A comiXologist Recommends:
Harris Smith recommends Saga Of Doomed Universe
The intertextual exchange between the “universes” of comic book continuity and the “real world” of comics creators and readers has long been a fertile arena for exploration on the four color page. From the 40s and 50s work of Will Eisner and EC Comics , which reflected a creative consciousness of the medium often interwoven with the narrative, to more explicitly self-reflexive works like Steve Gerber’s Howard the Duck and Grant Morrison’s Animal Man (and, more recently, The Multiversity) there has long been a fascination with both writers and readers with the liminal space between the eyeball and the page, and the possibility of some link to reality existing within the fantasy.
Scott Reed’s (scottrandalreed) Saga of a Doomed Universe, available through comiXology Submit, is a three part graphic novel that explores this tradition of postmodern reflexivity in a smart, complex and highly entertaining way. On the surface, Saga of a Doomed Universe is a 1980s-styled superhero saga in the fashion of Crisis on Infinite Earths, yet the point of view is not omniscient, or from the perspective of a superhero, but rather an outsider character a has-been hero with a decidedly cynical view on his costumed compatriots. This remove keeps the action from getting too retro or ironic and is aided by the fact that Reed is a really excellent writer, giving his character voice and depth.
Reed’s great writing, clever scenario and era-accurate art (reminiscent of John Romita Sr. would be enough, but Reed adds another layer with the addition of hyper-textual commentary from Burt Colt, the (fictional) writer of the comic-within-a-comic. Colt’s presence provides an entirely separate narrative from what’s happening on the page, yet suggests a link between the fiction world of the comic and his/our reality.
As issue two begins, Dr. Nihilist has killed all the world’s superheroes, save for the series’ narrator, Roy Brannon, formerly known as Super Sleuth, whose only power is a photographic memory. Meanwhile, in the outer narrative, the comic’s author, Burt Colt, is gradually revealing the mystery behind the non-forgotten Saga Comics, involving an industrial accident, a government conspiracy and promises of more apocalyptic revelations to come. Multilayered narrative complexities and Baudrillardian simulation/simulacra dynamics aside, it’s a compelling story, expertly written with tons of mystery and action, welcomed touches of humor and a knowing but unpretentious love of comics that’s sure to engage readers to just about any level they choose to embrace it.
Harris Smith is a Brooklyn-based comics and media professional. In addition to his role as a Senior Production Coordinator at comiXology, he edits several comics anthologies, including Jeans and Felony Comics, under the banner of Negative Pleasure Publications. He’s also the host of the weekly radio show Neagtive Pleasure on Newtown Radio.