“The cave paintings are no more truthful than the moving image, the artist sees the truth behind the truth”
Themes found in Comic books, graphic novels and movies especially in recent years can be traced back to the myths and legends of the ancient world. I am a big movie ‘watcher’ and therefore after reading material and being immersed in symbolism I cannot help ‘seeing’ the themes jump out at us, intentionally so!
Its going to be long one so brace yourselves!
The battle’s between a (serpent) monster and a (Sun) hero is one common theme found throughout the world’s mythology. So are the battles between an alien invading force and a native race that lives in harmony with its environment the James Cameron movie Avatar in recent years expresses this concept very well. The most common legends include a ‘force for good’ versus an ‘invading terrorizing force’ that wants to take a planet or civilization for its own ends/needs. These dual forces have been depicted as a Saint George figure versus a Dragon/Serpent and this theme can be seen again and again through the stories of Indara and the Vritra, Apollo and the Python, Jehovah and the Leviathan, along with many other opposing pairs. Among the serpent-destroyers were also said to be other ‘saint’s such as St. Clement, the vanquisher of the Dragon of Metz and St. Marcel the deliverer of Paris from the ‘monster’ along with St. Romain whose exploits were immortalized over the ‘gargouille’ of Paris as do many other German, Spanish, Russian Saint Michael figures across Euro-Asia. The same ‘Characters’ can be found in Meso-America and in the East too.
What I have found fascinating are worlds and themes found in comics (now turned into movies), especially those that hint at ‘hidden knowledge’ tapped into by the visionary artist/writer of such amazing narratives. As Victor Hugo once wrote,“All letters began as signs and all signs began as images”
The creator of such Graphic Novels and Comics like Jack Kirby and others were tapping into themes and ideas that spoke of a far deeper layer to the usual hero themes. One example is Kirby’s narratives
for a series of stories called the Eternals (below).
The Eternals became the basis for human myths about gods and angels; the Deviants gave rise to myths about devils and demons. Myths they say? I’ll come back to this later. The Eternals is the story of the ongoing conflict between the different breeds of mankind, overshadowed by the creatures that experimented with prehistoric ape-men and created them. In Earth’s prehistory, Kirby imagined huge armored alien Celestials that came to Earth and used proto-humans to bring forth two other species: the Eternals, who were generally beautiful, immune to natural death, and possessed superhuman powers; and the Deviants, whose inability to breed in a consistent form produced generations of endlessly varied, grotesque monsters.
Another character created by Kirby was the Saturn-like figure called Galactus whose origin within the stories concerned an ancient planet called ‘Taa’ (‘Ta love’, if your from Yorkshire in the UK, whose resources and life force was diminishing. It was a ‘dying – dead’ zone and so one Taa scientist in the story decides to mount a final space expedition into the heart of a star, to go out in a last blaze of glory, as it were. In Kirby’s story the radiation of the star killed everyone aboard the craft except for that ‘one scientist’, who somehow survived and evolved into a new form of life. You could say he was a kind of ‘otherworldly’ Six Million Dollar Man – Sauron figure who after incubating for eons (within a spaceship), eventually emerges as the ‘godlike’ and control hungry Galactus!
His ‘eternal opponent’ is Thor, the younger Scandinavian Jupiter figure.
Saturn and Jupiter battle it out as ‘Galactus and Thor’, or any other combination we see, as the gods or the ‘planets personified’.
In Scandinavian mythology for example Thor is said to go fishing for Vritra a ‘great serpent’, which lies at the source of major rivers, seas and power of the oceans. He is a ‘electromagnetic’ sun god challenging the power of the Moon over the oceans…The Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh also depicts him (the Sun) struggling with a serpent at sea, while been pursued by the angel of death.
In many ancient cultures there are dragon myths which record a ‘sky god’ defeating an
Earth-threatening monster and making the world a safer place for mankind.
However, when you look closely at these themes quite often there are contradictions at play.
Watchers, Wizards and Mutants have Landed!
I recently watched the movie The Avengers Assemble and wasn’t shocked to be reminded of the endless connections to the same themes that crop up in other movies of the same ilk almost every year now and of course the connection to ancient myth will become obvious as I proceed. Of course this Marvel Comic turned film weaved together several threads and themes that are tied to other comic book movies, not least the movie Thor released in 2010.
In short the Avengers
plot surrounds an invasion by the God Loki (below), for Loki, see also Lucifer, the trickster and the half brother of the God Thor. Loki is a god of fire, the bringer of chaos and mischief who was said to have made a ‘pact’ with what Norse myth call the Frost Giants who opposed Asgard (one of the Nine Worlds) and the balance of the Universe. Like the Haokah (or unnatural god) sometimes depicted as a clown in several Native American tribes, ‘Loki’ can ‘shapeshift’, and command the power of being in ‘several places at one time’. Lets say that he uses the holographic nature of reality to deceive and manipulate those that are not fully aware!
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