A Comic You Recommend to Everybody No Matter What
The first graphic novel that comes to mind is Rick Veitch’s The Maximortal. It is a postmodern retelling of the origin of a Superman-type character, and also of the careers of those who created him. Using many of the sad real-life events in the lives of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as a basis, The Maximortal tells the story of a writer and artist working in the early days of the comics medium. They come up with a fantastic idea that makes a lot of money for their company, but they are paid as cheap labor. That’s a common enough anecdote about the way the industry used to take advantage of talent.
But in Rick Veitch’s world, there is much more…. This “fantastic idea” apparently manifests in the real world simultaneously with the comic book page. An alien being with strange powers really does come to earth, just like the character in the comics story. But unlike our fictional extraterrestrials, his mind is truly alien. He doesn’t empathize with us, doesn’t relate to us. He treats us the way some of us treat insects or non-human animals. He is a Nietzschean Superman, living over and above all, using his power to subjugate the rest.
On the one hand, this story is a deconstruction of the naive fantasies inherent in the Superman concept. On the other hand, it is an expose of the terrible fate of early comics creators — another cruel counterpoint to the superhero mythos. And on still a third hand, it is a haunting exploration of metaphysical connections in the collective unconscious of the universe. Perhaps the creators of our seemingly innocuous and meaningless entertainment are actually prophets….
Tomorrow: Great Adaptation of Another Work
If you have another comic to recommend, please comment on this post!