Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Shape of Things To Come

I am beginning to believe that this

Fig. 1

is the structure of the current DC Multiverse.

Okay, sure; we all know that "52 universes" only developed from the working title of maxi-series, labelled thus because of how many weeks of issues it had. Pure happenstance....


Today I don my tin-foil hat (loaned to me by master conspiracy theorist Ben "Tin-Foil" Hatton) in an attempt to cobble together some sort of sensible reason that there should be 52 earths rather than any other number, and how New Earth can be the "first earth among equals".

What I've settled on is that the 52 universes represent the fourth degree of the decagonal figurate number series. I won't bore you with most of the mathematics (Blogger isn't designed for that kind of typing; besides, that's what Wikipedia is for). Suffice it to say that figurate numbers are those generated by the regular expansion of a polygon according to a standard geometric pattern/mathematical formula. One look at some examples, and you'll get it intuitively (see Fig. 2).

Fig. 2

The number 52 is generated by the extrapolation of a decagon (a ten-sided polygon). If you'll count the number of dots in Figure 1, you'll see there are 52 of them ...


Yes, this truth is definitely "out there".

According to, well, me, the "initial point" at the rightmost part of Figure 1 represents "New Earth". On the one hand, it's a dot just like all the rest; on the other hand, it's the one dot that is found on each of the successive decagons. It represents the first degree of the decagonal figurate series; it is the first among equals. Q. E. D.!

The two dots adjacent to "New Earth" are, of course, "Earth 1" and "Earth 2". They are conceptually closest to New Earth. Together, those three earths are the basis for the "inner circle" of earths, which includes the most familiar ones.

Maybe it'll be easier if I just show it to you...

Fig. 3

Sorry, Marty, I didn't have time to make it exactly to scale, but you get the idea.

Two structural questions remain:

Why is the structure of the multiverse decagonal?
Well, my answer may be rather metatextual, but I'm personally going to pretend it's manifestation of the Ten Iconic Characters that constitute the mythic rock on which the DCU is based (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Vibe).

Why are we now at the fourth degree of the series (which is: 1, 10, 27, 52...)(a.k.a. Sloane's A001107)?
Perhaps because of the three reboots (Crisis, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis)? Perhaps to represent the four Ages of Continuity (Golden, Silver-Bronze, Post-Crisis, New Earth)? Perhaps because we're now supplanting the Fourth World? Whatever works for your personal conspiracy needs.

And to the editors at DC: please feel free to utilize my diagram! Hey, I like to give back when I can...!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The National Periodicals Table of Story Elements

elements pic

A collaboration between Jon Carey and me.

11 x 17 posters of this chart are for sale at Big Monkey Comics DC!

Attack of the Pod People!

The latest installment of the Big Monkey Comics Podcast is (finally) on line!

Not even Big Mike Pellegrino will be able shoot boxing gloves arrows fast enough to defend Green Arrow from the bashing that the Podpanelist give him! Listen to Ben stand his ground as it give out from underneath him!

Which one of the Podpanelists LOVES the Skrull reveal? See whether you can guess in advance, and hear who we think is a Skrull.

Then, at Ben "I Love Girl Comics!" Hatton's insistence, we discuss something call "inn - dee com -icks"; I wasn't paying attention because I was reading Action Philosophers at the time and cleaning my monocle...

Let me know what you think of the show!

But, you know... only if you like it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Give Me Crack! Give Me Speed!

Thank you, Image Comics!

I think that this news is the best thing since sliced bread.

Now, a lot of people will be excited at the idea of anthology book with such a large number of talented creators. What I am grooving on is taking Golden Age characters and writing them in a Golden Age style.

A new issue of Crack Comics? Crack Comics that gave us Captain Triumph, the Clock, and the gaytacular Black Condor? I've been waiting for this since before I was born!

There's been plenty of love at DC for Golden Age characters. The front ranks of the DCU's heroes are filled with Golden Agers (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, Ted Grant, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Aqua-- oh, wait; I forgot...), and the Golden Age DC group, the Justice Society, now enjoys unprecedented respect. At times, we've even been given some glimpses into past "untold" adventures of such characters from early in their careers, giving them a depth the characters didn't originally possess.

But telling a story with Golden Age characters in it or a story set in the Golden Age isn't the same as telling a story in the Golden Age style. And that is what I've been missing, and what I hoping will delight me about the Next Issue Project. The flat color, the deep shading, the weird perspective! The exposition, the compression, the Starmanly drama! I'm hoping it'll be a shot of espresso after decades of weak tea. I'm hoping "this is going to be OOMPHY."

Though I'm eagerly awaiting the "Clock" story, I'm also jazzed about seeing new stories for characters I've never even heard of. "Sub Saunders"? "Capt. Kidd"? I love them already. I'm already thinking of having custom clix made of them for my Aquaman Heroclix games (or at least tokens), and I haven't even seen them.

To me, the great tragedy of art (be it musical, literary, or visual) is that the evolution of a new style always seems to displace an old one. A natural human reaction, perhaps, but not, I think, always a necessary one. The fugue, the sonnet, the allegorical painting-- such modes of expression are just as valid as they ever were, still as potentially enjoyable, still as deserving of new composition. So, too, Golden Age comic book storytelling.

If you do not buy this comic,
J. Edgar Hoover will note it in your permanent record.

The Next Issue Project is also well timed. More and more, I get the feeling that many younger comic books readers think of Silver Age comics as "how comics started out"; they imagine that the wan and bloodless Superman secret identity farces of the Eisenhower era are the beginning of superhero comics. This is puzzling (and a shame), since reprints of Golden Age stories are now more accessible than ever before (well, assuming one has a very healthy wallet, at least!).

I have shocked younger friends by sharing with them the pungency and potency of the adventures of Golden Age heroes. I've seen them come away with a new and deeper respect for an artform they already loved, when they discover that Grant Morrison didn't invent violating the Fourth Wall and that Neil Adams wasn't the first person to draw figures extruding outside of their panel boxes. I love watching them discover that if Golden Age artists weren't masters of detailed anatomy, they were masters of grand composition; that if Golden Age writers weren't masters of subtle characterization, they were masters of powerful plotting; and that if Golden Age editors didn't demand big stories, they demanded stories created in a big way.

Will the Next Issue Project bring that kind of realization to a broader audience? Perhaps not directly. But it is my hope that when readers see how many stellar modern creators respect the Golden Age style enough to try their hand at it, they just may become interested in finding out why that is so.