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‘Sweet Dreams’
The 49th Key by Erika Lewis, in Heavy Metal #273
© 2015 James LaFond
JUN/19/15
Pages 15-28
If there is an aspect of masculine culture that we recent malcontents against this turd of a world machine tend to miss, it is the shamanic aspect—the artistic, and sometimes feminine, insights that can inform our defiant instinct. In the Iliad Achilles is served in his brooding rage by numerous such figures, including his slave girl and his mother, and two elderly enemies, Nestor and Priam. As an advocate of taboo masculinity and reactionary autonomy, I read Erika Lewis soulful comic in this light, as an alternative view of our corrupt world seen through a softer, yet no less critical, lens.
The 49th Key is the best comic to come out of Heavy Metal in many a year. The first two pages comprise the back story, concerning 48 alchemical keys to another dimension, the last of which is lost in the England of Queen Elizabeth.
Fast forward to the present and a Harvard professor is losing his mind and a severely autistic boy is finding his in association with musical notes. The otherworld is apparently calling through the dimension door that is a 49th Key. All three of the protagonists, the Harvard Professor, the handicapped boy, and the woman attempting to save him from a hellish fate behind sterile walls, are at the mercy of large faceless institutions and their careerist functionaries.
The subtext of The 49th Key sings out against the machine that claims us. Erika Lewis is crafting a work of rare shamanic value in the increasingly soulless comic book medium.
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