Friday, August 29, 2008
The Maxx (YouTube clip 4/12)
"I wish it was time for Cheers. But it's not. It's time for vengeance." Brilliant. The deflation of the superhero monologue is one of Kieth's best maneuvers, but I suppose I should not stop to point that out every single time. Especially here, as he makes his third run at the "talking out loud" gag that is maybe a little old now. I will say that I love how 19th century the men look in the one shot of the crowd.
The Maxx refers to Mr Gone as a sorcerer here. This is an interesting City-Outback parallel. The sorcerer is going to be someone to fear because he controls reality, and can control your mind. The fact that in the city Mr Gone is a rapist says something important about the hold rape has on its victims -- something Kieth is very interested in both in the Maxx and in his other comic book work (Four Women)
The incorporation of stylized sound effect balloons even in a cartoon where there is sound is awesome. It really saves that device from the Adam West Batman cartoon.
"I have penetrated to the wet soft white squishy but toothed heart of darkness." I do not want to over-read this line. But in a series about sexual violence and male anxiety around powerful sexual women, I cannot but connect the Izz to the vagina dentata, and Freuds famous statement that "The sexual life of adult women is a “dark continent” for psychology," (in other words, the heart of darkness). My gender theory professor friends would be quick to point out that Mr Gone is quite phallic in appearance, with his bald head (these same friends described Capt. Picard like that). Kieth is loading his symbols.
The doll again appears again, and it is quite creepy.
I skipped over the Maxx being refered to as Br'er Lappin, but this is foreshadowing, and we will get to it later.
Gone enters in a mask, and African mask, and with it Kieth sets up one of the reasons the superhero genre works to his advantage -- the superhero mask, Maxx's mask (referred to in this scene), plays into psychoanalytic ideas about masks and their relation to the truth. We will be headed into Jungian theory soon -- theory Kieth is clearly familiar with -- and this is the set up. In this scene Gone explicitly says Maxx is not a superhero and that this is about something more complicated that comic book ideas about good guys vs bad guys -- an interesting turn that Gone, sorcerer, has much in common with Kieth, who sees the larger picture. The Maxx continues to be dumb. The whole scene goes completely into left field as Gone (rapist-sorcerer) and the Maxx (superhero) have a civilized chat, where the "hero" is educated on the nature of reality.
We are told that Julie is in danger -- but what threatens her is "the truth," which is quite psychoanalytic and not at all superhero stuff. Gone says that the outback is real and that the "real world" is just a dream where we play out our fantasies. Julie created a fantasy world of control in the city, and the Maxx has to keep her from learning too much of the truth all at once -- very like an analyst, or an internal psychic defense. Julie is revealed, obliquely, to be a rape victim who used her money to build this world where she controls things. And the Outback is clearly associated with her inner self -- which of course psychoanalysis would say is more "real" than the masks we wear when we are acting tough, as superheroes act, and as Julie (her underwear on the outside of her clothes) acts.
Kieth is heading for territory comic books -- like action genres in general -- are really bad with: describing internal states. He is developing a new language for having superheros and complex inner states share the same page, in something other than the monologues of grim and gritty superheroes.
Hilariously, when the Maxx recounts his meeting with Gone, he says "At least that's what the villain said. And who can believe a villain?" As a superhero, the Maxx cannot really change or grow in any meaningful way -- stuff happened and he chugs along as unaffected as Superman or Batman might be.