Monday, 20 January 2014

Realities Collide (Spoilers?)

(If anyone is reading Miracleman for the first time without any prior warning of how the story pans out, then maybe we are moving into spoiler territory.)

As Miracleman proceeds, casual references to then current events, notably to armed conflict in Northern Ireland and to Thatcherite cuts in the National Health Service, strengthen our grip on the real world while, at the same time, we learn what would be the reality if there were beings as powerful as Moran and Bates. Sooner rather then later, these realities, the real world and real superbeings, must collide - not coexist peacefully for decades as in regular superhero comics.

Regular comics neither accurately reflect the real world nor plausibly relate that world to super-powered beings. A super-villain appears above Washington/New York/Metropolis/Gotham City etc and issues an ultimatum with a deadline, thus giving the superhero plenty of time to apprehend him. The city-dwellers might panic for a while but their life soon returns to normal. In fact, an insightful writer might observe that Metropolitans or Gothamites become so accustomed to superhero rescues that they do not even panic. In a Superman novel by Elliot S Maggin, Lois Lane, trapped underground, merely thinks, "How long till Superman gets here?" In Watchmen, because Veidt, in his own words, is not a Republic Serial villain, he does not tell the other heroes his plan, involving multiple deaths in New York, until it has already been implemented.

Bates does not issue any ultimatum but simply destroys London and Londoners with horrific violence for several hours before Moran is even aware of it. Until then, superheroes did not have a public presence with secret identities. They were simply secret. Superpowered beings include the Miracle people, Firedrake, Warpsmiths and Qys (in a sense the equivalents of Kryptonians). The Law of Extraordinary Beings - that, on a planet where there is one extraordinary being, there will soon be many - reflects the fact that, when a company publishes one superhero, it soon publishes others, then brings them together in team ups, teams and crossovers.

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