A couple of months ago, I posted Alias Adam in a series of free installments on this site. For those who have read it and who would like to have the entire story in one place, it is available through Amazon for $ 0.99 on Kindle or for $ 9.85 in paperback. These are the minimum prices the Createspace platform would allow me to charge. You can order Alias Adam by clicking HERE.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read the entire story for free by clicking on the “Alias Adam” category in the black strip on the left. The story uses a combination of science fiction and fantasy to address the problems of sexual assault and child abuse in America. In addition, I offer the following description from the back cover:
He had four biological parents.
She had a father of unknown identity.
He had a history of child abuse.
She had been assaulted throughout her life.
Their physical and physiological abilities were beyond the ordinary.
Somehow, beyond all sensory verification, they were not alone.
Again, you can order by clicking HERE. Happy reading.
The fourth story in DC Comics’ The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes by Alex Ross and Paul Dini is Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth. The plot follows the pattern of giving the backstory first. In this case it is the founding of Themyscira by the Amazons on Paradise Island followed by the creation of Diana from clay by her mother, Hippolyta, the Amazon queen who has been empowered by the goddess, Aphrodite. Continuing the pattern, the story moves on to the recurring theme of the series.
As is probably evident by now, the recurring theme in this collection is the difficulty that superheroes have in dealing with the attitudes of the people they are trying to serve. This goes beyond getting human beings to behave. It is impossible to over-ride free will and force people to receive the right help in the right way. Our species can be funny that way.
Although there are plenty of instances where Wonder Woman can do her normal superhero thing, there are others in which her efforts are not well-received.
Take, for instance, this sequence where she prevents a tank from crushing a girl. The recipient of her heroism runs away from her in fear.
As another example, a Muslim crowd takes offense at her appearance and looks upon her activity as meddling by a cultural outsider. Instead of a hero’s welcome, she is greeted by a hail of thrown rocks.
Humbled and frustrated by these incidents, she (as Diana Prince) confers with Superman (as Clark Kent). I think their appearance here in their “secret identities” is effective because it reinforces the advice he gives her. Having been humbled himself in the first story, he mentions that it would be more effective to work beside people rather than above them. In other words, identification helps bridge the gap in perception between ordinary individuals and those who are extraordinary.
There are some interesting portrayals of Wonder Woman trying to become more involved with humanity by working in war zones as an explosives remover and (as in the illustration below) a nurse.
The following sequence in which she prevents the use of women as a human shield is perhaps one of the better known from this story.
I really liked the approach of inserting this character into real world situations (of which I have shown only a few). I also liked the idea of a nearly perfect character of mythological origin concealing her supernatural ability in an effort to communicate more effectively with people.
Next week: the final story of this excellent graphic novel.
My brother-in-law, James P. Wood, made the above illustration to go with a scene from my first story poem, The Kraken, in which the main character has an encounter with the Griffin King. I obviously borrowed this creature from existing mythology and medieval heraldry, and it appears in historical and current coats of arms, two examples of which are shown below.
The Griffin (or Gryphon) has the head, wings, and legs of an eagle at its front and the body, hind legs and tail of a lion. It is similar to the Hippogriff, which is the offspring of a Griffin and a mare (see the appropriately titled earlier post in this series for more on the Hippogriff). In heraldry, the Griffin represents courage, boldness, and skill in battle. It was sometimes given significance in Christian symbolism.
Perhaps my favorite rendition of a Griffin is this one made by John Tenniel for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I like the way the artist places it in the pose of a sleeping dog.
Of course, I must offer the requisite version by William O’ Connor from Dracopedia: The Bestiary.
I will leave you with one more illustration by James P. Wood from The Kraken.
The Kraken can be ordered on Amazon by clicking here.
I normally post only on Mondays, and I prefer not to interrupt an ongoing series. If you read further, you will understand why I felt compelled to do this today. The next installment of Mythology on Canvas will appear at its normal time this Monday.
When I wrote and published Jacob Leviathan, I expected mixed responses to my use of spiritual allegory and deliberately antiquated prose. What I did not expect was to read “Anti-Semitic Overtones” at the head of a review on the same Amazon page which lists my book for sale. I concluded at this point that:
The reviewer didn’t like the story.
I had awakened in a parallel universe.
Then I read the body of the review and gathered that my use of Mordecai (a “heavily Jewish name”) as the first name of the principal villain was what had prompted the reviewer to make such a strong statement. I must confess that I do not know what it means to be “heavily Jewish”, but I also used other names of ancient Hebrew origin throughout my book. Jacob is the title character and main hero. Gabriel Solomon is his sagacious mentor, Methuselah his ancient hound. Eli (derived from “Elijah”) is his somewhat nuanced but trusted friend. One other unsavory character is named Bart (derived from “Bartholomew” – dang, guilty again). The more general point is that Biblical (i.e. Hebrew) names are endemic to western culture. This is true of my extended family and of the Ozark Mountains which serve as the setting for my story, and I used such names because they contributed to the colloquial tone of my narrative.
Attaching significance to facts is fine, provided enough relevant facts are considered and provided they are afforded more than cursory interpretation. It is also prudent to exercise care in the application of virulent labels. I do not object to other negative aspects of the review. That’s how this sometimes brutal game is played, and I thank the reviewer for making the effort to read and comment on the book which I provided him. But anti-Semitism? I felt that I had to do something, so I turned 360 degrees in a counterclockwise direction before lying down for the night and fell asleep with the expectation of awakening in a rational universe. It didn’t work.