November 1, 2006

JSA Classified # 18 - Thoughts (Spoilers)

I have to admit, expecting realism in comics may be a bit of a fools' errand - after all, most comics are not hard-hitting documentaries, but about guys in tights beating each other up. However, much like Polite Scott and medicine, I have some quibbles about JSA Classified # 18 - I've worked in the substance abuse field for quite a few years, and am familiar with the concepts of recovery. (Plus, I know people who actually are in 12-Step recovery - if any of you are in recovery and would like to comment, please feel free to sign "anonymous" or "Friend of Bill W." Please try to be respectful with this).

So, anyway, onto the book - the plot concerns Hourman II fighting Bane, who has kidnapped Hourman I, citing an unusual connection between Miraclo and Venom. In the midst of exposition, Bane informs Hourman I that
"(Your son) said that he beat his addiction to your Wonder Drug by 'accepting his own weakness'"
It's later repeated towards the end. First quibble - recovery is not about admitting weakness but powerlessness. If someone enters, say, Alcoholics Anonymous, they are admitting that they have a problem - that they cannot use alcohol. If they do, they go down a spiral, much like a Jellinek scale. So, they admit that they are powerless over alcohol - they can't have just one. As they progress, yes, they admit their faults and do what they can to make amends, but they don't admit weakness. A later quote from Hourman II that he "conquered...drug addiction" is a misnomer. Addicts and alcoholics don't say that they conquered, and if I remember my AA Big Book, alcoholism is a disease that is "arrested, but never cured."

It's another moment - one that parallels many criticisms of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous - that rings false. It's when Hourman II takes a "time out" to pray to his Higher Power to trigger his time vision. In recovery, a "Higher Power" isn't prayed to like Santa Claus - most addicts/alcoholics/co-dependents feel as if they are "in control". Relying on a "Higher Power" isn't asking for results, but allowing things to play out with a certain amount of faith. It's also a false recovery presented, as Hourman II
  • not only relies on a "non-addictive" form of Miraclo, but
  • gives his father - another addict - a Miraclo pill to end the story.
Now, despite these quibbles, there are two things I would like to say - first, I like the idea of the recovering super-hero, matching 12-Step concepts with the whole idea of being able to lift buildings. (DC, if you're interested, give me a call, and I'll put together a proposal by Christmas. I'll even write it. It will be like a super-hero version of Stuart Saves His Family, only with more punching).

In addition, if the rumors are true, Hourman II will be "married" to Jesse Quick/Liberty Belle, and I like the idea. Two second-generation legacy heroes, each who had their own period of exile from the super-hero looks to be interesting.

Hopefully, Tony Bedard can do a little more research before writing it.

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