It's been a long couple of days, after a long weekend, after a difficult week, after a tough month. At a certain point, that's just how it is - this newsletter's always going to be a bit of a quick read - but this time especially, because there's nothing I'm involved in coming out tomorrow. So all we have to do this time is take a quick look at...
THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, PANEL BY PANEL
One panel, one entry. Them's the rules.
What a vast, cavernous expanse! The room distorts, perspective shifting away from us. Was the ceiling always that color? The man in the green jacket - still quietly raging - scrunches himself up, as if trying to become small to escape the dreadful vastness. But there's no escape from Professor Horton's baleful gaze - though the reader is mercifully spared. "When I finished, I found I had surpassed anything that any scientist had ever done -"
I mean, on the one hand, that's kind of the job of science. To make any new discovery is to surpass everything that the collective of all previous scientists has ever done. And then the next day, someone else makes a new discovery and surpasses that. But I don't think that's what he's getting at - Professor Horton is saying that this discovery beats any single discovery that any scientist has previously made... and that's a lot.
To put it into some perspective, Professor Horton is claiming here to have out-invented the wheel.
Clocks? Hourglasses? The measurement of time itself? A mere bagatelle. Horton has surpassed that foolishness. The steam engine? So much hot air. The numerical system? A big fat zero. Electricity? Does not spark interest. Agriculture, the seeding of crops? It's for the birds. I could go on.
How about the big one, the one it's all based on - fire? Surely control of nature's most furious element impresses Horton enough that he might take second place? It seems not - though we've got a few panels to go before we work out why that might be.
The meta of it all, though, means that Horton's right. He has surpassed anything that any scientist has ever done - in that before him, there were no scientists. In fact, there wasn't anybody - he sprang into existence alongside the other two goons, one of whom we see here (and he doesn't look happy about it. Existence is pain, I guess.) Vi veri universum vivus vici, Horton cries out. By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe - or rather, brought it fully into being. His invention has set the first narrative in motion. He's the reason we're all here, and for this brief instant, he knows it.
"Why not me?" fumes Green Jacket, "I don't even have a name!" In time, he'll attempt a terrible vengeance on Horton, and his baby universe. But that's some weeks into the future - such is the blistering pace of Marvel Comics Panel By Panel.
IS THAT THE TIME?
Well, I've done nothing and I'm all out of ideas so it's time to go. But we've survived another week, so this is still where you find me when there's actually things to discuss. Love and strength to all those who need it - most of us, I suspect - and I'll play us out with "DOWN TO YOU" by JONI MITCHELL.