HIV

DC Earth

In DC comics, there are mysteries and crises, invasions and wars. One sempiternal war is between Superman and Doomsday. Another war that remains unresolved is with AIDS. It is not a secret that many characters suffer from the syndrome and continue to have its ill effects.

There is in fact an interesting theory: that AIDS is actually a signal of Fourth World invasion for a weapon of nuclear armament. The theory lacks evidence at the moment, however, it is to be observed that the epidemy seems to target a young population at risk: college educated, young, superhero, wealthy, and sexually active. The case is one superhero related to Green arrow who became HIV positive.

The contention of this article is that AIDS prepares the invasion of DC Earth by extranormal forces and that only by a strategic ecosystemic and army response is it possible to thwart this weapon of nuclear armament. More than anything, it is a signal for invasion.

The plan is to: weaken the Justice League, destroy Superman, take over the governments of the world, then, amenize anti-life to DC Earth.

Sex is a powerful weapon of world conquest and pornography plays an important role in this plan. Pornography actually helps implement the plan of recruiting the female force in this effort to invade DC Earth. This is from a scoop from an undocumented source that certifies that pornography plays the role of a trojan virus since it infects every screen with AIDS, thus, invasion.

The remedies are to build the Justice League, restore Superman to leadership, and return the governments of the world under the leadership of the United Nations. Implement Kryptonian science!

Nudity can be morally defensible

Art

In 1997, Girls Gone Wild erupted on the scene of American culture, at a time when there was as of yet no Internet pornography, but rather, all of the adult material was available on the DVD format. It featured young college girls, often drunk, on Spring Break vacations engaging in public nudity or private sex acts.

The phenomenon spoke to the American conscience and raised the question of public nudity and of America’s own Puritanical past: Is it ever morally acceptable for nudity to be showcased to a general audience? My argument to this question is yes.

College students tend to have more liberal attitudes to sex and see Spring Break as an opportunity to engage in revelry and sexual exploration. A study by Prevention Science interviewed 1,540 U.S college undergraduates and found that 32 percent of the students reported having sex over Spring Break, and more than half of them engaged in risky sex.

There continues to be the general perception that public nudity as displayed in Girls Gone Wild videos is morally unacceptable. As a Catholic, I subscribe to this position and I argue for a more moral vision that respects the human body and sees for the need to protect it from voyeurism and unwanted sexual attention, which contribute to the impulses of rape culture.

Yet, it is not good to suppress our affection for our bodies and as college students we ought to affirm the place for nudity. A healthy conception of the human person recognizes the value of proper erotic desire and of the need to appeal to our sensual sensibilities.

We ought to encourage a more aesthetic view of the human body that sees its beauty as a model of perfection. Nudity is defensible for artistic purposes since it contributes to what makes us human. Bodies are naturally pleasing to the eye, and a vision that disregards this artistic dimension closes the human person on the contemplation of immortality.

Greek sculptures and Renaissance paintings are regarded as the epitomes of the aesthetic eye. They remind us of the greatness of the human body that ought to be venerated. In this way, the place of sensuality is recognized and the human person is allowed to experience eroticism.

In art classes at various colleges in America, models either male or female are often allowed to pose in the nude for the purpose of teaching, sketching, and artistic mastery.

Nudity is also defensible for scientific purposes. During the time of the Renaissance, the science of anatomy actually developed out of a desire to master naturalism in artwork, from the curiosity of leading artists and inventors as Leonardo Da Vinci and Antonio Pollaiuolo.

In the anatomy classroom, nursing and medical students regularly engage in the dissection of a human corpse seeing that there is value in its nudity for scientific knowledge. In doctor visits, patients can be invited to display themselves nude in order to diagnose an illness or injury.

These are examples that show that nudity in public can be morally acceptable. A controversial case is that of breastfeeding in public. But the same line of reasoning applies as in the cases of science and medicine. Breastfeeding in public responds to an immediate health and a medical need, for that reason, it is valid.

There persists the problem of the potential exposure to children and adolescents to public or paternal nudity. This is a morally questionable practice which definitely raises the important fact that children ought to be educated with a healthy view of the human body, without at the same time, exposing them to sights that they cannot yet comprehend fully.

Our attitudes towards nudity in public have changed over the decades. In 1994, Pope John Paul II unveiled The Last Judgement, Michelangelo’s 16th century fresco showing an Apollo-like Christ judging nude bodies destined to Heaven or Hell; the work had so angered contemporaries that the Council of Trent ordered that parts showing nudity be covered.

Though even religious bodies have changed their attitude to the human body, a residuum of animosity remains. There needs to be a healthier acceptance of the human body that divests it of all its limited immoral considerations.

College students during Spring Break should take the opportunity to engage in artistic activity that actually praises the human body; whether this includes visiting museums showing contemporary works of art respectful of nudity or watching documentaries that educate on the human body or even, engaging in art classes at the local art community center.

As a final note, it is certain that public nudity is certain to arouse sexual desire and question for many, the morality of pornography in our college culture. Girls Gone Wild betrays the fundamental fact that sensuality and eroticism are necessary to a healthy human being though not to the explicit extent that pornography displays in contemporary culture.

The Three Days of Darkness

DC Comics
Apokolips, DC Comics

At the end of All Star Superman, Lex Luthor contacts the solar computer Solaris in order to turn the sun red and depower Superman. Superman manages to defeat Solaris with a protective suit and defeats the solar-powered Lex Luthor before flying into space in order to restore the sun, promising to return to marry Lois Lane.

The sun plays an important part in Superman’s life, since it is the source of his power. The true purpose of religious symbology, however, is to prepare the world for the arrival of Darkseid. There is in religious prophecy, the prophecy of The Three Days of Darkness which speaks of a period of three days of darkness during which darkness covers the Earth and blots our the light of the sun.

The master plan of Evil is a Three Days of darkness that turns the sun dark and blots out its light in order to turn man into machine and serve a dark God of Evil: Darkseid.

The means to operate such an effect is to cover the Earth in darkness through a worldwide legalization of marijuana. Only by the acceptation that the world is not real as experienced through the visions brought about by substance abuse can humans come to doubt whether the darkness they experience is real or an illusion.

Darkseid, in concrete terms can be conceived as Earth’s political system or perhaps as technological power. Only by allying political power to technology can humanity achieve the effect of turning the sun dark and thus, spreading the Anti-Life Equation to the cosmos. The center of such a temptation is a false spirituality that centers on creating a virtual reality that tempts the human mind into believing the falsehood that the universe experienced in the spiritual experience of drug use is not real.

Only by a re-discovery of nature is it possible to escape Darkseid’s master plan of totalitarian power where Entropy destroys Freedom in the power of the Omega.

Belief that the world is going to end is the prime power of catastrophe for it justifies utilitarianism and a mechanical conception of the universe that divests it of all considerations of beauty.

It can thus be stated, that, Darkseid is a system of totalitarian power that seeks to erase freedom by turning the universe into a virtual reality. Final Crisis convinces us that in the end, Superman defeats Darkseid after he has metamorphed into a computer of abstract Evil by singing to the dark God of Evil, the tune of the multiverse, a truth in which Darkseid does not believe.

Final Crisis


The Infinity Gauntlet (Prologue)

Marvel Comics
The Infinity Gauntlet

The Infinity Gauntlet (1991) is a six-issue limited series that is one of the masterpieces of Marvel comics. It cemented the place of Thanos as one of the Marvel Universe’s premier cosmic villains and showcased a grand ensemble of characters that spanned the whole universe. Both comic distributors, Diamond Distribution and Capital City Distribution, pointed that each issue of the series was on the top ten sellers list of the month. The series had a lasting impact on the industry, influencing future cosmic events and bearing in Warlock and The Infinity Watch and The Infinity War, sequels. The comic book was written by Jim Starlin and illustrated by George Perez.

The premise of the series is the Titan Thanos having collected the six infinity gems from cosmic beings in order to win the romantic favor of the embodiment of Death. During the first issue, Thanos at the request of Death, erases half of the sentient life in the Marvel universe. The rest of the series, figures as a cataclysmic confrontation between the universe’s champions and the cosmic beings with Thanos.

Power is a recurrent theme in the Marvel Universe, and no being embodies that reality more than Thanos. On different occasions, Thanos sought ultimate power only to be found unworthy of it — this is the assessment of Adam Warlock, whose link to the soul gem granted him an insight into Thanos’ soul. First, he sought the Cosmic Cube.

Mother Box

DC Extended Universe
The Mother Box guarded by the Amazons in the Justice League movie.

Justice League (2017) directed by Zack Snyder and written by Joss Whedon and Chris Terrio may not have enjoyed great commercial success. However, it is notable for introducing important DC Comics characters, expanding the DC Extended Universe into the multiversal world of the New Gods. A central element of the story, revolves around the Mother Box. In DC Comics continuity, this sophisticated artifact is created by the New Gods, a race of metaphysical beings born from the First World at the beginning, Urgrund, forming with New Genesis and Apokolips, a Fourth World. This fictional technology is possessed by the New Gods and enables them to bridge time and space for multiple applications. The Mother Box, is essentially, a sentient super-computer that grants its New God user fantastic abilities such as levitation and flight, teleportation, and matter and energy manipulations.

In the film, the boxes are presented as a perpetual energy source, called by Cyborg’s father, Silas Stone, a Change Engine. Upon an invasion of Earth by Apokoliptian Steppenwolf during mythological times, the three Mother Boxes are entrusted to the Amazons, the Atlanteans, and the tribes of man and guarded in secure strongholds. The premise of the movie, then, reposes on the return of Steppenwolf upon the Death of Superman in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a casualty of the battle against Doomsday alongside Batman and Wonder Woman; he sees the demise of the Kryptonian as the fall of darkness upon the Earth and an opportunity to conquer.

Justice League, is in fact, a movie of two directors. Upon the death of his daughter — by suicide — Zach Snyder stepped down from the movie project duties to stay with family. From that moment, Joss Whedon took over and directed the movie. The movie appears to showcase the lightheartedness and the humor that is characteristic of Whedon’s work, particularly on Marvel’s The Avengers. Snyder mentioned that, he had always intended for the film to be brighter and more hopeful than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The movie does appear so. At the same time, it seems to lack the spectacle and the grand action characteristic of previous Snyder work, which seem to reveal, perhaps, the conflict that the director was experiencing over the critical reception with his two previous outings at Warner Bros. in the DC Extended Universe. Was Snyder’s vision, perhaps, darker than the film seems to portray as reflected in Batman v. Superman?

“The Age of Heroes”

Justice League Tunnel Battle.

Justice League is distinctive for its association of the events of mythology with science fiction. In this respect, it relates the invasion of Earth by Apokolips to the Olympian gods, and even to alien allies. Wonder Woman, in her history lesson, speaks of an Age of Heroes, where men and women of great power blessed by the Olympian gods walked the Earth. It is, perhaps, this Age of Heroes, that is the substance of Justice League — here, the newly formed Justice League succeeds the place of the old Greek pantheon and of its associated heroes. It is a meta-fictional transposition of mythology to science fiction; it figures, then, as the placement of science fiction as functioning in a similar role to the mythology of yesteryear. The film, then, succeeds in this aspect: in reflecting its heroes, as the successors of mythology, an Olympic passing of the torch so to speak, where man, no longer animated simply by the belief in God, reflects a superhuman power of evolution — this, then, is the reality: the gods for having abandoned humanity, have allowed man to evolve with the powers of science and technology.

In this regard, the Mother Box, an alien transposition, figures as that power of evolution, the inauguration of a new age, where through advanced science, man lays claim even to the power of life over death — the Resurrection of Superman!

There are interesting themes addressed in Justice League, from alien invasion, to advanced technology, from mythology to a new age of heroes, and to the more simple power of friendship and the reality of war. What separates the film from other comic book movies, is its adherence to a certain comedy — though the movie is serious, it is also comedic and figures as a chance for the DC Extended Universe to extend its reach and follow, in a sense, a formulaic route threaded before long by Marvel with great success. Critical reviews show, however, that, despite its optimism and light-hearted nature, such a treatment may not be entirely fitting for a team of gods among men. The consensus is that Justice League does not fully develop its main villain — Steppenwolf, and its action sequences are lacking — the result, is a story that appears thin and formulaic, despite its brighter tone.

In comic book lore, the Mother Box figures as a representation of the New Gods, an advanced race of techno-gods entrenched in a deadly battle between good and evil, that is, between New Genesis and Apokolips. It is certain, that, the boxes are in themselves, evocative of a power that transcends humanity and seems to unveil the potential for progress that is inherent to human civilization. The applications of an advanced Artificial Intelligence, to the problems of civilization are wondrous. The question is whether, as many artistic works are raised, man will become enslaved by the power of the super-computer, or whether his wisdom will benefit humanity. The computer, is a wondrous machine that greatly enhances quality of life; however, it appears to foretell the times of a society that is completely socialized, that is, interpreted by the rhythm of the machine — the mechanization of life! Hence, there are dangers looming in the horizon of humanity, and as human knowledge increases, it is important to question our ability to put progress at the service of man, and not merely, to serve utilitarian interest or the temptation to nihilism; for science, despite its eminent benefit, can prove a power of destruction as much as it is a force of civilization.

Is the comic book here to stay, or, perhaps has it run its course? Only time will tell. It can be safely assumed that, its adaptation to the big screen is surely costly though, at the same time, its power to inspire minds is almost without equal. Mythological beings, alien gods, advanced technology, perpetual energy sources, planetary engineering, and superhuman feats — science fiction has succeeded in creating worlds that defy explanation, revealing that, man at this juncture in the 21st century, is attempting to evolve truly.

Justice League marks an important step in the extension of the DC Extended Universe. Despite its shortcomings, it betrays Warner Bros. desire to truly do its characters justice and present them in the best possible light, in respect with their comic book mythology and with a manifest desire to appeal to general audiences. Personally, I favor a more serious approach to the DC mythology, one that establishes their place as modern mythology in contrast to the Marvel universe; indeed, DC superheroes function best, when they are regarded as archetypes, representations of the Olympian gods, but also of greater ideas, virtues and values. They can steer history towards a greater future, for they help humanity realize its potential by believing in the power of the gods and the example of heroism.

In the “Introduction” to All Star Superman, Mark Waid concludes with the following remarks:

“Gods achieve their power by encouraging us to believe in them.

Superman achieves his power by believing in us.”

An Ideal of Hope

DC Extended Universe
HENRY CAVILL as Superman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “MAN OF STEEL,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Art expresses something of the symbol of the natural world, it is an imitation of life, for it seeks to convey through symbol, audio and visual image, a reflection, a truth, and the goodness of life itself. In contemporary life, there subsists a strained relation between the artistic expression and aesthetics — the philosophy of beauty — and it is certain that, this results from the loss of the religious sentiment of life: the contemplation of Beauty, found in the permanence of God, has ceded the place for praxis, that is, technology and a certain affection for only the consumerist production of things.

Zack Snyder foremost known for his comic book film direction, as evidenced in his successful Watchmen (2009) adaptation, once held a vision for the DC Extended Universe; a vision not shared nor accepted by all. Yet, it was ground-breaking, fresh, and took creative chances. It involved a re-telling of DC Comics characters, grounding them truly in reality and expanding their world to grant them more human motivations; while, however, robing them in the mythology characteristic of the DC Comics universe. The re-imagining of Superman is Man of Steel appears part of that conception, found in the tale of an alien among humans, who, despite their ignorance, their unbelief, and their innate xenophobia, chooses to become their greatest champion in the face of an alien invasion.

The world created by Zach Snyder seems an antithesis of Richard Donner’s; a vibrant world with landscapes teeming with animal creatures, on land and on air, which though harsh contrasts obliquely with the cold, lifeless world of the first Superman: The Movie. Both films are consistent in portraying the almost organic relation of Kryptonian technology with their home world, and Snyder’s visual tour de force is on display in the first twenty minutes where political debate over Krypton’s coming implosion yields way to unrelenting actions. Superman, indeed, is a man of action, and Snyder wastes no time in emphasizing this reality, showing that, even scientist Jor-El shows battle prowess against the battle-tested military leader Zod.

Zack Snyder appears to be comfortable with philosophical questions, addressing problems that are related with the fate of civilizations, and advanced races. The prospects of a world of superhumans is one, that, depending on the person and the taste, may have some appeal, though, not without their own perils. Comic book lore is well documented, here. It is a well known fact, that, Krypton was an advanced alien civilization that had adopted an almost totalitarian political structure, or perhaps, a theocratic structure where science and religion collaborated to form a population where Kryptonians from birth were genetically engineered to fulfill a pre-determined role using as, revealed, in Man of Steel, the registry of citizens called the Codex — this, is the danger of genetic engineering, of a world, where following upon an unfortunate development, population control is established, space exploration and cultural contact are banned, and a civilization exhausts its planet’s resources. In our own day, this raises our current ecological problems as well as the continued philosophical questions raised by technology and its use by governments that in their Leviathan conquest are continually putting to silence the notions of human liberty and rights.

The element of choice — Man of Steel reinvents Superman for post-modern audiences drawing upon comic book materials as Superman: Secret Origin and Superman: Birthright. What separates Henry Cavill’s iteration of Superman is that, here, Superman is clearly a man of destiny, one formed by his parents to elect his own destiny: “Krypton’s first natural birth in centuries”. Hence, everything in Man of Steel‘s narrative emphasizes Kal-El’s uniqueness from the animals greeting his natural birth, to the bonding of the Codex within his individual cells, to his being rocketed to Earth in a space ship as Krypton explodes, to his gradual discovery of his powers and alien heritage, and finally, the controversial death of his father, the loss of his remaining alien ancestry as the invading Kryptonians are sucked into a black hole, to his murder of Zod, the villain of the movie — Superman, is truly in this movie, the Last Son of Krypton, a victim of prejudice and xenophobia from a young age and throughout his life, growing up an outcast journeying the world in search of clues offering answers to his questioning.

What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?”

Man of Steel received mixed reviews criticized for being too serious, lacking heart and joy — Superman barely smiles — and being characterized by overblown destruction reminiscent, in fact, of 9/11. Zach Snyder has been criticized during his career, for poor storytelling skills, and there are, indeed, instances in the film where this is glaring. The Man of Steel IGN review claimed that “Superman is reborn in high fashion”. Some reviews have pointed out that the film is a religious allegory, one that seems to align Superman with the historical figure of Jesus Christ. These claims are true, and though the movie presents primarily as science fiction with themes of alien invasion, it also incorporates religious symbology.

The film is inherently a visual spectacle and when Superman appears in costume for the first time, there is a sense of greatness. Zack Snyder excels at visual cinematography, action sequences and the First Flight features great displays of power. Superman soars for the first time, after having lept in single bounds! This is a scene reminiscent of the evolution of Superman’s powers over his storied history: from the ability to leap, to the transcendent power of flight that surpasses the force of gravity. Superman succeeds in re-connecting with his heritage, finding a Kryptonian scout ship that had been in a glacier in the Canadian Arctic for 18,000 years. This triggers a distress beacon that alerts General Zod and the surviving Kryptonian insurgents freed from the Phantom Zone by the explosion of the planet Krypton.

The second act of the movie commences with the first alien contact with the Kryptonians. On every screen on Earth and in every language, the phrase “You are not alone” is transcribed before the menacing voice of General Zod speaks. Superman is faced with the prophecy of his father: to stand proud in front of the human race or choose to oppose them by joining his Kryptonian heritage. What is revealed, is the fact, that, despite his mother’s guidance and his budding affection for Lois Lane, Clark Kent remains alone to face his own choices and bear the burdens of his destiny. Perhaps, here is raised the fact that, The Last Son of Krypton is eminently a figure of tragedy, a giant who, for all his otherworldly power, must continually be willing to take a leap of faith, and make the sacrifice for the benefit of the human race.

The Battle of Smallville, is the highlight of the movie for it literally puts to the fore the human element enmeshed in a battle between alien gods. Superman’s confrontation of Zod, and Faora and Nam-Ek is spectacular and visually satisfying. There is drama and action, and Faora is allowed to shine through her philosophical intelligence and her military code. When Kryptonians battle, there is ample destruction! And Superman is fast busy to fight off the invaders while protecting the U.S. Army soldiers. Superman’s punches are explosive and the apparition of heat vision reveals the certain madness and angst characteristic of the Kryptonian loner. Man of Steel appears definitely patriotic for it seems to paint the U.S. Army in a heroic light: they are visibly outmatched, both genetically and technologically by the more advanced aliens, and yet, they fight on with courage and dedication. Science fictions, here, is painted in a realistic setting, a small town with its IHOP restaurant and its shopping centers, amidst a battle of epic proportions. Here, Man of Steel succeeds in well-choreographed battles that foretell the future of Dragon Ball Z cinematic adaptations.

Zod’s master plan is revealed in the third act of the movie: He intends to terraform the Earth and create a New Krypton where the atmosphere and topography of the Earth are modified to fit Kryptonian physiology using a gravity weapon called a World Engine. Alien invasions are not new in literature and cinema, and it is safe to say, neither in Hollywood. The film raises the important question of evolution and of its associated precept — “the survival of the fittest” — where the strong prey on the weak. Is it defensible for a more advanced alien race to eradicate another species for the purpose of re-claiming its lost heritage and re-live the long past glory days of its civilization? Zod and Faora are guided by an evolutionary morality that seems to justify genocide on the basis that their more advanced alien heritage entitles them to eradicate an entire population of human beings. Basically, a form of Social Darwinism that recalls the historical practice of eugenics during the 20th century and the myth of improving the genetic pool of humanity by eradicating its least fit members. For Superman, however, “Krypton had its chance!”

Superman and the U.S. Army succeed in thwarting the Kryptonian invasion, sending them into the Phantom Zone. The final battle with Zod, seems to deprive the audience of its energy and be the expression of a certain depression by its director. In fact, it appears excessive though, spectacular. Man of Steel seems to introduce in Zod, an interesting villain, who despite his cruelty, has mitigating circumstances for, he was genetically engineered to act in the best interests of his species. The neck snap, remains one of the most controversial decisions of Zack Snyder’s career, for, by making Superman a killer, the film seems to question his own morality and contradict decades of on-screen portrayal of Superman as a morally upright person committed to never take a life, instead always finding another way in order to protect it.

For all its criticism, Man of Steel was a financially successful film. Though, it revealed the cultural disconnect that exists in the general audiences for the character of Superman, who at times, seems to appear too much as Jesus Christ. Superman Returns seems to have voiced the perceptible impression that post-modern man does not need a savior, but would rather, save himself.

The film stands as An Ideal of Hope, one that attempts to re-assert the place of Superman as an alien, one who is not human, in a world that holds him in distrust, and who, nevertheless is willing to sacrifice his life in order to be its protector. In contemporary culture, art plays the important function of entertainment; at the same time, it generates questioning for it continues to create wonder and seize the imagination. This is only a reflection of one fact: art continues to move culture, and is the final bulwark against totalitarian power. The story of Superman, is one that reveals the power of life and in this particular iteration, evidences the current zeitgeist, one of a people that has grown disaffected with its ideals and standing in distrust of the alien in response to the threat of terrorism and financial instability.

The myths of yesteryear, used to function as the cultural narrative that united the people. Since the 20th century, science fiction has steadily replaced that role because science has become the final authority. Today, art continues its important work of defining an era, but also of paving the way for the future. The degree of freedom of a civilization, can be measured in its artistic activity. The greatest threat to the totalitarianism of Communism is not the philosopher, theologian or political activist; it is the artist.

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