Backlog: Wild Children

by on Aug.24, 2012, under Comics

I can’t decide whether to be pissed off by Ales Kot‘s one-shot Wild Children¬†or impressed that he is willing to risk pissing readers off in his attempt to say something meaningful. In it, a group of teenagers take their teachers hostage, streaming everything they do live to the Web. Very quickly Kot begins to play metafictional games, in which the characters acknowledge they are within the fictional reality of a comic book and, addressing the reader, make larger claims about the nature of all reality.

We’re a generation that doesn’t recognize just one reality; we recognize them all and they’re all real. All equally … real. As we travel, we create a seamless grid: but some realities become half-realized, haunted by their own possible pasts and futures. Perpetually in flux, these realities remain frightened to the point of immobility: a personal psychospiritual crisis of a universe that’s momentarily blinded by the realization that it’s also less than an atom. So we travel back … and we help fix things.

Like I said, I’m always happy to see someone taking on big ideas like this in a comic. Unfortunately, this big idea strikes me as horseapples. This kind of absolute relativism just stopped being interesting to me at all a long time ago, and attaching it to “our generation,” these children of the internet, only makes it worse. Are privileged kids surfing the internet really the heroes of the new age? Do we not need to worry about power or control of the means of making truth anymore?

Think about the fact that in China, the government-controlled internet reports the air quality wrong. How does that fit into this world of infinite realities? More to the point, can’t we confront the problem of the Great Firewall using the everyday epistemologies to hand, without needing to resort to this consciousness-raising dose of fictional universal love? And even if that were a better way to address the Great Firewall, wouldn’t it be more interesting to talk about it in the context of that specific example rather than airy generalities? Ales Kot obviously greatly admires The Invisibles—it would have been obvious even if he hadn’t referred to it—but part of what made that series successful was that Grant Morrison satisfied the reader’s need for stories and characters even as he attempted to make his complicated mystical point about the world. Maybe there just wasn’t room for that here.

Still, even if I didn’t love this one, the fact that Ales Kot thought this big means I will certainly be checking out the next thing he does.

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