May 9, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 804: Lone Wolf 2100 #2, June 2002

In preparation for blogging this comic, I decided to read a bit of the original Lone Wolf and Cub, a comic that, as with many of the critically-acclaimed pieces from the Eighties, I was aware of but had no real experience with. I was fortunate enough to come across the first two omnibus editions from Dark Horse, so I've plenty to read...and I'm going to, because it's amazing and captivated me almost from the first page. I managed to get through the first chapter with breakfast this morning, and that was more than enough to give me a sense of what the series was about, and how today's comic takes both the story and aesthetic and projects it into the future.

The first question I always ask of such works, though, is why are so many of our futures dystopian? We, as imaginative creatures, seem to have a very pessimistic view of where the species is heading. In the Interpersonal Relationships and Communications class I'm currently teaching there is a section that deals with self-fulfilling prophecies, and I can't help but be concerned that our propensity for dystopias might well be such a thing. It's one of the reasons I really love the television series Sense8, as it's an almost unfailingly optimistic piece of writing - even at those places where we've been trained by popular media to expect the worst, it's a series that delivers the best of what humanity can be. Well, so far, anyway.

The set-up of today's comic is the journey of an assassin robot and his small human charge. I don't have the first issue, so I'm not sure why this robot is travelling with the little girl, but the desire to protect is evident in this issue, as are the questions as to why a robot created for the purpose of killing is devoting so much of its energy to this small child. Indeed, the more salient question is not so much why, but how, given the violence inherent in the robot's programming. And this is a nice hearkening back to the original series. The Lone Wolf of the original is a masterless samurai who works as an assassin, but who is devoted to the Cub he travels with. What we're getting, in both stories, is a consideration of the ostensibly opposite impetuses of killing and nurturing, and how we might recognize and reconcile these qualities in a single character. The same sort of conversation is taking place in the Arrow television series at the moment. As with the propensity for dystopia, this is a theme I find to be somewhat overwhelming in fictions, this reconciliation of violence and love, really. Is it because we see so much of the former, but wish for so much of the latter? I think perhaps it is. We want to believe that we're nurturing creatures, but the evidence of our senses, or of our virtual and mediated senses anyway, is that we're not. Fictions like Lone Wolf 2100 offer us a way of parsing the two, of seeing in a character designed for killing an ability to love, in the hopes that this, somehow, can be applied to our species as well.

To be continued.

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