Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blogathon 41: Of Humanity and Superhumanity Part Six

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

The most interesting superhuman in Supergod is Dajjal, a creature that forms a humanoid shape but seems to be made out of pieces of purple metal with glass goggle eyes. He has 'tactical perception,' the ability to see time. He can see time and decide which path to take, knowing where it will lead. It's like perceiving the timeline as a road map. Except it's a map that is constantly changing because the territory is always changing. It's a more advanced version of the Midnighter's ability to play out every possible scenario in his head. There, it's still theoretical and limited by his knowledge of the situation. With Dajjal, there are no limitations. And what that means for his mind is that he is without sanity: "It is said that human sanity is the best set of reactions to the structure of the perceived world." With no set structure since time is fluid and changing, how could he be sane? It's not insanity either, which is almost like a faulty set of reactions; there are no set reactions in his case. In the end, he decides that the only path he wants to take is one of destruction and his death. Again, not considering what a superpower would mean: if you can see every outcome, every scenario, would life offer any excitement or meaning?

The questions of what these powers and altered perceptions would entail is something that I have a hard time letting go of. To me, that's more interesting and worthwhile that symbolic meaning or escapism or any of those other things that superhero comics tend to embody. If anything, there's a progression from one book to the next in this trilogy: a rising awareness of what superhuman powers entail and the characters' acceptance of that awareness. John Horus lives in ignorance, clinging to his humanity and ideas of justice and unwilling to embrace his power; Carick Masterson doesn't recognise that living forever and not aging means that he has to look at the world in a different way that just as a means to comfort; and the superhumans in Supergod think differently and perceive humanity as truly beneath them, willing to kill and destroy if it suits their goals. But, there's something they have in common: all roads lead to death. At least for humanity. Contact with superhumanity means contact with the next step in human evolution, whether natural or unnatural, and that means the first step towards extinction. That's the unseen danger of superhumans, one addressed only in specific superhero comics often. They are the inevitable and our destruction is also inevitable. You can't fight the future.

In 30 minutes, I'll begin discussing The Programme...

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