Nov 1, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 615: Cosmic Odyssey #4, 1989

I'll admit, right off the bat, that by this point in reading this series, I'd started to lose interest. I really think it does come down to the promise of the covers versus the actual story within. We now have Dr. Fate brought into the mix, so there is some attempt, with both him and the Demon, to bridge the cosmic and the magical sides of the DCU, but I feel like it's too little too late. While magic, both fictionally and when treated in lived experience, does often function as a deus ex machina, it's a little too convenient here. Had there been some indication earlier in the series that there was something mystical about the Anti-Life entity, that would have been great. But there wasn't.

There's an interesting attitude on display here that stems from Arthur Clarke's assertion that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Unfortunately, the way this assertion is most often interpreted is that all things that appear magical are simply technologies that we cannot understand. That's not what the assertion says, though. It says that these technologies are indistinguishable from magic, not that magic is an indistinguished technology, so to speak. But that's how the assertion is playing out in Cosmic Odyssey, that the magical and the technological are simply different aspects of one another, and the science fictional power of Darkseid is somehow pretty much the same thing as the magical power of Etrigan and Fate.

In the end, however, the major problem with this series is that it purports to be much larger than it is. I teach my students to pay attention to titles, and the title Cosmic Odyssey certainly promises some mythological-level adventure going on - I did not get this feeling from the comic itself. It was pretty much a run-of-the-mill superhero story. But, damn, does it have some beautiful covers!


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