This was supposed to run at Comixology as my monthly column, but given their partnership with DC, they felt it was too mean-spirited. So I’m running it here instead.
As everyone knows (and by “everyone” I mean “the 12 people who still read DC comics and the 350 or so who still comment about said comics on blogs,”) DC released a map of their alternate reality Flashpoint universe last month. Here it is:
Part of the map is dedicated to the kind of fanboy-tease insider “surprises” that always suggests someone’s mother’s basement and dim, sad, lurching figures dressed only in sweatpants and stale cheetos. Oooh…Project S! In Metropolis! What oh what could that mean! And a time anomaly in Central City huh? Chuckle, wooo! What won’t they think of next! And Green Arrow has a whole island from which he can resist the Man! Fight the fight, Ollie! I bet you got just the one arm, same as you did in Dark Knight!
So, yes, it’s the sort of tired property-scrambling that makes you want to dash your brains out against the nearest wall in the vague hope that your carefully horded nerd-knowledge will dribble out with your cranial fluid and that, while you’re lying there in the hospital with a feeding tube down your throat and man-diapers on your shitter, you at least will no longer have the embarrassment of knowing about Flash’s cosmic treadmill, and/or about the necessary impurities in Dan DiDio’s ethical system.
But hey, that’s comics. You interact with DC, you expect to be humiliated and to crave for death. You’re going to ask comics fans to get angry at something like that, you might as well ask them to stop stabbing themselves in the eye with the blunt end of a compass. I mean, if they could find the sharp end, they would have done it years ago, right?
But! This map is not satisfied to just be another example of shitty superhero comics ephemera! This map has dreams, baby. This map wants to climb out of that basement; it wants to emerge into the light of the great American continent, blink twice, and retch up its vile id like a glorious fountain of rancid Atlantean fish-heads.
It’s fascinating, really. What is buried there, deep in the collective doddering hindbrain of the swollen fanboys who call themselves (in delightful self-parody) the “creative minds” at DC? Look! Over here! They have vague memories that some Nazis ended up in South America, and someone told them that Brazil is in South America…and so they put the two together! Isn’t that cute? And they know that Tibet is mysterious, so they’ve made it the home of the Secret Seven! Get it? Secret! And…Asia! It’s out there somewhere, like the truth, but less differentiated. Surely it has a capital. Probably called something clever like, oh I don’t know — “Asian Capital?”
And then there’s Africa which, as you will observe, is “ape-controlled”. If you are in the know, you of course realize instantly that “ape-controlled” means that Gorilla Grodd, the giant psychic ape, has conquered the entire darn continent. It can’t have been too difficult for him, since Grodd has effectively been the only inhabitant of Africa in the DC universe for the past 30 or 40 years. Which is why, if you’re a DC comics fan, it’s natural to think “ape” whenever you think “Africa,” the same way you think “pneumatic ta-tas” whenever you think “woman.” How can you say that’s offensive? They don’t mean anything by it. And if they did, well, it’s only comics. If racism was good enough for Winsor McCay and Herge, why shouldn’t it be good enough for DC? (This is in no way meant to imply that anyone in charge at DC has heard of McCay or Herge.)
All of which ignores the main point, which is that there are zombies in Alaska. Zombies are hip and happening and cool, and, of course, in Alaska they will be even cooler — sub-zero even. It’s comforting to know that DC is paying attention as the world changes around them. Zombies. That’s progress.