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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, September 24, 2018

LOVE OVER WAR (FOR NOW) PT. 3

In this essay I'll explore the application of my concept of megadynamicity to a selection of comics-narratives that I've more fully analyzed in my mythcomics essays. The common ground for all five stories is that they are all "love-narratives." As I noted in ACCOMODATING ACCOMODATION, such narratives are a subset of the total set of "accomodation narratives," so I've already specified that I'm not claiming that these are the only form in which the accomodation patterns appears. However, since I've put forth the proposal that "love-narratives" are "female" while "war-narratives" are male, this point will be brought forth better by focusing only on examples that concern the theme of heterosexual love (and not, say, homosocial affection, as one can find in Dave Sim's "Guys" arc.)

To reframe my question: my first premise is that in real life, sex, like violence, is an activity that often (though not always) involves at least two subjects. In literature both activities can be portrayed as being exactly as the reader perceives them in real life, or they can be exaggerated or enhanced by tropes of what the reader considers "fantasy." I've stipulated in previous essays, such as SUBLIMITY VS. MYTHICITY PART 3,  that phenomenality makes no difference to dynamicity. In that essay all of my examples were "confrontation narratives," but the principle holds true for "accomodation narratives" as well, as well as for any potential portmanteau combinations of the two patterns (such as one might find in an anthology-film).

Here are my examples of accomodation-narratives with a theme of heterosexual love:







At the end of Part 2 of LOVE OVER WILL (FOR NOW),  I remarked that the end of Yeats's poem "Solomon and the Witch," it is suggested-- though not made definite-- that Solomon and Sheba have such great sex that the world seems to have come to an end. Even if this is just Solomon's metaphorical reading, this is still a representation of sex that goes beyond the limits of what real-life sex can do, and thus aligns itself with metaphenomenal narratives. Isophenomenal narratives can only portray the real base action of sexual activity, and so it follows that all such narratives can only be "sexually megadynamic" if they portray two or more sexual participants who are really, really good at shtupping, even though they can't cause the world to end. 



This is certainly not the case with the ambivalent romantic pair of THE FALL, Kirk and June. In a probable emulation of a "film noir" trope, June plays the femme fatale and manipulates good-hearted schmuck Kirk, not for any grand design but just to enjoy a sense of power. They don't ever get it on within the space of the narrative, though the possibility of romance is suggested at the conclusion. Thus they provide a sort of "negative example," in that one has no reason to think that the universe would have stopped, even if they had made it.



SHE TRIED HER OWN ON (with the words "Balls and All" in a subtitle), is my best illustration of a nearly naturalistic situation, although the particular story has metaphenomenal content. The basic situation is certainly bizarre even for a comedy: high-school boy Takeshi is more or less forced to live in the home of an eccentric Japanese family, the Dominas, because their daughter Hikari lied to her parents and claimed that Takeshi was her boyfriend. Hikari only did so to get out of an arranged marriage, but the longer she's forced to remain in Takeshi's company, the more she becomes intrigued with him as a potential consort. The self-contained story deals with Hikari dreaming an erotic fantasy about Takeshi's balls, imagining them as enormous, even though her waking mind knows better. Hikari's witchy grandmother enspells her so that the girl temporarily obtains male equipment, enabling Hikari to see how the other half lives. After this trial ends and the young girl goes back to normal, she apologizes to Takeshi for having injured him in his sensitive spot. But her dreams still play havoc with her conceptions of human genitalia, for her next dream is an absurd megadynamic exaggeration of real sex, as Hikari imagines that she again meets Takeshi and engages in a contest of "dueling phalluses." Though the magic spell is real within the story's confines, the overall implication is one that could have been enacted within an entirely naturalistic phenomenality, using dreams to portray Hikari's weird projections about sex.

(Note: though Takeshi's prowess in this particular story is only imagined, some of the DOMINA stories suggest that he forms an uncanny erotic devotion to Hikari, and to Hikari alone, so that the entire corpus of stories implies an eventual sexy culmination for their wack-a-doodle romance.)



RITE OF SPRING is a more explicit exaggeration of sex, given that the act is dominantly mental, taking place between human woman Abigail Arcane and the penis-less Swamp Thing. Alan Moore's script and Steve Bissette's art are at their best, as Swamp Thing gives Abigail a unique form of communion, by having her devour one of the hallucinogenic tubers growing from his body. Their shared mental experience has megadynamic potential, but I hesitate to include this one, simply because the idea of the combative focuses on two extraordinary willing subjects joining together, either in combat or in cooperation, and unfortunately, there's nothing extraordinary about the human participant in this "hieros swampos."



RITE is an accomodaton narrative within a series that is dominantly confrontational, and the same is true for TO BUILD A FIRE. Amara, one of the New Mutants, is stranded in the Amazon jungle with a sometime enemy, Manuel. As they forge through the jungle, trying to reach civilization, the two of them never precisely fight, but they are in conflict due to their mutual attraction-- though some of Amara's erotic feeling toward Manuel may stem from his mind-control powers. As I point out in the main essay, Amara, who knows the jungle better than city-boy Manuel, often assumes the "male" role in their travails, and Manuel is relegated to "feminine persuasion," as he argues that she should use her mutant fire-powers to signal a rescue-party. Ironically, the moment when Amara more or less gives in to Manuel's demand may or may not be a response he has coerced-- even Manuel is not sure-- and yet Amara's surrender is marked by a note of defiance rather than acquiescence.




SISTER SYNDROME is a few chapters away from the romantic finale of the LOVE HINA series, but the arc is crucial to the accomodation of main characters Keitaro and Naru. For many stories previous, the most-reused joke in the series is one in which (1) Keitaro somehow offends Naru, usually by catching her half-naked, and (2) Naru punches him. Though technically neither one is "super-powered," comic exaggeration allows Naru to hit Keitaro so hard that he flies into the air, and also allows Keitaro to survive incredible falls and huge objects striking him. Though there are minor metaphenomenal entities in the stories, Naru and Keitaro are only supernormal in being "slapstick gods." SISTER SYNDROME has a confrontation-element, in that Keitaro's adoptive sister Kanako arrives and nearly undermines Naru's relationship with Keitaro. However, toward the end, even Kanako gives way to their romantic mystique, which culminates in the elusive Naru finally deciding to commit to her persistent boyfriend. The coda implies that the violence between them has become eroticized, and that their eventual nuptials will be preceded by a bout of erotic violence-- with the female on top, of course.



Section Four will focus more on the question raised in Part One. 




Sunday, September 23, 2018

LOVE OVER WAR (FOR NOW) PT. 2

My essay THE NARRATIVE RULE OF EXCESS was the primary argument in which I connected Nietzsche's specific idea of "high spirits" with my concept of megadynamicity, extrapolated from Kant's considerations of "might" in CRITIQUE OF JUDGMENT. In EXCESS I argued that Nietzsche's philosophical championing of the "excess of strength" had a parallel within literary narratives, where "excess of strength" manifests as the megadynamic power of one or more characters.

Now, for the majority of my posts on the "conflict and combat" subject, I have analyzed the appearances of megadynamic power within what I termed, in ACCOMODATING ACCOMODATION, "confrontation narratives." Historically, such narratives have been devalued by critics, who disparaged violence-based narratives as being either vulgar or counter-progressive. I still value confrontation narratives as much as I ever did, and I focus upon accomodation narratives merely for the purpose of exploring other aspects of the dynamicity theory. I hope I will never be accused of sharing the views of those jejune critics have often championed accomodation narratives for idiotic reasons like "they're more like real life."

Now, I've specified in various essays that Kantian "might" did not necessarily only in violent forms. The three-part essay A REALLY LONG DEFINITION OF VIOLENCE, beginning here, cites how a non-violent form of might informs the ending of the Moore-Gibbons WATCHMEN. I would deem this graphic novel a "confrontation narrative" even though it's one in which the "good guys" essentially lose. Yet although the heroes are forced to cover up the villain's perfidy for a perceived public good, it's the journal of the slain crusader Rorschach that *may* have the power to defeat the villain's long-term aims. I would not call the journal "megadynamic," of course. It serves as an objective correlative for the power of the people, who will presumably rise up against the villain's hoax *if* they are given the knowledge to do so.

The journal also has nothing to do with Nietzsche's "high spirits," which is appropriate, since Moore makes poor usage of Nietzsche in "The Abyss Gazes Also." I bring it up, though, to show that "forms of might" can inhere in a variety of situations that do not involve violent confrontation.

So I began to ask myself: what would "high-spirited," megadynamic might look like within the context of that subset of "accomodation narratives" known as "love stories?" And here's one of the first examples that came to mind, provided by Yeats in his 1921 poem "Solomon and the Witch:"

'A cockerel 
Crew from a blossoming apple bough 
Three hundred years before the Fall, 
And never crew again till now, 
And would not now but that he thought, 
Chance being at one with Choice at last, 
All that the brigand apple brought 
And this foul world were dead at last. 
He that crowed out eternity 
Thought to have crowed it in again. "

Some critics aver  that this is a reference to the idea that Solomon and Sheba had such great mutual intercourse that the cock that had crowed when the world started crowed again because the bird thought the end of the world had come. This is probably as "megadynamic" as sex can get, and provides an illustration of the theoretical upward limit of sexual ecstasy in its fullest sense of "high spirits."

Part 3 will explore other, less cosmic examples.

Friday, September 21, 2018

ACCOMODATING ACCOMODATION

In the second part of  LOVE OVER WILL (FOR NOW), I started exploring the matter of narratives that emphasizes non-confrontational forms of conflict. First, I''ll place this particular categorization of narratives in more perspective by returning to some comments I made in the 2012 essay THE COMPLICATIONS OF COMEDY:

Quiller-Couch's arrangement, by its use of the opposed terms "protagonist" and "antagonist," also suggests opposition in every sense.  And yet, it's possible-- particularly in comedy-- for the conflict to be one that results in accomodation rather than confrontation.

In this essay and its second part, I explained that romantic comedies-- whether they were stand-alone works (I MARRIED A WITCH) or serial works (BEWITCHED)-- often ended with some accomodation of the primary couple involved. This I tend to view as a dominantly "female" narrative form, as opposed to the dominantly "male" narrative form that emphasizes a confrontation, which, more often than not, ends with one subject triumphing over the other.

Now, "accomodation narratives" are not solely about romantic encounters between a couple, be they heterosexual or otherwise. Just scanning the first year of films I reviewed on my movie-blog, I came across my review of 2011's HUGO. This film does not involve romance in any way, but does involve an accomodation between two principal characters. One of these is the orphan Hugo, who loses his father early in the film, while the other is a bitter, elderly man named Georges. Hugo investigates the strange old fellow and learns that Georges is actually the once-famous movie-maker Georges Melies. Hugo's detective work results in Melies being lionized by his peers once more, after which the old man adopts the orphan. There is "conflict" between these principals as well, but it's a conflict that leads inexorably to an accomodation rather than a confrontation.

In addition, I should add that it's quite possible to have a narrative that focuses upon a romantic couple in which the attempt at accomodation simply fails. Sometimes the accomodation fails for reasons extrinsic to the couple's intentions, as with Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET. In other narratives, the accomodation fails because the two principals are unable to understand or empathize with one another for whatever reason. Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND and Woody Allen's ANNIE HALL are two prominent examples. There are violent acts that transpire within the Shakespeare play and in the Mitchell novel, but said acts of violence are, to use a term I've floated a few times, "peripheral" to the main action, which is about the emotional bond between the principals.

Obviously, there have been many "accomodation narratives" both created by male authors and dominantly read by male audiences, just as there have been 'confrontation narratives" both created by female authors and dominantly read by female audiences. The two genders show dominant preferences, but they're not members of different species, and so each can readily understand the narrative logic informing each of these two broad forms of narrative.

So when I stated in LOVE OVER WILL that it was my current project to view "the mode of the combative through the lens of sex rather than violence," it means that I must seek to explore my quasi-Kantian concepts through the lens of "accomodation narratives," or what I also called, in a more limiting fashion, "fictional love-narratives." The second part of LOVE OVER WILL should address my reasons for focusing on "love-narratives," which must be seen as a subdivision of the larger set of "accomodation narratives."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

LOVE OVER WAR (FOR NOW) PT. 1

Nietzsche's "high spirits" line from TWILIGHT OF THE IDOLS prompted this current line of thought. Once more, with (high) feeling:

"Nothing succeeds in which high spirits play no part."

I last used the "high spirits" in M FOR EFFORT to assert that such spirited-ness was a necessary component to both of my "big M's," megadynamicity and metaphenomenality. I won't be addressing the latter, because I've decided to focus on a (comparatively) new concept: viewing the mode of the combative through the lens of sex rather than violence.

The combative mode, as I've generally defined it, comes about only when two or more megadynamic agents in a narrative contend with one another. Combative works are, I've specified, a subset of the total set of works dealing with any form of conflict, be it physical, moral, psychological, etc. Over the years I've tended to compare combative works with works that included some form of violence that was not combative, though I've also frequently written about works that have no violence, or works in which the conflict is extrinsic to the narrative.

So in recent weeks I've been meditating on the following topic: if in combative works "high spirits" are best shown by the act of combat between near-equals-- the quintessential "male" theme of war-- then what do "high spirits" look like in works in which the conflict-emphasis is more oriented upon the "female" theme of love?

It's axiomatic that male audiences generally like violence and contentious situations, and female audiences generally like love and domestic situations. There are basically just two extant explanations for this differentiation of gender-taste: either the tastes are expressive of the physical natures of the respective genders, or the tastes have been manipulated into existence by the Evil Culture Industry. Anyone who reads this should be able to guess which explanation I find more credible, but even though I agree that physical nature is a primary influence, I don't agree with those who consider it determinative.

I'm aware, of course, that the latter explanation is the one most favored, possibly because it gives its adherents the chance to wallow in victimhood. To them, absolute equity between the genders is the only possible ideal. In this essay I took issue with Heidi McDonald's ideal of equity by saying:

The whole "who's exposed more" question should never have been one of pure equity.  Equity is something to be observed in the workplace or the boardroom, but not in fiction.  Fiction is a place where fantasy reigns, and as I said in the essay, it's simply a lot harder to sell hyper-sexualized fantasies to women than to men.  I tend to think that this is because in general men are hornier bastards than women, but others' mileage may vary.

A couple of years previous, I wrote DEFINING PSUEDOFEMINISM, in which I contrasted remarks by a writer I considered a "pseudo-feminist" with remarks by noted "anti-feminist" Dave Sim. Both, I pointed out, attempted to shore up their opinions with appeals to what each of them considered empirical fact. Sim's views about female athletes dispensed with any considerations of equity whatever. I observed:

Sim "proves" that women are "inherently, self-evidently, inferior beings" by asserting that women cannot beat men on an equal footing.  Hence fantasies of women kicking butt, in sports or in other forms of entertainment, are related to "the Charlie's Angels Syndrome," and so stand as further proof of women's inferiority.
In addition to disproving Sim's view in that essay, I championed the concept of the "fighting woman" archetype in several essays, and showed in NON-ADDICTIVE VICTIMAGE that I was not allied to the "biology is destiny" crowd.

I wouldn't have written as much as I have on the subject of "the Fighting Woman Archetype" if I believed that the greater body mass of the human male decided all questions of supremacy. But if it's almost inevitable that most men are stronger than most women, then this physical factor inevitably will be reflected in fiction. This inequity will at all times comprise an "is" that cannot be negated by any *ought.*  Even comic books, which have arguably been a greater haven for the Femme Formidable than any other medium, can't refute the basics of physical law. 
To re-state: even though I don't believe that biology is the sole determinant of gender differentiation, I categorically do believe that the biological potential of males to develop greater strength and body-mass makes a crucial difference in their tastes in fiction. The next logical questions, then, would be:

(1) What tendency of females can be seen as the "objective correlative" (borrowed from T.S. Eliot, even if I don't agree with his application of it) for the female preference for "love and domestic situations?"

(2) Assuming that I find such an objective correlative, in what way do fictional love-narratives express "high spirits," paralleling the expression of similar spirits in fictional war-narratives?

More in Part 2.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

MYTHCOMICS: "THE HUMAN RACE" (THE FLASH #138-140, 1998)

One of the most memorable "proverbs of hell" in William Blake's MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL states that, "Eternity is in love with the productions of time." While I am not a Blake expert, I tend to believe that Blake used this epigram to explain why the denizens of any eternal realm-- be they gods, devils, or angels-- should be mindful of mortal human beings.

Of course, no one can prove what Eternity feels, and I've often thought that it's easier to prove the converse: that human beings, possibly the only self-aware "productions of time," are undoubtedly in love with Whatever They Consider Eternal. Grant Morrison's 1998 FLASH continuity-- which puns upon the idea of "race" as a unity of humans and "race" as a running-contest-- meditates on a similar set of questions: what happens when humans love the universe that isn't part of their everyday world, and whether or not that universe can in any way love them back.

(Note: according to credits, Mark Millar shares co-scripting credit with Morrison. But given that in 1998 Morrison was the more celebrated of the two writers, and that Morrison is better known for stories about wild flights of imagination, I think it probable that Morrison supplied the principal plot and Millar mostly filled in some blanks.)



HUMAN RACE is, to borrow again from Blake, all about the conflict between the "innocence" of childhood, with its tender-minded desire to feel empathy with the world around him, and the world of adult "experience," which teaches one to be "tough minded" and wary of the cold, cruel world. Wally West-- the Flash of Nineties DC-- inherited the mantle of his Silver Age mentor after a long apprenticeship as "Kid Flash" in various TITANS titles. RACE, however, begins by telling the reader that in Wally's middle school years, he was a ham-radio buff. Long before becoming a superhero capable of running faster than light, Wally reached out to the cosmos, seeking confirmation of "life out there." He makes contact with Krakkl, a creature from a world inhabited by living radio-waves. But as Wally gets older, he loses contact with Krakkl and comes to believe that he merely made up an imaginary friend.




Fast forward to Wally's adulthood in the 1990s. As the Flash, he had "experience" with more than his fair share of alien life. This time, Earth is treated to a particularly unpleasant visitation.by aliens so powerful than none of the planet's many superheroes can withstand them. Much in the vein of Lee and Kirby's Galactus, who came to Earth only to devour the planet, the two extraterrestrials known as "the Cosmic Gamblers" care nothing about human beings, except for holding them as ransom to make Flash to do their bidding. And what the Gamblers want is for Flash to race another super-speedster across the universe, just so one or the other of them can win a bet. As a further irony, Wally's opponent is none other than his "imaginary friend," Krakkl, another super-speedster fighting for his own world.



This SF-trope of the "cosmic ransom" was not new even in the Silver Age, but Morrison conceives a new take on it. Usually, when super-powerful aliens force Earthmen to fight other, less powerful aliens for purposes of instruction or amusement, it's a one-shot deal, and the big bad aliens let the Earthmen go afterward. In this story, any time the Gamblers choose racers for their games, they keep said racers under their thumbs, essentially running them to death. While Wally speeds across the universe, his former friend Krakkl says that he's already defeated numerous opponents who perished, along with their worlds. More, Kraakl expects that sooner or later he will be run to death, and that the same fate will befall Wally, even if he wins this race.



I won't discuss in detail the ingenious means used by the hero to circumvent the Gamblers' no-win scenario, though it naturally involves a different contest of speed. What's interesting is that on one hand Morrison gives the reader a vivid picture of the infinite cosmos, with Flash racing through black holes and witnessing the prehistoric incarnations of the Guardians of Oa. while on the other, the author continually grounds the hero's resolve in his affection for his home world, which is in turn mirrored by the protective instincts of his friendly opponent Krakkl. In addition, for once the hero fights for the survival of his friend's world as well as his own, and Morrison even manages a new take on the old chestnut of "all people on Earth send their energy to help the hero," perhaps best known from franchises like DRAGONBALL and X-MEN.



The art of this three-issue arc--by Paul Ryan in #138, and Rob Wagner in #139/140-- is agreeable but not outstanding.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

NULL-MYTHS: KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2012)

Hmm, it's been almost a full year since I did a "null-myth" entry. I can't believe that I've been reading only good comics since then, so it must just be that I' haven't found any that were worth writing about.



I had to debate whether or not KINGSMAN (originally called just SECRET SERVICE) had enough mythic content to fall into the "near myth" group. It was an okay read, compared to earlier Mark Millar works like WANTED and OLD MAN LOGAN, two brain-dead exercises in superhero ultraviolence. Millar has written a lot of superhero works I have not read, so it's quite possible he's written something better than these two bore-fests. Yet I get the impression that, whereas many British writers sought to expand what superhero comics could do by bringing in aspects of the real world, Millar merely used realism as a method of degrading iconic characters, whether he used the actual characters (Wolverine in LOGAN) or approximations (various DC Comics villains in WANTED). KINGSMAN is no exception, since the project began as a pitch to Marvel Comics, in which eternal superspy Nick Fury took a young spy under his wing.

KINGSMAN is definitely improved by not taking place in the Marvel Universe, and by being centered in Millar's own country, which also happens to be the birthplace of Ian Flemijng's quintessential superspy. Millar, working alongside artist (and fellow Brit) Dave Gibbons, certainly brings a vraisemblance to this James Bond pastiche. The "older man" figure, Jack London, is a former working-class Brit who's been a covert superspy for decades. His sister still lives on welfare with her grown son and a succession of bad bed-mates, so one day London decides that he'll become a tutelary figure to young wastrel-in-training Gary "Eggsy" Unwin. The dramatic exchanges between the knowing elder and the impulsive youth are at least competent, and occasionally Millar and Gibbons touch on sociological themes about British society, though none of these get as much development as Fleming put into his least interesting Fleming novels.

To be sure, KINGSMAN isn't trying to emulate the Bond books, only the Bond movies. Fleming gave his villains assorted exotic gimmicks, but only in the films did Bond have access to similar doodads. In the TPB collection I read, an interview with Gibbons includes a passage wherein the artist scoffs at the "invisible car" seen in one of the Pierce Brosnan flicks. But KINGSMAN is lousy with crazy devices, such as the "laser penknife" with which Gary wins his climactic battle with a villain-henchman named Gazelle because-- well, he has two metal legs that look like those of a gazelle.

But if there's one thing that renders any potential meaning in KINGSMAN inert and inconsummate, it's Millar's handling of his villain. Even many of the Bond-villains invented for the movies prove fit to stand alongside the classic Fleming-fiends. But what does Millar come up with? Well, it's none other than-- James Arnold, Super-Fanboy. Arnold-- who's given one of the blandest villain-names of all time-- is a nerdy genius who decides to play God (or maybe Thanos) by eliminating most of the world's populace. However, because he's a nerd, he gives away his plans in part by trying to kidnap a lot of the celebrities from SF-films, such as Mark Hamill and Ridley Scott. Perhaps Millar and Gibbons thought they were putting across some devastating satire of fan-culture. Frankly, it seems more like a desperate attempt to keep away from the political content found in many of the Bond films, simplified though this content was in comparison to the Fleming books.

There are two sequels I've not read, but I'm not getting my hopes up, based on the mild pleasures of SECRET SERVICE.





Wednesday, September 12, 2018

MYTHCOMICS: THE THREE SUNS OF VINA (1989)



"[The ship is] two=and-a-half million years old, like me"-- Kani in THREE SUNS OF VINA ("Vinea" in the original Belgian publication).

The above quote displays a concern with the exigencies of time, a concern rarely seen in science fiction comics. Indeed, the bulk of space-faring science fiction stories tend to ignore the aspect of time in space travel, so that franchises as distinct as DUNE and STAR TREK often seem to take place in an "eternal present," made possible by the blessing of light-speed.

As THREE SUNS is my first exposure to the world of Belgian artist Roger Leloup and his best known creation Yoko Tsuno, I can't say if Leloup's attention to the temporal aspect of SF is typical of the entire series. But it's pronounced enough here to sustain a strong cosmological myth in itself.



Though the Yoko franchise is said to be aimed at juveniles, Leloup shows as much regard for scientific detail as any work aimed at mature readers. Only the protagonists-- Yoko, a Japanese girl living in Belgium, and her pals Vic and Paul-- are technically juvenile in age, though they generally show an adult's level of good sense and probity. (Paul, being the comic relief of the threesome, is allowed to be rather more impulsive and childish.) THREE SUNS, the sixth album released, also picks up with the trio re-encountering aliens called "Vinans" once more. The story does not dwell on why the Vinans originally came to Earth, except to assert that they were escaping a solar catastrophe that required them to voyage through space for a couple of millions years, in hibernation. Now, their leader Kani (also, like Yoko, a daredevil young female) informs Yoko that they plan to journey back to Vina, to see if anyone survived the catastrophe. I didn't precisely follow why the trip back wasn't going to take another two million years. However, since this time out it;s only going to take a few months to leave and return to Earth, the three teens agree to join the expedition.

I'll pass over a lot of the well-reasoned SF-tech to get to the main story, the return to Kani's home. The planet Vina has two natural suns, one of which has died. The other sun has somehow been restored to normality, though some of the gravity-changes seem to have altered Vina into a Mercury-like sphere: always showing just one face to the sun, while the other remains in darkness. There's a "third sun" in the form of an orbital solar generator, but it's currently non-functional.





Yoko's two buddies barely get anything to do, as Yoko and Kani descend to Vina to investigate.
The young women encounter that well worn but still viable trope; the decayed computer that has become a god to a tribal people. The modern Vinans barely remember their highly technological ancestors, but they direct Yoko and Kani to a tower guarded by robots and cruisers, the dwelling place of the long unseen "Supreme Leader."

Not surprisingly, the girls manage to dispel the tyranny of a super-computer that's been dominating an entire planet for two million years. They do get some help from one of the many robots, for this robot still possessed the downloaded memories of one of the early Vinan scientists-- and he/it has a special reason for helping Vina, since the original owner of the memories was one Sadar, Vina's father. But in case the tearful reunion with a robot wasn't enough for Yoko's readers, the quest continues to the dark side of the planet, where Yoko and Vina find another survivor who's been in hibernation for two million years-- Vina's mother Synda, who when revived appears to be the same age as her daughter. And to top things off, Yoko's group also fires up the artificial sun, thus fulfilling the title of the album.

If anything about THREE SUNS' plot smacks of the juvenile, it's the fact that sex plays no role in the story, aside from its role in siring all of the participants. Yet Leloup's uses of time for dual purposes-- both to lend verisimilitude and to provide the "sense of wonder" of seeing a young woman and her mother share the same somatic age-- transcend the usual "gothca" aesthetic of the time-paradox.