Saturday, July 4, 2009

Forever People 6: Violence breeds Violence!!

In the world of story plotting, there’s a step called "The Apparent Defeat." It's just like it sounds, in that the main character will have a major downfall of some sort, but won’t be completely destroyed. This usually follows a point in the story where the character has gone back on his principals, and suffers the consequences for it. Though it’s not quite a perfect fit, this is what happens to The Forever People in this issue.

The story starts with the Super-Cycle being discovered above Glorious Godfrey’s Tents by roaming Justifiers. The narration states that the machine’s "creed is ‘life!’ Programmed to ward off ‘death,’ the ‘super-cycle’ defends itself!" It then transforms itself into a stun-cannon-wielding mini-stronghold. Kirby contrasts the vehicle with the Justifiers as they’ve both been physically "transformed" (one for defence, one for antagonism) and programmed (one for life, and one for anti-life). The real difference is The Justifiers have the option of using Free Will, but they choose to not utilize it. Godfrey reveals that it’s not some science-fictiony mind control making the Justifiers act like they do…it’s that they were given the instincts to destroy "at Birth!! I merely justify their readiness to use them!"



Though they’re willing to use the Anti-Life Equation on the Happyland guards, even when it would seem to go against everything they stand for, The Forever People are disturbed by its zombie-inducing effects. Moonrider seems disgusted by the effect, while a nervous Beautiful Dreamer simply says that it’s "Horrible!" Serifan inspects one of the zombies with a sad face, regretfully describing how their free will has been taken from them. Moonrider starts "a chain of disruption that can’t be stopped" (both for Happyland, and for his team) by shooting a control center which starts a series of explosions throughout the complex. Outside, an oversized Happyland statue, vaguely shaped like Humpty Dumpty in a stars-and-stripes costume, has the back of his head blown out (which probably isn’t a JFK reference, but is a shocking example of a calming figurehead collapsing and revealing a hidden horror.) In trying to capture a ship to get out, Big Bear delineates the cause and effect pattern in this issue by saying, "Violence breeds violence!!"

The police raid the property almost immediately, and are used as a visual contrast with the zombie guards. While the guards stand at attention, the cops dart around on diagonals, yet they all wear uniforms that make it difficult to tell the individuals in each group from each other.

As the fa├žade of Happyland crumbles, so too does the community of the Forever People. Darkseid, in an attempt at self-preservation and to punish the teens for their daring to use the equation, utilizes his Omega Effect to make Vykin, Moonrider, Beautiful Dreamer, Big Bear, as well as Sonny Sumo and Mother Box wink out’ve existence, leaving Serifan alone in the world. This is a dark reflection of the situation that brought The Forever People to Earth in the first place (one member was missing, which stirred gallant action…this time, only one member is left, which brings complete paralysis. Serifan is actually depicted lying down in a heap when he realizes the full ramifications of his predicament.)

Darkseid hasn’t actually killed the characters, but has displaced them in time. He’s once again literally playing the role of Deus ex Machina, cutting off the action of the story, but for his own gain and not for the convenience of plot. Even Desaad mentions this quirk of Darkseid’s character by asking how he could "leave such a dramatic experience incomplete?" Kirby is creating a more interesting villain by not making him completely heartless, but is also side-stepping a difficulty of creating plots with characters who are seemingly all-powerful.

Roused from his grief by the sound of the police, Serifan hijacks a Justifier aero-van and makes his way back to the Super-Cycle. In keeping with its programming, the cycle’s defenses track and shoot Serifan down, representing the breakdown of the communalism the cycle’s been programmed to commit to. Serifan is able to use one of his Cosmic Cartridges to announce himself, and he says that "we two are all that’s left of our unit!!—Just we two!" But a group of Justifiers may put an end to that, as they are seen lurking up the hillside, waiting to attack.

Interestingly, this issue features a backup called The Young Gods of Supertown: Raid From Apokolips, which takes place in the past on New Genesis, and almost appears as a memory that has come to Serifan’s mind. The setup is similar to the end of the last story, which has enemy insurgents sneaking up on Serifan. Yet, unlike the present, Big Bear is alive and there to help him. It reads as a distorted forecast of things to come, ending with Serifan predicting "a time of great trial." He’s speaking of political relations between Apokolips and New Genesis, but the meaning ends up being personal to him.

 
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