Saturday, December 29, 2007

Joe Casey Comics: Deathlok #11

[The final post in my look at Joe Casey's Deathlok run. The series of posts examing books by Joe Casey will continue on the usual Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule next week, most likely with Automatic Kafka unless (magically) his Incredible Hulk run arrives in the mail before then. I wouldn't hold my breath, so I suggest you get ready for an even weirder robot trip.]

First off, Newsarama has the entire Gødland #19 posted, so check it out and maybe think about buying the series. If anyone is interested, I have issues 1-12 that I'm willing to give away for free (having bought the hardcover edition collecting those issues). Just comment with your e-mail address and I'll get your details that way. First come, first serve.

Now, Deathlok #11, the first Joe Casey comic to get cancelled, I believe. (At least, it's the first one he launched that was cancelled. Get used to that happening.) However, despite its early conclusion, Casey wraps up the loose ends and finishes things off with an ending that, theoretically, could have happened whenever necessary.

The Clown aims to kill Martin Thraller aka the Ringmaster, who is on the verge of becoming president thanks to his hypnotic eyes. Truman is charged with taking Thraller now that Nick Fury remembers that Thraller is the Ringmaster and the man responsible for making him temporarily lose his memory. Except, Truman's brain isn't settling too well in the LOK prototype.

Things come to a head at the Utilitarian Party's convention where Thraller is primed to make his acceptence speech on national TV and secure the power he so covets. But, things are interrupted by the Clown and Truman who fight each other a bit. The Clown winds up getting a few shots off, injuring Thraller and allowing SHIELD to capture him, telling the world he died while he's in custody with Casey implying that they removed his eyes (although, the panel can also be read as them just blocking his eyes from being used--I prefer to think that Nick Fury made sure his magic eyes got removed because it fits into the tone of the series and character). Meanwhile, Truman lets the Clown go because, as he puts it, "I SUPPOSE IF I WASN'T WRESTLING WITH MY OWN BURNING SANITY, I'D JUST KILL OU FOR THE CLOSURE OF IT." The use of the word "closure" is key as it's both a psychological and fiction term, both meaning the same thing but in different ways. The series has been about psychology quite a bit, so killing the Clown would complete the mission for Truman and maintain the personality he's always had--but he doesn't, because he wants to grow beyond it (beyond the LOK prototype, which is the ultimate body for his profession). As well, Casey doesn't provide closure to the plot because killing the character would mean that he's off-limits from that point on and you don't give that sort of closure in commercial comics.

At the end of the issue, Truman finds Larry Young in a bar and uses his Tibetan mind trick to switch bodies, leaving Young in the LOK prototype and Truman to live a new life.

Leaving behind the LOK prototype is key, because, as I said, it represents the pinnacle of Truman's SHIELD career, in a way. With that body, he could be the best agent possible, lacking all of the usual human needs and weaknesses. However, when he gets the body, the loss of his humanity causes him to rethink his life and the sacrifices he's made for his career. The issue with his sister highlighted this particulary well where the connection there is gone, but also he only knows how to handle problems with violence. The series is not about the lose of his humanity, really, it's about how losing his human body makes him realise he gave up his humanity a long time ago and that that was a mistake.

Casey continues this theme in Automatic Kafka, where the protagonist is completely artificial and explores the boundaries of the soul, life and all that stuff. Plus, there are some more trips. Many more trips. That should begin on Tuesday. See you then.