Jun 9, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 471: Final Crisis: Submit, December 2008


A few weeks ago, I read the first issue in the new Black Panther series, and was struck by the fact that it featured not one person of the Caucasian persuasion. I couldn't recall having read any other comics of that sort, and it was a bit of a revelatory moment for me. And then I read this comic, about 20 minutes ago.

It's two weeks after the advent of Anti-Life, Earth is looking more and more like Apokalips (side note, I'd love to have seen some international tie-ins to this series - what's going on in London with Knight and Squire, how's El Gaucho holding up?), and Black Lightning (a problematic name, yes, but they go with it) is attempting to rescue someone from the Hall of Justice when he intercepts an S.O.S. It comes from the family of Mark Richards, a small-time villain called The Tattooed Man, stuck in a school nearby. Every one of the focal characters in this comic is African-American. I have to admit that, prior to this reading, I'd never actually noticed that, which is both good and bad. On the good side, it's a comic about people, and the colour of their skin makes no difference. Contextually, Darkseid doesn't care what you look like - he just wants to enslave you. On the bad side, not noticing this choice of characters means I wasn't paying attention to the implicit political message of the comic, and that's something one should always do. Writing, creating, is political, and we don't do a work of art the justice it deserves if we don't notice that aspect.

This aside, this issue gives us a nice view (odd choice of words, perhaps) of the situation as Anti-Life spreads around the world. It's not an instantaneous thing. Darkseid wants submission, terror, control. He wants people so scared, they submit to him willingly, and then if they don't, he'll take them anyway. Apokalips Earth is a scary place, but, for Mark Richards, it becomes a crucible, as his wife points out, that fashions him into the hero she always knew he was. Richards submits, but not to Darkseid.

To be continued.

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