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Paradax - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy

Paradax - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy
Paradax (Al Cooper) 
You are a young superhero. You enjoy drinking beer and having sex with your girlfriend. But youth isn’t a synonym of happiness. After all, you need money in your wallet to buy that beer or impress your girl. In 1984, Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy came up with a very audacious concept: a working-class superhero.

Paradax wasn’t a famous journalist like Clark Kent or a rich businessman like Tony Stark. He was never meant to be an inspirational figure or an example of virtue. This was a character that defied the status quo: 30 years ago, superheroes were supposed to be model citizens, clean, good and honest –and, of course, in their secret identities, successful professionals. 

For decades, the superhero genre had always embraced a very strict set of rules. Superheroes were supposed to act in certain ways, they were supposed to be altruistic, brave and decent. Well, Milligan decided to say ‘sod off’ to the old regime; it was time to implement a new one.    

Paradax’s secret origin isn’t a tragic event (no parents or relatives are murdered) or a spectacular accident (no radioactive explosions). Al Cooper simply finds a yellow suit –forgotten by one of his passengers– in the back seat of his taxi. Curious, of course, he tries it on. He immediately knows that it might be ill-advised to walk down Christopher Street –a place visited mostly by gay men– wearing such a skin tight costume. But even in a “regular” street he is mocked and ridiculed. 
Paradax - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy
The yellow suit / el traje amarillo

Al’s girlfriend suggests a new look. And so he wears a jacket and jeans on top of his yellow suit (curiously this look has been imitated by hundreds of superheroes in the 80s and 90s). But obviously he doesn’t go out to patrol the streets or prevent bank assaults. He simply stays indoors, in his messy and dirty apartment, having sex with his girlfriend and drinking beer. 

Al Cooper realizes that the suit gives him the power to phase through solid objects. And that means he could make a fortune stealing bank vaults. In the end, however, he’s convinced by his girlfriend and his manager that he could earn more money as a legitimate superhero. And thus, the adventures of Paradax begin.

There are some similarities between Milligan’s Paradax and Grant Morrison’s Zenith (the ‘jacket’ look, the youthfulness, the chrematistic interest, the antihero approach). Milligan’s whimsical proposal relies heavily on satire and parody, whereas Morrison intends to deconstruct the superhero mythos and to reinvent it under a different light (much like Alan Moore did with Miracleman in the 80s).

Brendan McCarthy pencils, inks and colors Paradax. His pages are a psychedelic party that never ends. McCarthy transfers movement and a very special rhythm to this young hero, without forgetting the importance of sensuality. Yes, sex is a big part of this title, and that is made clear since the beginning. There is such a powerful irreverence in McCarthy’s designs and in Paradax’s unexpected acts: pissing on the street or opening a can of beer (the eruption of foam is like a metaphor for ejaculation) or simply wearing underwear that no honorable superhero –not even the champions of having underclothing outside their pants– could tolerate.

“Paradax erupted from left field, scruffily iconoclastic and filled with the joie de vivre of an earlier comic book age. Paradax behaved like a hooligan in fancy dress getting drunk at a somber black-tie event”. I totally agree with this. Although short lived, Paradax is pure life; perhaps, like those famous rock stars that die young, Al Cooper was doomed to outshine all others and finally be consumed. I don’t know how Milligan does it, but he makes us recover that longing for a more exciting life. Al Cooper isn’t a rock star, though; he spends most of his time doing what any other guy of his age would do. It’s all very quotidian and yet very rich. And I guess that proves that the weirdest settings are those that are closest to us: the most exotic land a superhero can inhabit is his own filthy couch in the middle of a smelly and untidy room.
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Paradax - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy
pissing on the streets and drinking beer / meando en la calle y tomando cerveza

Eres un joven superhéroe. Disfrutas tomando una cerveza y follando con tu enamorada. Pero la juventud no es sinónimo de felicidad. Después de todo, necesitas dinero en tu billetera para comprar esa cerveza o impresionar a tu chica. En 1984, Peter Milligan y Brendan McCarthy desarrollaron un concepto muy audaz: un superhéroe de la clase obrera. 

Paradax no era un periodista famoso como Clark Kent o un rico hombre de negocios como Tony Stark. No era una figura que sirviese de inspiración, ni un ejemplo de virtud. Este era un personaje que desafiaba el statu quo: hace 30 años, se suponía que los superhéroes debían ser ciudadanos modelos, hombres limpios, buenos y honestos –y, por supuesto, en sus identidades secretas, profesionales exitosos. 

Por décadas, el género superheroico se había aferrado a reglas muy estrictas. Los superhéroes debían actuar de cierta manera, debían ser altruistas, valientes y decentes. Bueno Milligan decidió decirle al viejo régimen 'a tomar por culo'; ya era hora de implementar algo nuevo.

El origen secreto de Paradax no es un evento trágico (no hay padres o familiares asesinados) o un accidente espectacular (no hay explosiones radioactivas). Al Cooper simplemente encuentra un traje amarillo –olvidado por uno de sus pasajeros– en el asiento trasero de su taxi. Curioso, por supuesto, se lo prueba. Y de inmediato se da cuenta que no sería apropiado pasear por la Calle Christopher –un lugar merodeado sobre todo por gays– usando un atuendo tan apretado. Pero incluso en una calle "normal" la gente se burla de él y lo ridiculiza. 
Paradax - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy
Al Cooper & Kopper Keen

La enamorada de Al le sugiere un nuevo look. Así que él se pone una chaqueta y unos jeans encima del traje amarillo (curiosamente, este look ha sido imitado por cientos de superhéroes en los 80 y 90s). Pero obviamente él no sale a patrullar por las calles ni a prevenir asaltos de banco. Él simplemente se queda bajo techo, en su desordenado y cochino departamento, y tiene sexo con su enamorada y toma cerveza.
Paradax - Peter Milligan Brendan McCarthy
The weirdest villains in the world / los villanos más raros del mundo

Al Cooper descubre que el traje la da el poder de atravesar objetos sólidos. Y eso significa que podría ganar una fortuna robando las bóvedas de los bancos. Al final, sin embargo, su enamorada lo convence para que gane dinero como un superhéroe legítimo. Y de este modo, comienzan las aventuras de Paradax.

Hay algunas similitudes entre el Paradax de Milligan y el Zenith de Grant Morrison (el look ‘chaqueta’, la juventud, el interés crematístico, el enfoque antihéroe). La irónica propuesta de Milligan se apoya firmemente en la sátira y en la parodia, mientras que Morrison intenta deconstruir el mito del superhéroe y reinventarlo bajo una luz diferente (tal como hizo Alan Moore con Miracleman en los 80).

Brendan McCarthy dibuja a lápiz, entinta y colorea Paradax. Sus páginas son una fiesta psicodélica que nunca termina. McCarthy transfiere movimiento y un ritmo muy especial a este héroe juvenil, sin olvidar la importancia de la sensualidad. Sí, el sexo es parte esencial de este título, y eso resulta claro desde el inicio. Hay una irreverencia tan poderosa en los diseños de McCarthy y en los inesperados actos de Paradax: mear en la calle o abrir una lata de cerveza (la erupción de la espuma es como una metáfora de la eyaculación) o simplemente usar calzoncillos que ningún honorable superhéroe–ni siquiera los campeones de llevar la ropa interior encima de los pantalones– podría tolerar.

“Paradax erupcionó desde el campo de la izquierda, desaliñadamente iconoclasta y lleno de un joie de vivre propio de las eras tempranas del cómic. Paradax se comportaba como un hooligan en un traje de gala emborrachándose en un sombrío evento de corbatas negras”. Estoy totalmente de acuerdo. Aunque de corta duración, Paradax es vida pura; tal vez, como esas famosas estrellas de rock que murieron jóvenes, Al Cooper estaba condenado a deslumbrar a todos y finalmente ser consumido. No sé cómo Milligan lo logra, pero nos hace recuperar ese anhelo por una vida más excitante. Aunque Al Cooper no es una estrella de rock; de hecho, pasa la mayor parte de su tiempo haciendo lo que haría cualquier chico de su edad. Todo es muy cotidiano y, no obstante, muy rico. Y supongo que eso demuestra que los escenarios más extraños son aquellos que nos resultan más cercanos: la tierra más exótica que puede habitar un superhéroe es su propio sofá mugriento en medio de una maloliente y desordenada habitación. 

Originally Published at http://artbyarion.blogspot.com/2013/11/paradax-peter-milligan-brendan-mccarthy.html


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About the Author - Arion


Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog -  http://artbyarion.blogspot.com – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.

 


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