Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blogathon 38: Spaceman (Part 1)

Spaceman was one of my favourite comics of 2012. It barely missed out on my top ten books of the year and I was glad that Adam is giving me a chance to talk about it (and a reason to reread the whole thing in one sitting).

Something that I didn't have as much of a chance to focus on when the series was coming out was the dream/fantasty Mars sequences. Some call them flashbacks, but every bit of information suggests that the mission never happened. Yet, they're incredibly detailed, telling a complete plot over the course of the series. Bits and pieces of dialogue relate those scenes to what's happening at the moment in the comic. That seems like a clue, but it's a technique that Azzarello uses frequently, so there may not be a connection beyond his preferred method of scene transitions. In the first issue, it's strongly suggested that the Mars stuff is something that Orson is dreaming... and, then, it continues while he's awake...? Or are we seeing the entire dream -- the unrealised dream?

After all, the mission to Mars was what he was born for -- it's his dream and the dream of the people at NASA, but it never happens. We get to see it continue. We get to see the dream fulfilled and it's a disaster of greed and betrayal between the spacemen. It's meant to be Orson's dream of what his life should have been, but it's infected by what his life actually is. It's sad. But, there's a glimmer of hope at the end as the remaining spacemen choose one another over the gold. They choose to be brothers...

There are so many implied things. Like, Bubba -- is he another spaceman? He calls Orson brother in one of the Mars fantasies and Orson seems to speak to him a few times throughout the series, including at the end. Or, is that what he calls everyone on the phone? Bubba was the ground man it seems -- the Earthbound one, their Mars mission's contact. Orson seems to not have any contact with his brothers, though. Unless he keeps his connection to Bubba private.

With Azzarello, so much is in the interpretation of language, so much that can be misread or misunderstood. The basic plot is simple, but everything surrounding it is given in little pieces here and there -- and never all of them. But, that's the way with his noirish storytelling. The plot is something basic like a kidnapping gone wrong or a group of guys find some gold and starting killing each other... It's the same shit you've seen a million times before at its core. But, the world surrounding it is so rich and different. Instantly recognisable, too. You know pretty much what happened without having it spelled out. Azzarello puts a lot of faith in his readers. I wish more writers did. We may get it wrong sometimes, but we're trying -- and we're thinking.

In 30 minutes, Adam Langton will drop a little knowledge on us all.

[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.]