How to put this? I got done with work for the day, I started drinking a strong white russian while listening to the music of the 80s, and then, in full relaxation mode, I remembered I had a newsletter still to write before tomorrow. So, uh, apologies if this week's Marvel Comics Panel By Panel is still more unhinged than usual. Well, let's just dive right in...
WHAT'S OUT THIS WEEK?
What isn't out this week?
"You're the one who wants to hold her – hold her and control her! You'd better forget it! You'll never get it!" That's a direct quote from Storm to Destiny about Mystique in this week's soap-operatic Storm And The Brotherhood #2 - it's a comic that will get a hold on you! Believe it! Like no other, before you know it you'll be on your knees for the star-spanning, cosmos-searing art of Andrea Di Vito, just as Phil Collins sang! All this and Cable's new look, the evolving Jon Ironfire and fan favourite Loolo...'s granddaughter. And they all fly spaceships! It's like no other, I'm just trying to make you see!
Also out this week, and outside the grip of Phil Collins - it's Wasp #3, and in this issue the Wasp does not feature! That's because Janet Van Dyne and Nadia Pym have been consigned to a realm where the Wasp never was! Can they still be cool as hell in this new reality? Clearly the answer is yes, and Kasia Nie brings the weird what-if world to life with aplomb – here's a preview to show you.
ANSWER ME THIS, TECH BROS – CAN AN UNFEELING A.I. STUDY MARVEL COMICS PANEL BY PANEL LIKE I CAN???
I say NO! And to demonstrate, here's my take on the fourth panel of the Marvel Universe!
Phineas Horton, plunged into a void of absolute darkness and framed by what looks like a rift into what is surely Higher Space, tells us that as we already know (when did we learn? in nightmares?) he has been working on a synthetic man, an exact replica of a human being.
An exact replica of a human being is not that much to write home about. Anatomists were building exact replicas of human organs from wax long ago, sculptors from marble before that. If you want to see a functioning human replica in the modern day, there's no shortage of backyard scientists on YouTube firing golfballs at jelly torsos from home-made pneumatic cannons - in slo-mo, yet. No, if this is meant to be a significant announcement, Horton obviously means more than just a replica - he means a replicant. Not just a synthetic man, but a synthetically alive man. Life in human shape, but artificial, unnatural - not greater, but less.
There's precedent, of course. In Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein is not made of body parts. There is no lightning, no chemicals - instead, the method of the creature's creation is top secret, hinted at but never outright stated. Life is brought to unliving matter - that's all we need to know. Frankenstein, like Horton, creates a synthetic man, and despite selecting for beauty, the result is hideous - but also, hideously powerful. It escapes. It kills. This is the last "synthetic man" to make a major splash in fiction. This is what Horton wants to repeat.
Compare with Superman - an angel sent from above to stand up for the little guy, to spread the super-socialism of a more advanced society to backward mortals who haven't learned how to activate their own super-morality. A man who, we are told, has the immense proportional strength of an insect, yet devotes that strength to the common good.
How can we possibly get to someone like that from the terrifying man-made homunculus Horton is implying?
What universe comes from this?
Welp, somehow we got through another week, so this is still where you can find me. Love and strength to all those who need it, and I'll play us out with "THERE'S GONNA BE A STORM" by THE LEFT BANKE.