I don't know how best to describe the hold comic books have on me except that its been a sweet discovery, and a compelling inward compulsion keeps me glued to them. Here are some of the reasons if I were to dwell on them:
Stories have always called out to me, and the fact that comics have an added layer of graphic nuance in the form of artful images adds to the allure.
They are quick to get through, and surprisingly touch upon strong themes in a rabid, radical, raucous manner.
They are gritty.
They have the kind of urgency, energy, power, intensity and thrill that sometimes novels lack.
Comics allow the plot to be as arbitrary, supernatural, violent, and insane as the world being created demands.
They have a lot more artistic freedom to express stronger themes of wars, prostitution, dysfunctional life, carnage, orgies than novels do.
The plot is broader with lot more characters and many of these characters are an eerie, possibly exaggerated, representation of people living on the edge of sanity.
Comics pack an extra punch by bringing to life devious, notorious, psychopathic characters and anarchic, apocalyptic themes.
They go all out, and tip a world to its most extreme, sacrilegious, mercenary, violent conclusion.
Comics will challenge your notion about stories. They will force you to explore radical worlds, psychotic, debauched characters and will urge you to keep pace with the ever growing lexicon of twist and turns.
Comics will make your brain twitch as it grapples with an extreme form of art. Many comic books will make you uncomfortable and stump you.
They are raw in a way that novels are not.
They do not veil or sweeten things; they represent madness and mayhem in all its glory.
In a way, they are completely free from the claustrophobia of contriving plots to accommodate a broader audience.
Comics free me from having to imagine the finer details of the plot; the pictures strikingly do that job.
All in all, it’s been an eventful month well-spent in the world of comic books.
This comic book is gold. Its mystical, metaphorical, symbolic, subtle, mysterious, philosophical and exotic. At its core this book is a staggering and rare balance between metaphysical, existential ethos of humanity and bold, fiery art. The story is unique, quirky as is the norm with Alan Moore's comic books, and the artwork is an explosion of ingenious, eccentric creativity. This comic book has a visionary feel to it.
The book is based in New York, and travels to several other dimensions of reality and of imagination. The year is 1999, an eighteen year old girl stumbles upon a secret and her life is never the same again, she is battling demons from a nether world, befriending goddess warriors and discovering the world of immateria; an adventure of unbridled proportions, a truth of startling measure and a confounding, challenging voyage through the world of reality and imagination.
Promethea is the daughter of a magician from an ancient, bygone era, and while her heretical father is brutally murdered by a religious cult, she is rescued by the gods of immateria, a world of stories and imagination. The only way for Promethea to enter back into the more conventional world of humanity is when humans seek her out through their stories, artistic endeavors and imagination.
The story kicks off with an eighteen year old, Sophie Bangs, who has been researching the legend of Promethea for her thesis, and her trail leads her to Barbara, the wife of the dead writer who last wrote about this legendary warrior. That is the moment when Sophie is inextricably plunged deep into a strange adventure. While she is attacked by a deadly creature, Promethea rescues her, but in a few odd moments turns into Barbara. And, this is the crux of the tale. There are several Prometheas, just about anyone who tunes into her mystical world turns into Promethea, and every such person is hunted by the demonic forces who believe Promethea is a curse and threat to humanity.
So who and what is Promethea? She is a female warrior that symbolically represents imagination, creativity, artists, spirituality, meaningful pursuits and is an enemy to a power hungry, war inflicting, ignorant, empty, dogmatic, delusional pursuits of mankind. This book is profound and poetic, the theme and art will blow your mind. I am thoroughly mesmerized.
I think in a way, the book is saying: if we pursue art, art will pursue us, and we will never ever be the same again.
This book embodies the personal philosophy of Alan Moore in the most powerful way. The back of the book has these lines imprinted which seems like the life story of Alan.
"Do you believe in the power of Story? Can it transport you to The Immateria, a realm where stories are real? Will it transform you into a mystic warrior in this world?"
I thoroughly enjoyed this comic book, and I absolutely recommend it. It’s fast paced, riveting and has a great plot. The narration and illustrations are brilliant, dark and they perfectly complement the quintessential madness of Joker.
This book delves on the origins of Joker, the most badass super villain the comic book industry has ever known. Alan Moore, in his trademark style, blurs the line between a madman and a common man, and imbues the Joker with a tragic history that turns him into a coldblooded psychopath. It’s a heart-wrenching and scary tale of a fickle fate, and a wrecked destiny. I think Alan Moore was presenting this hypothesis that anyone could turn into a lunatic overnight; all it would take is one cruel, mayhem inflicting twist of fate. He also harps upon how random yet precise, senseless and the brutal, life's injustice can be.
The book starts off with the escape of Joker from the Arkham Asylum, and his psychotic and chilling plan to show the world how a madman as mad as him is created, given the right amount of exposure to the inhumane humanity. He targets two of Batman's closest friends, the commissioner of Gotham city and his daughter. While he nearly kills the daughter, he takes the commissioner as a hostage, and leads him to his madhouse to turn him into a madman. As the commissioner is exposed to obscene and disturbing acts, the joker celebrates and the batman furiously pursues the trail of Joker. The climax of the book is a face-off between Batman and Joker, and what exact fate befalls the Joker is not known; the last panel of the book leaves it open-ended, classic Alan Moore style. Whether the Batman avenges the heinousness inflicted upon his friends by slaying the Joker, or whether in a moment of an all-consuming empathy for Joker's personal plight, does batman spare Joker his life, or does he turn the Joker over to the cops because of a promise made to the commissioner; the answer is not known.
The Joker's monologue about madness, about the inhumanity and sheer stupidity and ignorance of humanity, and about how conscience, virtues, prayers will not save anyone from a cruel blow of fate are epic, and lend a profound depth and a nuance to his character. His back-story takes us to his struggling days as a stand-up comedian, and his pregnant wife. One day, his wife dies in a freak accident, and he is trapped by two ruthless goons into executing a crime, which backfires, and he ends up becoming the Joker.
That the Batman offers the Joker a chance at redemption, and that the Joker forsakes it, explaining that its too late for him to turn a new leaf, and that it’s all over, is a haunting moment. Another brilliantly crafted moment is when the Joker proclaims that insanity is better than dealing with unimaginably twisted horrors, and that madness is an emergency exit. That sanity, order, dignity is only an illusion was an interesting point by the Joker.
The Joker totally is the star of the book, and is one of the best crafted characters ever. His compromised psychology and psychosis creates a rich tale, against which Batman totally pales into oblivion.
I read this book in a maniac burst of energy: 200 pages in one sitting in one day and the remaining 100 or so pages consumed the very next day. A psychiatrist writes about neurosis, ignorance, spiritual evolution and the unconscious. This book starts off with a pretty accurate definition of life: life is difficult. I loved this about this book because often you hear: life is beautiful, and life is wonderful, but how about getting off the maudlin train and calling a spade a spade?
Read this book if you are a truth-seeker or a fellow traveler on the arduous road of spiritual growth. Many Thanks to the YouTube channel: actualized.org, which is where I stumbled upon this book.
Here's a brief gist of what the book entails:
1. It explores the root causes of a neurotic, psycho-pathological behavior. It mentions that many different psychoses and neuroses have their origin in a dysfunctional family life or childhood abuse.
2. It talks about self-destructive behavioral traits: ignorance, instant gratification, sheer laziness, myriad lies, ego, fears, stubborn resistance to change, and shying away from challenges. The author clearly states that most mental illnesses are born when we try to bypass the suffering necessary to heal our pain. We try to run away from our problems, expecting them to resolve on their own, instead of confronting them and owning up to their discomfort, and this shallow pursuit of comfort is exactly what causes us our pain. Instead, if we embraced our challenges and the discomfort, life becomes much easier and simpler, and we grow. Our pain also emanates from our inability to see the truth about life: life is not a walk in the park, but a gritty, persevering run.
3. Self-discipline, self-love, and the will to grow, and absolute commitment are the best tools to access spiritual development. The responsibility for your life and your development lies with you, and not with anyone else, and there are no shortcuts.
4. It talks about the kind of interactions, experiences and relationships that can contribute to a meaningful life. The author writes wonderfully how true love is not about clinging to each other for all of eternity, and perpetuating a system of mutual dependency or projecting our expectations but about realizing that each of us have a destiny to fulfill, and to help each other grow and achieve spiritual transcendence. The best relationship is the one between two independent, striving individuals, and not between two individuals aching to forgo their freedom, to fulfill each other's expectations and to become one impeccable interdependent system. True love is also not about living with a person you cant live without but living with a person you know you can live without, I thought this was an astounding piece of revelation. It also delves a lot on a nurturing parent-child relationship, which is a must-read for any parent.
5. It talks about how pain, the pursuit of truth, our suffering, our unconscious, our conscious, and our dysfunctional behavior is related. It says something interesting: our depression, our tears, our nightmares, our unconscious dreams, our pain, our feelings and emotions of distress are a sign from our unconscious of the deep disconnect between our conscious and unconscious, which means we are on a wrong path in our life, we are living a lie, and we need to confront, and change our path, but most of us ignore these symptoms and continue to steep deep in our afflictions and let them render us a hollow shell of a human form.
6. What is the ultimate goal of spiritual growth? What does it even mean to be a spiritual seeker?The author mentions that the collective unconscious is the ultimate omniscient entity, and spiritual enlightenment means aligning our consciousness with the ultimate truth and wisdom: the collective unconscious.
7. It states clearly: you have to seek relentlessly long enough the path of spiritual growth for the light to shine through, and lead you to your true destiny. The road is lonely, difficult and requires terrifying amounts of work, and energy every step of the way.
8. The kind of individual that is most likely to achieve spiritual transcendence is the kind of individual that is independent, questioning, skeptical, open to change, willing to suffer, is brave and able to assimilate new information, and create a new understanding about the nature of reality.
9. The world is complex, reality is strange and counter-intuitive and people are mysterious and ever changing, so it makes sense that we adapt and heed the reality and truth that emerges from our latest experiences. For instance, I might have studied to become an engineer, only to realize I am not built to be one. The sooner I can assimilate this new bit of information, and change my path in life, the faster I will make spiritual progress. But the more I cling to what I know is not right, the more I sacrifice my awareness and my potential for growth. The author mentions most people are averse to the idea of changing their core belief and their path in life even though their present experiences scream for a new path.
10. It talks about religion, science and spirituality. It talks about grace, which is the strength required to embrace pain and lead a spiritual revolution.
11. It offers some interesting ideas: as per second law of thermodynamic, our universe is built to evolve into disorder and chaos, and the very existence of human life and pursuit of spirituality defies the natural order of things, and therefore a constant struggle, effort and work must be expended to achieve this level of awareness.
In conclusion, this book takes a poignant, profound and a holistic look at human existence and its overwhelming predisposition to an easy life, and a life riddled with conflicts and mindless pursuits that annihilate the possibility of a meaningful life. It almost seems that our culture is perpetuating a shallow way of life, and a cop-out mentality rather than a persevering one. It does give you a lot of insightful information to help you in your quest for truth and a spiritual life.
I was feeling a little sad about not having planned anything exciting for Christmas break, but this book totally altered my perception, and I was no longer a bit bitter about not being on the road, off to some obscure yet compelling adventure. This book was a great experience, and an adventure in itself because it presented an off the beaten road kind of reality, which is always more representative of the truth.
Just Kids by Patti Smith is a profound and moving tale of two kids trying to make it as artists. This book is a must-read for any and everyone, especially for artists, because it's a beautiful story of human spirit surpassing struggles, and sacrifices to fulfill its destiny. At the crux are two mavericks, Patti and Robert, a heady concoction of youth, living through desperate times, and dire straits, and finding their way to glory and success. This is definitely among my all-time favorites. It is inspiring, sad and uplifting. It depicts a way of life so radical, so pure, so spiritually evolved that it makes you question things about your life and leaves you reeling with emotions, thoughts and revelations.
The way of artists is a way of all things surreal, stark, intense, quixotic and free. This book is so beautifully written, so thoughtfully narrated, and it so wonderfully encompasses the entwined life of two artists that I have never quite read anything like it before. Its poetic, its redemptive, its gritty, its a fairy tale, and it brings to life the New York of 60's, 70's and 80's.
As a child, Patti was every bit a stubborn, imaginative, unruly, artistic kid who loved to read and daydream. She grows up to be a shy adolescent finding comfort and meaning in rock and roll, and books, and seeks to be an artist. At nineteen, she ends up being pregnant, gives her baby up for adoption, and moves away from her family to New York.
And this is where the fairy tale of struggle, ideal romanticism, heady and wistful times, love, pain and survival begins to take shape. I could barely believe the things she, and Robert endured for their art, for their love, and for their calling. Homeless, starved, and looking for a job - that is pretty much the gist of Patti's first few days in NY. She sleeps on stoops in safe neighborhoods, in parks and in subways, and she rides this roller-coaster of an unusual, uncertain life in a stoic, brazen manner.
One day, she is so starved that she goes on a date with a stranger for the sake of food, and while she is desperately trying to extricate herself from the company of this gentleman at the end of the date, she catches a glimpse of a young boy who had bought a beautiful necklace from the store where she worked, a few days ago. She runs up to him, asks him if he would pretend to be her boyfriend to which he replies, "Sure", and off they go and tell the spooky stranger that she and her boyfriend are going to take off, and farewell to thee. That young boy who rescued Patti was Robert, and that was the beginning of their life-long relationship.
They start living together in unbelievably tiny spaces, and work as a team, and as rebellious individuals giving themselves to their art. They visit pawn shops, thrift stores to buy art supplies, eat bare minimal, often go hungry and treat each other with compassion, empathy and understanding. Young and alone, they make a pact to help and protect each other until they are strong enough, and have the bandwidth to make it on their own. The two stay true to this pact, even as Robert soon discovers that he is homosexual.
Patti and Robert struggle, evolve, and eventually become successful artists. Their life story is infused with daredevil acts so terrifyingly edgy that it makes you want to give a standing ovation to these kids who were dreamy and stubborn enough to fulfill their calling. Robert establishes himself as a revolutionary photographer of darker themes and Patti blossoms into a successful singer. She starts off with writing poetry and gradually molds them into rock and roll songs with guitar, drums and piano, and has her own band. Who says writing poetry is a dead end, and a no good pursuit? Clearly, they know nothing of Patti Smith.
There are references to Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Arthur Rimbaud, Andy Warhol and several other pioneering artists. The whole book is very atmospheric and electrically charged with the confluence of artistic endeavors, and the eccentric, wild ways of those beckoned by the call of art. It mentions Hotel Chelsea in NY, which is where some of the most iconic artists lived and brought to life their art including Robert and Patti. The descriptions are very vivid, and redolent of a bygone era.
The love story between Robert and Patti is beyond anything that I have ever read before. It surpasses and survives, and grows into a brotherhood that emerges between two kindred spirits. They know each other so uncannily and are so comfortable with each other that they share the absurd with no fear of judgement or being left out. They love, and care for each other, but their mutual love is not confined by the bounds of a conventional relationship.
Robert was the first to tell Patti, very early on, that she should be a singer. He pushed her to read her poetry in public and used his network to get her exposure. Patti was the first to tell Robert that he should take his own pictures with a camera instead of making a collage out of magazines, and it was she who supported him financially in the beginning days. Their equation got me thinking.
Robert and Patti's relationship was so beyond the conventional code that it truly was the free-spirited love between two artists. The two loved each other in a way that helped them manifest their destiny of becoming great artists. That is not how love is marketed ever. Why has true love come to be synonymous with spending an eternity together instead of helping each other manifest their destiny, and their calling?
There are quite a few haunting moments in this book. Towards the end of the book, in one scene, Robert asks Patti, "Did art get to us?". It makes you think how far are you willing to go to express your true self and to let go of all your inhibitions, and what price would you end up paying for going off on an extreme, deep end kind of pursuit.
The most powerful thing about art is that it speaks the truth, and it makes you question your notions. This book made me realize something that I have never been able to understand. It was a breakthrough moment for me. And I erupted into the following soliloquy:
"I think I have found the perfect word that describes me, just one word: artist. And, as flamboyant, as retarded, as frivolous, as meaningless this word might seem to you, it perfectly embodies the essence of who I am and who I have been for the longest time. It explains why I see what I see, how I see what I see and what I think and believe and seek. It explains the madness, the silence, the chaos. It explains the unbridled need for a spiritual evolution, and aesthetic revolution. It explains the unanimous, overwhelming dissonance with the world around me. It explains the jarring disposition that I have graced and braced since time immemorial. It explains the dreaminess within me, and a stoic resistance to being anything other than a starry-eyed, quixotic fool.
The twenties were a blur of nothingness and a string of farces, but the thirties will be my decade, and there will be no stopping the artist within."
I wrote about 250 - 300 poems when I was 23. And, then they gathered dust until life became such an epic torment that I realized walking away from your destiny ruins you with a vengeance. So, I pledged to dedicate myself to my potential of being a published novelist, and author.
When youth finds you, so does a calling that beckons, and the light of a billion stars. Heed it, fight for it, endure for it, and let it lead you to your destiny. I have been wondering if being young is the only way to be stubborn, idealistic, courageous, artistic and adventurous. As we grow old, does our edge, our will wear off as our physical strength surely does? Do we feel more strongly, more passionately only as a heady consequence of being young? Does the creative impulse dissipate as we grow old? Robert and Patti met at the age of 19 or 20, and worked relentlessly as exuberant kids with fierce artistic temperaments. Would they still have been able to create their success story if they were in their thirties?
This book inspired, enthralled and left me with the deepest awe and love for artists all over the world. Read this book, really.
All I can say or rather all I want to say about Preacher is this:
This comic series resonated with me in a way that I couldn't put it down, and without a doubt, it will remain my favorite comic book series ever.
A jibing black comedy that does two things: desecrates humanity in a hilarious, artful manner and scorns and condemns god; definitely not for the weak of heart, and is full of twists and turns that shock and intrigue.
A barrage of cuss words, and gut-ripping, decapitating, blood-guzzling violence, sarcasm, sacrilege, chaos, humor runs amok in the veins of every character. The result is intense, gory, hilarious, gothic, and brutal story-lines.
The main story-line goes like this: an odd entourage of a noble, dashing hero, a brash, fearless heroine, and a strange, brazen ally embark upon a quest to find god, and to make him answer for all the suffering he's inflicted upon this world. Obviously, along the way, there's carnage, deceit, war, death, separation, tragedies, personal struggles and twisted ideologies slathered all over the plot. And of course, we get a glimpse of hell, god, devil, angels, and their intricate world cast in a grim, funny, and crisis mode.
The ending is unpredictable, intense, sacrilegious and unique in a way that all epic things are. There are tons of quirky, pathological, profanity oozing, ass-kicking characters, and you are bound to feel strongly for one or the other.
There are tons of searing epiphanies gleaming throughout the series: if you haven't learned it or earned it, you are bound to sabotage and lose it; if you hit or abuse a woman once, you will spiral and do it again; true love can surpass a lot; strength is forged through suffering; and breaking rules is worth it.
Having exhausted all of the six volumes, I was like, "why, oh, why did this end. And, what now? Sigh.
An iconic classic released in the 90's, it raved and raged its way into the hall of fame of the comic book industry, and to this day, remains the quintessential hit and a compelling, enthralling kind of love for comic book nerds. Truly, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon are creative geniuses.
I don't buy books because they come with a steep price, and such is life, but I couldn't not own these wonderful literary pieces of art, so I bought them all, so I can read and re-read at my leisure till the end of eternity.
Finally, the story is set in Texas, which is where I have lived for 7 years. So, it added that extra bit of smile and connection.
Without a doubt, like a searing bolt of lightning cutting jagged, surreal lines into a pale sky, bringing to life a whirlpool that flips the status quo off its axis, this book thundered, rumbled and altered my state of consciousness. Frank Miller, to me, is a hallowed name from now on, and the Daredevil comic series is a masterpiece.
Daredevil is a superhero comic book series that has spawned tons of issues across the years, and has established itself as an authentic surge of a creative powerhouse. The issue I read was called The Man Without Fear, and indeed I met a superhero, Matthew Murdock, who stood alone, and fought without any fear. What has shaped him to be so hardcore, and brave? Pain, death, suffering, loneliness, discipline, years and years of frightening practice - precisely everything antithetical to a mainstream way of life - has forged a superhero out of a green-eyed, orange haired, mischievous punk of a eight year old kid. This got me thinking: turning away from the blinding limelight of a conventional life and the mind-numbing herd is the only way to live an authentic life in tune with your destiny.
The comic book is a set in a dilapidated neighborhood in New York, and it opens up with the hint of a noble destiny awaiting Matt, an eight year old who is a mischief wizard. The boys's father is a heavyweight boxer, a hulk of a towering man with a gentle spirit, trying to keep his son in school and give him a good life by doing the only thing he knew - slugging it out in a ring. The first turning point in Matt's life is when his father slaps him hard for beating up another kid in a pointless show of bravado. Teary-eyed, and sad, Matt resolves to live by a set of rules. And, true to his word, he never breaks his rules, despite being beaten by the school bullies, and catcalled as daredevil. He studies hard, and keeps to himself. He stays sane by punching a boxing bag in a gym, a relentless, furious act; the journey towards his destiny had begun.
At sixteen, he jumps in front of a staggering truck to save a man, and goes blind when the radioactive contents of the truck spill into his eyes. He lies on the hospital bed, blind and drowning in a powerful current of smells and sounds. Back home, he goes to the gym, and is stymied in his tracks by his vision-less eyes. As he curls up in anger and frustration, a mysterious stranger becomes a powerful teacher to Matt. He teaches Matt to sense the movement of air, to hear a breathing heart, to jump from rooftops, to engage in combat, and to hit the bull's eye in archery. He shows him how to see the world through his mind's eye.
Matt is sixteen when his father is killed in a brutal, vicious attack by an underworld thug. He avenges his father's death by killing them off one by one, but by a cruel twist, someone else is killed, and the guilt ricochets in his heart forever. His teacher disappears, disappointed and concluding that Matt lacks the discipline to serve a noble calling.
Matt goes off to college, falls in love with Elektra, is left behind when she has to leave and becomes a lawyer, working in Boston. When he returns to NY for an assignment, he meets a 14 year old runaway girl called Maggie at his childhood gym, and befriends and trains her. Around this time, a new kind of evil wraps its tentacles around the NY city, threatening to drown it under a cesspool of gut-wrenching crimes. Drugs, child prostitution, kidnapping looms large, and Maggie becomes just another victim, about to be swallowed whole. Needless to say, Matt pursues a trail of scents and sounds, and slashes and kills countless before rescuing Maggie.
He finally wakes up to the call of his destiny. He calls himself Daredevil, he wears a costume, he tears through the rooftops, and he hunts crime with a hunger for justice.
I recommend reading this comic book. Why? Because it takes you out of the ordinary, and propels you onto the wings of the extraordinary. It made me think and wonder: is it possible for the human consciousness to surpass the loss of an eyesight? Has anyone tried moving beyond what can be seen only by the eyes as opposed to what can be seen by a trained, disciplined mind’s eye? It has inspired me, and revived me. Amid the blood, gashes, flying kicks, and heartbreaking story-line, there were a couple of scenes that made me laugh out loud.
A quick read, and does wonders for the mind, and spirit.
Watchmen by Alan Moore is a comic book about heroes who fight crime. The genius of Alan Moore, however, ensures that these heroes aren't exempt from being human and being vulnerable. That is the beauty of Watchmen. This is far from a sappy tale of self righteous crime fighters. In fact, it's a dark, convoluted maze of human psychology, and its myriad flaws in an anarchic, twisted world.
This book debunks the age old mythology of superhero literature where heroes are portrayed as the torch bearers of human conscience, and good defeats evil in a prolonged battle to save the human race from a terrible fate. Here's what this book proposes and challenges: What if you cant save the human race because they have forsaken their humanity? What if human life has come to symbolize an endless pursuit of selfish, violent and narrow choices? What if society does not want heroes? What if being opportunistic, destructive, amoral and apathetic is getting to be the foundation of public consciousness? What if society has become so subversive and apocalyptic that its each man for himself, and anyone who interferes is gutted without any thought? And, what if our leaders are hellbent on a third world war in their eternal lust for power, and control? What are the heroes supposed to do in this case?
Usually, there's this notion that the world needs to be saved from a calamity? What this book asks is this: Who's going to save the world from the human race? And, that is where part of the brilliance and epicness of the book comes from. Also, conventional heroes switch effortlessly between their roles: Einstein, a Buddhist monk, Bruce Lee, Mother Teresa. What about being a jaded, cynical, vile, monstrous creature? This is where the other half of the book's brilliance comes from. Our heroes, here, are only extraordinary because of their extraordinary demons and their intense, extreme psychology, and edgy philosophy.
So, what sparks the heroes of this book to fight crime? Simple. Some of them were battered enough, abused enough, mad enough, overstimulated enough, hungry enough, helpless enough, and egoistic enough to don the mask and stop the mayhem. So, what happens when they come together? Simple, they don't get along, and go their separate ways.
As a brief synopsis, this book is about two generations of heroes, their struggles, their madness and their eventual boycott by the public and the government. What thwarts the older generation is the gradual shift in the crime culture: drugs, prostitution, and gambling becomes far more prevalent, and the heroes have no way of battling this maniac tide of human madness. In 1949, when the older group calls it a day, most of them meet a cruel fate including murder. The second group gets officially outlawed by the government in 1977 and are forbidden from fighting crime. They are reviled by cops and people alike. However, at least one of them continues to fight in secrecy, and two others work as sanctioned government agents.
The book starts off with the murder of a masked adventurer, and crisscrosses into a jumble of story-lines dealing with conspiracies, abuse, rape, mystery, prostitution, complex relationships and an idiotic, hopeless, helpless society and manipulative governments leading the world into a third world war. So, what happens in the end, and who saves the day?
First, we must ask: How do you force the world to unite, and stop all wars? Simple. Introduce an alien invasion, and the collective ego of the human race will direct its wrath upon the distant enemy, and not upon each other. That is precisely what one of the hero does, though in the process he wipes out everyone in the New York city as part of the gimmick. His ploy actually works, and the third world war is called off, but not before he also kills at least a couple of his hero brethren. The apocalypse has been subdued, and lot many lives have been saved than killed. So, would you consider this man a hero?
What I found ironical was that the man who was born into a wealthy family and was a genius, and never languished in poverty or abuse from fellow humans chose to kill millions to save the world from an impending disaster of war, but the man who did suffer severe abuse as a child, and whose father abandoned him before he was born, and whose mother was a prostitute who beat him, and loathed him doesn't mass murder, refuses to participate in the propaganda, and decides to tell the world the truth about the so called alien attack. It is a bitter parody that the man of means does not trust people, but the scorned, abused man believes that the people should be told the truth. Whose side would you be on? I cant choose.
Another interesting story arc is the monumental perspective shift of one of the most powerful superheroes in this book. Jon, the only superhero with unimaginable powers, finds life completely meaningless, and becomes so detached that he leaves for Mars, dooming the human race to a painful mass extinction. In the end, however, he kills a hero to preserve the farce of an alien attack, so the human race could have a chance at peace. Moore's universe makes for a compelling reality: everyone changes, and we live in an ambiguous, counter-intuitive, paradoxical and complex world.
I have always wondered what would the human race do if we were about to be made extinct by an an invincible extraterrestrial civilization? In the time that we have left, would we unite, and create a utopia, or would anarchy and chaos ensue? I thought we would be peaceful, and it would be a perfect world, but some of my friends said, we would kill each other for every last bit of what we want, and would perish before the aliens got us.
This book makes you question a lot of things. Who exactly was a true hero in this book? The one who saved the world by destroying some part of it? Or the one who saw everything in black and white? Or the one who had no faith in a weak human society? Or the one who believed in truth even though people had not the scarcest idea of how to deal with truth? Or the one who laughed it all off as a black comedy of a ship of fools? I couldn't find a single hero that hadn't erred in ways big and small. Which is exactly how Alan Moore intended it to be. He quoted that his main idea with this book was to present an alternate form of reality about heroes, and to show that no-one's perfect, and that everyone errs.
I am left with one other question: how do you change people's mentality? Their thinking? Would the human race have been able to handle the truth, or have we become so evil that deception and lies work more powerfully?
Finally, I have been converted into an Alan Moore fan. He's no wonder revered as a great artist and his comic books have long been a part of the pantheon of great literature. He is one of the most prolific, and well-known comic book writers. I highly recommend reading his comic books. As for me: library, here I come for Alan Moore's comic books.
The love for books & a hunger for stories was programmed into my DNA. And, sooner than later, life experiences sealed the deal. Books have saved me, transformed my life, enlightened me and have shown me the path I must walk. In a way, far too many books have played the role of kindred spirits and guides, leading the seeker in me to answers and paving a way for a new way of life. Books have helped me keep my wits, my sense of wonder, my sense of mystery and curiosity & my sanity in a life that has been anything but predictable and normal.