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No Man's Land


February 2000
(24 pgs.)

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COVER:
The cover is based on the work of Joseph Christian Leyendecker and in particular his famous Weapons for Liberty Poster

which can be seen at the War Posters of the 20th Century site.

Thanks to Jose Villarubia for pointing out that Promethea's depiction in this version is very reminiscent of Maxfield Parrish's artwork for Prometheus.

Parrish was also the inspiration for the cover of Issue #13.

TITLE:
As explained here although the phrase No Man's Land predates the 1914-1918 conflict it is most commonly associated with WWI.
No man's land represented the area of ground between opposing armies - in World War I this meant between trenches.

SYNOPSIS
At Ypres in 1915 Promethea leads a lost soldier back to safety. Meanwhile back in New York 1999 Barbara's conditioning is worsening. Barbara helps Sophie return to the Immateria where Margaret explains about the end of the world. Left alone Sophie finds herself in Hy Brasil.

QUOTES
"God's universe is not itself unkind" - Promethea, pg. 1
"I can't place your voice. Sometimes you sound like an Arab and sometimes like a Yank" - WWI soldier, pg. 3
"You're an enormous homophobic closet lesbo" - Stacia to Sophie, pg 5
NOTE: More quotes still to be added before page finally frozen

NOTES & ANNOTATIONS
Page 1, Panel 1: Ypres, 1915. In April of that year the Second battle of Ypres occured
Pages 4-5, Top Panel: School of Elevated Minds - I think all of us would have liked to attend this school.
Statue on right hand side reminds me of the Top Ten universe.
Page 4, Panel 2: Helen Cixous and some more information about her can be found here.
Here are some more quotes from the English translation of Le livre de Promethea:

"One cannot bear to spend a Season in Paradise without crying out in instant nostalgia: never will we have the strength to endure such intoxicating agony a second time. If we had what we will never have - time to live this day over again - there are so many others desirable and each is the most beautiful one. It is superhuman torture. We do not know how, simply, to bear it. We weep for joy."
"Write on what is alive? But up to now I thought of myself as writing on paper. Sometimes the paper was thick enough, in fact, for me not to feel the blood flowing under the skin, under the paper. [] I warn her: I am writing on you, Promethea, run away, escape. I am afraid to write you, I am going to hurt you. [] But rather than run away, she comes at a gallop. Through the window she comes, breathing hard, and alive as can be, she flings herself into the book, and there are bursts of laughter and splashes of water everywhere, on my notebook, on the table, on my hands, on our bodies..."
"I loved you in the darkness at the center of the light"

Myth and Legends of the First World War: There is a book with this title written by James Hayward but it was first published in March 2002.
Page 4, Panel 3: the first Painted Doll T-shirt seen. Smiley clowns' face with 1 million killed.
Here is a sketch drawn by JHW3 found on pg. 45 of The ABC Sketchbook.

Page 6, Panel 2: Note Kenneth is wearing a 5 badge as a member of the 5 swell guys.


French version pg 7

Pages 8-9 top panel: The sun in the sky doesn't look too happy.
The Pandeliriums will land on the fingers of the hand seen here on panel 4.
Note the mask on the wall by the pink waterfall and the green loch ness monster like creature in the water.
Nice effect of bees turning into tigers and thistles becoming soap bubbles which then turn into baseballs.
Page 9, Panel 4 There's no such word as pandelirium which seems to be a conjunction of pandemonium and delirium. There used to be a rock band with that name.
Page 10: The sun panel here looks much happier than the one on the previous page. Maybe he's glad the pandeliriums are being driven away.
Page 11: Alan Moore explained about Reality on TV once. Here is a transcript of what he said some of it quite relevant to the world of Promethea:
This document was written for TV by Alan moore, as such it forms a good introductory passage.
Reality, at first glance, is a simple thing: the television speaking to you now is real. Your body sunk into that chair in the approach to midnight, a clock ticking at the threshold of awareness. All the endless detail of a solid and material world surrounding you. These things exist. They can be measured with a yardstick, a voltammeter, a weighing scale. These things are real. Then there's the mind, half-focused on the TV, the settee, the clock. This ghostly knot of memory, idea and feeling that we call ourself also exists, though not within the measurable world our science may describe. Consciousness is unquantifiable, a ghost in the machine, barely considered real at all, though in a sense this flickering mosaic of awareness is the only true reality that we can ever know. The Here-and-Now demands attention, is more present to us. We dismiss the inner world of our ideas as less important, although most of our immediate physical reality originated only in the mind. The TV, sofa, clock and room, the whole civilisation that contains them once were nothing save ideas. Material existence is entirely founded on a phantom realm of mind, whose nature and geography are unexplored. Before the Age of Reason was announced, humanity had polished strategies for interacting with the world of the imaginary and invisible: complicated magic-systems; sprawling pantheons of gods and spirits, images and names with which we labelled powerful inner forces so that we might better understand them. Intellect, Emotion and Unconscious Thought were made divinities or demons so that we, like Faust, might better know them; deal with them; become them. Ancient cultures did not worship idols. Their god-statues represented ideal states which, when meditated constantly upon, one might aspire to. Science proves there never was a mermaid, blue-skinned Krishna or a virgin birth in physical reality. Yet thought is real, and the domain of thought is the one place where gods inarguably exist, wielding tremendous power. If Aphrodite were a myth and Love only a concept, then would that negate the crimes and kindnesses and songs done in Love's name? If Christ were only ever fiction, a divine Idea, would this invalidate the social change inspired by that idea, make holy wars less terrible, or human betterment less real, less sacred? The world of ideas is in certain senses deeper, truer than reality; this solid television less significant than the Idea of television. Ideas, unlike solid structures, do not perish. They remain immortal, immaterial and everywhere, like all Divine things. Ideas are a golden, savage landscape that we wander unaware, without a map. Be careful: in the last analysis, reality may be exactly what we think it is.

I forget where I originally found this quotation but it's out on the net somewhere.
The idea of chairs idea is a famous philosophical discussion usually covered in early philosophy classes and probably originates from Plato and his description of people chained at the bottom of a cave and thinking the shadows on the wall are reality
The idea of private imagination vs. public imagination dates back to at least ancient Greece and probably further. The SF writer Philip K Dick knew about it from his philosophical researches and he refered to the Koinos Kosmos and the Idios Kosmos in his article on Schizophrenia and the Book of Changes
"In many species of life forms, such as the grazing animals, a newborn individual is more or less thrust out into the koinos kosmos (the shared world) immediately. For a lamb or a pony, the idios kosmos (the personal world) ceases when the first light hits his eyes--but a human child, at birth, still has years of a kind of semireal existence ahead of him: semireal in the sense that until he is fifteen or sixteen years old he is able to some degree to remain not thoroughly born, not entirely on his own; fragments of the idios kosmos remain, and not all or even very much of the koinos kosmos has been forced onto him as yet. The full burden of the koinos kosmos does not weigh until what is delightfully referred to as "psychosexual maturity" strikes, which means those lovely days during high school epitomized by asking that cute girl in the row ahead of you if she'd like to go get a soda after school, and she saying "NO". That's it. The koinos kosmos has set in. Prepare, young man, for a long winter. Much more--and worse--lie ahead"
Cheerful soul wasn't he?
Pages 12-13: Nice layout with introductory panel at top left and exit panel at bottom right and 6 normal panels in between them.
Page 12 Top Panel:Giant Ice cream cones, top hats and ladies hats and bow ties sprouting like flowers.
Also notes the Sky Eyes and the just visible clock face.
Page 13 bottom panel: Giant snails with WWI German helmets. Not sure about the patterns on the helmets. Are they familiar to anyone?
An archway of roses and barbed wire leading onto the next double page splash
Pages 14-15 Top Panel: Swastika on what looks like a tombstone, roses dripping blood, hammer and sickle in the sky, a few human torsos in front of the swastika , a floor of skulls, crucifixes stand out in front of the sun, warheads, black crows and one giant black crow with blood on its' beak, a saluting army officer (note that the warhead appear to be exploding out of his pants with the zipper undone) and a sword on the right hand page.
Note that the only the soldiers legs and helmets are seen. The two opposing armies wear different helmets.
Reading from left to right how many flags of the world can you identify?:

  1. Botswana
  2. Norway
  3. Burkina Faso
  4. Cuba
  5. Germany
  6. Barbados
  7. Japan
  8. ?
  9. ?
  10. United Kingdom
  11. Iran
  12. Israel
  13. Slovakia
  14. looks like a totally green flag
  15. Rwanda
and of course above all the others on pg 12 USA.
The study of flags is called vexillology .
Note the helicopter insects on pg 12.
Page 15 Panel 2: Wilfred Owens was a poet who died in World War I.
The Angel of Mons appeared to many soldiers during WWI.
Pages 16-17:
JHW3 says that the image of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is
my visual idea of them. It is not referenced from anything.
The skull floor becomes a floor of eggs. Out of them hatch bats with strange multicoloured wings.
Pages 18-19:
Note the color scheme and planets of the 7 small panels
  1. Brown - earth - corn
  2. Purple - moon - lovers
  3. Orange - Mercury Thoth, Hermes, Mathematical numbers & symbols
  4. Green - Venus and Cupid - See image of Boticelli's Birth of Venus in Issue 16
  5. Yellow - Sun(?) - 2 crucifixes, lion and lamb
  6. Red - Libra scales - sword
  7. Blue - Jupiter - any imagery would be obscured by dialogue bubbles

Page 20, Panel 2; Squealchairs are well named.
eeeeeeeeeeee
Page 23 Panel 3: Crab with mask on its back
This reminds me of the legend about how crabs with a human face on their shell appeared on an island near Japan sometimes refered to as the Samurai Crabs
How does it come about that the face of a warrior is incised on the carapace of a crab? The answer seems to be that humans made the face. The patterns on the crab's shell are inherited. But among crabs, as among people, there are many different hereditary lines. Suppose that, by chance, among the distant ancestors of this crab, one arose with a pattern that resembled, even slightly, a human face. Even before the battle of Danno-ura, fishermen may have been reluctant to eat such a crab. In throwing it back, they set in motion an evolutionary process: If you are a crab and your carapace is ordinary, the humans will eat you. Your line will leave fewer descendants. If your carapace looks a little like a face, they will throw you back. You will leave more descendants. Crabs had a substantial investment in the patterns on their carapaces. As the generations passed, of crabs and fishermen alike, the crabs with patterns that most resembled a samurai face survived preferentially until eventually there was produced not just a human face, not just a Japanese face, but the visage of a fierce and scowling samurai. All this has nothing to do with what the crabs want. Selection is imposed from the outside. The more you look like a samurai, the better are your chances of survival. Eventually, there come to be a great many samurai crabs. This process is called artificial selection.

Crab Link
Another Crab link
{Masked crab} (Zo["o]l.), a European crab ({Corystes cassivelaunus}) with markings on the carapace somewhat resembling a human face.
from Hyperdictionary entry on masked
By contrast I'm not aware of any legends of Seagulls with white gloves for wings and wristwatches on their bodies
Page 24: Hy Brasil
Source
When discussing underwater lore and legends, Atlantis is an obvious subject of interest. However, the lost island of Hy-Brasil is just as intriguing and has more first-person accounts.
Hy-Brasil is also spelled Hy-Breasal, Hy-Brazil, Hy-Breasil, Brazir and related variations and refers to the Irish Atlantis. It may be the reason that the South American country, Brazil, was so named. The central image on the Brazilian flag, a circle with a channel across the center, is the symbol for Hy-Brasil on early maps.

The name of Hy-Brasil may come from the Middle Ages term brazil, which seems to indicate a source of rare red dye. The dye may have acquired its name from the legendary island, or vice versa.

Or, the name Hy-Brasil, also called the Fortunate Island, may originate with the old Irish word, breas, meaning noble or fortunate.

In folklore, this island country takes its name from Breasal, the High King of the World, in Celtic history.

(He may or may not be related to Bresal Echarlam mac Echach Baethlaim, from the stories of Lugh at Tara. He was not St. Breasal, although pre-Christian folklore may be the foundation for that saint's legends.)

Hy-Brasil was noted on maps as early as 1325, when Genoese cartographer Dalorto placed the island west of Ireland. On successive sailing charts, it appears southwest of Galway Bay.

On some 15th century maps, islands of the Azores appear as Isola de Brazil, or Insulla de Brazil.

After 1865, Hy-Brasil appears on few maps since its location could not be verified.

Regardless of the name or location, the island's history is consistent: It is the home of a wealthy and highly advanced civilization. Those who visited the island returned with tales of gold-roofed towers and domes, healthy cattle, and opulent citizens.

The lore of Hy-Brasil is equally fascinating. For example, it is shrouded in fog or perhaps beneath the ocean, and appears only briefly, once every seven years.

The island has been visited by many people for centuries. Both Saint Barrind and Saint Brendan found the island on their respective voyages, and returned home with nearly identical descriptions of Hy-Brasil, which they dubbed the "Promised Land."

One of the most famous visits to Hy-Brasil was in 1674 by Captain John Nisbet of Killybegs, Co. Donegal, Ireland. He and his crew were in familiar waters west of Ireland, when a fog came up. As the fog lifted, the ship was dangerously close to rocks. While getting their bearings, the ship anchored in three fathoms of water, and four crew members rowed ashore to visit Hy-Brasil.

They spent a day on the island, and returned with silver and gold given to them by an old man who lived there. Upon the return of the crew to Ireland, a second ship set out under the command of Alexander Johnson.

They, too, found the hospitable island of Hy-Brasil and returned to Ireland to confirm the tales of Captain Nisbet and crew.

The last documented sighting of Hy-Brasil was in 1872, when author T. J. Westropp and several companions saw the island appear and then vanish. This was Mr. Westropp's third view of Hy-Brasil, but on this voyage he had brought his mother and some friends to verify the existence of Hy-Brasil.

Researchers and archaeologists have searched in the most likely locations west of Ireland, and there is evidence that islands existed there. Shallow-water shells have been found at Porcupine Bank, somewhat northwest of the most likely location of Hy-Brasil. Even further north, similar shells were discovered at Rockhall.

So, there is evidence of land mass changes in that part of the Atlantic Ocean.

The most distinctive geographical feature of Hy-Brasil, is that it appears on maps as a perfect circle, with a semi-circular channel through the center. The circular perimeter of the island was confirmed by both Saints Barrind and Brendan, who separately walked the shore to determine where the island ended, but never found it. Most likely, they were walking in circles.

Although Hy-Brasil does not have the fame of Atlantis, outside role-playing games, it is a story worth exploring.

Other names for Hy-Brasil: Tir fo-Thuin (Land Under the Wave), Mag Mell (Land of Truth), Hy na-Beatha (Isle of Life), and Tir na-m-Buadha (Land of Virtue). Fourteeth and Fifteenth century maps spell Hy-Brasil as Ysole Brazil, Bracir, and Hy Breasail. References:

Phantom Islands of the Atlantic, by Donald S. Johnson Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, by Peter Berresford Ellis Celtic Myth and Legend, by Mike Dixon-Kennedy

Above information taken from Suite 101.com The author was Eibhlin MacIntosh.

The images at the bottom of the page look vaguely Aztec to me
Amazing Grace is a well known hymn. Here the Grace being referred to is Grace Brannagh. Strangely enough issue #6 is not entitled Amazing Grace at all.

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Page (almost) frozen: 3 December, 2003