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Pedler, Martyn: "Morrison's Muscle Mystery Versus Everyday Reality … and other Parallel Worlds!" In: The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero. Hrsg. v. Angela Ndalianis. (Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies, 19.) London, New York: Routledge, 2009, S. 250–269.
|Resource type: Book Article
BibTeX citation key: Pedler2009a
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Keywords: Großbritannien, Körper, Metaisierung, Morrison. Grant, Postmoderne, Superheld
Creators: Ndalianis, Pedler
Publisher: Routledge (London, New York)
Collection: The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero
It is telling that superhero slugfests were once interrupted for popular ads that promised to “Make A Man Out Of Mac” with Atlas bodybuilding. This paper will to explore the surreal site of the superhero body in all of power, anxiety, and status as ultimate source of authority. As depicted in titles written by comics auteur Grant Morrison – Doom Patrol, New X-Men, and the Justice League of America – can even all this musclemass compete with the postmodernism of comic book science? The long-standing tradition that only a superhero fight scene is capable of resolving any kind of conflict means that becoming as a ‘man of steel’ is the only guaranteed source of narrative agency. These bodies are bullet-proof, impossible, and constantly on display in costumes that are, after all, more than just spandex. They act as ‘containment suits’ that bind tight concerns of mutant bodies as they stretch, burst into flames, or turn to pure energy. and must be monitored closely for potential betrayal. Once the science-fiction staples of parallel worlds, antimatter twins, and alternate realities intersects with postmodern notions of reality and identity, however, it produces a seemingly unstoppable foe. What good is being able to lift a jet-liner over your head against the terrible threat of ontological shock? In the hands of Morrison, these heroes are trapped in their own imaginary worlds, find fictional storybooks supplanting their reality, and best of all – the Brotherhood of Evil renaming themselves the Brotherhood of Dada. These threats can't be defeated with a solid left hook. Thrust into all kinds of hallucinatory and metafictional worlds, everyman hero Cliff ‘Robotman’ Steele demands: “I just want to know, is this real or isn't it?” When it's impossible to tell, he wishes for a simpler time when he knew exactly what to hit. If whole issues can be spent inside the heads of these heroes, while their bodies lie dormant – if there are multiple spaces, dimensions, and meanings, all equally ‘real’ – then these men are made heroically impotent. The body reasserts itself, however, through typically fantastic means. Watch as pure physical prowess begins to take on conceptual effects! Run fast enough and pass between dimensions, or witness Superman actually “punch through time”. And if whole new paraspaces exist outside of the physical, their dangers can be battled by the way the visual language of comic books translates everything into action – allowing the heroes to literally wrestle their personal demons. This paper would be structured as a helpful guide to avoiding the heroic pitfalls of postmodern angst, with an eye for comic book's unique, fantastic and bizarre conventions. We would end where we began, using Grant Morrison's ultimate superhero creation, Flex Mentallo, as example. Here the physicality of the bodybuilding tradition reaches its heroic (and ironic) peak as the star of those old “Man Out Of Mac!” Atlas ads in the back of comic books is reappropriated to grow up into the ‘Hero of the Beach’, who, by simply striking a muscle-pose, he can magically transform the world around him.
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