Saturday, October 04, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: The Intimates #6

[Continuing my look at Joe Casey's The Intimates. New posts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

Once again, I'm going to direct you elsewhere to Joe Casey and Matt Fraction discussing this issue in the Basement Tapes. Okay, read that? That column gives an idea of what this issue is like, but, really, it's pretty out there. It's choppy, but not that hard to understand, really. It seems to draw a lot on Tommy by the Who with the obvious beginning point between Sykes and Tommy, both blind, deaf and mute (in their own ways). The first page of this issue is the overture as we get various pieces of dialogue from the rest of the issue, a technique that references (rock) operas and was also used by James Joyce in the "Sirens" episode of Ulysses.

This issue stands out, because it doesn't fit with the rest, in both technique and content. This isn't Saved by the Bell beyond the initial scheme by the students to shut off Sykes's null field, which then fucks the world up as his consciousness envelops everything... except for Kefong (and Sykes). The "real" world looks all melty while the null field is off, but Kefong stands outside of it and manages to save the day by turning the null field back on--leaving only our heroes to remember what happened.

But, what happens?

Inside Sykes's head, the group is split up as Punchy deals with Sykes's Uncle Alvin (Casey's allusion to Tommy's Uncle Ernie, who we all know best from the song "Fiddle About," which is just what Uncle Alvin likes to do as well), Empty Vee and Duke witness the deaths of Sykes's parents and learn about Sykes's "origin," and Destra talks to some kids and fights the cops... all while they look like miniature "X-baby" versions of themselves.

Inside of Sykes's head, we learn a bit about these characters, too. Punchy, for instance, wanted Dead Kid Fred to have killed himself before Punchy could save him: "I KNEW IF I JUST TRIED TO SAVE HIM AND FAILED... THAT WOULDA BEEN IT--! / I WOULDA COME RIGHT INTO FOCUS, YO! JUST LIKE A REAL SUPERHERO! I'DA BEEN BONA FIDE--! / BUT THAT ROTTED PANSY WAS HOLDIN' AN EMPTY SACK--! / IT -- IT WOULDA BEEN MY MOMENT OF DARKNESS! MY OWN HERO-TRAGEDY--! / I WOULDA HAD AN EDGE!" At the same time, Duke begins to break down and confess some of his innermost thoughts like "...I... DO LIKE RAP MUSIC... SOMETIMES... AND CERTAIN... KINDS OF PIERCINS...", "...I HAVE REALLY WEIRD THOUGHTS... DARK THOUGHTS... MEAN THOUGHTS...", and "I... F-FEEL LIKE... I COULD KILL SOMEONE WHO D-DOESN'T DESERVE TO DIE...! / WHO... WHO AM I... S-SUPPOSED TO BE...?!" These thoughts could account for Duke's performance in later issues.

As for Sykes, his parents were scientists who manipulated his brain to unleash the "god" inside. Really, Sykes is like god... but he has no control over it. His parents were killed by one of their scientists who says the voices told him to do it--was it a young Sykes who did it? Did he make the man kill his parents? His father's monologue is interesting as he gives it after being shot in the head--and he questions the purpose of evolution, if maybe it robbed us of something. It seems that the tampering with Sykes's brain was to make it so he was like humans of the past... which partly explains the caveman who saves Punchy from Uncle Alvin...

Honestly, discussing this issue is odd, because so much is in the way it's told. Really, what it comes down to is, we get some of the facts, some of the ideas behind Sykes, but it also doesn't really explain him. He's just as mysterious as he was before. The manner in which this issue is told is quite good, though. It jumps around and is very non-linear, but still makes sense. Casey really does rely on the reader to construct things in his or her head.

The infoscroll is only used briefly in this issue as it's destroyed when Sykes's null field is deactivated.

Next issue: the last day of school. Who doesn't love that?