Since Justice League has been rocking my world this
season, some spoilers, some thoughts...
When J’onn looked at those wall carvings that no one
could read, in an episode whose emphasis was on sight and understanding, with
the image of the eternal fire and of a gnarled tree, nice. J’onn, last child
of a dead world. Whose soul is gone.
That the story would resolve in the transformation of the fire that dwells in
the desert and inspires new/fanatical religion into a world tree that ripples
and spreads. The contrast between the leader of the fire religion, who
genuinely believes in it, is misusing the world fire because he only sees it
through his third mystic eye. It is when J'onn steps into the fire and is
consumed by it that the fire burns from eyes normal and mystic and is free to
The soldiers sent to conquer flying through space enveloped in protective
flames then twisting in metamorphosis into trees. The leader himself first
crying as his flame goes out, “…do not forsake me.” And then as the world tree
wraps him in vines saying, “At last I see…Paradise.” Before being pulled
beneath the earth.
I’m still mulling the images. The trees in space was somehow a particularly
powerful image. The parallel between the two Johns who carry on the fight with
fanatical. As J'onn attempts to communicate with the fire, John
hitting/imprinting the green lantern symbol on our villain's third eye. Oh and
Hawkgirl's sudden deepening into character.
As John-Green Lantern (a object that grants light/sight, controlled green
fire) would say, "Through experience we gain clarity."
ah, Justice League. Now, that rocked in all the ways that
a rock can rock.
Almost a political polemic and yet, so deeply rooted in the cannon of the
comics that, well, how then.
The thought that the Justice Lord Superman’s Lois never went to yet another
alternate dimension where that dark Superman wounded internal over his Lois’
death struck a slightly different deal with Lex Luthor. A gothic totalitarian
regime with robots and law and order and everything in darkness. Course the
worm in that apple was that Luthor killed that Lois in the first place. So,
then. Love was gone and darkness reigned.
The Justice Lord Superman has his love in a tower. Bitter and slashing and
serving gazpacho soup, which is cold. Cold. Ah, true love in a world where
everything is bright and shiny and all the villains are nicely lobotomized.
Even, eco-terrorist Poison Ivy, cutting off the roses from the bushes and
leaving only the green.
I loved the way the two Batman’s kept throwing their parents at one another.
The tragedy that shaped them into Dark Crusader. Here, no other eight year old
boy will grieve over his murdered parents. True, and our parents would be so
proud of you if they were alive. (as we watch and complaining guy at a
restaurant arrested for complaining to loud that 5+5 do not make 15)
I’m inclined to think that Darkly Lording Batman, if only subconsciously, set
all this in motion perhaps to end this totalitarian reign in his cave that’s
the only dark place left. The only one with no powers, but his mind. He was
always the smart one.
Perhaps, the same people who’d elect Lex Luthor as president can’t be trusted,
skipping into WWIII. Perhaps such trust will kill bouncing, darting Flash, who
isn’t so much the group’s conscience, as the eternally shiny 8 year old child
that they seek to protect, which given Flash’s history is interesting. The red
fast pounding heart that rushes in and says stupid things and believes.
Doesn’t know what he can do till he does it.
It was fascinating how natural each heroes turn toward the totalitarian light
felt and how many seemed rooted in the childhood traumas that drew them into
heroism in the first place. The longing for safety. Make the world safe and
clean and ordered.
It really ought to have been cheesy when JL Superman picked up that American
flag and righted it to wave gentle in the breeze. But if so, then it’s a
cheese that’s finely aged. Truth, Justice and a breeze on the Moon to ripple
the flag. Mom and apple pie and a Superman who never got past his first merit
badge. Who is every day is greeted with the temptations that power is heir to.
Linking back to his dream a few episodes back that he’ll just keep getting
more powerful. Since, the more powerful, surely the greater the temptation to
just decide that people are stupid. A lobotomy here, a civil right there and
all will be white caped perfection. Every day negotiating which lines can be
crossed. Trying to see the lines with eyes that cut and burn.
Those Martian dragons circling one another. Equal. Opposite. Grappling for a
dominance that can’t come, because they are the same. The only breaking
deadlock coming from the dark, a true black hearted villain. The yang that
helps keep Superman Clark Kent grounded yin. Not destroying Darkside, but
something negotiable. Blurring lines that may yet lead to defeat. To Kingdom
“Why curse the dark, when you can light a 7000 watt
For a hero a few laps short of a marathon, Flash sure is clever.
Bring home the gold, hotshot.
The Flash running on a road of green light through space. Red and gold and
green. Running to save the sun. The light, devoured by not just dark, but the
cold. The empty. The dead.
In the end, the so human hero, with his tricked out Flash mobile and longing
to go on a road trip (What indeed does he need with a van? Connection.), being
the one to make that leap of faith.
Catch me if I fall. Falling. Drifting. Blossoms that are candles that are
drifting as the warm lazy water brownian eddy flows.
As the Birthday card that Karen gave Gina said, “If a tree falls in the forest
and then springs back up as a joke, do the squirrels freak out?”
I could comment on the latest JLA episode’s intro, with soldiers searching for
terrorists, with its ads for heroic relief from burning stomach upset, with
its references to free speech as a key part of democracy (The Greeks invented
that right?), all to be taken in context with last week’s image of a
totalitarian happy, happy, trip to corn field, state.
But that would not suit the mood. And accessories make
JL – It Came from Beyond. Beyond what? What borders of
the imagination. Of the heart? Soul? Mind? Reality as a thing that can tear
and fissure. It’s tissue thin. Bumbling around like Solomon Grundy gathering
gold. Longing for the other thing.
I can’t say as I ever expected anyone to make Solomon Grundy, um…interesting.
The Hanna Barbera character floats in my memory. That shallow, dead, wandering
crushing thing. And yet, there it is. Everyone has a story. Even Hawkgirl is
aware, “Excuse me now, Hawkgirl smash.” when discussing her propensity to play
the bad cop, “Why play against type?
Hawkgirl, who it seems, has no faith. Her prayer is a chant to drive away her
discarded god. Her weapon of un-magic breaking the chains into stairs of Echer
star space. The sky and the earth confused. Up is sidewise. Dr. Fate. The man
behind the mask.
Wonder Woman, who it seems doesn’t just call on the Greek gods as a manner of
speech. In exile, her beliefs define her. Give her strength.
The sheer unexpectedness of Aquaman being the one to say, “Faith isn’t
something you understand, it’s something you just have.” Unable to hear the
creatures of the sea, never the less having faith that the connection remains.
There’s been this repetition of the joke that the JL is the Just us League. In
the season premiere, Hawkgirl, musing on how most of the team members are
exiled, lost, last remnants, orphaned, isolated, states that they should
rename themselves into what they are. Later in the season, a talk show host
uses the same term to define the Justice League as exclusionary. As Justice
Lords from on high.
I am reminded of last season’s running “joke?” that most of the Justice League
members don’t know Batman’s history. Thus comments from J'onn that Batman
can’t know how he (J’onn) longs to see his long dead loved ones again. Wonder
Woman musing what it would do to a person to be orphaned in such a violent
manner. That every time Batman, or, his opposite in spectrum, Flash are
injured, shirts are removed, but the masks remain.
But neither Flight of flash nor Dark of Knight were in this episode, rather
that other most famous
son of a dead world.
On Friday I bought Gaiman’s new Sandman anthology. And there in the story of
Dream, his little sister Despair at the start of things (before Delight
dissolved into Delirium, before Death had learned to smile, when Desire was
Dream’s favorite sybil-ing) is talking to a star. And Despair tells the star
that the most exquisite work of art would be to create a civilization on an
inherently unstable world. How extreme every moment of joy in the presence of
such inevitable loss. And how much better if one survivor was to escape that
world in order to preserve the magnitude of that loss. What a poem to despair.
And so we have Superman, who Hawkgirl asks, “Does it chafe straddling the
fence like that.” Although, as past episodes show, that hovering is a choice.
The alternative in absolute conviction is the slide up to ruling the world. To
concentrate on the super is to forget the man. I’m not sure his faith is so
much in himself (for all that he plays a Christ figure at times), but in
people. Really, what else can he do?
That wonderful glance and sigh in this episode as much to say, “Why are you
making me kick your ass.” as anything else. After asking, asking for an
explanation, kick so and so’s dead posterior. Okay, fight now, whatever. Sigh.
Now can we talk!
But really this is about Hawkgirl’s lack of faith. Or rather her sense that
faith has too high a price. Her people’s faith in Icuthulu (heh, ichthus +
cuthulu, cute) cost them their souls. And without gods or dreaming belief ,
she is a Valkyrie without portfolio, embassy, rainbow bridging promise. Lost
in a strange land of strange ideas. Bad cop, “I’d give you a gesture, but my
hands are tied.” Hawkgirl smash. Well, there’s always the Just-us League.
And as I wait for tonight’s new whelm of episodes, I contemplate Angel, who has
lost faith. Hope. Reduced to playing at bad cop, whose mercy is spent. Angel
smash as an attempt to reconnect with the ineffable thing that he has lost.
Not his soul, but his heart.
Born on a Monday,
Christened on a Tuesday,
Married on a Wednesday,
Took ill in Thursday,
Worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday,
This is the end
Of Solomon Grundy.
The divisive side to heroism - Secret
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of "Spiritus Mundi"
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
The Second Coming - Yeats
Slouching, focused villains. Unlike Luthor’s little cadre, not divided by
squabbles, rather the reverse. The vision. The passionate intensity that
looses mere anarchy on the earth.
Here now, hey now it is the heroes who must be the all stars. Drink the bitter
dram to its fullest dreg that taints the cheering sweet. Wave Flash, and know
that all is not well.
The stress and warp and end of these heroes who are people. Who sometimes say
what they should not, as people will. Who act and choose and aren’t always
heroes in their own estimation.
Green Lantern, because it’s his background, tries to forge the group together
based on methods that work in the Military (Marines
or Green Lantern core). However, such methods are predicated on the breakdown
of the individual. Planning away individuality to create cogs in a machine.
And these heroes are quintessential heterogeneous, who must nevertheless work
together to get over there. Do that thing.
Made only worse by the fact that they a heterogeneous group of severely
traumatized people that have expressed that trauma by assuming these other
J’onn not even wearing his own face around his closest associates. His new
family. This strange alien place.
Batman, as illustrated by Batman Beyond, disassociated to the point
that he internally calls himself by his created shadow self’s name. Bruce is
the mask. Or alternatively that most protected locked away eight year old boy.
In Superman’s case, the weird dichotomy that it is as Superman that he exposes
himself without the shield of glasses. One of my favorite bits in Kingdom
Come being when Wonder Woman gives him his glasses so that he can see not
just as Super, but as a man.
Kingdom ComeSuperman versus Captain Marvel. Capes and mad sanity.
Superman and Wonder Woman and Batman. Milk and water and coffee. Black and
keep it coming.
Superman, insisting that he be the one to take the villains blows, because
only he is strong enough. Invulnerable.
As Superman has accumulated powers to himself(that fear/dream that he will
just keep growing stronger and more alone), so has he gathered up that Christ
the martyr aura. With great powers comes…burdens. Crosses. Cu Cuhulain tied to
his tree so that he can fight as his wounds increase. Osiris on his tree for
three days and nights for knowledge’s sake. Christ then on his cross. And the
blood of the lamb that is the lion.
Superman puts a nicer face on it, but at it’s base, Superman’s martyrdom to
heroism is the same complex that has Batman bataranging hapless proto
Zeta-bots before his team can get to them.
Orphan. Last survivor. Adopted child.
Given the primacy that we as a culture give to the martyr (the
one who falls on the grenade, remember the Alamo, etc.), the episode explored
a wonderful uneasiness with Superman’s (and as I mentioned by extension
Batman’s) insistence on donning that mantle. Bearing that burden alone,
because the League is by its nature a communal effort.
Chewing the leather to make it soft - Hereafter/Afterlife
I have this growing sense that the episodes aren’t meant
to be taken as so much a continuous progression as echoing chords.
Hereafter, as a response to Secret Society. The left hand of unease
and the right of respect. Evoking a longing to connect this and this and this.
Superman may have died in a DC publicity stunt, but nevertheless, he died.
Of course, there are clouds and thunder on Golgotha. The thunder cracks. The
fabric of the temple is split and all is poised. Waiting. The signifier part
of martyr. What it means to those who remain.
“Matter can’t be created or destroyed, just changed from one form into
The tomb is empty. Full fathoms five, Mr. Wizard, put aside your books. Break
the staff. Make the past undone. A trinity spun into 3 times 10,000 years. The
vortex that was once black in Savage Time, now light and life and
redemption. Forgiving trespasses provided you hold out your hand and ask.
Contemplation and suffering and issues. Lots of issues.
“Believe it or not, I’ll miss him too.”
“The immigrant from the stars who taught us all how to be heroes.”
“The Justice League is about more than physical power…ideals, helping,
Why do you need Superman? The main man is strong. Well nigh invulnerable in a
“spoonlike” way. But there is no spoon. Only the will remains. Mourned even by
the one who doesn’t think he is dead. By one who hated him into missing. By
that whose who of characters. Points of Enabled connection.
Powers do not make Kal-el, Clark Kent a hero. Not the sun’s light, but light
itself. Empowering, life bringing, warmth.
Fighting and falling into light. To fly. Yellow and not red. Not blood washing
away sins, but a sword forged on a stone. Arthur is not dead, but in transit.
The future is far away coming.
Consider that if in that moment, Superman had not returned, Batman probably
would have died from a stray One-shot.
The Justice League at the memorial, looking for Batman. Not a full member?
It’s Batman’s playhouse. Batman’s toys. Ever fighting the never ending battle.
Doing his best work in the dark.