Saturday, September 19, 2009

Out of the Vault- Eddy Current

Hey, remember back during the Reagan administration when Al Gore was this complete non-entity in the Senate who was overshadowed by his much more famous wife Tipper, who was part of this right-wing attempt to censor music by putting warning labels on records? Back before rappers and hip-hoppers showed us that white people are complete amateurs at putting out shitty music that still manages to sell because it says "fuck" every three seconds?

What's that? What's a 'record,' you ask?

Get off my lawn.

Anyway, Eddy Current was an independent 12-issue miniseries that came out in 1987, two years after Tipper and the other wives made their first splash. It was published by Mad Dog Graphics, a publishing company put together by Jan Strnad that put out an interesting little slate of comics.

It was billed as a "Twelve Hour Book." Each issue took place supposedly in an hour of real time, an interesting little conceit that was later stolen by 24. The book begins as 6 p.m. where we find Eddy, an inmate at Dum Dum Asylum, who has just received the Dynamic Fusion Suit he ordered from his favorite comic book, The Amazing Broccoli.

Stripped down to his tighty whities, Eddy dons the amazing suit, complete with battery compartment on his groin, because, you know, groins are inherently funny and there hasn't been enough silliness yet. He then realizes he doesn't have batteries, so he plugs the lead wires into an electrical outlet at the exact moment lightning strikes the building, and voila...

Instant hero. The power goes out in the building, which deactivates the security alarms, leaving Eddy free to escape into the night in order to save the world with his new super-suit which is now really super.

Over the next twelve hours, Eddy contends with some local thugs, Elvis movies, a man-like nun who believes he is the Messiah reborn, an ex-girlfriend and her present boyfriend, and a shadowy cabal of old ladies who intend to enslave the entire city with mind-control rays beamed out from their radio station to make people dress nice and behave properly. Villains.

The book was quirkily drawn and just as quirkily written by Ted McKeever, and I bought all 12 issues, even though I never really got it. I mean, I got the groin joke, and the PRMC references, and the implication that Elvis was a big phony fake who caused hideous pain to all the really cool cats by his very existence. Religion is fake and comics are stupid and so-called moral do-gooders are a bigger threat to society than, you know, assholes who murder people in alleys with a wrench. Oooh, it's so edgy.

I just never got why this particular pose was supposed to be so cool. I mean, I must have agreed with it on some level, because I bought 12 freaking issues of the thing, but whenever I've thought back on it since, I always thought of it as that book everybody else was raving about that I just didn't like much. I mean, the thing was nominated for four Eisner awards that year! Somebody liked this shit. I think I just kept buying thinking that at some point the goodness would emerge; maybe when I read the whole thing, it would make sense.

But no, the entire thing boils down to poseurs vs. straw men and adds up to a bunch of running around for no ultimate reason. There are a couple of moments of "pathos" that are supposed to be dramatic, but don't work, because McKeever has worked so hard throughout the entire series to make sure you don't take anything seriously that it rings false when he does try to be serious.

Thinking back on it, I think the biggest problem I had with it is that there's nothing in it to root for. There's plenty of stuff to be against: religion and stupid superhero comics and ignorant people and Elvis movies and the mental health system and the cops and music censorship and people who conform by wearing ugly pants. But in the end, there was nothing to root for except adopting silly ironic poses and acting like you're better than all the other idiots out there who like lame stuff.

And that may work for 15-year-olds, but it's too thin to make a real story.

No comments: