What a story.
But first things first.
I had been itching to read Kurt Busiek’s Astro City series for years (to quickly catch you up, I was away from comics all together when the series made its debut and only became aware of it about half-way through) and with a little luck on my side I finally managed to win a large portion of the collection for a very reasonable price late last summer. Since, I’ve been champing at the bit to get the opportunity to read through it. So, to that end, several months ago I pulled out Astro City 1/2, entitled: “The Nearness of You” to get cracking. Apparently I picked a good place to start!
In this short story were are introduced to a man named Michael, a man haunted by the dreams a dark haired beauty who he simply can’t get out of his mind. The intensity of the dreams effect his sleep, his work performance, and his social life to the point that he’s merely going through the day to day motions of his life trying desperately to figure out why the woman in his dreams seems so real, so fascinating, so special. But he suffers because of it and at the height of his despair he is visited by The Hanged Man, a supernatural being (and an awesome character!) that tells him — perhaps mercifully — that this dark haired woman does indeed have relevance in his life, and that she was actually…his wife. Her name was Miranda.
And she never existed.
As The Hanged Man shows him in detail, Michael is being haunted by dreams and memories of their former life together as husband and wife prior to a supernatural war through time that erased her existence (her parents never met as a result of that war, and she was never born). Only the time stream couldn’t fix everything when the day was finally won and some individuals retained glimpses and memories of their former life and loved ones. Already an excellent piece, the story reaches its finale when The Hanged Man tells Michael that he has the power to make him forget, that he can take away the memories and visions of the woman he once loved so as to offer him peace of mind. But despite the tragedy, Michael asks that he do nothing, he doesn’t want to forget her.
Satisfied with his answer, The Hanged Man departs to help others suffering similar fates that night and as he leaves Michael calls after him asking what the others choose, asking if they choose to forget? With a perceived smile, The Hanged Man turns and answers ‘no one chooses to forget.’
With no memory of his meeting that night with The Hanged Man, but with a newfound knowledge of his past with her, Michael welcomes sleep and dreams again of Miranda.
This is easily one of my all-time favorite comic stories, and I mention it as it’s fresh on my mind having re-read it again last night. If you’ve not had the chance to read if for yourself then by all means track it down and do so if it sounds like something you’d enjoy. Incidentally, “The Nearness of You” is one of Busiek’s personal favorites, is clearly a fan favorite and was nominated for an Eisner award in 1997. It can be found in single issues or in the Astro City TPB collection entitled, “The Confession.”
Read Full Post »