“Mummy on the Moon”
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Chubby is dead. Seaguy is rescued by Egyptian jackals, who drop down metal buckets from the moon to lift him up. There he encounters the originator of the flaming chunks of moon rock that have been randomly maiming his fellow citizens, and perhaps a far larger mystery.
Okay. When Seaguy is plopped down in front of the giant pyramid on the moon, the line “Looks like science lied about this place BIG TIME” is pretty funny. This moon is entirely man-made, the ultimate self-aggrandizing project from an immortal Pharaoh, and while Seaguy’s various trials have earned him an audience with this ancient king, even his empire is only a tomb. Things are no better on the Moon than they are on the dystopic Earth (where all the marvels and wonders of the world have been reduced to theme park attractions) below.
Not so interesting:
Okay, Grant. We get it. Fathers are bad. The corrupt patriarch, desperate in his strangling need to control everything he hates, and even the things he loves, has been a theme (or at least a character) in many of his stories. And if daddy is bad, and in need of un-seating, then an old daddy is worse. And if old corrupt daddies are worse, then there’s nothing more evil than old, corrupt, crazy granddaddies, cut off from all healthy relation to the normal processes of life and spinning their wheels inanely.
This is Morrison’s nightmare, and the latest exemplar is Aten-hut, a pharaoh who usurped the futures of his sons, ignored a succession of wives, and built the moon as his ultimate monument. He’s afraid of a god called Zullibdig, and annoyed at the battle on earth that destroyed the Anti-Dad but ended all heroism. It’s almost too bad he’s lost it, as only his isolation from Mickey Eye has allowed him to muster even the semblance of a super-team (Mummy, Seaguy and a very bossy butterfly). Not that it ultimately matters.
What’s disturbing: This is a dystopia of classic order, a 1984/Clockwork Orange world that only manages a cheery façade due to Stewart’s bright and shiny art. It’s a tragedy, one where the hero barely understands the rules that run his world, whose flailing against them is largely ineffectual, and only costs him wounds to his happiness and sanity. At core, it’s as bleak as those depressing movies about existential loners credits from the seventies who only manage to achieve a glimpse of their utter hopelessness by the credits. Morrison posits a world where sincerity has been co-opted, annexed and replaced by counterfeit pastimes, and of course the implication is that this portrays the world we already live in. A bleak message, one that’s hardly original, and the sense of playful fun offered by initial promotions turns out to have been an ironic façade.
That final view of the moon, once a relic of insatiable hubris, co-opted (and paid for in sand) by the still dimly understood overlords known as Mickey Eye, is chilling.
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