Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Smallville: Labyrinth

In "Mask" by Bryan Talbot, Bruce Wayne wakes up in a psychiatric ward where he is told that his costumed crime-fighting career is a delusion. In Smallville: Labyrinth, Clark Kent wakes up in a psychiatric ward where he is told that his Kal-El identity is a delusion.

A fellow patient whispers that he knows that Clark is extraterrestrial because he himself is from Mars. We think that the fellow patient is mad until we remember the Martian Manhunter. A Zoner mental parasite is responsible for Clark's illusion. Clark is relieved to see that his adversary Lex is not in a wheelchair with amputated legs at the end of the episode.

Alan Moore's Tom Strong has a similar experience. It seems that he is a drunk with delusions of super-heroism until the Tom we know sees through the illusion near the end of the story.

Is it possible for such stories to end instead with a hint of ambiguity? Or to be set in an alternative reality - Earth-Prime? - where it is the super-heroism that is the fiction?

The Manhunter shows more of himself but still does not stick around to explain himself. He will clearly be a major influence on Clark. Will he join the JLA or remain in the background?

This is the sort of episode where most of the action didn't really happen so the story-line has not advanced very much except that another Zoner has been eliminated and the Martian has come more into the open.

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