Thursday, August 9, 2012

Manhunter comic book Moby Dick reference

I sometimes find Moby Dick references in the weirdest of places, places I would not have expected.

In the fifty-cent bin, I found a copy of Manhunter #1 from DC Comics, July 1988. I have always wanted to try the series because it has had a remarkable reputation in comic book circles for being cancelled and having fan write-ins bring the series back to life. At least twice, if memory serves.

I think this reference is just a fluke though. Manhunter looks like this:

The very first words on page one are basically an introductory quote to grab the attention of the reader:

"All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event...some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If a man will strike, strike through the mask!" --Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The great husband and wife writing team of John Ostrander and Kim Yale probably came across this cool quote about "masks" and being superhero comic book writers probably filed it away for use one day. It does touch upon the fact, especially in late 80s comic books, on the psychology of why these characters put on masks and fought crime.

Even though I believe it is a fluke, there is still the allusion to "obsession" tied to the quote. Why would he do all these things if not obsessed; think Batman.

Now I wonder if anybody has ever tied in Batman's obsession with Captain Ahab's.

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