Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Books Of Magic, Book Two

The DC Comics character, Deadman, is a ghost who acts in the world by temporarily possessing living bodies. During Neil Gaiman's The Books Of Magic, Book Two, Deadman addresses Tim Hunter several times from different bodies, under his original name of Boston Brand.

John Constantine to Tim:

"I said I'd be introducing you to a few people, didn't I? Well, most of them live in America, so that's where we're going."
- Neil Gaiman, The Shadow World (New York, 1990), p. 2.

In other words, DC Comics are published in the US so most of their characters live there! British writers, Moore and Gaiman, created the British characters, Constantine and Hunter.

Constantine elaborates:

"...when I was a kid, I thought America was a magic land...They had all this incredible stuff, you know, pizzas, and fire hydrants, and Hollywood, and the Empire State Building. And they had superheroes, and magic, and aliens, and, I dunno, all we had was Supercar." (p. 4)

"Supercar" was before Tim's time. Constantine must be referring to the TV series, produced in the UK, not to any real Supercar, because the series was set in the US.

In Hy Bender's The Sandman Companion, Neil Gaiman says:

"...there was a generation in the UK who'd grown up reading DC Comics from a bizarre perspective...The idea of a place that looked like New York, the idea of fire hydrants and pizzerias, was as strange to us as the idea that anyone would wear a cape and fly over them."
-The Sandman Companion (New York, 1999), p. 20.

Reality, Gaiman's experience, and fiction, Constantine's experience, overlap.

The two Brits visit the stage magician, Zatanna, daughter of Zatarra, seen in Book One. Tim had seen Zatanna on Jonathan Ross, "...that guy who does Letterman in England."  (The Shadow World, p. 34) Ross reads comics, knows Gaiman and would certainly interview Zatanna if she visited the UK so that, here again, reality and fiction come very close.

Describing the DC character, the Spectre, Constantine tells Tim:

"...sometimes it's practically the most powerful thing in the universe. Sometimes it's little more than a bloke in white tights and a green hood. It's been up and down the occult league tables faster than a whore's drawers." (p. 11)

Please, Constantine, this is a comic book about magic and Tim is twelve. What he is describing here is the ways that different writers have treated the Spectre.

In the US, they meet or at least see:

Boston Brand;
Madame Xanadu;
the Spectre;
Doctor Fate;
Baron Winter (in fact, they visit Winter's house where Zatarra and Sargon died in a seance);
Jason Blood (Constantine had consulted Blood about the Lupus affair which, according to The Sandman, took him to Alaska for six months);
Doctor Thirteen, the debunker;
Tala, a queen of evil working as a waitress between engagements;
Tannarak, owner of the Bewitched Club where Tim suddenly realizes that even the animal-headed people are not wearing masks;
the Wizard, Zatarra's former opponent;
Felix Faust, a Justice League of America villain;
Hyacinth and Leander, a two-headed guy who may or may not have appeared before.

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