And here we arrive at the meat of it - Flex, for all of its nods to futurism and future science, is, in the end, only concerned with these things insofar as they gesture towards the road-map to Utopia. The Omniscopes and oscilloscopes are metaphors for the self cybernetically enhanced by dreams, just as the ‘gloomy canyons of Satellite City’ and the ‘far-away orphanages of Farville’ outline the topography of a remythologized Earth. Why would anyone settle for shoes when they can have boom-shoes, Grant asks? Why tolerate the flat surfaces of the everyday, when one can imbue even the most mundane things with meaning? And that’s the point of Flex - to re-energize our world. We can wank on and on about the processes that inform it and how they can be harnessed, but isn’t it important to marvel at them too? In the final analysis, Flex Mentallo is, like so much of Grant’s output, a romantic work and we can be cynical about that or we can embrace the insights it offers. It doesn’t mean we simultaneously have to deny Newtonian Physics.
Mindless Ones' Amy Poodle on Flex Mentallo, JLA, We3, Seven Soldiers, and the superhero story as instant myth. The whole post is a dizzying rush of Utopian fantasy, but be sure to take a look at the comments thread as well, cos there's an interesting conversation about the possible holes in Poodle's argument going on there.
Me, I loved this Candyfloss Horizon post even more than the first one, but an open and curious discussion is definitely worth having. Poodle articulates what I want from my superhero comics perfectly, but everyone knows that's not the only game in town, right?
The only thing I'd like to note here is that I currently rate the protean fantasies of writers like Grant Morrison and Jeff Noon way more highly than Alan Moore's more structured efforts, partly because the former group's emphasis on sheer thrillpower allows for a little more wiggle room. I mean, I think Moore's got more literary clout than Morrison and co, but his beardy/dogmatic side can be really irritating at times.
For me, the bizarrely malleable fantasies we're talking about here have most power when taken as jolts of sheer imagination, little hints of the ways our dreams and nightmares could unfold if we let them. These works are a paradox in motion: they make the world shine more clearly by distorting its edges, and I love them for it. And hey -- feel free to spend as much time as you want trying to build a house out of this radiant matter, just don't be surprised when you get some serious water penetration, you know?
On that note: Eric Berlatsky's critique of the polymorphous paradise which Moore's recent (erotic!) metafictions have been building toward is definitely worth a read.
Related (or rather, 'and now for something completely different'): For those of you who're more interested in getting drunk, making an arse of yourself and worrying about death than any of that superhero stuff, here's Craig Fischer on Eddie Campbells's Alec -- The King Canute Crowd.
Of course, both The King Canute Crowd and Flex Mentallo have everything to do with going out into the world, having a laugh, and finding the beauty in trying to be a part of it. They're both also pretty aware of the absurdity of such projects, but in a healthy, "you might as well try anyway" sort of way. So... yeah, your childhood fantasies and your drunken misadventures can both be sources of crude, funny poetry -- who knew?
On a totally different note: This just in -- Stray Bullets is a pretty brutal comic. And I love it for it!
And... that's me for now. My life's crazy-hectic at the moment -- I'm moving flat this week, so I think I'll be out of Internet contact for the next few days. With luck, I'll get myself settled and ready to write something slightly more coherent sometime before Monday.
In the meantime, hey-- it's Marnie Stern: