Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A is A, and no matter what reality he calls home, Jimmny is Jimmny

This is one of those spur of the moment posts that purely exists so I can close some of the 10 Interent explorer windows I have opened (before my faithful desktop has an "e-heart-attack"). It conerns an ongoing circular geekout I've been having surrounding Steve Ditko's The Question, Mr. A and Alan Moore's Rorschach. They're all similar characters with interrelating histories: more or less crusading or paranoid investigators in trench coats and fedoras and weird masks (The Question=Blank, Mr.A='steel mask that resembles a placid face!', and Rorschach=White mask with constantly moving black shapes.)

A while back, yon Caddy Powers Jr. (still battling the world one post at a time), had this post on geek reactions to programs and such, which included the line:

More recently I was watching an episode of the 'kids' show Justice League Unlimited. Am I stupid cause I actually realised that the Question was briefly quoting Ayn Rand. According to those in my family who found me watching the show I am.

This stuck in my noggin as I had no knowledge of Ayn Rand and was secretly grumpy a cultural reference on Justice League: Unlimited had passed me by (being a media and film studies goon the philosophy tends to be French, trendy and wanky so you can apply it to things like The Matrix and cream yourself when falling down a dark tughole into nothingness). One of the subplots of the new Justice League that tickles Jimmny's dark heart is the perverse relationship between The Huntress and the Question. There's also the fact that the Question is voiced by Jeffrey Combs and the fact that he gets great dialogue:

The Question: I want you to understand something, Luthor. Although my distaste for you as a human being is brobdingnagian, what I'm about to do isn't personal.


The Question: Everything that exists has a specific nature. Each entity exists as something in particular and has characteristics that are part of what it is. A is A, and no matter what reality he calls home, Luthor is Luthor

I mean, fucking hell, it's like the kind of lines Tarantino puts in his movies and then bores the hell out of you by keeping going on about it. Anyway today, the great as always Dial B for Blog had this post featuring Steve Dikto's Mr. A and I was pleased in a self-absorbed way that his name was Rex Graine, not a million miles away from the real name of a demented comic geek you all know and tolerate. This got me thinking of a conversation with Fabes a while back where he reminded me that The Question's real name was Charles Victor Szasz, or "Vic" Sage also the name of well-renowned lecturer at my place of book-learnin'.

Why the long post on a whim? Well obsessed as I am with parallel dimensions like the 'A is A' bit where one will always act the same is comforting, so I can stop hating all the parallel-dimension Jimmnies that get up at 6am every morning go running and are at the desk at 7am each mornign to write lots of yummy PhD-style goodness. A is A and Jimmny is Jimmny so even if they're in a dimension with hoverboots and women on Mars he's still pretty much the same eejit.

Also the name connection bit had me thinking in grand, Watchmen-like terms of observing historic moments. Like today when I went to see Charles Barr's last regular lecture on a course, Classical Hollywood 1930-1960, which I taught on a few years ago. In the search for celebrity academics and those with quainty-not-quality publishing records, universities in this country will too-late realise the loss of people like Barr: conscientious, intelligent, decent, friendly, organised, and approchable. It was a strange feeling to be part of an old gaurd in a way (although I'm not here as long as some, one does get a 'veteran' feeling pretty quick). Us academics that actually, you know, want to read full books and engage with theories will have to call round each other's houses in the dead of night, like when Dan Drieberg (the second Nite Owl) calls round to see Hollis Mason (the first Nite Owl) to chat about old times. seeing you.

1 comment:

Caddy Powers Jr said...

Great post + a few things I have to say about it.

1:\ I too love the JLU's take on the Question (and the Justice League cartoon in general). When I heard he was to be in the show I had no clue how they could make him work. The conspiracy theorist who draws groans from the main leaguers when Batman gets him to investigate a case just seems to work.

One note, I like the Huntress + Question romance in the cartoon too but I thought that had come from the comic back in the early 90s. Not sure though.

2:\ I've never actually read a full Mr A story and my expierence of him largely has been few panels I have seen around. I was struck by the similarity of his rogues gallery (on Dial B) to that picture that appears in the draft of the New Frontiersman in Watchmen (the boxing match between USA and all his enemies). I hadn't really noticed the Ditkoness of that before.

3:\ You can still go on hating all those parrell Jimmnys. Some are those annoying get up at 6 and go for a jog types still. You're all just judged by the same moral code. Still I consider getting up a 6 to jog in the park it's own punishment.

4:\ The classic type of academic still exists but unfortuantely the university system now just punishes them for it. It is rather shameful how unis are becoming more concerned with the bottom dollar of research grants over encouraging younger students to become interested and knowledgable in the subjects.

Still it is not like universities are actually meant to teach undergrads is it!