So today we're going to talk about comics and spacetime and butt stuff and addiction and Willem Dafoe and did I mention butt stuff.
(Some NSFW pics follow, so, you know.)
That's not my favorite cover. This one is:
The premise is this, in a nut: A young couple discover that when they rub their no-no places together and make the big ugly wow face, they temporarily stop time. They pop a wahooney together, the world freezes around them, and for a time they can go anywhere, do anything. They decide to use this talent to rob banks.
It's to save a library. They're not jerks or anything.
I've giggled like a goddamn loon, reading this thing. It's stuffed with joy from both ends. For instance, there's this particular romp through a time-frozen porno store:
There's Suzie's girl's room sex ed:
And there's even a sex advice column in the back.
But that's not why I'm bringing it up here. I'm bringing it up because I'm not a careful reader, so it took me a few times reading the first issue before I realized that Matt Fraction's not really writing about 4 CORNER SIMULTANEOUS 4-DAY TIME PUBE. He's doing something a bit more subtle.
Here's Suzie going into what she calls "The Quiet" for the first time:
Pretty normal response even for those of us who can't stop time with a tub faucet or battered lingerie catalogue. But Suzie's fascination with masturbation goes well beyond the usual teenager's, because for her there is of course more there there. There's a refuge, a country to explore. And she needs that refuge because, well, her dad died and her mom's an alcoholic now.
This is the one place where Matt tips his hand and shows us what he's really holding here:
Let's back up for a second and talk about Philip Seymour Hoffman. Russell Brand wrote this after Hoffman was killed by his heroin addiction:
The reason I am so non-judgmental of Hoffman or Bieber and so condemnatory of the pop cultural tinsel that adorns the reporting around them is that I am a drug addict in recovery, so like any drug addict I know exactly how Hoffman felt when he "went back out". In spite of his life seeming superficially great, in spite of all the praise and accolades, in spite of all the loving friends and family, there is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes [sic] all reason and that voice wants you dead. This voice is the unrelenting echo of an unfulfillable void.
Addiction's a bitch to pin down because yes, it's a physical illness, but addicts use for psychological reasons too. It's an anesthetic, a way of hiding from whatever part of their lives or themselves they find intolerable. Taken to its logical conclusion, it's suicide by shelter.
Booze and drugs are a comfort, a respite. One that to a certain sort of person with a certain sort of brain suggests it could be more than that, maybe even a solution to their problems. Then it fucks everything up, which amplifies the need for further retreat, which means you use more, and round and round the garden like a teddy bear.
Suzie and Jon each find and retreat into The Quiet on their own. Then they find each other, and now they have someone to share it with. The love affair with their hiding place is renewed and grows stronger, even seems healthy. They go every chance they get. Then comes the day they figure they can use it to solve their problems. You see?
Matt's writing about his own addiction here, dressing it up in a Star Trek redshirt and a garland of anal beads. The story's really about about hiding and enabling, looking in the wrong places for solutions and finding only more reasons to hide. It's about being hooked.
Stuff like this is why I keep coming back to comics, why they continue to matter so much. There ain't that many places in Very Serious Litchracha that problems with this kind of weight get processed through very childlike (if R-rated) play. And make no mistake, for all the boobies and boners, this story has a child's heart at its center.
It's tailor-made for my twitchy, addled brain, and I know it's the real thing because I always feel grateful to have read it. So you should too.
Also? Glowing dongs.