A pirate I was meant to be
I take it everyone who happen to this site this has read Watchmen, Alan Moore’s seminal masterpiece. I’m saying “read” I mean either read it, or will do so immediately. There’s just no excuse for not reading/owning/knowing it by heart. One of the layers in this opus’ complex weave of threads is the “Tales of the Black Freighter”, which is a pirate comic book being read by one of the side characters in the book. Later we find that the creator was one of those working for Ozymandys at the island… all right, I’ll spare the spoilers in the rare case you haven’t read the book.
At any rate, the concept of comic within comic serves both as an atmosphere setter (a very dark and foreboding one), as well as another method of realising this alternate reality. You see, in the world of Watchmen, superheroes are a reality, therefore, they don’t occupy the comics. In their place, pirates have become the comic books mainstay. This isn’t completely far-fetched, mind you. After the “Golden Age”, and the fall of superhero comics, the publishers turned their efforts to Westerns and horror.
The story “Tales of the Black Freighter: Marooned”, unravels slowly, issue after issue, until it gets to the chilling conclusion. While I believe the best (and up until now, the only) way to properly experience this is as part of the original context (i.e. by reading it as part of the Watchmen books), it holds its grounds enough to be experienced as a stand alone. Enter “Marooned (The Reconstruction)“.
The guy behind the site, collected each appearance of the TotBF story in Watchment and compiled them to one “issue”. It’s not fully realised/reconstructed, as he refrained from adding any art that wasn’t there originally (which means the first couple of pages contain nothing but narration), but all in all, it really displays the power of Watchmen, that inside that magnificent work, lies a full-blown comic issue.
Speaking of “real” superheroes, I watched “Mystery Men” last week. It’s very much influenced by Watchmen (as anything comics-related, in all honesty, the influence of that book was staggering), but also has a lot of original concepts to hold its own weight. For example, the cast is made of the lower tier or actors. Like their characters. Another thing is the “powers” which are more of a theme than meta-human abilities.
In fact, this idea of real-life superheroes becomes more and more with movies like “The Incredibles“, “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” and the new TV series, “Heroes” (Flash warning). Naturally, this might have the tendency of getting really boring really fast, but until then, enjoy the ride.