Saturday, July 01, 2006

Ridiculous Ways To Die, Part the Second

Since death in a comic book is so impermanent, characters tend to have to shuffle off this mortal coil in amazingly over-the-top fashion just to make their probably-soon-to-be-undone death memorable and meaningful, if fleetingly.

The Warren Ellis/Bryan Hitch/Paul Neary/Laura DePuy run on Authority is probably Teenage Jon's favorite book ever. Where Slightly Older Jon would put Starman or maybe Invincible or Fables and Tweener Jon would rank Morrison's JLA, Teenage Jon puts Authority. It's one of those things that I think you probably had to read at a certain age - I didn't read Catcher in the Rye until I was in my early twenties and thought it was the whiniest book ever while my friends who read it at age sixteen swear by it - but I still love it, regardless of its ludicrous one-upmanship and the total mess the book became later.

But we're here for the Ridiculous Way to Die. Yesterday, we learned about the effects of turning off a switch and allowing the massive powers of the fourth dimension to spill into Darkseid's Zombie Factory on the moon. Today, we learn why Teenage Jon thought Jack Hawksmoor was the best idea ever.

Hawksmoor was introduced as soon as Warren Ellis took over StormWatch from whomever the Hell was running that charnel ship prior. If you don't know StormWatch, think Checkmate minus all the chess imagery, but plus all the crappy characters inherent to a universe created whole cloth. Ellis' first act was to clean house, dumping something like two-thirds of the cast and introducing a few new characters. He brought in Rose Tattoo, a largely silent, terribly underdressed female embodiment of death. He brought in Jenny Sparks, a cranky British woman with lightning powers. And, like I said, he brought in Jack Hawksmoor. Hawksmoor's your typical Ellis protagonist: wisecracky, abrupt, and dressed like he's fronting a ska band. If you know Pete Wisdom, you know Jack Hawksmoor.

You'll note I didn't describe Jack's powers above. That's because, unlike Sparks or Rose, his powers are a little more... esoteric than would be easily explained in a sentence fragment. See, Jack was kidnapped by aliens with unsettling regularity as a child so as to make him into the God of Cities. His organs are all alien in nature - he's pretty much only human- looking. The abilities granted by these modifications are weird and varied: cities "talk" to him, he's strong, he's fast, he can mess with gravity on a local level, he can tell buildings to fall on people, he can do vaguely-defined other stuff. On one occasion, he wore the city of Tokyo as a suit and beat the Hell out of a city from the future. But I have no idea if that's actually in continuity or if Mark Millar was just screwing around.

Anyway, Jack and the rest of the Authority traveled to an alternate Earth by way of the Bleed after said alterna-Earth invaded their world. The bad Earth is run by a blue, horned fellow by name of "Regis" who is a very, very mean blue, horned fellow. He's also ridiculously hard to kill.See? In the foreground there, crumpled up like a used tissue in a teenage boy's room, is the Authority's resident kicker of ass, the Midnighter. Midnighter's power, basically, is to be the best fighter in the room, so him losing a fight means that the guy he's fighting is one bad mother you don't want to... et cetera, et cetera. The "other one" Regis is calling out is our boy Jack.

Regis is about to learn a very important lesson.For a while, over in StormWatch, the book focused on a different alterna-Earth, one where Jack ran the team instead of Henry Bendix or Jackson King. In that story, somebody mentioned that the crew of the SkyWatch satellite, StormWatch's headquarters, talked about something called "the fear of Jack."Not wholly unwarranted, obviously.

If there's anything Warren Ellis is good at, it's speechifying. By now, Regis has to be at least a mite concerned for his own safety. I mean, a scary voice is listing off his crimes while rocks dramatically fly around him for no readily apparent reason. Tell me you wouldn't be nervous.

But what's Jack's game? Oooh, he's going to jump right through Regis, effectively rending him in twain. That old chestnut.

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