Apocalypse Al by J. Michael Straczynski, Bill Farmer, and Sid Kotian

Yes, I’m reviewing another comic book, but not those small ones.  This one is 128 pages.  It follows this private detective who lives in some apocalyptic version of Earth and in this book, she’s pursuing a guy who might open up the gate to hell.  In the process, she meets the Ultimate Darkness, a troll, and her ex who is stuck between life and death.  It seems cliché in science fiction and comics that you always have to show the heroine in her underwear and in a bathtub.  I’m sure one day when there are a lot of girls reading comic books, you’ll have heroes walking around in their underwear and taking baths. 

 Our fiction often follows cultural themes, and in the past, I think Americans were obsessed with cowboys and Indians, World War II, machines, industrial technology, etc.  These days, I get the feeling that a lot of writers are obsessed with quantum physics and the possibilities of time travel, inter-dimensional phenomenon, the Zen concept of reality being an illusion, traveling to the spiritual world, and the whole Matrix thing.  This book trudges through a lot of those themes along with concepts of good and evil.  Modern writers, I think, like to toy with the idea of the grey area, heroes who are a bit evil, and villains who are not entirely evil, and perhaps evil itself not being what you think it is.  I would then like to introduce the idea of microorganisms, symbiosis, and scavenging or trash collecting as it applies to good and evil.  What we consider good is based on our instincts and survival.  I really think people under-emphasize how socialized we are, how most of our behavior is determined not directly from our DNA but rather picking up other people’s behavior.  As perhaps the most socialized of all creatures, we have called most all our social behavior good while designating our anti-social behavior as bad or evil.  In nature, certain reptiles eat their young.  We find this repulsive and sick.  Fact is, for certain reptiles, it works, and if they were to create a concept of good and evil, eating their young wouldn’t be evil to them.  Fortunately, socialized humans defined good and evil.  The only problem is that as social creatures, we treat people inside our group much differently than those outside our group.  We don’t consider it evil or bad to kill an outsider who is threatening our group.  We also think going to war and killing foreigners is often heroic and patriotic.  The big flaw in our sense of morality is that it is based on those with whom we most identify.  Many pet owners would find no problem killing another human to save their own pet.  If and when we create intelligent robots, we are much more likely to treat them kinder if they look and act like us as opposed to looking and acting more like insects or machines.  In other words, if a robot looked like Princess Leia and a robot looked like R2D2, and they had the same intelligence and behavior, you would naturally treat the Leia robot better. 

 As far as my microorganism hypothesis, we are full of bacteria that we cannot live without.  They are symbiotic.  They are good.  We call them beneficial bacteria.  However, in modern society, we are sick, because our guts are filled with non-symbiotic, harmful bacteria that has infected our food, air, water, and soil.  However, while they may be harmful to us and other macro-organisms, they are actually beneficial to the entire ecosystem, because they devour and reprocess dead, decaying organisms that others cannot.  They are nature’s cleaners, creating a more efficient system.  However, nature is all about balance.  If there are too many of nature’s cleaners, they’ll wind up devouring everything, so the symbiotic bacteria that have evolved to live in and with macro-organisms are in constant battle with them.  Unfortunately, as macro-organisms, we are helping the non-symbiotic bacteria proliferate, especially with our idiotic antibiotic programs.  But let us think about this.  Humans, themselves, have become non-symbiotic with nature.  We are destroying countless species and biodiversity.  We are helping and aiding the destructive, trash collecting bacteria.  In fact, they live inside us, and you could argue, influence our thoughts and behavior which then perpetuate them.  So perhaps, humans have become nature’s garbage, and this is why the trash collecting bacteria have taken over us.  They have identified us as trash, and are now in the process of destroying us as they do with all the other trash.  The proliferation of cancer, obesity, diabetes, diseases, etc. it’s all nature restoring balance, destroying us, the creatures that are destroying the biodiversity in nature.  You can look at it as good and evil or nature creating symbiosis and biodiversity or trash-collecting monocultures reprocessing the waste.  Humanity believes it can outsmart nature, but with nature being billions of years old and it’s DNA deeply rooted not only in all living things as well as ourselves, my money is on nature and not humanity. 

 Humans also have a tendency to be arrogant and assume we know much more than we do.  The best way to predict the future or unknown is to look at the past and what is already known.  What we already know is that every time we uncover something new in nature, we realize that the vast majority of it is not known to us.  For instance, we travel down to the depths of the ocean only to realize that the vast majority of life in the oceans remains unknown to us.  We discover DNA only to realize we don’t know what the vast majority of genes do.  We discover dark matter and energy only to find out that it makes up the vast majority of our universe.  What does this tell you?  It should tell you that the future will not only uncover new things but that the vast majority of it will be a mystery to us.  Fact is, we are not just a few discovers away from knowing everything but rather we have not even barely started the journey, that our tiny primate brains aren’t even designed to make the second step of a thousand-step journey, that we would have to surrender our human identities and evolve or transform into a much more intelligent being or group of beings to even imagine what the real nature of reality is.  Pretty depressing if you love new knowledge like I do, but then again, life is not just about knowing.  Much of the enjoyment of life is in falling for the magic trick and not understanding how everything works and being entertained and amazed at magic. 

Oh, and by the way, the comic book kind of sucked.

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