Friday, September 6, 2013

Dystopian Renaissance

In many ways, the current economic and political climate reminds me of the 1970s.  Continual crisis in the Middle East coupled with gasoline price spikes, a series of recent political leaders who haven't lived up to their promise and who come across as shadows of those who came before, a good bit of latent economic misery along with a kind of formless fear about the future of the country, a long war in the recent rearview mirror tainting the nation's approach to foreign policy and engagement...  We haven't got consumer price inflation much, per se--at least not when you correct for the "volatile" prices of food and fuel--but capital asset price inflation is rampant on a global scale and equally destructive in the medium to long term.  And more to the point, no one seems to have the balls to take the steps that everyone seems to know are necessary in order to get it under control.

There's more, I'm sure.

Regardless, I don't bring it up to complain, or even just to say, "Wow, look at this cool parallel I drew."  I bring it because I've always thought that the 70s were kind of a golden era of American creative endevors, and I can't help but wonder if we're headed for something like that again.  That may seem a bit ridiculous when you compare the 70s to the 60s and the creative revolution of the counter-culture and the whole youth movement, but to me, there's just something about that "lost" decade of the 70s that speaks a little more directly to my personal soul.  If the 60s were revolutionary and experimental, the 70s were the refinement of the movement, the perfection of the idea.

So yeah, the 60s had the Beatles and Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix, and I'm not taking anything awway from the importance of any of those guys.  But the 70s saw the Steve Miller Band and Black Sabbath and AC/DC; refinements of the theme, to be sure, but still refinements that were well worth having.  Star Wars and Rocky and Jaws; also refinements on existing themes, but improvements on them, to be sure.

This is kind of how I feel about where we are right now, culturally.  Refining ideas, pushing boundaries, taking things to the next level.  We've seen that with the Avengers and a host of other comic book movies, and I gotta say, we're seeing it comics, too.

I bring up all of this for context.  Because when I say that I'm excited for the new version of Robocop, that I think the film's (re)makers have something to say, it's not just because I'm a sci fi geek.  I mean, I am one, but also... I really think these guys have something to say.  And I'm excited to see it.

Along the same lines, if you ask me, the most important comic on the market these days is Greg Rucka's Lazarus.  I recommend comics all the time, but really, this is a thinking man's comic.

The cover for Lazarus #2.
I know that I have friends who think that they're too smart or too adult for comics, but trust me when I tell you that this is one of those comics where that's not the case.  This is one of those stories that has something to say, that will make you think and get in your head.  It's worth your time, trust me.  Plus, they're only on issue number three, so it's not too late to just on board at the start of the story.

Do yourself a favor and give this one a try on your iPad.  Comixology has a great app, the back-issues cost all of a $1.99, and if you like it, you can even subscribe digitally, so that you don't miss an issue.

Seriously.  Somebody do that who's new to comics and let me know how it goes.

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