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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...

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

TRANSITIVE MONSTERS

This week I finally got around to finishing the last of my reviews for the "canonical" FRIDAY THE 13TH films-- that is, all the ones made before the first remake-- I may as well venture some thoughts on the way in which the Jason saga compares with the "Freddy Krueger saga." For purposes of clarity,. I regard both of these sagas as standing independent of the "monster mash" crossover between the two, 2003's FREDDY VS. JASON, which was in essence the swan song for both of their fiendish careers.

Both characters, it should be obvious, are the respective stars of their serials, and so both serials are defined by what I term the "monster-persona." In COMBAT PLAY PT. 4 I gave a quick comparative definition as opposed to the monster's statistically opposite number, the hero, in these terms:


In contrast to the hero, the monster often appears as the sole megadynamic entity in his universe, and his opponents, usually demiheroes, are not usually able to stand against him. 

This description applies for the most part to the saga of Jason. There are only two exceptions. One is the seventh installment of the saga, in which Jason is defeated by a telekinetic female opponent. The other is installment number ten, in which the Hockey-Mask Horror encounters the denizens of a futuristic world, including a martial android who manages to blow Jason to pieces. However, the actual honor of "the kill"-- the last one within the sphere of the canon-- goes to a space marine who manages to hurl Jason into Earth's atmosphere, incinerating both of them-- though with the usual caveat that the scion of Voorhees may be back some day.

In contrast, although the first two installments of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET started out in the same subcombative mode, with Freddy Krueger preying on teens in their dreams, the third installment took a different tack, as I noted in my review of NIGHTMARE #3:

Wes Craven, billed as one of four scripters on ELM 3, is probably responsible for elaborating the idea of "dream-fighting" suggested in ELM 1, but with greater attention to empowering the film's heroes in the dreams. 

Ironically, even though Craven was probably responsible for giving his demiheroes the ability to fight Freddy on his own terms, he himself repudiated the combative mode in 1994's WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE, which stood outside the "continuity" of the other six Freddy-films

So, of the ten films that comprise the loose "Jason saga," only two are combative, while of the six films that comprise the "Freddy saga," only two are subcombative. Thus, by the logic I introduced in ACTIVE SHARE, PASSIVE SHARE, the entire "Freddy saga" is combative and the entire "Jason saga" is subcombative. This parallels my judgment that the entire saga of Marvel Comics' "Rawhide Kid" had to be judged metaphenomenal while that of the same company's "Ringo Kid" was isophenomenal.

As should be apparent from the above essay, I've almost entirely abandoned the theory that an objective percentage of a given serial's stories can determine the serial's status in terms of phenomenality, of the combative mode, or of any other domain I've generally addressed.

In that essay, the only criterion I supplied for the above judgment was that I said Rawhide's encounters with the metaphenomenal, unlike those of Ringo, comprised "a vital part of his mythos." Obviously this is in part a subjective judgment by a reader who's read the entirety of both features in their original runs-- but it's also an objective judgment on the extent to which the authors of the "Rawhide" feature felt a certain "affective freedom" in mixing their phenomenalities. And the same argument applies to the way in which the "Freddy saga" allows the monster's demihero opponents great latitude in terms of their empowerment; certainly more than the opponents of Jason receive.

Further, by the "transitive effect" that I first described in this essay, even the subcombative films in Freddy's oeuvre become, though said effect, part of a combative mythos, just as any subcombative Superman stories-- a major example being "Superman's Return to Krypton"-- are still subsumed by the combative mythos of the Man of Steel. And the reverse applies: a sort of "negative transitive effect" means that even the two Jason films in the combative mode are subsumed by the overall subcombative mode of the mythos.

On a related note, I have not yet finished re-screening all of the Hammer DRACULA films. However, even if I never get around to SCARS OF DRACULA, I tend to believe that the combative mode in the key films of the series-- notably HORROR OF DRACULA and BRIDES OF DRACULA-- that all films within the series will be subsumed by the combative mode, even those that I've judged to be individually subcombative, like TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA.

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