We are becoming part of the Dark Universe
In recent years, a lot of people have been surprised at huge revenues drawn by film adaptations of comic books with age restriction that requires being at least 18 years old. Audiences love ultra-violent productions like Joker, which has surpassed the $1 billion line in sales, so it is natural that comic book concepts are affected as well. I understood this better on my last visit to New York.
In New York, you will find Midtown Comics, the world’s biggest comic book store and a sort of shrine for comic book lovers, where, as always, old and new comics alike are presented for fans’ enjoyment. While browsing newly-released series, what surprised me most was seeing DC Comics’ dark stories for adults released one after another.
One of these series published under DC’s Black Label is Tales from the Dark Multiverse. These take DC’s most well-known stories and give them new endings. Each of the single-issue releases is reminiscent of The Twilight Zone.
In the series, a character named Tempus Fuginaut appears at the beginning of each issue to briefly explain the Dark Multiverse. For people who have a passing familiarity with multiverse theory, or at least for those who have watched the Arrowverse series on TV, the theory states that the universe in which we live is not the only one. Some of these multiple universes are completely different while others are almost the same, and our heroes sometimes travel among these different universes as they run from one adventure to another.
Fuginaut explains that the known universes all have dark counterparts, and the adventures of those who live there have very different endings. Following this are versions of DC’s most well-known series with endings transformed in ways people have never heard before, like The Death of Superman, Batman—Nightfall, and Teen Titans—The Judas Contract.
As with The Twilight Zone, readers of the Dark Multiverse stories witness how human frailties bring unexpected bad endings to just about everything.
After reading these stories with extremely frightening and dark endings, people may sit and wonder whether everything is this way, if the stories with happy endings we have been told dozens of times in fact end differently, if everything we know is different and our universe is actually a dark one.
Frankly, when I turn on the TV and look at the news after having these thoughts, I start thinking we do not live in a universe where stories have happy endings. It’s as though life splintered off at some point, and the universe in which we find ourselves has suddenly become part of a dark universe.
These thoughts do not just arise from the news out of Turkey. In fact, they are a product of developments around the world because, for much of the world, it’s almost impossible to see good news.
When we look at Turkish society, we see that most people are used to child abuse and women getting murdered, and how it’s normal for babies and children to grow up in prison. There are times it strikes us as unusual when people who murder women receive severe penalties because we are so used to courts awarding these murderers with lighter sentences for “good behaviour”.
It has become normal for duly elected local mayors to be removed from their posts before their trials are even finished, only to be replaced by government-appointed administrators and then arrested. The number of people who see this practice as fair and just cannot be underestimated.
There is not even a way for people to react to these legal scandals. Some people say “That’s good” when Selahattin Demirtaş, held in prison illegally, is taken to hospital after falling ill. When writer Ahmet Altan is thrown back into prison a week after his release, there are people who say that’s where he belongs. They do not know what will result from abandoning the rule of law and ignoring the Constitution.
There are similar situations in the United States, where a lot of people see the evidence emerging during the impeachment process of President Donald Trump as fabrications of the Democrats. In fact, impeachment only seems to increase Trump’s chances of being re-elected. Even if they see that he acted illegally, these people will not care.
Trump’s detention centres holding Latin Americans attempting to cross the border are rarely seen in the news. The inhumane conditions and children dying in these places are starting to be seen as normal.
Syrian children drowning, Kurdish children getting killed by soldiers, and Latin American children dying from the terrible conditions in detention centres are all still newsworthy, but when developments like these are reported in the papers, they do not garner more reaction than any other news.
If you happen to look outside of Turkey and the United States, for example to China, you will see that the rest of the world is inured to what is happening to the Turkic Uighurs there. When the New York Times published documents showing evidence of China’s “brainwashing operations” against the Uighurs, there was hardly a ripple around the world. Most people reading this news for the first time perhaps were a bit surprised and angry but forgot about it in a day or two.
A good part of the world has become somehow accustomed to reading news about death and lawlessness. Most people simply feel thankful that it’s not happening to them and get on with their lives. Fortunately, there are a few people who are trying to speak out against all of this. Although their voices are often drowned out by the angry mutterings of the new normal, they do give some hope for humanity.
Like the frog in a pot of water slowly being brought to a boil who does not notice the heat increasing until he is about to die, people do not notice how nationalist thinking, in the name of national security, is slowly erasing the possibility of a better world.
If we ignore the lawlessness suffered by the minorities of the world, and if we do not raise our voices against the worrying developments in other countries, we will eventually end up as part of the dark multiverse. Then maybe Tempus Fuginaut will tell about how not one person but an entire world was brought to its knees by human frailty. And who knows—perhaps we have already become a part of that dark and hopeless universe and just have not found out yet.
© Ahval English
The views expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.