Tuesday, 22 May 2012
The Super-Moby Dick Of Space & The Strange Anxieties Of The Legion Of Super-Heroes
Most if not all of us are inevitably going to snigger when we read the words "the Super-Moby Dick Of Space", and I doubt that there's any way to avoid doing so. Whether that's for literary or, perhaps more probably, scatological reasons, sniggering is simply bound to occur. And there is no denying that the Legion Of Super-Heroes feature in Adventure Comics #332 can seem to be a Big Dumb Comic, and yet that's not the half of it, and even that joyful dumbness has its own considerable virtues. Yet in contrast to the Marvel Comics which were also released in the May of 1965, writer Edmond Hamilton and artist John Forte's "awesomely mighty ... terror of all space" must have seen shockingly anachronistic. After all, this was the month in which Steve Ditko and Stan Lee's Spider-Man was shown being driven mad by Mysterio's psychoanalytical scheming, and in which Lee and Jack Kirby's original Avengers were replaced by a "kooky quartet" of second-string law-breakers. The conventions of the super-book were being vigorously shaken up with every new front-line issue published by what briefly really was The House Of Ideas, and to everyone but the youngest of readers, the Legion Of Super-Heroes must have seemed, for good or ill, the antithesis of Marvel's self-proclaimed Pop Art comics.
This week's post in The Year In Comics series over at Sequart - find it here, if you would - doesn't attempt to pretend that the Super-Moby Dick Of Space was anything other than an absurd, drama-deflating concoction. But there is an argument to make that there's a great deal of the modern-era Event Comic to be found in its pages, just as it's possible to recognise often-uncredited and even unsettling elements of social uncertainty and anxiety in the Legion tales of the first half of the Sixties.
Or; Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale...