Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Efficiency and Progress is ours once more

So I was at the library and saw a comic called Ball Peen Hammer. The cover features a black clad gask wearing, pipe wielding chick. That boded well. Sadly, it was not a reflection of the quality of the comic. The book is an incoherent mix of the Talking Head's Life During Wartime, Mad Max, and the paranoid early 70s ravings of Phillip K Dick.

The story is fairly simple. Two dudes are in a shithole and are forced to perform bizarre and evil acts. One dude longs for this chick he met one night. As it happens she is looking for him. They both see how terrible the world is and little is resolved. The other dude is a writer who wants to document what is going on, but is too shocked to do it.

The thing is, what is going on makes no sense. Some terrible disease is ravaging the arty part of town so something called the Syndicate has quarantined them. There is awful acid rain. This is all terrible of course. The men though are called to go find black children, hit them on the end and bag them. Then this giant of a man comes and takes them away. This last bit is strange, as we never see non-whites.

Who is it that is being oppressed by the Syndicate, or shall we say, The Man, is never made clear. It may be minorities, as these dudes are supposed to kill them. It may be the poor as everyone here looks poor. It may be the art class, as in a bizarre piece that made me think of that awful orgy scene in Matrix: Part Suck. Apparently, all the artists and hipsters were totally chillin' and lovin' in some underground party space when the Man came and kicked them all out and then filled the place with concrete.

I think the circumstances are supposed to be unclear and generalized and that we are supposed to see that good cannot thrive while evil reigns. The problem is the moral choices that are somewhat presented are meaningless when they are set in a nonsensical background. Who cares what they do in a silly story. Sophie's Choice is powerful because something like it probably did happen and the moral weight is terrible. This book is just silly.

One small thing that stuck in my craw. The forces of oppression use AK-47s. What the hell? The AK-47 is the symbol of rebellion the world over. It's on the flags of Hezbollah and Mozambique. If Franz Fanon was a weapon, he'd be an AK-47. Of course, the reality of the gun is different, but from a symbolic perspective it is clear, the left uses the AK, the man uses some high tech guns.

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