Monday, March 09, 2009

AstroGnostic: "The Cosmic Fetus Collective"

Secret societies? Shape-shifting aliens? Post-humanism? Secret societies of shape-shifting post-human aliens? These memes might be news to the mainstream, but not to old school funnybook geeks like myself.

What was once the province of stoner weirdos or visionary madmen is now Saturday morning TV fodder. An argument could certainly be made that 'twas ever thus, though perhaps it's a question of context today. And volume.

Ben 10: Alien Force is the latest hit from the WB Animation folks about the children of a secret society of crime-fighters called the Plumbers (yes, just like Watergate) who have developed superpowers through various means- technology, mutation, alien DNA. You know the drill. This episode is chock-full of interesting esoteric symbolism even beyond the surface narrative of aliens and super-beings. And see if you can't detect a hint of, um, subtext in it as well.

Well, aside from the obvious Gnostic subtext, in which alien identity and potential is either forgotten or unknown. A very subversive idea in its time, and even today. One for which a lot of people have paid with their lives over the past 17 centuries, to be sure.

Certainly this series is borrowing a lot from the X-Men mythos, which we've also seen in Heroes and The 4400. That these memes are so popular now speaks to their resonance, and to the increasing desire to transcend our present evolutionary restraints. But it won't be quite so tidy when it leaves the mythic realm and plays itself out in consensus reality, that you can be sure of.

Ben 10
was created by "Man of Action," which includes three comic book vets, one of whom is Joe Casey...

...who along with visionary madman Thomas Scioli created Gødland, a cozmo-psychedelick-get-yer-phreak-out-momma of a psilocybic Jack Kirby tribute. Here's the wiki synopsis (which almost sounds like a Synchromystic rant):
The main character of the series is astronaut Adam Archer. As the sole survivor of an ill-fated journey to Mars, Adam Archer meets the alien entities known as the Cosmic Fetus Collective, who transform him into a cosmic being and instruct him in the uses of his new powers. Archer is sent back to Earth as the first human to be touched by universal enlightenment.
Fascinating premise- and synchs perfectly with Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, which we looked at last Monday.

Clearly high on its own supply, Gødland is less inspired by the Fourth World comics than by Kirby's completely whacked-out late 70s and early 80s books like The Eternals, 2001, and Captain Victory* (which featured the "Fighting Fetus"). It's also packed wall-to-wall with bong-hit metaphysics and Scioli's limitless visual imagination (which his drawing skills can't always keep with).

But note how psychedelic experience, superpowers, future tech and alien intervention seem to be attracted to each other. That was the primary focus of Jack Kirby's work from about 1965 on. Timothy Leary claimed that it was the psychedelic movement that inspired the rise of the personal computer and the Internet and all of its attendant aftershocks. Graham Hancock argues today that psychedelic experience through the use of entheogens is the tripwire that brought about our own evolutionary development.

Apparently, Gødland is nearing the end of the line in comic form. Given Casey's Tinseltown mojo, you can be sure it will be coming to a movie or TV screen near you, probably via CGI. It's amazing how the power fantasies of lonely comics geeks are becoming mainstream entertainment. Combine that with the new discoveries pertaining to genetic memory and DNA, there's no telling where this all could go.

*Although it's sheer heresy in funnybook circles to say so, Kirby's early 80s work blew my brains out (surely aided by my bad habits at the time). It was the work of a man who was in constant communion with the deep sea denizens of the Collective Unconscious, a man who had nothing left to lose or to prove. His chops and his eyesight may have been shot and his inkers and production team clearly not up to par with Kirby's Marvel hands, but to me there is still something crucial and numinous in those krazy-ass komix.