Moore Of The Same?
Tripwire’s consulting editor Scott Braden takes a look at one of the stories in short story collection Alan Moore: Illuminations, out now from Bloomsbury…
Writer: Alan Moore
Controversy be damned: Even in the instance of Alan Moore’s shocking, seemingly hypocritical, and somewhat conspiracy-laden literary exorcism of comics and the comics industry, “What We Can Know About Thunderman.” According to the man himself, this is his “last word” on comics. But it is yet another example of his fascination with Siegel and Shuster’s Superman.
“Recovering” comic book scribe Moore’s prose tale, “. . . Thunderman,” from his short story collection of fiction, Illuminations, charts the sordid side of the comics industry through the fictionalizing of long-held rumors and dark-black truths. And it is full of piss and vinegar and angst. Bitterness betwixt every page and he seems to feel no love – only regret – for the industry he left behind in what just seems like a few years ago.
Yet . . .
Among the jagged rocks and ugly ruins Alan Moore sets before yon reader within this “full-length” novella of comic book woe – to be read by fanboys everywhere, he must think – there is still gold to pan. And, according to the author, it is colored in glorious gold and purple. The celebrated writer can’t help but himself celebrate the iconic, four-color “Ubermensch,” Superman, through nigh-poetic prose and pastiche. The Man of Tomorrow had his red and blue. Rob Liefeld’s Supreme, under Moore’s watch and direction, had his crimson and alabaster. And, Moore’s Thunderman dons royal purple and gold.
What else do we know about Moore’s Thunderman? Well, again, like his time on Supreme (more than Liefeld’s original vision which was blatant carbon copy), he is an iteration of Superman, as well as a postmodern pastiche, a four-color fill-in, and a poster boy of power with magnificent purpose. Sure, Moore has iterations of real-life writers, artists, editors, producers, and actors that all played their part in the Superman mythos, but they are colored in mire and bleak brown shit. They are mortal while the characters and concepts and various tropes are glorious and grand. Published by an eerily recognizable American Comics (remember DC Comics was “National Periodical Publications, Inc.” long before it was renamed “Detective Comics”) and through the gray and grief he surrounds his diatribe with, Moore’s various reflections of a Thunderman mythos instead is lovingly dreamt up out of four-colors and beyond. Finding themselves living larger than life within the pages of the invented Exploit Comics (DC’s Action Comics) and Thunderman’s own publication, their exists the iconic hero himself as created by the fictional teaming of Schuman and Kessler (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster). There are, of course, the lead character’s secondary’s, which include: Peggy Parks (Lana Lang), Demento (Bizarro), Felix Firestone (Lex Luthor), Thundermite (Mxyzptlk)
Zoron (Jor-El), Elaine Merchant (Lois Lane), Lord Varex (General Zod), and don’t forget the hero’s super-pet Zando (Krypto). Citizens of the unreal, and fiction under Moore’s conjuring made flesh, they find themselves on the city streets of Macropolis (Metropolis) or high among the spires of Thunderland (Krypton). And they face the deadly effects of the familiar Silver Age Superman tropes, as they try to avoid Thunderstones (Kryptonite) and such. And amongst all the whining and bitching and moaning in this tale of tales, you can almost glimpse Moore’s true joy. For that and that alone, this novella is enough for any true comix fan.
With “ . . . Thunderman,” Moore delivers on the promise of Watchmen and Marvelman and Swamp Thing and, especially V for Vendetta. He gave us what we wanted, which was comic books – and especially its “heroes” which many designate comic book creators to be – seen through a real world lens. But, in truth, they are flawed. They fail. Yet, through the bland and the buggery, they lead no less colorful lives. With that knowledge – and reading what Moore himself considers his definitive comic book story set in “our world” – well, maybe we ended up never wanting that at all.
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Moore Of The Same? Tripwire’s consulting editor Scott Braden takes a look at one of the stories in short story collection Alan Moore: Illuminations, out now from Bloomsbury… Thunderman Writer: Alan Moore Illuminations, Bloomsbury Controversy be damned: Even in the instance of Alan Moore’s shocking, seemingly hypocritical, and somewhat conspiracy-laden literary exorcism of comics and
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