Friday, March 2, 2012

Spaceman #4

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso

There is a lot to like about Azzarello and Risso's Spaceman, but I find that the linguistics of the comic are what interest me the most.  In this broken-down future, American society has separated very cleanly along class lines, and that distinction is made obvious by language even more than it is in modern-day England.

Orson, the 'spaceman' who has rescued the reality TV child star Tara from kidnappers, and everyone in his world ('the dries') speak a slang extrapolated from current usage of text and instant messaging.  Orson's people 'ear' instead of 'hear', and 'brain' instead of 'think'.  Tara, and her celebrity actor adoptive parents, meanwhile, speak clear contemporary English, although they are also able to stoop to Orson's level.  Azzarello's approach is novel, consistent, and very well thought out.  Sure, this type of thing has been done before (Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker, which was baldly plagiarized for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome springs to mind in a way that A Clockwork Orange does not), but not to this degree in comics.

In this issue, Orson has to deal with a little too much exposure.  The wharf rats that are his friends now know that he has Tara, while Lilly, the girl with whom Orson has virtual sex, discovers that he is a spaceman, a genetically engineered human, designed to travel to Mars.  Orson's next actions teach us a little about the social apartheid he's lived under, and the degree to which our current civilization has fallen apart in this series.

Azzarello is giving us a very thoughtful and well-planned comic, made all the better by Risso's exceptional visuals.  Great stuff.

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