|Issue Two: My Beautiful Head|
1.1-2 This image at right--the wet or melting hand, presented from a first-person p.o.v., recurs in this issue and in subsequent issues. It comes to represent the "melting" of identity, between Wally and Flex in particular. 1.3 This is the acid issue.
2.2 The goldfish bowl, which pops up in several places and is seen from the inside out in others. The goldfish bowl and the ceramic world of Wally's childhood dreams.
p.2-3 Is it me, or are stripes a major motif in Flex?
p.4 Very Silver Age images...the Silver Age (the 1950's-1960's) was high-concept and in love with the relatively new concepts of science fiction. It is considered the second "Age of Comics," after the Golden Age, which we saw represented in issue one. The phrase "the sinister radioactive residue left behind after the disappearance of the Golden Age Flex Mentallo." indicates theres more than one, which isn't really that weird in terms of comics. The Superman of the 1930's and 1940's and the Superman of the 1950's on were considered to be two separate beings (from parallel universes) until the 1980's and Crisis on Infinite Earths...but to say more would probably require an annotation all its own.
4.1 Technopolis.. names have a hyperbolic power here. We see "Earth Omega" later.Lamb and Turkey Mentallium, which Wally's cat eats issue 1.
4.5 "escape into the real world " Flex understands himself as a character from comic books who has emerged into "reality." What is reality in Flex Mentallo, however, is obviously unclear.
5.5 The ceramic town, also known as the fishbowl, where pets are on constant display. "Gnomes watching me undress " Wally is terrified of being a character, of being watched, read.
p. 6 Ultra-Violet Mentallium means that any of us could be Flex without knowing it. Notice that Flex exceeds the panel in 6.3. Again, Morrison is fooling with our ideas of creator, character, subject, object. The hand of Flex is also the hand of Wally on the first page. Endless parallel worlds, infinite versions, which means that, somewhere, were all superheroes
p. 7 Notice the flip between panel 1 and panel 3, with facing mirrors inbetween. Wally is a mirror image, a parallel version of himself. Notice also the black space facing Wally in both panels 1 and 3... he is facing "space" just as the Legion of Legions is in panel 4. 7.4: Does this "doesnt matter if I die" foreshadow the deadly trip of Kamandi on p. 11?
p.8 Wally gives change, just like the mightiest boy in the universe did in issue one, 20.4. These exchanges bring forth relics of better worlds: the crossword, Nanoman and Minimiss in a matchbox.First glimpse of Nanoman and Minimiss, who compose all matter and being. Smaller than we can see, just beyond our view.
10.3-4 This transvestite character resembles Lord Fanny from Morrison's series The Invisibles.
10.3 "Reality--the imaginary story" 10.4 "The Last Boy on Earth" was the nickname of Jack Kirby's Silver Age post-apocalyptic youth hero Kamandi, who was coincidentally a long-haired blond as well. I use the term "Kamandi" to refer to this character throughout the annotation.
This page is dense. Panel by panel:
13.5 I really wish I knew what was going on with this panel. Any suggestions?
14 Kamandi is in a pose of prayer.
15.4 Kamandi's hand in the water corresponds to Flex's and Wally's wet hands.
16: The Golden Age was simply about "homoerotic wish fulfillment," but in the Silver Age the body becomes fluid and takes various shapes. This is, according to Morrison, "a prophecy of the arrival of LSD in America the comics writers and artists intuited the social transformation in their work." Comic books here are seen as prophetic or even transformative: this kind of faith is necessary to take in the end of issue four. Comics forecast cultural change, affect culture directly. Connections between aliens and super-heroes. "Whose hand am I holding?"
p.18 Clark Kent is here in the bar, as is an accomplice, as is the astronaut who saw the heroes in space. p22 "They walk among us unseen! In secret identities!" Superheroes and conspiracies...is the Legion of Legions any more unbelievable than the Illuminati?
23 Again, the giving of change brings about "secret knowledge." This Mystery Pilgrim is one in a line of faceless men in Morrison's work. Think of the Fact, "Yankee Doodle" (a villain in Doom Patrol). This character is also strongly analogous to the Charlton/DC hero The Question.
24.2 multiple earths, multiple Wallys. Crisis on Infinite Earths: "Next: Crisis on Earth Omega!" 24.5 An allusion to the move from the Silver Age to what is considered the "Dark Age." Lightning at night is a popular image for the next Age; see issue 3 notes.