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The Books of Magic Book IV: The Road to Nowhere By Neil Gaiman and Paul Johnson Not yet reprinted in any other form Annotations by David Goldfarb Cover: The title may be an allusion to the comedy movies starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. They usually had titles starting with "The Road to...", e.g. "The Road to Rome" and "The Road to Utopia". There is also a song by the Talking Heads called "Road to Nowhere". p.4 panel 1: Anyone recognize anyone here? panel 2: From the top down: The guy standing on the hill, as we learn, is Tim himself. I don't recognize the man with the red cape. The horned woman immediately to the right is called Jinx; she was a sorcerous villain from the pages of _Tales of the Teen Titans_. Her first appearance is TotTT #57, and she was created by Marv Wolfman. Next to her, of course, is some incarnation of Doctor Fate. The white furry creature at the very bottom is the demon Kamara, a villain from Jack Kirby's _Demon_ series. The bearded guy to the right looks like Abel, from the Dreamworld, but this seems unlikely. The being with pointed ears and a mohawk-like fin on its head is the demon Ghast, which first appeared in _Justice League of America_ #10. Can anyone identify the other characters here? (Particularly the purple giant and the being with circles in its eyes.) p.5 panel 1: The woman in green may be the Enchantress of Skartaris, mentioned in book III. (I never read _Warlord_, so can't say for sure.) The man just below her appears to be the Wizard, in costume. Immediately to the right of them is Captain Marvel, who first appeared in _Whiz Comics_ #2 and was created by C. C. Beck and Otto Binder. The man blasting the Spectre is a grown-up Klarion the Witch Boy, from _Demon_, with his familiar Teekl. panel 2: The horned man is Black Bison, a Firestorm villain. He first appeared in _The Fury of Firestorm, the Nuclear Man_ #1 and was created by Gerry Conway, Pat Broderick, and Alfredo Alcala. Any references on M'nagaleh? panel 4: Eclipso was created by Bob Haney and first appeared in _House of Secrets_ #61 (1963). Of course, this story predates the retcons to Eclipso's history in the crossover storyline "The Darkness Within". panel 5: Tefe first appeared as an elemental spirit in _Swamp Thing_ #65; she was born into a human body in _Swamp Thing_ #90. #65 was written by Rick Veitch; however, I think creator credit here belongs to Doug Wheeler, Pat Broderick, and Alfredo Alcala, who did #90. p.6 panel 2 & 3: Is this Jason Blood that Etrigan is killing? p.9 panel 6: This is the immortal villain Vandal Savage. According to the miniseries _Time Masters_, Savage was the mastermind behind a secret society called the Illuminati. (Note that there are those who believe that such a society exists in the real world.) Before the war, the Illuminati schemed to control the world. After it, they preserved knowledge and culture. Vandal Savage first appeared in _Green Lantern_ #10 (1943). p.10 panel 1: This is Jonah Hex. He first appeared in _All-Star Western Tales_ #10. He was originally a Western character; in the mid-'80s his title was renamed _Hex_ and he was brought forward in time to a post-holocaust twenty-first century. panel 3: The man with the gun is Tommy Tomorrow. First appearance: _Real Fact Comics_ #6 (1946). The man with the bow tie is from an obscure old feature called _Space Cabbie_. First appearance: _Mystery in Space_ #26. panel 5: The man in the Mohawk is OMAC. (One Man Army Corps.) He first appeared in _OMAC_ #1 and was created by Jack Kirby. The flying man with the gun is Space Ranger, who first appeared in _Showcase_ #15 and may have been created by Jack Schiff. p.12 When this book first came out, several netters speculated that this scene, with its domes and zeppelins, was intended as a tribute to _Watchmen_. p.13 "Atomic Knights" is a reference to another post-holocaust series, but one that was retconned out of existence. (The main character, who had been given false memories, did don a battlesuit and take the name of "The Atomic Knight".) The reference to "miscegenation" is odd, since little or none of that has been shown in _Legion of Super-Heroes_. About the only thing that might qualify would be the marriage of Colossal Boy and Yera, a woman of the planet Durla. The Sorcerer's World, also known as Zerox, is what the Gemworld became when it returned to our universe. The group of five beings in the middle of the page are the Teachers; they first appeared in _The Legion of Super-Heroes_ #293 and were created by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen. p.14 The people shown here are an odd mix. The top two are Night Girl and Tellus; the next row down is Element Lad, the White Witch, Dream Girl, and Tharok; then Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Mano, and the Persuader; then Saturn Girl, the Emerald Empress and her Emerald Eye; at the bottom is Validus firing off his mental lightning. Tharok, Mano, the Persuader, the Emerald Empress, and Validus were the original lineup of the villain group called the Fatal Five. Night Girl was a member of the Legion of Substitute Heroes rather than the Legion of Super-Heroes proper. Night Girl, the White Witch, Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl appear as they did in the sixties, but Element Lad is in the costume he wore from the mid-seventies to mid-eighties, and Tellus dates from the late eighties. When the White Witch joined the Legion in the early eighties, her appearance had changed greatly; she was an albino with antennae growing out of the corners of her eyelids -- this is suggested here by the two white antennae. Out of all the people pictured here, only two are even vaguely magic-related -- the White Witch and her sister Dream Girl. There was one other Legionnaire with magical powers, known at different times as Princess Projectra and as Sensor Girl; however she is not shown. Each of the symbols at the bottom refers to a member of the Legion; they were used for that purpose in the early eighties run of the book. The exception is the "L" in a circle, which, of course, stands for "Legion". p.15 The head with the circle on it is a member of an alien race called the Dominators. (Like the Fatal Five, not particularly magic-related.) Just below the Dominator is the "god" Darkseid. Darkseid battled the Legion in the early eighties; in that storyline he drained magic from various artifacts and beings to increase his own strength. He employed "servants of Darkness". The heads to Darkseid's right may be meant to represent these servants, or they may simply be more Dominators -- it's hard to tell. Darkseid was created by Jack Kirby and first appeared in _Jimmy Olsen_ #134 (1970). The large bearded face is Mordru the Merciless, who first appeared in _Adventure Comics_ #369 (1968) and was created by Jim Shooter. With reference to Darkseid as a god, theres a storyline in the recent Byrne issues of Wonder Woman that relates how as a result of the cosmic battle among the primordial gods that led to the creation of the New Gods and Darkseid, a stream of energy escaped and reached Earth where it evolved humans with god-like powers. The island of the gods was Themyscira. Hence Darkseids repeated attempts to find Wonder Womans gods and leech the power from them. p.16 Mr. E is summarizing the Legion storyline called "The Magic Wars". It appeared in _Legion of Super-Heroes_ #59-63 and ended Paul Levitz's run on that title. The girl that E refers to is of course Amethyst. There is some evidence in the current Legion title that the "stolen flesh" is that of the White Witch. E's final line is a reference to the short story "The Masque of the Red Death", by Edgar Allan Poe. The last line of that story is, "And the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all." In the current Legion title, both the earth and the moon have blown up in the thirtieth century. It would seem odd that such magically significant events escape mention here. (Of course, at the time this story was written they hadn't happened yet.) But we can simply say that E and Tim traveled down a timeline where things happened differently. p.20 panel 4: A recurring Flash villain was a man from the sixty-fourth century who called himself Abra Kadabra and used highly advanced science to mimic the effects of magic. On the other hand, both the Barry Allen Flash and the Wally West Flash have traveled into Abra Kadabra's home time and it was *nothing* like this. p.21 It seems odd that the powerful culture from the previous page could descend to this. Perhaps something like Vernor Vinge's concept of a "Singularity" came to pass; most of Earth's people went on to some "higher plane" and these are the descendants of those who would not or could not do so. p.22 panel 4: As we will learn, this "great man" is Mr. E himself. This is of course a classic time paradox. p.23 panel 4: After _The Books of Magic_, there was a _Mr. E_ miniseries following on directly after. It wasn't written by Gaiman and IMHO was not very good. It had more complete details on just what did happen to Mr. E's sister. (However, I don't remember just what the details were.) p.29 With one exception, all the characters we meet or who are mentioned in the next few pages are named after the Major Arcana of the Tarot. I don't believe that Gaiman is using the divinitory meanings of the cards, however, but rather is using the Tarot as a collection of archetypes. p.31 panel 3: Here's our exception. "The Sphinx" is not a Greater Trump in any deck I'm familiar with. It's true that sphinxes do appear in the Trumps; in some decks the Chariot is pulled by sphinxes instead of horses, and many decks show a sphinx atop the Wheel of Fortune. p.33 panel 6: The usual answer is that the speaker of the rhyme sat down with a pint of wine, drank the wine, and then used the empty bottle as a candleholder. p.34 panel 4: This is a reference to a famous couplet by Alexander Pope: "A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring." p.36 panel 3: This is a reference to a lyric from the movie _Mary Poppins_. "Just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down In a most delightful way." panel 6: This is Destiny. He was briefly the host of a horror anthology comic. When Neil Gaiman started _The Sandman_ he recycled the character into being one of the Endless. panel 8: It's odd that we can see star-like eyes under Destiny's hood; in _Sandman_ #21 we are told that Destiny has no eyes. p.37 panel 1: The woman is Death, of the Endless. She first appeared in _The Sandman_ #8 and was created by Neil Gaiman. p.38 panel 3: This may be a reference to a well-known story (whose source I don't know offhand). According to the story, a rich man of Damascus in Biblical times one day saw Death, and Death saw him. Death seemed very surprised. The man was frightened, for he knew that only those who were about to die could see Death. He tried to flee to the faraway city of Samara. He rode his horse to death, then ran. After only one day, he reached Samara, normally a journey of several days. But once there he collapsed from over- exertion. When Death came for him there, Death seemed satisfied. The man asked why Death was satisfied that day when he had seemed so surprised the day before. "I was surprised to see you in Damascus yesterday," said Death, "because I knew we had an appointment in Samara today." p.39 panel 8: There is a movie called _From Here to Eternity_. It's hard to say whether the reference is deliberate. p.45 panel 5: The picture on the wall is presumably of Tim's mother. Given the different art styles, it's hard to say for sure whether this is the same woman as in book III, p.46, panel 8. However, there is nothing that makes them obviously different. p.46 panel 4: The movie is called _The Italian Job_. It's a comedy, starring Noel Coward as a criminal mastermind trying to steal a $4 million gold bullion shipment in Turin. It was made in 1969, in England, and also stars Michael Caine, Maggie Blye, and Benny Hill. It was directed by Peter Collinson. Credits: Scott Emery (email@example.com) mentioned the Talking Heads song, as did Andrew Solovay (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Michael Montoure (number6@ u.washington.edu). Abhijit Khale (email@example.com) corrected the issue numbers of the Magic Wars storyline. Michael Bowman (firstname.lastname@example.org) gave first appearances and/or creator credits for Jinx, Black Bison, Eclipso, Tefe Holland, Vandal Savage, Jonah Hex, Tommy Tomorrow, Space Cabbie, Space Ranger, and Darkseid. Andrew Symons Troth (email@example.com) gave the creator credits for Black Bison and Eclipso. David Wald (firstname.lastname@example.org) commented on the status of the Sphinx in the Tarot. Lance "Squiddie" Smith (email@example.com) identified _The Italian Job_.
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