Queerly Geek

Enigma            Peter Milligan’s The Enigma confronts society’s expectations about identity.  The Enigma, narrated in the first person, tells the story of 20-something Michael Smith. Smith meets Titus Bird, the writer of the superhero comic book The Enigma, the story of a man with omnipotent powers who adopts the identity of a superhero. Smith runs into the Enigma, who reveals that he is an emotionless being, unfamiliar with concepts of right and wrong.  Enigma take Smith on life changing adventure where Smith is challenged by how consciously he is aware of himself.  His experience with Enigma reveal a deeper understanding of his, and the reader’s, place in the world.

In a twist at the end the narrator is revealed to be a lizard, that had been gifted human consciousness by Enigma, and the lizard is attempting to explain its new awareness to other lizards.  The other lizards though are unable to comprehend the story they are being told because their own knowledge of self and the world is limited.  The lizard’s interaction with Enigma mirrors Smith’s, who too has been changed and grown from experiences with Enigma, and finds it difficult to explain to friends.

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The Extremist

The Extremist (ted mckeever)            The Extremist, written by Peter Milligan and artist Ted McKeever, was my first Vertigo comic book, a DC imprint of mature themed comic books.  The Extremist showed me that comic book books could be elevated from escapism to literature.

            The main character Judy Tanner surrenders herself into the identity of the assassin The Extremist.  Judy discovers The Extremist after her husband, Jack, is murdered and uncovers the costume and identity belonged to him, which he used as a patron of sex clubs and to work for The Order, a shadowy organization.  She is able to take her revenge on her husband’s murderer, but then learns she was manipulated by The Order’s Chief Hedonist, Patrick, who reveals he is the true killer.  He had manipulated Judy into murder because he wanted to liberate Judy from her bourgeois suburban code.

            The Extremist’s exploration of moral codes runs parallel to the homosexual search for identity because traditional gender roles can’t be applied to homosexual relationships.  Conversely, heteronormative gender roles are all that were modelled for homosexual relationships, which creates internal dissonance about behaviors.  The effect of this confusion is culture-identity dissension, when cultural-norms disconnect from a developing identity resulting in habitual painful feelings.