Monday, December 8, 2014

Winterworld: breaking the political divide

Earlier this year, Chuck Dixon - who may have his name on more Batman comics than any other writer - added to his authorial credits an article for the Wall Street Journal where he bemoaned the forces of liberalism in the comic book industry. He also appeared on Fox News to repeat his dirge.

Obviously, a Conservative speaking to Conservatives about something Conservatives aren't terribly interested in to begin with isn't going to affect much change; indeed, the greatest impact I saw from Dixon's efforts were increased attacks on him by comics fandom. But leave us not be divisive - how can we bridge the gap between comic book-reading Conservatives, Liberals and the rest of us who truly do not care? Perhaps Dixon himself has the solution.

In 1987, Dixon authored a short-lived comic book series for Eclipse titled Winterworld. It's set in a catastrophic future where the Earth has been covered with snow and ice and humanity must forage for survival, barely able to grow any crops to sustain themselves. The chief protagonist, Scully, drives a vehicle which can run on almost any form of fuel and he wanders the frozen globe, looking out for himself (and his pet badger Rah-Rah; also, teenage waif Wynn).

Obviously there's nothing particularly political about the concept, but that's not my point - Dixon has a pretty good record of keeping politics out of his stories to begin with. Carrying on, the original Winterworld stories were collected by IDW in 2011 and earlier this year Dixon began a new series which seems to be existing as a series of mini-series (there's also a TV show being developed).

In issue #3 (from which these panels, drawn by Butch Guice, originate), Scully has found a veritable paradise in an unfrozen part of South America, so naturally genre-savvy readers are curious to learn what the "catch" will be. Obviously Scully's journey can't end here (not if the series is to continue), so what's wrong with these folk? They're very interested in Scully's vehicle and reveal they have enormous stockpiles of fuel. However, they don't want Scully to go driving on missions for them, but to simply pour the fuel in and let the engines run.

One of the locals explains their theory: the Earth became a frozen wasteland because there weren't enough cars emitting co2 to cause global warming; their plan to save the Earth is to return to the ways of their ancestors, as detailed in a sacred book; Scully can't read Spanish and doesn't recognize the tome but it's obvious to we readers that the book is a copy of Al Gore's Earth in the Balance.

Now that? That's pretty funny! When you're aware of Dixon's politics you might read the scene as being anti-climate change (because climate change is something Conservatives are lockstep against for... unclear reasons). But the scene is funny because we're privy to information the characters aren't. Their situation is tragic, but their attempted solution is so clearly misinformed that it can't help but be amusing.

This, then, is something which Conservatives, Liberals and the apathetic can all agree upon: Al Gore is funny!

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