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Halcyon TPB

Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011
By: Geoff Collins

Marc Guggenheim, Tara Butters
Ryan Bodenheim, Mark Englert (c), Dave Sharpe (l)
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Halcyon is Marc Guggenheim's take on what the world would be like after the events in Watchmen, but it's not a sequel. In fact, I wouldn't know that it's Watchmen-inspired if it weren't for the forward Guggenheim provides for the trade paperback. Guggenheim also has a co-writer, his wife Tara Butters, who has never read a page from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' comic. According to the forward, Halcyon is focused on the question, "What happens when the never-ending battle for truth and justice ends?" There are only a couple similarities between Watchmen and Halcyon.



The most obvious similarity is between Rorschach from Watchmen and Sabre from Halcyon. They both have similar morals -- not exactly the same, but similar. Their personalities and motivations are completely different, though. In fact, in one of Sabre's first scenes he is sleeping with a beautiful woman, which I don't imagine Rorschach ever achieving. Both are considered homicidal psychopaths, neither have superpowers, and both will die to prevent the other heroes from creating a utopia through immoral means.



In Halcyon the method for winning the battle between good and evil is very different. Everyone in the world is being controlled psychically and loses their desire to hurt others. In an opening scene terrorists murder Bin Laden, saying, "He truly was an evil man."



Something to think about while reading is how Butters and Guggenheim use names for symbolism. Originally the series was titled Utopia, but got changed to Halcyon before publication. Halcyon is the name of the group of superheroes that the main characters are a part of -- it's like Justice League or the Avengers. It also means a period of time that was idyllically happy and peaceful, which fits with the story's world-peace setting. Enos is the name of a super-intelligent chimpanzee in the story, which may refer to either the first chimp launched into Earth orbit or the baseball player, Enos Slaughter. It's probably the space-chimp.



What the story is really about is the question: If the problem of human conflict is solved, then what is a hero's purpose in life? All of the superheroes are forced into retirement because they no longer have anything to do. There is a super-speedster who still finds work by rushing to each natural disaster to save people. Heroes who are scientists still have purpose focusing their minds in other ways. Many of the heroes are battling with the question of what purpose they now serve. One commits suicide; another enjoys relaxing. Sabre is repeatedly criticized for his quest to stop the brainwashing when people start saying he is only doing it to give himself something to do -- people go as far as to say he just wants to murder criminals again.



One of the ways that the psychic brainwashing protects itself is that when people try to investigate it they have cerebral problems. For half the book Sabre is bleeding from his eyes and nose. Inevitably he finds the source of the brainwashing. Fortunately for readers it's at about the same time as the other heroes and due to a loophole in the physics of global brainwashing the heroes are able to have an all-out brawl and start killing each other. Despite only having gadgets Sabre is able to kill a lot of people in one of the best brawls I have seen in comics in a while. I think what makes it so good is that since Butters and Guggenheim use their own characters rather then Marvel's or DC's they are able to do whatever they want with them. Even though stories like Civil War and Crisis have characters resorting to dirty tricks and murder, no company would allow a writer to have every character start butchering each other like they do in Halcyon.



I wouldn't compare Halcyon to Watchmen if it wasn't for Guggenheim saying that it was inspired by it. Butters and Guggenheim very clearly made their own story out of this, so it would be unfair to say this is a Watchmen knock-off. Even though Sabre and Rorschach are similar they also have key differences as characters. This is one of the better comics I have read in a while and I highly recommend it.



Geoff Collins is a former sports reporter in Chicago, IL. He is now studying computer networking and considering committing a crime to get health care, like this man.



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