The Choice of a New Power Generation
Digital Cable with DVR may actually prove that there is a just and benevolent God. I know this because not ten minutes ago, I was staring in rapturous joy at a Discovery Channel re-enactment of an Egyptian ritual involving human sacrifice that had been dubbed into Spanish. It was beautiful, and I wept.
But there is one thing that I haven't been able to find as I trip the channels fantastic. And that is a comic book starring none other than Prince Rogers Nelson himself.
Fortunately, I already own two.
I've alluded to them before on the ISB, and the fact that they are sheer and unbridled genius, but I feel that the time has finally come to review them in-depth. It's like a Double-Size Dollar Comic Review, but more expensive!
"Alter Ego" and "Three Chains of Gold"
1991 / 1994
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils: Denys Cowan / David Williams, Steve Carr, and Deryl Skelton
Covers: Steven Parke ("Three Chains of Gold") and Brian Fucking Bolland ("Alter Ego")
Prince returns home from a tour--riding a custom-made purple motorcycle, naturally--only to find that something is wrong in "his city." It gets so bad that he can't even concentrate on producing a new hit record from the greatest band in the world, Morris Day and the Time, so he tracks down the disturbance--heading off a gangwar along the way--and ends up face-to-face with his nemesis, Gemini, who has recently escaped from an asylum. He's essentially Prince's evil twin, but whereas Prince's music is fueled by love, Gemini's is fueled by rage. Also, he stole Prince's girlfriend. That doesn't stop The Artist from knocking boots with her, but as it turns out, she's just a distraction while Gemini uses his hypnotic guitar riffs to take over the New Power Generation and drive Minneapolis into catastrophic riots. Prince swoops in at the last moment to save their mutual girlfriend--Muse--from a deathtrap, and then she seemingly sacrifices herself to save Prince's life.
Then, and I swear this is true, Prince and Gemini have a Rock-Off. Prince wins, Gemini is carted off, and everything turns out okay.
"Three Chains of Gold" is even wierder.
"Somewhere in the Middle East," the King of Erech wants to abdicate and pass his power to his hot daughter, Mayte, which cheeses off her evil Uncle. Fortunately for him, the people of Erech will accept just about anybody as their leader as long as they have The Three Chains of Gold, ancient artifacts passed down from Gilgamesh. Unfortunately for him, Prince is in town on tour and Hot Princess Mayte takes a liking to him, giving him her chain for safekeeping as he returns to Minneapolis. Before long, Prince, tired of being targeted by Evil Uncle's assassins, heads back to Erech to help Mayte get the third and final chain, thus cementing her rule of the country.
And what's more, the whole thing's apparently a movie adaptation.
- Here is, word for word, the opening dialogue of "Alter Ego": "Minneapolis. The long tour is over. Prince is back in town. There is music in everything. Can you hear it? He can." It might suprise you to learn that Dwayne McDuffie didn't take home an Eisner for this issue, which is a frigg'n crime.
- All told, Prince, who I'm pretty sure stacks up at 4'11" and 94 pounds, beats up like twelve people in both issues--including a team of professional assassins--and he's compared to Batman four times.
- In the middle of hunting down Gemini, he screeches to a halt at a crowd of people gathered to watch two gangs rumble. A guy named "Raynard" hassles him until he realizes it's Prince, and then offers to watch his tricked out purple and gold motorcycle. Prince then immediately knows that "the two gangs about to bang don't have any beef with each other," and is recognized on sight by the gang leaders, who drop their weapons immediately after 22 words and a stern glare from His Royal Purpleness. Clearly, when he's not busting Middle-Eastern conspiracies and producing unseen documentaries with Kevin Smith, Prince is a pillar of the community.
- Gemini, who is compared to the Joker, can incite riots and control minds with the power of his rock, takes a shot at Prince with his shotgun, attempts the onstage murder of his girlfriend with a deathtrap, and tries to kill Prince with an electrified guitar before he's finally brought down by Prince and his superior musical superpowers.
- The New Power Generation? Yeah, those guys are like the fucking A-Team. In "Three Chains Of Gold," we find out that various band members can fly planes, hotwire state-of-the-art security systems, sneak automatic weapons INTO THE MIDDLE EAST, fire said automatic weapons with deadly accuracy, and have deadly aim with throwing knives. Also, much like the X-Men, they enjoy a good game of softball.
- After crash-landing in Erech, Prince is surrounded by fans who speak no English, but still know to call him "You sexy MF." "Three Chains of Gold" didn't win an Eisner either. Elitist bastards.
I think we can all agree that the guy who wrote "When Doves Cry" has to have superpowers of some kind. But in "Alter Ego," after Muse sacrifices her own life by grabbing the electrified guitar out of Prince's hands, he is able to resurrect her with the power of his music.
That almost makes it seem mundane when it's revealed that the Three Chains of Gold, which, in case you forgot, once belonged to a demigod, form Prince's symbol when they're interlinked.
You know, the one that looks like this: O(+>
And people say ASCII art is dead.
Much like Prince himself, these comics are completely insane, but in a way so transcendent as to be great in their own right. It's obvious Dwayne McDuffie's having fun with turning Prince into an analog of Batman, and the stories are just enough over the top to be a heck of a lot of fun. If you can find 'em, pick 'em up.
Besides, it's not like you can argue with that Brian Bolland cover.