Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Forever People 3: The "Happiness Package"

If you have to say one nice thing about Hitler (and no, you’ll never actually have to do that), you can say, "He was one heck of a salesman." He not only knew what to sell, and how to sell it…but he knew exactly who to sell it to.

I should probably mention that this issue of The Forever People begins with the following quote:

"That is the great thing about our movement—That these members are uniform not only in ideas, but, even, the facial expression is almost the same!" --- Adolf Hitler

Kirby is not only pointing out the deadening effect conformity has on the people under the rule of a despotic system with this quote…he’s also defining it as a symbiotic movement, wherein the people are just as willing to be sold these concepts as the leader is to sell them.

Glorious Godfrey (half Joseph Goebbels, half The Shamwow guy) has set up a Revivalist tent show to preach the concept of Anti-Life (a system by which you can murder anyone you disagree with, Guilt Free!), and people are arriving by the "busload" to hear what he has to say. One guy in the crowd mumbles that Godfrey is simply "voicing what’s in our hearts." Though Kirby uses the conceit that once they’re there, they are hypnotised by organ music, he is essentially saying that in flocking to the sermons, the people are willing to accept any horrors as long as their egos are stroked and their ids are tickled.

We then move to an example of Anti-Life in action as a Justifier (A nameless, faceless warrior who had presumably been just some working stiff the day before) tries to kill The Forever People via suicide bombing. I guess Kirby was thinking about Kamikaze pilots when he came up with this plot point, as the first modern strap-on-an-explosive suicide bombing didn’t take place till 1980 (at least according to google…so you know that I’m probably wrong).

The Forever People leave the abandoned neighborhood where they took up residence last issue to find whoever sent the Justifier. Donnie, the crutches-sporting kid, doesn’t want them to go, and they tell him a bunch of slogans about Love (for example, Mark Moonrider tells Donnie to live life "for others—not against them!") This is interesting, as we’ve just read a bunch of sloganeering about hate, but this is where Kirby contrasts Communalism with Conformity.

(I should point out that we never see this kid again, and who knows what happened to his "Uncle" Willie? In a way it’s entertainingly heartless to introduce a crippled child to incredibly advanced beings, then not have them even consider healing his affliction.)

Next, we see scenes of Justifiers entering buildings with lists of names, rounding up and beating the people on those lists, as well as a few book and/or library burnings. The purpose of the lists is not given… Do they share a certain faith or political bent? Are they friends or family of the newly recruited Justifiers? Is this just an alphabetical hazing? That there is no reason shows the farcical aspects of any such actions.

The Forever People arrive at Glorious Godfrey’s show with the help of Mother Box, and decide that Infinity Man will be able to handle the situation better than themselves. He drifts into the tent as a ghost and destroys the organ that has supposedly hypnotized the crowds of people (though if that’s true, why doesn’t Kirby give us a shot of the people "coming out" of their hypnotism?) However, Darkseid uses his powers to both shut down the action of the story and force a change in Infinity Man to make the Forever People appear. They are incapacitated and put onto transports to "The Camp of the Damned."

When Desaad tells Darkseid that he will find his master the Anti-Life Equation in the Camp of the Damned, Glorious Godfrey admits that he believes Anti-Life "can only be induced in others by the means of inventive selling." When it comes to salesmanship, selling faith is the faith…not the faith that you’re selling. And like any good salesman, Godfrey is not so stupid as to believe in what he’s selling. Of course, I’m pretty sure Hitler believed in what he was selling…so maybe he wasn’t much of a salesman.

So, if you have to say something nice about Hitler, I guess you’ll have nothing to say.

My Zimbio
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