Thursday, December 13, 2007

Joe Casey Comics: Deathlok #5

[Continuing my issue-by-issue look at Joe Casey's Deathlok run. Posts in this series published Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

And then things got a little trippy.

In this issue, Truman/LOK undergoes a procedure to rebuild his body with upgrades or whatever it is they do. Lots of splash pages and a flying elephant talking to Jack. Wait, what?

Yes, a flying elephant visits Jack during the procedure and there's a lot of discussion about his past and who he is and where he's going. Casey does stuff like this again and again. He did it in Mr. Majestic, Automatic Kafka, Gødland, The Intimates and Wildcats. He loves these little walks through his characters' consciousness.

The flying elephant does back to Truman's first appearance in the pages of Cable where the first thing he does is kill an elephant. The flying elephant here even has a bullet hole in his head. Casey goes back to the birth of Truman (in comic terms, at least) for his guide as this issue is about defining his character in preparation for his life as a robot agent of SHIELD. How will we truly understand his struggle with his humanity when he's trapped in a robot unless we understand his humanity?

I'm not sure we actually get a specific picture of who Jack Truman is. We get a sort of mental breakdown in his weird hallucinations and we get a literal history from Nick Fury, but nothing is spelled out--which is good, I guess. Maybe we just get a sense of him. A feeling. In our minds, we take these pieces and put them together to form an idea of Jack Truman.

Except he's a fictional character and he has no personality really. There is no Jack Truman and all of the weird trippy shit is meaningless because there is nothing profound here. No lessons learned, no enlightenment, no advancement. Just some weird hallucinations by a fictional character under the knife. Who cares. When Fury tells us Truman's history, he doesn't save the file, he deletes it because it doesn't matter. Truman is no longer that fictional character, he's the goddamn Deathlok now and not the Deathlok everyone knows, but one not even called Deathlok, because, let's be honest, it's a stupid name and no one in their right mind would call themself that. I mean, really.

There's also a bit where Nick Fury attends a party and is introduced to the Utilitarian Party's potential presidential nominee, Martin Thraller--a man Fury recognises, so Thraller uses his eyes to make Fury forget who he is (both of the men, actually). Setting up a future plot. Should I spoil who Martin Thraller really is? Nah.

Is there any real meaning in this issue? I don't know. Truman doesn't seem to think so. It's titled "Reconstructive Perjury," a play on "reconstructive surgery," which Truman undergoes (in a sense), but also a recognition that this comic is a book of lies. None of it is real and neither are the revelations.

Next issue: Truman leads a group of cyborgs to their deaths. But not really, because none of them are real, so don't worry.