Monday, August 07, 2006

Recent reads

I enjoyed Danny Fingeroth's Superman on the Couch, but I'm not sure how much I really learned from it. I got the impression that Fingeroth was writing to a more general audience. Superman on the Couch does a good job of explicating the underlying premises of our most beloved comic icons. But the results of these explorations end up looking completely obvious to me. This leaves me with the impression that Superman and Spider-Man are really just as shallow as many people suspect. That doesn't bother me much, but I bet that conclusion wasn't the one Mr. Fingeroth was hoping I'd reach.

It's somewhat suprising that the Anthony Rogers of Philip Frances Nowlan's Armageddon 2419 A.D. is the forerunner of Gil Gerard's character from the TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Anthony Rogers isn't an astronaut and no part of his original adventure takes place in outer space. Nonetheless it was a nifty adventure yarn, albeit lacking in the sturm und drang I like in my sci-fi. The violence is described in an almost clinical fashion, the first person 'memoir' narration is often detached from the emotional impact of each scene, and Anthony and Wilma Deering's courtship is so chaste you'd think June Cleaver was the author.

The epilogue (almost assuredly written by editor Spider Robinson) attempted to hamhandedly justify the blatant racism of the original tale. No, Mr. Robinson, the evil Han aren't space men that happened to start their invasion of Earth in Mongolia. They're the Yellow Peril and we all know it. A lot of good fiction from bygone eras has racism embedded in it, but whitewashing (ahem) the issue will not make it go away. Yes, I flinch when the writings of favored authors like Howard or Lovecraft wax racist, but I'd rather flinch than see their words altered or justified by later fans.