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boredjoker

I found out the exact time I’ll be presenting at this year’s Dragon Con. It may very well be the worst time to be scheduled to speak as it coincides with one of the con’s main attractions- the parade. Every year the parade seems to get bigger and bigger, both the participants and the swelling and sweating crowd of on-lookers. With so many of the con’s attendees enjoying with the parade, there should be plenty of seating available for my discussion. If you’ve ever been looking for an excuse to get out of sitting in the sun and squeezing in tight with the masses, my presentation is a great excuse! Truth be told, I’m pretty happy to have this excuse to get out of watching it myself. The only thing I’ll miss about missing the parade is sharing the convention with Atlanta residents who don’t join in the actual con- the bystanders, the henchmen, the non-playable characters.

My presentation will be held on Saturday August 30, 2014 at 10am, presumably in the Comics room and I will presumably be presenting with two other scholars with a somewhat similar focus- the shared focus bit will likely be a little forced. My presentations looks at the multiple mythologies, religious in nature, that appear in the DC universe, specifically in the New 52 and more precisely involving Wonder Woman, the Phantom Stranger, and Green Lantern Simon Baz.

Think of the panel as a parade for people who don’t like parades. It should be fun, but if you choose the parade over my panel, take pictures for me because you know where I’ll be (at my panel AKA the parade for people who don’t like parades AKA the grenade for people who don’t like Gatorade).

Was the scheduling of my presentation at the same time as the parade an act committed by a secret organization (or cabal of secret organizations) worried that I might reveal truths that would send their pervasive institutions into paralyzing shock, essentially crippling the most powerful and sophisticated network of control ever put into practice in the history of the world? Is the EU worried my revelations on changes to Wonder Woman’s lineage could fuel an economic rebirth in Greece- a Wonder Tiger for the second half of this miserable decade? Will the 700 Club have to change its name to the 701 Club after I expose the Phantom Stranger for the strange phantom he is? How will OPEC react to my forgiving portrayal of the oddest of Earth’s Green Lanterns Simon Baz? Will they share my appreciation his unlikeliness? Or was it the Freemasons all along… worried about how Killer Croc is going to look when it’s revealed he’s been pulling the strings in this puppetshow ever since Brentwood!

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Green_Lantern_v.4_24

While WXL is officially a comic book blog, it’s been a while since I addressed an comics-related issue. I’ve been rereading the Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps, starting with Rebirth. I’ve just finished The Sinestro Corps War and will probably stop after the other Lantern Corps are introduced, but before Blackest Night goes into full swing. It’s hard to read this material without considering the impact that Geoff Johns has had on the Green Lantern and the DC multiverse in general. When Johns and his various and very talented partners-in-crime brought Hal Jordan back as a Green Lantern, he had been possessed by both Parallax and the Spectre, spent a bit of time with the Phantom Stranger, and played a role in bringing about the destruction of both the Green Lantern Corps and his hometown Coast City. In the books leading up to Blackest Night, the GL creative team resolved the matter of Parallax’s infection of Hal somewhat, enabled Hal to shed the Spectre, returned the ring to Hal’s finger, reestablished the Corps and established additional colors, and brought Coast City back from its ashes.

Please don’t take this article too seriously.

Coast City is traditionally depicted as a California city- sometimes it feels like San Diego and sometimes like San Francisco. Its creation fills a void left by Gotham City and Metropolis’s similarities to New York City and Chicago, Star(ling) City’s similarity to Seattle, and the Gem Cities’ similarities to the Twin Cities. In the Silver Age, Coast City embodied much of the essence of California as understood by the American imagination- a little more laid back than the East Coast, but on the edge of the future, cowboys living better through chemistry. More than Metropolis, Coast City was the city of tomorrow. As the 20th century progressed, California dreaming changed its tone and the American imagination adapted, crafting a new vision of what California meant. This new vision reacted to the rise of new subcultures that became closely associated with California- the Beats, hippies, the Manson family, pornographers, Black Panthers, Scientologists, Silicon Valley, People’s Church, Church of Satan, the out gay community, United Fruit Workers, and other strong personalities that informed both California and US identity. Coast City still somewhat resembled San Diego minus the Hispanic population, but it hardly resembled San Francisco by the time it was destroyed in the 1990s. I see Coast City more like Detroit, incredibly optimistic in the Silver Age and ruined largely by outside factors. Detroit came to mind initially because it’s the hometown of Geoff Johns.

Let’s look at what destroyed Coast City and what destroyed Detroit. Once the Oa of automobiles, Detroit’s contribution to US culture and its international reputation has largely been overshadowed by its economic decline. Can you imagine the American experience without Motown or MC5, much less without the automobile? The economy of Coast City when it is first introduced centers around Ferris Aircraft, which isn’t the automobile industry, but both employ machinists, mechanics, and engineers, if you know what I mean. These two industrial cities are destroyed from within and without.

The destruction of Coast City is generally attributed to three individuals:

Mongul loves yellow

Mongul

Is it just me or are there some underlying racial issues with this character? He is a yellow-skinned villain bent on world(s) domination through dynastic rule. His name is one letter away from Mongol, shorthand for Mongoloid (if you subscribe to the antiquated theory of three distinct races (Negroid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid)) which refers to people with ancestry from Asia. He’s built much more like a Mongolian than a Japanese person and his name is likely inspired by the notoriety of the Mongol Empire. In the late 20th century, the failing communist nation of Mongolia posed little threat to Detroit. Japan and its robust automotive industry, however, posed a significant one and that idea continues to find a captive audience. Manufacturing in Asia has only grown as a go-to scapegoat for a decline in US manufacturing. The nations of Japan and Korea developed economically, achieved legitimacy, and consolidated regional influence largely on the backs of their automotive industries. Their rise came at the cost of Detroit.

cyborg superman

Cyborg Superman

As his name implies, Hank Henshaw is a half-human half-robot version of the Man of Steel. In a dangerous partnership with Mongul, Cyborg Superman transforms Coast City literally into an Engine City. Coast City is replaced by an exponentially more industrialized version of itself to serve the ambitions of the foreign power Mongul. Much like Detroit’s woes, there is an undeniable John Henry overtone to the terraforming of Coast City. It’s man vs machine and machine wins.

hal jordan loves jewelry

Hal Jordan

The legacy of Coast City’s destruction is best characterized by its effect on Hal Jordan. Left so distraught by his hometown’s demise, Hal Jordan allows himself to fall victim to Parallax or what FDR might call “fear itself.” The decline of Detroit has certainly taken a toll on the will power of the people of the city and perhaps in some of their darker moments, people have embraced fear over optimism.

When Geoff Johns brings Hal Jordan back to the Green Lantern mantel, he also brings Coast City back into existence. By doing so, I believe Geoff Johns is communicating a hope for his hometown to persevere through difficult times and eventually revitalize itself. In one of this last moves as Green Lantern kingpin, Johns introduced the character of Simon Baz in his native Detroit, providing a much less nuanced role for his hometown than any parallels that could be brought between Coast City and Detroit.

I like when creators represent, whether it’s Johns placing Simon Baz in Detroit or Robert Kirkman setting the Walking Dead in Georgia. Comics can capture physical and spiritual geography in ways unique to the medium such as Strange Attractors, Deogratias, and Palestine. Of course, the Marvel Universe approaches real-life geography in a way distinctly its own.

In conclusion, I would welcome Aquaman to Atlanta. He’s gonna love the fountains at Centennial Park.

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