Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fawndu strikes! and Red Guardian rising

“That’s right,” says the nebbish man, fist clenched, other hand outstretched; despite his sawed-off frame, he is every inch the villain. Some self-help seminar! He’s just tactlessly suggested his audience cover their desire to improve with self-loathing. Oh sure, you might think you can debase yourself and who you have been up till now, as part of the road to change---but however much you might need to clean the slate, so to speak, are you willing to embrace that you are completely ridiculous?

In this case, the villain’s real thoughts about humanity show through, dictating his self-righteous approach to helping humanity “save” itself. So, is he doing it for money? Oh, no---he’s actually just doing this because, after his last defeat (despite superhuman “dimension spanning” powers), he was discovered by, and indoctrinated partially by, the Lubderdite race. Upon telling about him, Marc remarked: “he sounds like one of those missionaries that would come to tribal people, kill their wife and kid, and STILL be trying to see they should convert, save their soul!” He still has all the ego necessary to think he is the superior being, able to dictate to others how they can improve. But first: “Expose yourself for the bozos you really are!”

Hey, he's only asking us to see ourselves as disrespectfully as he does. He's the one with the answers. One imagines he's got a rather susceptible audience, but maybe he needs to turn up his Aware-a-Meter a minute.

The “bozo” he calls up is the disguised Stephen Strange, who complies “to see what he wants.” The “self-help speaker” refutes this; “you’re such a bozo, you forgot you’re here for what YOU want out of life!”

“That is not so,” Strange replies. “I merely find this a curious path to enlightenment.” Offended by his “sobriety,” our never-named speaker cues the curtains, to reveal a stage full of his abductees, all chanting “bozo” mindlessly! The cheerleaders shouting “B! O! Z! O!” put it over the top: his “random sampling of humanity, whose brains revealed the secret of celestial mind control to me. See what THEY think of you!” “Eyes of Oshtur!” is right, Stephen. Angrily, Hulk recognizes that “four eyes took Bambi—and Bird-Nose, too! (That’s Nighthawk, standing onstage with his body’s own brain in a bowl. See earlier posts!) Now Hulk will smash—“ Val stills him, following Stephen’s lead: patience.

“Four eyes” recognizes the true face now , as Stephen calmly pulls off the Bozo mask, doubtful. Ah, but he does---because, as he reveals, he is Nebulon, the Celestial Man. Val curses Hulk’s inability to recall names, but “what does stupid name matter? Hulk can smash anybody—all the same to Hulk!” Security rushes in, as Nebulon opens fire in their midst with a bolt from his hand, raving about his “ save your malaise-ridden world!” Val dodges, but with his dimension spanning powers, he does, too---to stage right. As “four-eyes” he announces his intention to deal with the “interruption” for all present to observe; after all, “ these costumed savages intend to deprive you of your opportunity for true happiness!” and with his hand-fired beams begins to demonstrate the benefits of “Celestial Mind Control!!” The same power that sends Hulk and the Valkyrie flying over their heads, he promises, lies untapped in their own minds. Its mastery is his gift to them.

Strange deals with the captives, sensing “a severe depletion of psychic energy in ALL the members of Nebulon’s ‘random sampling!’” I like how Gerber’s dialog consistently clarifies the subtle thoughts of his characters, and when juxtaposed with depictions of action, is not merely redundant, but shades the actions presented with meaning, as, with energy projection, the actual results, subtly, could mean anything. Here he simply shields “Jack—and Kyle’s brain---from further that I may turn my attention back to our foe. No—wait—I feel the presence of another magical force---growing---“ Here, we see the deer again in the background. Now, Fawndu shall strike!

He senses the force “straining to achieve potency---but where? What is the source?” With glowing eyes, the angry-looking fawn activates its spell. (Remember, he's really the villainous mystic Chondu, captive for now in the deer after attempting to hijack Nighthawk's brain!) Looking at the smoke following the incandescent burst, Strange observes: “Gone---both the deer and Nebulon! Apparently Chondu tapped into Nebulon’s vast reservoir of power..!”

“Bambi—is gone again?” asks the still angry, uncomprehending Hulk. Valkyrie paints the positive achievement of re-uniting all of Kyle’s parts. But Strange is wary---“one need only envision an alliance of Nebulon and the comprehend how truly perilous our situation could become.”

Interestingly...Strange is right about that...but he’s totally wrong about the conflict, which will prove to really be everyone against everyone else. Uncovering that, however, is still many stories ahead...with so many twists, it is a credit to the distinct voices of these characters that they develop distinctly amidst problems each their own, without loss of the thread: especially since the cast will grow by another next issue, with the “Return” of the Red Guardian! Fortunately, she will come to us, thought-out well, opening us from our comic book world’s four colors to consider a different, often misunderstood part of the world, and one of the best feminist characters in comics with her super-competence and devotion to others. As we shall see, even a genius has a lot to learn...

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