Monday, November 7, 2005

Looking To The Stars: Liberality Defined

Think back to a simpler time. You were a child. You had a bad day. The bully got your clothes dirty and took your lunch money. All the popular, pretty people laughed at you. And the teacher gave you a bad grade. You were mad. You were upset. And you needed to vent.

So you fantasized. You created a story. One where there was a vast conspiracy against you. How all the pretty, popular people formed a unified front; all part some evil group dedicated to keeping you down. The bully was their main assassin and the teacher their insidious leader. But you were stronger. You were faster. You were able to beat them all in a horribly bloody and ironic manner that would make Quentin Tarantino vomit.

We all have had these fantasies before. The more artistically inclined of us may have taken up pen and tried to make our fantasies more substantial. And nearly always, these written or illustrated fantasies of persecution are discarded embarrassedly by the artist. This catharsis can be cleansing, but a serious belief in the underpinnings of such a fantasy suggests an attitude that is childish at best and insane at worst.

Why do I bring this up? Because the above analogy is the best way I can think of to describe what reading Liberality for All #1 is like. In terms of art and writing, it seems like the sort of thing that Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) would have created, only with G. Gordon Liddy on a Harley instead of a dinosaur flying a fighter-jet.

The plot is pretty standard alternate history science-fiction, like a Harry Turtledove novel but not nearly as well researched. In another world where Al Gore wound up in the White House in 2001 and the Democratic Party gained control of United States Senate and House of Representatives, 9-11 happened with very different results.

We find out that in the course of 20 years, Usama Bin Laden has become a United Nations ambassador, conservative talk-radio has been outlawed and the United States is almost entirely under the control of the United Nations (a move facilitated, we are told, by President Chelsea Clinton and Vice President Michael Moore). The only thing that has any chance of saving the world from Usama's latest plan to destroy New York City with an Iraqi-designed suitcase nuke, is an organization known as F.O.I.L. and the cyborg-limb enhanced trio of Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North.

Honestly, I find myself hard pressed to describe the book past being a childish persecution fantasy. There are several different ways I could take this book apart, but none of them seem particularly constructive.

I could pontificate on the irony that this book, meant to be the first attempt to create a neo-conservative comic, was delayed until this week, when the neo-conservative movement took some serious hits with several prominent conservatives being investigated or indicted on various charges ranging from insider trading to money laundering to obstruction of justice and perjury.

I could focus upon the fact that the three big heroes of this book include two convicted felons and one of the most unashamedly biased talk-show hosts in any media.

I could discuss the author's complete inability to grasp global politics past an elementary school level. Because the book does seem to hinge upon the fact that nobody in the world outside of the conservatives in the United States would ever have a problem with an anti-Western terrorist becoming a respected world leader. (Israel? United Kingdom? Spain? Never heard of them.)

I could even dissect the entire book and pick apart every single factual inaccuracy and questionable conclusion. One particularly glaring example I noticed came during one of Sean Hannity's radio broadcasts, in which he says the country started going downhill after "God" was removed from our money and the Pledge of Allegiance. As any student of American history can tell you, "In God We Trust" and "under God" were not added to either our money OR the Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950's during the height of McCarthyism. In other words, we did just fine without "God" on our currency for nearly 200 years and "The Pledge" in its original form was written by a Socialist with no mention of God and meant to be used by all nations.

Yes. I could do all of these things. But I won't. Because this book isn't worthy of such consideration. It isn't worth anything.

If you are a fan of quality comics, it is not worth reading. It's not even worth buying to laugh at.

If you are a liberal, it is not worth getting offended over. This may be insulting to your intelligence if not your beliefs, but if you get pissed off over this and try and lodge a protest, then the conservatives will laugh at you. So will I, for that matter. It's just a comic book.

If you are a conservative, it is not worth citing as a justification of your viewpoint. One might venture that if you're using science-fiction to justify your political views, particularly a work such as this which is as poorly thought out as it is drawn, you might need a reality check.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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