Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blogathon 38: Of Humanity and Superhumanity Part Three

[Continuing my discussion of Warren Ellis's superhuman trilogy from Avatar Press (Black Summer, No Hero, and Supergod).]

Carver, while appearing to be everything Masterson would want in his group, is really a severely damaged person whose parents were killed by a serial killer. Raised by the same serial killer, he's since become property of the FBI and is kept in a box until it's time to send him out and kill people. He's an expert at adapting to stay alive, to fit in, and it's only when he takes FX7, the drug that gives people superpowers, that we see him for what he really is: a freakish, twisted monster. The drug makes his skin fall off, his penis fall off, his teeth fall out, and he's left this blue, scabby thing that is the stuff of nightmares. You expect him, by Ellis's description of No Hero to be the inhuman one, and, to an extent, he is. However, by the end, the way he kills Masterson (or, rather, sticks in space) and himself, there's something sad and human about him. He's just happy to finally be able to choose something. It may be his own death, but he's lived in a world ruled by a man who fucked the wounds of people he killed, a world ruled by the FBI, and a world ruled by Carick Masterson. He never had a choice before. Masterson says that Josh is the villain of the story when he's just a pawn caught between two bad guys. Masterson is a selfish prick, while the governments working together to elimate Masterson and the Frontline are fools. They didn't know how essential the superhumans were, how much control they had, and the series ends with snippets of news reports about various global disasters that the Frontline stopped from happening before. Things from the stock market crashing to keeping countries disarmed to tectonic plates shifting. It's a chilling ending that offers little in the way of comfort or answers.

Black Summer ended in a similar fashion with the voice of Tom Black talking about his friend John Horus and the crimes of those that he killed. Whereas No Hero ends in a chilling way where you can't help but think everyone gets what's coming to them, Black Summer's ending is simply sad. Horus is dead, Black is dead, and the world is worse off. It's not doomed, it's simply worse off and it could have been prevented if these men actually thought a little bigger. Black wallowed in self-pity; he retired after he lost a leg and his lover was killed. But, had he stayed in the Seven Guns, what could have changed? Would he have kept Horus in line? Would he have come up with a better plan of action? Where No Hero is a story of the corrupt, Black Summer is a story of the stupid.

In that respect, Black Summer and Supergod have something in common. Supergod is filled with narrow-minded stupidity as people fail to consider the consequences of their actions. The people who create superhumans never consider that what they make won't think like them, that those powers will offer more expedient methods than available for humanity. It's like they read a bunch of comics and assume that building a superhuman would mean some nice guy in a tight costume that rescues cats from trees. Instead, they got gods that they couldn't help but worship and couldn't help but fear. Alien presences that immediately don't feel right. Alien minds that we can't fully comprehend.

To be continued in 30 minutes...

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Hero Initiative! (Details in this post.) After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]