Sunday, 24 May 2015

Name Games

In Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbon's Watchmen (London, 1987), the news vendor misremembers two superhero names as "SUPER-MAN, FLASH-MAN..." (Chapter III, p. 25, panel 3). Of course, the names were really Superman and The Flash. However, "Spider-man" is always written with a hyphen to prevent confusion with Superman. Further, there is a literary character called "Flashman."

The journalist, Doug Roth, refers to Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias as "Ozyman...whoops. Uh-huh. We don't call him that anymore, do we? The mask is gone..." ("AFTER THE MASQUERADE: Superstyle and the art of humanoid watching." (p. 8) IN Watchmen.)

By interrupting "Ozymandias," Moore generates another "" name, implying an origin in Oz or Australia.

Thus, Alan Moore manages to play several games with superhero names.

Saturday, 23 May 2015


(Far out. One image gives us the cover of my edition of Watchmen and the Awesome Mage himself.)

I am rereading Alan Moore's Watchmen so I need an angle to discuss it on the Poul Anderson Appreciation blog. Easy. It is all in the alternative histories.

Poul Anderson gives us alternative histories in which:

the Carolingian myths were true;
William Shakespeare was not the Great Dramatist but the Great Historian;
technology was based not on science but on magic.

And Alan Moore gives us alternative histories in which:

when superhero comics inspired real life superheroes, comic books turned instead to pirates and, after the New York incident, to horror;
Superman and Captain Marvel were comic book characters but Mick Anglo's Marvelman was a parareality program and Moore's revived Marvelman was the real thing.

Absolutely Mind-blowing.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Changing Gods

Last night, for a change from Latin verse or American English prose, I reread parts of the graphic work, The Ultimates by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, a superior version of the Marvel Comics superhero team, the Avengers. Of course, I found a parallel with Poul Anderson: the Ultimates include Thor.

However, this is a New Age Thor who defends anti-war demonstrators against the police and calls the US a new Roman Empire! The reference to the Roman Empire is a second parallel. But is the Ultimates Thor inauthentic? He is certainly un-Eddaic but, as I pointed out here, our gods have grown up with us. Poul Anderson, of course, shows us this process in "Star of the Sea."

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Saturday, 2 May 2015


(This is an indulgent image. It came up on a google search for "The Boat of a Million Years." It shows the Barge and the Solar System and I recognize it as a page from a comic book written by Alan Moore.)

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Pytheas will take fifteen years to reach its destination, a planet in Pegasus. About fifteen hundred light years in the same direction is the nearest of the radiation sources that might be a high-energy civilization.

The Sun is little more than the brightest star when Pytheas is near Jupiter. Anderson must describe stars seen from space yet again. This time, the Milky Way is " a river of frost and light." (p. 499)

The Survivors have paired off:

Hanno and Svoboda;
Wanderer and Flora;
Patulcius and Aliyat;
Tu Shan and Yukiko.

Patulcius and Aliyat are a surprise but we remember that Patulcius did marry occasionally down the millennia.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Talking To An Immortal

Copied here because of its comics references:

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

How would you talk with someone who you knew was three millennia old? His experience would have an entire dimension that was unknown to you, like speaking with someone who had returned from another planet. The fictional CS Lewis wonders where he stands with his friend Ransom when the latter has returned from Malacandra/Mars.

Giannotti, who knows Hanno's age, asks him whether he picked up the habit of smoking from Tutankhamen but Hanno replies, "'Before my time...'" (p. 378). Natalia, who does not know his age, accuses him of having "'...Neanderthal politics...'" (p. 410)! He could have quipped, "Before my time...," but she would have neither understood nor appreciated that. She also accuses him of "'Plagiarizing Heinlein...'" (p. 385). Thus, Anderson acknowledges his debt to Heinlein.

Natalia knows that Hanno is concealing everything about himself, his real life and work, from her. This is destroying their relationship even before he meets an immortal woman, Svoboda. This reminded me of something. In the Smallville TV series, Lana Lang and Lex Luthor know and sense that Clark Kent is concealing something important about himself from them. They know that there is a mystery but do not know what it is. The deception implicit from the beginning in Superman's secret identity generates a tragedy of Greek proportions. Clark should have confided in four close friends from the beginning. They would have kept the secret and helped him. Instead, Luthor becomes a mortal enemy. Hanno, however, has impeccable reasons to remain silent.


Copied here because of its comics references:

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

"'Since the Goetz case, the liberals have been out for blood.'" (p. 435)

This morning, I read this reference to Goetz in Boat. Last night, I reread Tom Veitch's and Bryan Talbot's graphic series, The Nazz, which is about super powers, super-heroism and vigilantism and refers to Goetz, although I now cannot find the reference flicking back through it.

I also heard Goetz mentioned in a discussion of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns which presents the Batman as a violent vigilante wanted by the police for crimes including child endangerment - he is said to be sheltering behind a masked child in a red and yellow costume - and, when the Joker's dead body is found, murder.

I feel that Hanno's "'...the liberals have been out for blood...'" is a rather inflammatory way of discussing urban violence! - but I know that opinions are divided and polarized on such issues. Hanno and his fellow immortals are just passing through the twentieth century and very soon will have left such conflicts far behind them.

(Four posts before 10.30 this morning: a good start to May. A Bank Holiday weekend with good weather stretches invitingly ahead of us.)