O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
The gist of this feature is that I pick songs from a notable Broadway Musical and then compare songs from them to comics that were released this past week, including YouTube clips of the songs in question.
This week it is Stephen Schwartz’ Wicked. Enjoy!
Beware of spoilers!!
“No One Mourns the Wicked”
This opening number, where the citizens of Oz gather together to celebrate the death of the Wicked Witch reminds me a bit of this week’s Wetworks, which was the final issue of the series. While fill-in writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis actually do a solid job of wrapping the series up, in the end, this is a series that I think few will mourn, as it seemed to be a bit of a mess from the get go, which is surprising, as Mike Carey was involved, and he is usually quite good.
“What Is This Feeling?”
This song, which is an examination of the loathing that the two roommates (Elphaba – the future Wicked Witch and Galinda – the future Good Witch) feel for each other, fits in quite nicely with Christos Gage’s Thunderbolts: Breaking Point one-shot, which examines the relationship between Songbird and Moonstone, who both loath each other.
“Dancing Through Life”
The point of “Dancing Through Life” is that Fiyero feels as though life is much more enjoyable if you don’t take it so seriously and do not worry about consequences and things like that, but ultimately, Fiyero finds his position to be a false one. The closest book to this from this week would be Marc Sumerak & Chris Elipoulos’ Franklin Richards: Fall Football Fiasco, as Franklin often takes that same approach as Fiyero (of course, it is much less annoying coming from a child), and in this latest issue, he learns the hard way what can happen when he takes such an approach, as a duplicate that he accidentally creates takes his place in school – and ends up doing Franklin’s life better than Franklin did! And when Franklin attempts to correct the mix-up, he ends up hurting someone’s feelings and must realize that there ARE consequences to his actions. Very nice work by Sumerak and Eliopoulos.
When I think of this song, from when Galinda explains how she can make anyone, even Elphaba, popular, I am drawn to Ed Brubaker and the work he has been doing over these past 30 or so issues of Captain America, as Brubaker has slowly, but surely, made Bucky Barnes, of all characters, one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe (who would have imagined, pre-Brubaker, Bucky making the Top 50 Marvel Characters in a popularity contest?!?!).
Excellent work by Brubaker. I look forward to seeing what he does with Bucky as Captain America.
“I’m Not That Girl”
Elphaba bemoans her lot in life with this sad song, which reminded me of Mike Carey’s nice character work in Ultimate Vision, as Carey gives us a new take on the Vision, as a female robot who is trying to fit into life on Earth, while, of course, filled with the same self doubt Elphaba expresses in “I’m Not That Girl.”
“A Sentimental Man”
This tune, like many in Wicked, is about the hidden meanings behind what people ACTUALLY say. Here, the Wizard is explaining to Elphaba about how he is simply a sentimental man, and needs her help – while, of course, he is close to a tyrant, and he needs her help to do some bad things.
This is basically the same as the ongoing adventures of Superman Prime, in the pages of Countdown to Final Crisis, as he believes that he IS just trying to do the right thing, no matter how many people he tortures or kills along the way (although, seriously, who wanted to see Mr. Mxyzptlk get tortured? It’s like the episode of South Park where Santa Claus is shot down in the Middle East – only it WASN’T played for laughs!!!).
This is another song where, on the surface, it is happiness, but below, lies something much less so. For me, at least, it reminds me of this week’s Checkmate, which is all about the “heroic” defeat of Amanda Waller, where we’re apparently supposed to be happy about, even though Amanda Waller is such a better character than the people taking her down. I was especially put off by the notion that this was their PLAN. Their “plan” revolved around total and absolute luck to pull off, and yet it was presented as “no, no, this was the PLAN!” Absurdity.
Just like the absurdity of Glinda being willing to marry Fiyero for appearance’s sake, even though he clearly does not love her.
“As Long As You’re Mine”
This love song between Fiyero and Elphaba is a nice message about love in the face of adversity, and the book it reminded me of was Brian Michael Bendis’ rather strong second issue of Halo: Uprising, which depicts the burgeoning relationship of two people in the face of an alien invasion.
Bendis really knocked this one out of the park, as the interaction between the couple was spot on.
“No Good Deed”
This is where Elphaba basically BECOMES the Wicked Witch that everyone has been calling her for most of the musical, basically after her attempts at being good have backfired, leaving her sister and (she thinks) Fiyero dead.
This backfiring of noble intentions reminds me of this week’s Loners, which is about a group of former superheroes who are attempting to avoid their past lives, while still getting sucked back into the old life, often for the worst.
Particularly, Phil Urich (the good Green Goblin) tries to be good, but ultimately becomes just as mad as the previous Green Goblins (by the way, how uninspired is THAT? “Who should I make become a bad guy? Oh, I know! The Green Goblin!”).
The series, as a whole, though, is a nice look at the sometimes bad results that can come from noble intentions.
This final duet between Elphaba and Glinda spotlights how much each one had meant to each other, and while they are now parting, probably “for good,” because they met each other, both of their lives have been changed “for good.”
For this, I think of this week’s The Spirit, which is the penultimate issue of Darwyn Cooke’s awesome run on the book. I can certainly say that, because I knew Darwyn Cooke’s The Spirit, I’ve been privy to more good comics than I expected, and it is a shame to see him go, for good.
Okay, that’s it!
But just for good measure, probably the most notable song from Wicked is the Act One closer, “Defying Gravity.” I couldn’t find an apt comparison this week (unless I went for a cheap joke regarding the lady in this week’s Iron Man Annual, where Greg noticed the same silly artistic decision that I, too, noticed), but I know if I didn’t mention it, people would be irked, so here it is!
Otherwise, that’s it! See ya’ll next time! Which musical should I do next?
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