Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tarot Tuesdays: The Fool

So after a harrowing September-bleeding-into-October, I'm hoping to get things back on track by instituting a few regular features round here. One of them will be Tarot Tuesdays, where I doodle up a DC hero as Tarot card and talk a bit about why that character is a good fit. This feature was inspired by some of the discussions I've read regarding the cards featured on Justice League Dark covers.

We'll be starting with the Major Arcana and working our way through them. The Minor Arcana will probably be done in batches when I'm too lazy to draw. I'll be using Rider-Waite as my main inspiration, mainly because that's the deck I'm the most used to. I used to scam cupcakes in middle school with my strange psychic abilities and a tattered Rider-Waite deck (I also had a set of loaded dice I'd use to grift for chips, but that's a tale for another day), and since that was also the time when I first started reading comics, there's a sort of mental link there for me.

Let's get started with Card 0, The Fool.

0. The Fool. (Superboy)
Superboy stands on the roof of the Kent family's general store, bindle in hand, Krypto the Super-Dog nipping at his heels. The sun shines on his back as he prepares for adventure.

Vertigo did a tarot deck a few years back that cast John Constantine as The Fool, but I'm not so sure about that. To me, The Fool has always been about beginnings and John seems much more concerned with Endings (solving things, wrapping up loose ends, righting wrongs, etc). So I went with Superboy. And not just any Superboy, but the Silver Age version (as indicated by the presence of the Kent's General Store and Krypto).

Waite writes "With light step, as if earth and its trammels had little power to restrain him, a young man in gorgeous vestments pauses at the brink of a precipice among the great heights of the world" which covers young Clark pretty well, don't you think? His precipice is not a physical one, as falling is of no concern to him, but his future. About to leave Smallville for Metropolis, Superboy is about to step out of the innocent chaos of his small-town exploits and into a more world-defining role. Krypto wants him to stay and play, perhaps knowing in the more serious world of Superman, there wouldn't be much of a place for a super powered dog. He has a bindle because that's totally something that Silver Age Clark would have.

On the positive side, The Fool stands for new beginnings, new adventures, new opportunities, unlimited possibilities, pleasure, potential, and passion. Inverted, he represents rashness, plunging ahead without thinking, and thoughtlessness. If you've read some of Superboy's adventures, young Clark was not always the type to think things through (blow to put out a fire, make an enemy for life; make a crack about a how women are poor UFO drivers, get turned into a girl; etc.) and this brashness tended to backfire more often than not. He's clearly not thinking things through here, as protecting his secret identity is probably made harder by hanging out on the roof of his parents' store.

The Fool is a pretty potent card and I wanted it to be represented by a potent character. While Superman himself would be an obvious choice for the lead-off card of the deck, being the first superhero and all, he doesn't quite fit it anymore given the weight of popular culture that now hangs around him. Superman is confident, knowing. Though his arrival opened up worlds of possibilities, he gives the sense that he knows how to navigate through them. Superboy doesn't give that impression, so if we take him in his Young Clark form (as opposed to clone or worlds-adrift jerk versions) we get all the benefits of opening with Supes with none of the Big Blue drawbacks.

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