissertation; I wanted to know what else it had to say, and why, and I wanted to know how I fit into that world-view. I wanted to hear it's arguments, and apply them to myself and what I saw, and evaluate their validity. If I found that they said something I had missed, I wanted to know how that worked into my own cosmology. If it conflicted with my own ideology, I wanted to see why...what it had to say was valid, and worthy of consideration, and I needed to know if I was right or wrong. If it supported me, I needed to see if it did so without sycophancy.
OK, that rambled on, but I think I needed to say that...don't ask why. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, this did all have a point. This is the kind of feeling I get from "Watchmen", every time I read it. it always make me stop and look at the world, and wonder if...just that, "wonder if". If things happened differently, where would it be. If things DIDN'T happen, where would it be. Most importantly, if things keep going like they are, where it'll be. And while the events of this book are obviously not going to happen any time soon (or at all), it makes me wonder: what will it ever take to make the world stop and realize that, underneath it all, we're all human, and we all have to live here...what will it take to make us ALL sit up and go "We're stupid, and we need to stop"? What will it take to make us give up the lame excuses, the death grip hold on intangibles, the whining expression of opposites, and realize, once and for all, that we are all in this together?
Yeah, I'm a weird guy. Some people can read a 'funnybook' and just go on, I read comics and makes cases for global enlightenment. And you know what? It's depressing.