Friday, 3 January 2014


In the introduction to his Swamp Thing Annual story, Neil Gaiman writes:

"Firestorm the Nuclear Man was Captain Atom until the day when I sat down to write the story. Continuity had changed. Some of the Firestorm word balloons were rewritten by other people a day or so before it was printed. Continuity had changed.

"The idea of writing something which owed nothing to anyone else's continuity became increasingly enticing."

- Neil Gaiman, Midnight Days (New York, 1999), p. 16.

Sure, but I think it worked this time. Captain Atom and Firestorm are two nuclear-powered superheroes. It does not affect Gaiman's story if someone else rewrote a few parts of Firework's dialogue to keep them in continuity.

I am mainly impressed by the fact the story succeeds on both levels. It fits perfectly into the DC Comics continuity of the time and it also is a memorable work whose quality transcends and outlasts that continuity. Gaiman, like Alan Moore, simply writes on a different level. Instead of "In the Batcave...," he gives us, "There was a man who lived in darkness..." (quoted in the previous post).

Another brilliant fusion of Gaiman's own story-telling with continuity occurs when Mr E tells Tim Hunter:

"I met the Superman once. He had a firm handshake."
- Neil Gaiman, The Books Of Magic: The Road To Nowhere (New York, 1991), p. 15.

I should think he would have. That single reference would have sufficed. However, E, conscious of his own blindness, adds:

"He was a good man and powerful. I was not jealous of him. I did not envy his eyes, though they can see the very nuclei of atoms." (ibid.)

Can they? I am not sure that photonic sight works sub-atomically.

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