Sunday, May 27, 2018

BARRIER by Vaughan and Martin

The fifth and final issue rolls out this week. It has provoked and prompted quite a bit of discussion.
The main questions:
What is it? What is the meaning of all this?
Why is Brian Vaughan throwing so many barriers at us ?
Doesnt't he want people to read this book?
Brian K Vaughan, superstar scribe of Saga and Marcos Martin who previously worked together on                The Private Eye have deigned that their latest mini-series be sideways oriented in that you flip the book up like a wall calendar. One of the small mercies is that the pages are oriented in the manner of Jeff Smith's TUKI and not the impenitrible and incomprehensible way Dave Sim's CEREBUS IN HELL created an additional slice of torment in the way the pages were to be read.
Although the comparison to CEREBUS IN HELL may be valid, because even though I
don't think Sim was making a metaphor with this inexplicable choice,
I do think Vaughan is saying something here.

But what? The story is set along the Mexican/U.S. border. The main characters don't share a language with which to communicate to each other through.
There's ALIENS!

The next attempt at thwarting comfortable consumption is the decision to make the book 3/4" taller (3cm for the rest of the world) than every other comic on the shelf. This makes it just a bit too tall to fit into standard sized comic storage bags, though it'll just fit into most storage boxes. Most. Storage, the anxiety inducing quandary faced by all comics readers/collectors is always a sensitive issue.

The series features two main protaganists. The characters are thrown quickly into a chaotic and bewildering situation. Having only each other for support but finding themselves unable to communicate because neither speaks the other's language. One speaks only English and seems to have a grudge against Mexicans. The other main character apparently is a Mexican gang affiliate and only speaks Spanish. The language and cultural divide create palpable tension and a sense of helpless futility.

Barrier is also being released weekly. Giving the reader (and retailers) no time to wait, take stock or recalibrate. No chance for a leisurely read. You are dragged in, on ground level and forces you to quickly assess the situation This confounding piece of art will also not be collected in any manner of Tradepaperback or Hardcover after completion which also adds a "get it now, or never" urgency. 

What does he want of us?
Just to get in get out and move on?
Everything about this seems to run counter to the structure and cycle of his various other long running episodic comics Saga or Paper Girls.

Marcos Martin's art is spectacular throughout and seemingly doesn offer and visual saboutage. Cleanly and preciesely illustrative with moments of supreme mind bending weirdness that serves to disorient and confound the readers and the characters. Certainly there is some graphic and nasty looking stuff, but nothing particularly eggregious. It all builds in a strange and kaleidoscopic pattern that doesn't allow for any easy footing or safe landings.

Is time a Barrier? Space?
How about Language?
Our preconceived notions and expectations?
Are any of these barriers truly necessary or unavoidable?
Are the barriers are all in our minds?

Bill Burroughs said ,“Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.”
and as an achitect of societal deconstruction his techniques for unravelling states of complacency may be of use here.

Get Barrier.
Read it. Read it again.
Achieve interstellar travel.

and....oh by the way if all the things i just described and put forth didn't drive you as batty as it did me ...
the series is available fully online for whatever payment you deeem necessasry.

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