Sunday, April 11, 2010

Comics Review: WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #705 (Boom! Kids, March 2010)

Oh, my gawrsh, Boom! Kids has suddenly "gone slick" on us! This latest issue of WDC&S features honest-to-goodness glossy paper. No hint of an upcoming rise in price, though, which is all to the good; the whole point of these $2.99 titles is to make Disney comics an easier purchase for kids and families.

Speaking of sheen, Andrea Castellan's "Mickey Mouse and the World to Come" really burnished its credentials in this bailiwick by revealing that mathematics lies at the heart of the plan to create "The World to Come." In chapter 3, Mickey and Eega Beeva journey to Illusitania and finally get the straight dope from King Kontinento himself. It seems that many years ago, a "ponder" of scientists (including our own Doc Static) discovered that, in words familiar to fans of a certain CBS-TV series, "everything is numbers." Learn how to manipulate parameters with "denumerization cannons" and the ability to remake the world is at your fingertips. Alas, the "world equation" proved far too difficult for 1960s-era computers to work out, so the giant robots and their built-in "cannons" have lain dormant for years, waiting for all the numbers to be crunched. The scheming Crown Prince Nikolai, unbeknownst to his dad, has upgraded the technology and is about to "get (finished) with the program." Niky's eager to exploit the world-kneading wundertech to "cover ze globe in roads und factories!", but his treacherous erstwhile ally, The Rhyming Man, who's located all of the "denumerization" robots, has a simpler agenda: to "watch the world burn" and rule it at the same time. I smell a forthcoming "forced alliance" between Mickey, Eega, Minnie (who's still in Rhymes' clutches), King Kontinento, Konty's young female offspring Silvy, and a chagrined Niky... but will it coalesce too late for it to make any difference?

You can imagine how the whole notion of a "world equation" intrigued me. The sketchier recesses of mathematical history teem with cranks who have claimed to have discovered a formula, or set thereof, that will "explain everything." Maxwell's electromagnetic equations and the search for a unified field theory take the idea more seriously. It would have made sense for Doc Static and friends to have tackled their own approach to the problem in the 1960s, when the "military-industrial complex" that arose after World War II was still thought of as being relatively benign, and "Big Government" and "Big Science" could work together in relative harmony without much mutual recrimination. What I wonder is why, when it became obvious that a (literal) "global" tack wasn't working, Doc Static et al. didn't follow the advice of George Polya and try breaking the "world equation" into smaller parts, working on each one in turn. Instead, it seems, they simply gave up and walked away. No wonder Doc S. wanted to leave this part of his past behind; it must have been embarrassing for him to look back on it. But even unsuccessful "tampering in God's domain" leaves the door open for those who, like The Rhyming Man, have considerably less benevolent intentions. Take heed, you stem-cell seekers and cloning gurus!

In "Peg Leg Pete and the Alien Band," we learn that, uh... Pete used to play the drums when he was a kid. Very loudly. I realize that any backup story for "World to Come" would have seemed shallow by comparison, but really, now...

1 comment:

Mark Lungo said...

"But even unsuccessful 'tampering in God's domain' leaves the door open for those who, like The Rhyming Man, have considerably less benevolent intentions. Take heed, you stem-cell seekers and cloning gurus!"

This comment leapt out at me when I recently reread this column. The misuse of cloning is a standard science fiction plot, but stem cells? Really?