Pre-Crisis 4l: Seaguy #1 and Why I Suck

February 13th, 2007 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yeah, it’s been a week. My bad. All I can say is that the day job and the writing job are conspiring to kill my free time. I can definitely say that I won’t leave the site alone for a week again, though. That’s just inexcusable.

Now that the mea culpas are out of the way, let me give you another reason to be angry. You get a re-run today. Yeah. Sorry.

Before I had 4l, I had a blog on Livejournal called Guerilla Grodd. I catalogued the comics news of the day and added in a little commentary and original content. I was high off Journalista! and The Beat, so I had to have my own linkblog, too, you know?

I started an examination of Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart’s Seaguy. I got to issue 2 before I stopped, and I’ve been meaning to rewrite these completely. In the interest of not having this freaking site be bare any longer, I’m going to reproduce the first commentary, which covers Seaguy #1, here.

Read it. It’s old, but I think I make some pretty decent points, and I do hope that you’ll tell me if I’m wrong. The clickable links are almost all images, by the way.

Cripes, man. I hate to blog about what I’m going to blog about, but I feel like I owe it to you guys. I want to talk about Marvel Boy and Spider-Man: Reign and Kabuki and black heroes and The Other Side and everything else, I just have to make the time for it.

In the meantime, though, please enjoy this. We’ll be back asap, all right?

Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart’s Seaguy in a sentence: Order and authority suck. In another sentence: It’s a quest. Yet another: In terms of culture, you are what you eat. I’ll get back to these in a minute. Pardon my essay structure. I’m working without an outline (and it probably shows).

First, a little on the nature of superheroes.

Superheroes are, by their nature, criminals. They take justice into their own hands and beat people up in the doing of it. They tend to accumulate property damage, break travel laws and sometimes even murder. They flout the rules of society and look at that as a good thing. Superheroes are positively authoritarian. My way or the highway.

The Avengers and the old JLA/JLI (I don’t know if Morrison’s JLA has any official standing, beyond Wonder Woman’s ambassadorship and Aquaman’s former monarchy) sought out government permission in order to operate on that government’s soil. They, in terms that are easy to understand, sold out. You can’t have that permission without being answerable to the government that gave you that permission. Joe Casey and Scot Kolins’s Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is doing a pretty good job of showing that.

Anyway, back to my point. Superheroes are not necessarily paragons of order and authority. They tend to bring chaos on their heels despite their claims of working for order. The relationship between Adam Warlock and the Magus is an interesting one that relates to this, as I recall. It’s been a while, though.

So, back to Seaguy #1.

Seaguy takes place in a world that doesn’t need its superheroes. Call it post-heroic. They’ve vanquished the Big Bad (Anti-Dad) and it backfired on them. Now the heroes are basically forgotten, with the new generation (Chubby da Choona is one) not even knowing the full extent of what the heroes did. Seaguy says, “You’re too young to remember that nonsense. All the heroes are gone, Chubby. There’s no more need for them.” Seaguy’s world is a utopia, a perfect world where everything is right and proper. They don’t need superheroes at all. Perfection implies some kind of order.

Seaguy and his partner Chubby da Choona are a dynamic duo. Chubby is the lovable sidekick, kind of an aquatic Robin. Actually, I don’t think Seaguy was ever actually a superhero, come to think of it. He strikes me as a wannabe. Anyway, Seaguy is a hero. He’s dissatisfied with the new status quo and craves adventure.

He plays chess weekly with Death, who’s personified here as a behatted skeleton who runs a gondola. He’s got blue eyes, oddly enough, and thinning black hair. He’s easily irritable, color blind and really not very smart.

Death says something interesting after he loses yet another game of chess to Seaguy. “But… it seems so pointless. The rules so arbitrary,” he says. Seaguy responds, “Well, that’s just how it is and it’s no good complaining.”

Remember my way or the highway?

Death’s comment about the rules being arbitrary are the crux of this panel, I think. Arbitrary, according to dictionary.com, means “determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle.” In other words, arbitrary rules are chaotic ones. From this, I figure that Death is an agent of order here. Chaos is unfathomable to him. Seaguy, on the other hand, is comfortable in it. We see later on that he craves it, it’s exciting.

Authority and order manifest in a few different ways throughout the book. The weekly meetings with Death are one. Seaguy’s trip to his local grocery store “GrubStop” is another. He and Chubby pop in to pick up some things and Seaguy remarks, “Seems like everything these days is made out of this stuff.” “This stuff” is Xoo, the Next Big Thing. The shopkeep, when asked about it, responds, “I don’t know. It’s Xoo… it’s NEW! It says so everywhere.” The shopkeep, and whoever else, has been told that Xoo is new and therefore good. Now, when do you listen to what someone else tells you? When they have some kind of authority. Seaguy eagerly responds to the shopkeep with, “That’s good enough for me. I’ll have as much as we can eat.” Heroes, despite their chaotic nature, do believe that they are working for authority.

Moving on– Mickey Eye is another example. Mickey Eye is your Mickey Mouse analog. Here though, it’s super-sinister. Chubby and Seaguy ALWAYS watch Mickey Eye. “We’ve seen this episode BEFORE about a hundred times, but it’s so good I don’t mind watching it all over again.” The three panel Mickey Eye spread I linked to above just feels sinister. It’s creepy. Mickey Eye himself is creepy. He’s lopsided. I can’t think of one creature (that’s visible to the eye, at least) that isn’t symmetrical. Mickey has one arm, two legs, a round body and an optic nerve. Not symmetrical. He’s also bloodshot. The single eye also puts me in mind of a camera.

Mickey seems to have a sedating (I don’t want to say calming) effect on Seaguy and Chubby. Seaguy gets upset about the fact that no one has done anything heroic for a long time. Chubby cheers him up, slightly, by saying that they should go to the “Mickey Eye Park tomorrow, like we always do!” Always. Again, order.

Chubby himself almost seems like an agent of authority, too, but that may be kind of a reach. Whenever Seaguy starts talking about adventure, Chubby changes the subject. Whenever anything out of the ordinary happens, Chubby gets agitated. I may be reading too deep, though.

Probably the most obvious proof of the sinster idea of authority is the Mickey Eye Park. Children are screaming and crying and the adults look bored. THere’s a pit of boiling gum and a child suspended near it in a chair. The eyes are everywhere and the idea of being watched (reality TV?) is nowhere more apparent. I get the feeling that the people are there because they’re supposed to be there. Chubby sees Mickey Eyes smuggling people in the sewers under the park, but promptly forgets about it because he has only seven seconds of memory. Authority in action.

Moving away from authority and back to order–

Meteors have been raining down from the moon all issue. A sudden meteor storm strikes the park and Seaguy LEAPS INTO ACTION, shouting “It’s our duty to protect the public!”– no, wait. The people have iron umbrellas and know exactly what to do. “It’s okay, Seaguy. We don’t NEED your help.”

Next, Seaguy finds Doc Hero, who was once a great hero. Nowadays, he can’t fly, so he stays on a ride at the park. There’s a panel where Doc Hero reminisces about his past, but his eyes turn into the old spirals that symbolize hypnotism and he remarks, “How could any rational man have anticipated giant moon scarabs made of intelligent pewter?”

Rational man. Order again. The spinny eyes show that order isn’t the good guy here. Doc Hero hasn’t missed a ride in years, he says. “We don’t need heroes any more. Everything’s GREAT.” More indoctrination. We can’t really say for sure yet, but this certainly makes it seem like the Mickey Eye crew is engaged in some serious brainwashing. We find out the truth towards the end of issue #3.

Still later in the issue, Xoo, a pink, amorphous substance appeares. It begs Seaguy and Chubby to help it (“HELP XOO”). Everything goes dark and every eye in the suddenly empty park turns toward Seaguy and Chubby. Chubby, again playing the down-to-earth straight man, asks, “Did we just break da rules?”

The rules are there to be followed. Respect my authority.

Issue 2 is up next. Hopefully I can be a little more clear in my interpretation of that one. Thoughts and comments are welcome.

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