DENNIS O’NEIL: Spoiler Alert!
Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! Danger Will Robinson! Alarums and excursions! Better watch out, better not cry, better not pout…Beware! Mayday! Here there be dragons! Detour, there’s a muddy road ahead…
Okay, enough of that.
What I’m warning you about is the ending of The Bourne Ultimatum, now playing at a multiplex near you, recipient of good reviews, maker of serious bucks and, in the opinion of residents of this house, a pretty good popcorn flick.
Except: the ending bothered me, (and here comes the reason for all those italicized cautions above): The bad guys are government functionaries who are perpetrating all manner of conspiratorial nasties. So how do the good guys win? By getting the truth out! By faxing incriminating documents to someone – the movie doesn’t specify whom – able to arrest the villains and get a congressional hearing convened, which will presumably tuck all the villainy into oblivion.
Well, it’s not the first time you’ve encountered this plot device, is it? Lots of thrillers have the protagonist saying the equivalent of, If only I can get the word out…If only I can contact the New York Times, the Washington Post, the television networks…Then he or she does, problem solved, roll end credits.
Okay, these entertainments are just that, entertainments, and we don’t have to measure them against real-world truth. But once, getting the word out actually did have real-world value. To cite just one example, Richard Milhous Nixon’s tainted presidency was squelched when the aforementioned Washington Post exposed Dick’s involvement in the Watergate scandal.
But now? For the past…oh, say, five years – our journalists were a bit tardy getting out of the gate – we’ve been getting the ugly and disconcerting facts in much, though not all, of the media, beginning with the information that the weapons of mass destruction our leaders used as an excuse to go to war didn’t exist through the hiring scandals through the news that scientists’ global warming warnings were redacted by administration do-bees to the current brouhaha about the firing of the attorneys and the involvement of an attorney general Newsweek terms “truth challenged”…Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…
And are the wrongdoers brought low? Well, no, not unless it’s happened since I read the paper a few hours ago. The abuses seem to be abating, just a little, but they’re continuing and I, for one, am confident that we’ll learn of a spanking new abuse or two before the snow flies. We’ll learn about it by reading a magazine of a newspaper or watching television and the world will learn about it, too, all our friends and neighbors and those noble folk in the corridors of power and…the perpetrators will retire in disgrace and justice will be restored.
Ooops. Slipped into fiction writer mode for a moment there.
Next week, we may actually address something that concerns comic books. No promises, but I want everyone to know that we do, here in the Lower Hudson Valley, remember our roots.
RECOMMENDED READING: Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.
Dennis O’Neil is an award-winning editor and writer of comic books like Batman, The Question, Iron Man, Green Lantern and/or Green Arrow, and The Shadow, as well as all kinds of novels, stories and articles.