Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Dissipative Qualities of Earth Q

The first issue of Alan Moore's Promethea has one of my favorite story titles of all time, a tagline that can be seen on both covers for the issue. Here's the one by Alex Ross:

"If she did not exist, we would have to invent her." It is hard to argue with that. She didn't exist. Then she got invented. Ergo Ipso And because Promethea is an exploration of the relationship between fiction and reality, among lots of other things, that sentiment is implied as being typical of the creation of fictional characters. This can be tested in the comfort of your own home with a simple experiment. Think of a character, say, Superman, and then ask yourself the following questions:

1. Did Superman exist? (no)
2. Did we invent him? (yes)

That's science.

Now, what happens when the fictional characters themselves begin to fiddle around with such conceits? If you read this week's All-Star Superman #10, you already know the answer: We-almost-we-not-we end up inventing them again. Brought to you by Grant Morrison, the author who has gone on record as intending to bring sentience to a comic book universe.

Morrison's latest stab at getting comics to think for themselves, or at least get the Real World Coincidence/Corollary Count (RWC/CC) up to a good half-dozen instances per issue, is a story that features Superman creating a world without him, in the form of the manufactured miniature universe of Earth Q, to see how people handle things without him around to protect them. And, spoiler alert: in a world where there is no Superman, an artist in the almost-1930's-not-1930's ends up creating the original comic version of Superman seen (in our universe) in Action Comics #1.

That is, in and of itself, a nice celebration of the creative efforts of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, but this issue of All-Star was released on March 26th, the same day that a judge ruled that the copyright of the Superman material in Action Comics #1 be restored to the Siegel family, making the whole thing an even more interesting bit of synchronous simulacrum.

And as if that was not enough to convince you that Superman is real and he is coming to your house RIGHT NOW, another scene in the issue shows Superman visiting some sick children, a sequence with thematic analogs to a charity auction being done by the Superman blog "Say It Backwards."

And those two separate instances on the RWC/CC were clear after they were pointed out to me, but you know what the first thing I noticed was after reading All-Star Superman #10?

Superman observes himself and writes down his entire eight billion letter genetic sequence, only two weeks after the special edition of Gattaca was released on Blu-ray and DVD. I can guarantee you that something about that is insane, and in true quantum fashion, I am willing to concede that the insanity is in the observation.

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