Sunday, January 20, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of January 20th, 2008)

Although you can’t see it, Gentle Reader, I’ve a six-inch cut along the length of my right arm at the moment. No, no, please, do not worry for me! It is a surface cut which looks Much Worse than it is. Pup Reads jumped up to kiss me, and in her haste, accidentally scratched my arm and not-so-accidentally reminded us that it was Time to trim her (now rather long) Pup Nails.

But I’ve somewhere Rather Important to be this week, and my immediate thought, after “Ow!” was What Would Important People At Rather Important Engagement Think Of Said Scratch, If Said Scratch Was Seen? Given the population of dog-and-cat lovers in the world, probably not much at all. People get bumps-and-bruises, aches-and-pains all the time, and my soon-to-be-scar looks exactly like the thing it is: the accidental result of an over-eager puppy owned by-—I’m rather ashamed to say—-lazy puppy parents, when it comes to nail clippings.

But in the course of this concern came another thought regarding the bumps-and-bruises, aches-and-pains that We, As Humans, wear on our skin. The Body fascinates me, Gentle Reader, as I’m sure you have sussed out for yourself by now. Not only have I written on this subject before—-gratitude, Ms. Healey, for the opportunity to guest-blog on the Delightful Girls Read Comics (and They’re Pissed)--in my blogging life, but I’ve written on it in my academic life, as well. The very materiality of the body—what it does, how it is viewed, how it varies from gender to gender, sex to sex, person to person, age to age—simply fascinates me. Triple the fascination, and make it A Super Body, and make it Capable.

By Capable, I mean, of course, Able. Aware. Conscious of its position as A Super Body and Willing and Able to use Said Super Body for the good (or, woe to us all, the despair) of the world. Make it have a sonic cry, or super strength, or the ability to heal or create sparklers or fly or protect itself in armour, it doesn’t matter. This Humble Author is, by some strange accident of design-or-literature, fascinated by the Super Hero’s Body.

Even more fantastic, the Super Body’s ability to return from the dead, or shift, to lose power or to gain it. To expand, exponentially, or to contract, to become non-super, and still, to lead a life of surprise, of danger, of yes, Capability. Even more fantastic, Gentle Reader, is the presentation of limitless possibilities.

For what is the Cape Genre but the very real enactment of limitless possibilities?

Sometimes, a hero dies. Sometimes that hero is brought back and sometimes, she is never gone at all. Sometimes the hero must live alone, and sometimes, the hero must live ever in the moment. Sometimes the hero moves from the big-or-little screen to the four-colour-medium (gratitude, Buffy), and sometimes he moves the other way entirely (gratitude, The Dark Knight). But the comic book medium, it seems, exists solely to present the un-presentable, the limitless possibility, the proof that anything is possible in the marriage between image-and-text.

Because both the image and the text have to exist in harmony, no? The Image must be real enough to be believable, and the Text must transport us, The Readers, to unbelievable worlds. The Image cannot give us too much because we, The Readers, must still have the chance to envision those unbelievable worlds for ourselves.

Making the believable unbelievable and the unbelievable believable. Is this not at the heart of science fiction? Of fantasy? Of fiction itself?

I think on these things as I think on the very real materialities of the body, particularly after reading a few new issues today: Booster Gold, Angel: After the Fall, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, in particular. Each of these comics, in unique and interesting ways, deal with the idea of the Super Body, and its limitless—or in the case of Angel, limited—possibilities. What do we see when we see this presentation of Super Body? How do we, in our very limited, very ordinary, not-Super-at-all bodies, respond to these Extraordinary Beings? More importantly, is it why we return, again and again, to the Super Hero Tale?

Simply musings today, Gentle Reader, to go with a rather odd story and some very spectacular comic books. And I cannot recommend these three stories enough.

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