Monday, October 4, 2010

A Ball Of A Different Manner

In a perfect world, one could read and write about Superosity all day long. This is not a perfect world, and never will be save for the brief period between aliens bringing world peace and somebody translating their mysterious book to discover that it's a cookbook.

A great many noteworthy things have occurred during this particular landmark period of Superosity, including the addressing of an issue that we weren't even aware of being an issue: the strange case of Arcadia's parentage. I suppose Dark Boardy is trying to ensure his own creation or something? I dunno. It would be overwhelming to attempt to address everything. Let us instead return to the start and re-engage with a relatively insignificant aspect that, having been left unresolved, is bound to raise its head again one day in the future. The return of Spaceball.

It is no secret that children's, or "family," media is a major part of Superosity. To call the main character Chris a manchild would be understating the case- his development was arrested so unequivocally that it was shunted directly to the head of death row and now lies buried somewhere in unhallowed ground. So when, long ago, a space-borne character modelled off Madballs was introduced, it was not the least bit outlandish. Some comics might have made do with the Madball reference and left it alone. Superosity, having inured us to eclectic references, had to one-up that by making the brief side-plot which ensued, with its surprise twist ending, was perhaps the greatest moment of that expedition in space.

The return of Spaceball is not likely to match the elegance of that fortnight-and-a-half story which marked his introduction. It is big, it is bold, it contains criminality and the most pervasive alien race of the entire comic. Yet it also brings the little narrative that I've been trying to concoct full circle. It contains two of the most fitting family-movie-like vignettes that Superosity has ever produced. And it does it with an eerie humourlessness that makes the moments stick out of the gag-a-day comic like an image in a 3D movie.

Just look at this. Chris can already fly through space in his nanorobotic suit. That's not the point. That's not the joy of the moment. This is Bastian riding upon Falkor. This is David Freeman navigating Trimaxion's craft for the very first time.

Now examine the stark contrast of the following week's Sunday. This is Elliot trying to convince a world of stubborn adults that ET poses no threat. This is Ernie Henderson trying to come to terms with Harry Henderson's danger.

There are no jokes here. Just the throbbing pulse of Superosity's soul briefly rising to the surface before being pulled back into the depths of its raging chaos. Simple references without elaboration, and yet moments too special to be described with an unmixed metaphor. And they are great.


Coreyarty said...

I had so much trouble thinking of a title for this! At first I was going to do something along the lines of "having a ball and then a bawl," but it was kind of stupid. Then I came up with this convoluted reference to one of Darcy's lines in Pride and Prejudice which is even worse but I spent so long coming up with it, damn it!

Does that explain the months of absence? Maybe!

deepskyfrontier said...

My theory as to why you left Alf out of it is that you're giving others something to say. I propose that the way Alf (the TV series) ended marks the maturation of the assumption, strong throughout the 1980s, that alien encounters might fairly be treated as benign events within which our own tendencies toward fear and prejudice are the primary enemy. Alf was finally captured by the government. (I doubt he was ever actually dissected- they could take MRIs and tissue samples without harming him- and that he's probably relatively happy as they gently coerce him into providing clues about his people's technology. They probably give him all the cats he could want.) However, none of that is ever implied through the course of the show. In fact, the general, reasonable fear of discovery is the show's central conceit. Also, his capture was obviously intended as a cliff hanger. What I mean by maturation is that, as a culture, we've gradually moved toward the understanding that, if an alien race has the power to come to us, then they are not just slightly more advanced. The internet has made made the bizarre more accessible to a general audience. Special effects have challenged the uncanny valley. Science has discovered exoplanets in abundance. And we're beginning to come to grips with our limitations. The space age has, in effect, ended. And we understand how, by definition, any alien race capable of solving for interstellar distances must be vastly more advanced than we. As well- and according to analogous lop-sided encounters from history- they are to be greatly feared. Even if we assume a benevolent intent, our own analogies promise the destruction of cultures. One might even suspect that Spaceball's criminality is founded in such scenarios. He is a space-going, apparently independent entity that may not need to exploit the resources of planets, much less cultures. Perhaps his perceived criminality is a function of his itinerant habits, his curiosity, even his loneliness. The fact that he is huge and scary-looking may automatically define him as an oppressive intrusion causing the encountered to attack him in preemptive defense. His survival implies that he is either impervious, or is able and willing to defend himself with force- just as an outnumbered conquistador can be expected to return fire when fired upon. As for Jane Austen, her contribution to the literature of alien encounters is problematic. In my opinion, Elizabeth has good reason to be suspicious of Mr. Darcy. His supposedly virtuous actions can be interpreted as the rational economic decisions of one seeking to protect his family's resources. He very nearly does more damage than good, despite being a romantic hero.

Coreyarty said...

Maybe, but I intentionally focused on correlations between moments of excitement and wonder depcited in children's movies of the 80s and 90s.

I should point out one distinct error in what you wrote, though: Spaceball quite assuredly does exploit resources. He eats suns, possibly only as part of a mating ritual but more likely as a regular part of his diet.

And don't be too hard on Mr. Darcy. He was a man of his age and had a code of honour to uphold. The lack of this honour is what primarily distinguishes the villain from the hero. Austen was slightly rebellious in some respects, but ultimately saw value in the larger points of social conformity. One of the Bronte sisters even denigrated her writing as being fundamentally useless due to its acceptance of society's failings (or something like that).

zgeycp said...

Ally is back!

Maybe she'll appear in more than one panel this story!

Coreyarty said...

Looks like your wish was not granted.

Man, I'm really upset with myself. I intended to spend this month trying to get up to 22 articles for the year as I did last year and the year before. I also intended on cleaning up deepskyfrontier's stuff about Alf and adding it to the Wikisuperosity article for Alf.

If only I wasn't so lazy.