For a while…

The moment I have chosen to discuss for this post is the ending of the second issue where Captain Richard Quinn, the bionic man, has just been killed. The destruction of his nuclear reactor irradiates the area and destroys all the data needed for his construction, leading Miranda Zero to comment “No more Richard Quinns. For a while.” This comment and its surrounding material can be related in many ways to Martin Heidegger’s The Question Concerning Technology as technology and its impact on human life is a central focus in Global Frequency.

 

Man, according to Heidegger, is actively seeking to master technology, to utilize the knowledge of human experience and change the world to benefit us. We perceive the world as a “standing-reserve” or simply an object waiting to be used and changed by humans, with no other independent purpose. In the comic, I think Quinn can be seen as a human attempt to use technology to change a man into a standing-reserve. The government sees him not as a man but as a machine, as another weapon to sit and wait until its time to perform for man’s whims. Quinn rejects this notion and attacks the men who created him using the technology they bestowed on him within his disfigured form. The scientists believed they had control over this hybrid of technology and man, but were deceived as they had enframed Quinn as no longer human. By perceiving him as technology Heidegger’s words ring true as “the will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control.”

 

This aspect of enframing technology as under man’s absolute control is an overarching theme in the comics. Man will always try to control technology even as it threatens his very existence. Each story shows a different situation where man is using technology to fit his own needs, whether it is mind control devices or virus spewing machines. Using this theme Ellis may be trying to warn his readers of the dangers of the misuse of technology. Even the agent 436, who has a mechanical arm replacement, hates and is disgusted by the changes to her body. She discusses how although only her arm is replaced, the changes extend through almost every biological system. Miranda’s last line “For a while” is an excellent quote that captures the essence of the bionic man project and man’s need for control. The project to create Quinn was a significant failure, but Miranda implies that it will not be the last attempt to fuse man and machine. I think the line is also meaningful because for Miranda there will always be another crisis looming on the horizon. She created the Global Frequency knowing that humanity would try to master the technology but ultimately fail, threatening the existence of the entire world. The misuse of technology and the negative impact on humanity’s existence is an important point in this comic series and that Ellis brings this point across quite well.

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2 Responses to For a while…

  1. lostmythics says:

    Indeed I agree with your point. Man has always been interested in imposing mastery over various fields and resources. This issue really does get to the negative side of the cybernetic prosthetics that are being researched to this day. While Heidegger envisioned that we would use men as standing reserve like cattle or other domesticated animals, it would be interesting to think how he would respond to a more physical and literal conversion from man to machine.

    Like

  2. danwillisdan says:

    I found the last frame of Big Wheel particularly interesting, the way it depicts the destroyed pile of flesh and machinery that was once Quinn with the unnamed sniper character leaning against him and smoking a cigarette. The irreverence in the sniper’s expression, his being used as a deadly weapon, plus the ominous presences of radiation and cigarette smoke seem to point out certain hypocrisies within the Global Frequency, and complicate Warren Ellis’s treatment of standing-reserve.

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