Monday, July 6, 2009

The Forever People 8: Sassy Kids!!

Billion-dollar Bates, a fat, obnoxious Texan stereotype, is in control of The Anti-Life Equation, and, dressed as members of the Satanic Cult Bates sponsors, Darkseid and his followers are going to try to take the equation from him. But, The Forever People get in the way as yet another example of the Community Vs. Conformity designing principal of this series.

The teens materialize in the nearby town that was bought by Bates so he could practice his art in peace. They run into soldiers rented by Bates and, because they’re forced to by means of the Anti-Life Equation, they go into the caverns below Bates’ estate to wait to be chained.

The billionaire "entertains" four people at his mansion. These four Congress-appointed investigators, examining Bates’ business dealings, seem to represent the Four Estates (one being a lawyer, another being a journalist, the woman being an academic administrator, and, I’ll assume, the other guy’s a politician.) By exercising his power (in such petty and monstrous ways) over these specific individuals who represent something much greater than themselves, Kirby hints at the absolute devastation Bates could bring to the social structure if he is allowed to take control.

During a ceremony with his sect in the catacombs under his house, Bates is given the "stimulus hat," which will be able to "unify…all within range of the ‘power,’" turning everyone in the area into conformed zombies. Later, after Bates is dead, the four investigators inspect the item, calling it a crown. Symbolically, a crown represents the transmitter of the collective consciousness to the individual, not the other way around. It may be that the overload Bates suffers didn’t come from his inability to conform a community, but from the community’s ability to assimilate him.

A, let’s say, interesting scene happens wherein Darkseid sasses the Forever People, treating them like insubordinate soldiers in a line. This is supposed to be a distraction so he can secretly use the Omega Force to get rid of them, but…huh? Why didn’t he just blatantly use the Omega Force? I’m going to assume that this scene reveals not a lack of respect Darkseid feels for the teens, or even a respect, but instead it reveals the pity he feels for them. They keep getting in his way, but they aren’t soldiers and can’t comprehend the horrors of war. And yet again, he doesn’t kill them.

But with this last scene, the main players in this story can be seen as representations of the Psychic Apparatus, with Bates acting as the repugnant, reptilian Id, The Forever People as the organised yet Id-influenced Ego, and Darkseid as the critique-delivering, guilt-inducing Super-Ego. To a lesser extent, the sets on which the action takes place can be seen in a similar light, with the ancient, underground catacombs acting as Id, the organised estate as Ego, and the deserted town as a gutted and rejected Super-Ego.
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