Archives for posts with tag: US history

blackestnightofthelivingdead

The best decade has been great for zombie enthusiasts. Despite speculation on zombie fatigue, great zombie media continues to be released. I’ve shared my love for zombie comics on this site before in in my annual best-of lists and also in the Graphic Novel Faceoff (SIDENOTE: Now that the new 52 is officially over, I’m planning a New 52 Face Off in the coming weeks). Some of my favorite zombie books include Revival, ’68, and The Other Dead. 2015 has introduced some hot new zombie stuff.

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DOUBLE TAKE COMICS- If you haven’t had a chance to look at this zombie-filled universe from new comers Double Take Comics, then you should and you can. In fact, you can preview all their issue ones for FREE on their website. They are really pushing the limits of what can be done with digital comics, which makes them pioneers in their fields, but what really makes these titles stand out in the story-telling and dialogues. Having only read issues digitally, I’m really curious to see how their physical counterparts work. As someone who prefers trades and long story arcs, I’m really looking forward to seeing where these comics go because the Double Take universe is off to a great start.

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G.I. ZOMBIE- Another fantastically written (and poorly selling) comic from our my favorite creative teams in comics Justin Gray and Jimmy “Mr. Amanda Conner” Palmiotti! Those two are most famous for their work on All-Star Western (Jonax Hex) and they’ve actually ventured into the world of the undead before with The Last Resort. In addition to featuring Palmiotti and Gray’s story-telling, both GI Zombie and The Last Resort feature cover art by Darwyn Cooke (who does not do the interior art in either title), but beyond those two similarities, the titles are really different. The Last Resort is cute, funny, and pokes fun at our tendency as humans to be self-obsessed, detached, greedy, and petty while G.I. Zombie is a political thriller that has its cute and funny moments, but its social criticism is far more sophisticated and biting.

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GOTHAM BY MIDNIGHT- While Gotham By Midnight is not exactly a zombie comic, it does deal with supernatural mysteries. Like Gotham Central before it, it’s about Gotham cops and it’s well-written, but comparisons can really stop there. Ben Templesmith’s art creates a very playful nightmare to accompany Ray Fawkes’s fantastic story. What I like best about Gotham By Midnight is how the mystery actually means something; without spoiling a great read for you, let me tell you that the mystery touches on one of the most shameful yet elemental parts of US history. While I’m no longer a classroom teacher, I still consider the value of each comic I read as a teaching tool and I’d recommend this one to middle school, high school, and university teachers of US History.

On a somewhat related sidenote, Dan Abnett’s The New Deadwardians is being used in one of Dr. Carol Senf’s classes as a result of my lending her my copy. If you’re not familiar with Senf’s research and you like vampires, I strongly encourage you to check her out. You can find an interview with her here by comics writer and friend of the site Van Jensen.

Back to zombies, I’d also like to encourage all of you to watch the Season 6 premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC this coming Sunday October 11.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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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