Sunday, October 11, 2009

On Promethea, and our need for Her

They posted this over on Newsarama today.

To say that Promethea sets me off is an understatement. When I write, I try to clip the very lowest edges of that story with my reaching, out-stretched hand. It is a mountain, like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, or Blood Meridian, which I have set for myself to cross when I approach a story.

The asshole in me regards anyone who is not suitably impressed by Promethea as a story and an artifact worthy of awe in a very poor light, and the more enumerated renderings of those comments said asshole makes are sentiments I keep to myself.

I truly and utterly love this story, and I'm very happy with the comments I wrote, so I wanted to post them here as well.

To tell you that I nearly cry every time I read issue 17, at the image of Christ on the cross, would compel you to take up immediately and read the entire series (if you had ever actually met me, such would be the impression you had of what strokes of evocation it would take to induce such a reaction in a person such as myself).

I am many things, mostly yeti, but surely not what any reasonable person would consider a christian and sure as hell never cry, but that scene, the evocation of that image, is the most pronounced rendering of Jesus I have ever encountered, and does more to reconcile the nature of Christ’s value as a figure worthy of the highest regard than any words ever uttered by a pastor asking for a tithe.

It IS a long, drawn out essay on magic done as a comic book series. But name anything even remotely like that? “Everything is magic" is entirely the point and has never been made so completely and with such applomb.

The storytelling weaves together Moore's musings on magic and the nature of imagination, and J. H. William's pages, his layouts and paneling, and José Villarrubia's coloring follow in richness the examples set by Eisner or Steranko. They break out of any commonplace ideals set for modern comics storytelling to create something singular, something that holds up a mirror to ourselves to show we are, in fact, capable of much more than we have ever been lead to believe. I for one appreciate that sentiment.

Promethea incorporates nearly all of existence into the story. It is not a mistake that Moore uses a significant portion of the text to mirror the content and ancient role of the tarot and the kabbalah, because both of those systems served to provide a cosmological framework for a time when science was not capable of doing so. They were structured schema organizing observable phenomena into a coherence with the unexplainable chaos of life.

That Moore was able to realign these elements with our modern understanding of time, evolution, and nature I think is actual magic, because he is able to use such admittedly esoteric quanta to the effect of compelling the reader further into a story which illustrates, again and again, how the value of humanity MUST rest not in our derisive contempt of the mistakes we have made, but in how we move forward from failure, in inches by the decade at times, towards being worthy of the time we have on this world.

The christ scene, and countless others, strike at the base of what I believe, and by projection (because I have never met him but I argue he believes the same), Moore believes: that humanity has, and will continue to, attack, destroy, and punish the people who have found through their own awareness, talents, and abilities the means to make of us a better people and a better world, but that through the suffering of fools and tyrants and despots upon those who seek to remove chains and hatred we find the road from darkness up into light.

Moore exults, and I freely admit and support this, writers, as well as artists, poets, philosophers, and teachers. He exults those who would bring us light, which should be pretty obvious from the title, and I am thankful that he does, because there is not nearly enough of that in this world.