Tuesday, August 9, 2011

All-Star Superman #5 reference

Probably the most obvious modern day cultural reference to Ahab and Moby Dick would be Lex Luthor's obsession with defeating the Man of Steel.

In the comic book All-Star Superman #5 (which is mimicked almost exactly in the cartoon film version of the story), Lex Luthor says,

"Did you know that Moby-Dick can be recited at a frequency so high that it becomes a sonic drill capable of carving through solid rock?"
(Quote from the subtitles of the movie version)

The reference is of course perfect. Lex Luthor, the richest man in Metropolis, and I think the planet in the DC Universe, has a lot of ego. His pride makes it impossible for him to accept Superman seemingly lording above him. His intellect always made Luthor the best. Now an alien, a metahuman, wins the love of others. He can't stand it. He must eradicate him.

This is what makes Luthor such a good idea for a villain at the best of times. The good writers use him right. John Byrne really helped by making Luthor the ruthless business man and not the idiot portrayed by Gene Hackman in the movies.

The Ahab reference fits, and the author Grant Morrison, uses it exquisitely just to drop the hint about Ahab's obsession. Brilliant.

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