The quasi-resurrection of Auran continues in this tale from the creative team of Charles Soule, Adriano Di Benedetto, R.B. Silva, and Java Tartaglia.
The last issue saw the twin sisters, Irelle and Treste, coheres Reader to use his reality-warping powers to bring their mother back from the dead. The twins’ mother, Auran, had perished, killed by Black Bolt while he was under the mental control of Maximus The Mad. Desperate to see her again, the twins learned about the nature of Reader’s incredible powers, that he can manifest into reality anything he reads. They set about compiling a book, a tome entailing what they believed to be a full account of who their mother was.
Somehow, they managed to talk Reader into to reading it. He did and a version of Auran was indeed brought back to life. And yet, the being created is not exactly who she once was. She’s different, inexact and incomplete. All of the secrets, omissions, and forgotten pieces that the twins had left out of their book are represented as literal holes, gapping voids in Auran’s body.
Frank McGee, Auran’s former partner and the twins’ current guardian, had discovered what the girls were up to and rushed to the Quiet Room (The Inhuman Nightclub underneath Grand Central Station) so to stop them. He arrived too late and is shocked to find Auran, her body riddled with holes, writhing on the ground.
Frank is furious with Reader that he would do something so irresponsible and he gathers the girls to take them home. Treste and Irelli realize that they had made a mistake. They just wanted to see her again, get a chance to least say goodbye, but they never wanted this. Reader is told to get rid of her, somehow use his power to de-manifest her. Yet this new version of Auran has shaken off her confusion and pain and isn’t willing to be simply wished away.
Auran leaps forth, attacks Frank and grabs his gun. Rushing off, she fires at Frank, striking him in the chest with his ray gun before fleeing into the crowd of The Quiet Room.
Frank’s wound is fatal, he dying and the twins plead with Reader to use his powers to heal him. He can, but it will drain his power, leave him unable to again use his abilities to de-manifest Auran. It doesn’t matter, if he doesn’t act quickly Frank will die. Taking a braille tile on which the word ‘heal’ is written, Reader reads it and his powers magically undos Frank’s wound.
Elsewhere, Auran has made her way into the dance club portion of the Quiet Room. She is confused and still in great pain, but she is quickly gaining her wits about her. Her memories, or at least the memories bestowed to her by her daughters’ book, are coming back. She remembers, she recalls how she died. She accosts a club-going, demanding to know where they are, where Black Bolt is. In so doing, she garners the attention of the club’s majordomo, Flagman. Flagman approaches with a troop of his bouncers who try to secure Auran. Though the bouncers are large and rather tough-looking, they’re no match for Auran. She attacks and defeats them all, including Flagman.
Frank has caught up with her. He tackles her, insisting that she needs to stop. Auran is about to fight back when her daughters arrive and seeing them calms her down. All that has happened is explained to her and Auran comes to realize why she feels so different and incomplete. Much of the information that Treste and Irelli gathered was based on assumption and misconception. She is not truly Auran, but rather an amalgamation of other people’s recollections, both accurate and inaccurate, about who she was.
And this includes the nature of Auran’s Inhuman powers. Auran’s enlarged, elf-like ears could hear any sound and locate its source across an uncanny circumference. That’s how her powers used to work, but not everyone who knew her truly understood it. Now her powers work differently, now she is able to hear anything and everything… including Black Bolt.
The former king of the Inhumans and current owner of The Quite Room, arrives and stands over Auran. And she can hear him! She doesn’t hear his voice but rather the thoughts on the surface of his consciousness. Herein she can hear his feelings of guilt over having killed her, as well as the fact that he had done so unwillingly while under the mental sway of his brother Maximus.
Then Auran realizes something new. All of the people that her daughters had interviewed in compiling their book had different ideas of how exactly her powers work… some thought it had something to do with sound, something to do with hearing, something to do with control. All of that has now been mixed together and augmented Auran’s power to an exponential degree.
Suddenly, Black Bolt’s hand bolts forward to cover Auran’s mouth, to prevent her from speaking. Turning to the others, Black Bolt says: “Everyone get back! She has my voice!”
Black Bolt’s words would normally have destroyed much of Manhattan, but that power is gone and his voice is normal. It appears that Auran has used her new amalgamated abilities to take it from him, to have it as her own, and in so doing become possibly the most powerful and destructive Inhuman of them all.
And it is here that the issue ends with the promise of a conclusion in the next installment.
Wow, what a fun issue! Another example of how Uncanny Inhumans has just been a wonderful science fiction/superhero romp, exploring new ideas in an inventive fashion. Sadly, next issue will be the last fully Inhuman installment of the series. From there the book will be dominated by cross-over issues with the IvX event; after which writer, Charles Soule, is set to step down from the book and it will likely end, relaunched in the form of the new title ‘The Royals.’ All of that should be quite exciting, but also kind of a shame because Uncanny has been such a fun and satisfying book with cool characters and inspiring new ideas. And this issue is no different.
I really like what the story does here in exploring the constructive and inexact nature of memory and recollection. Research in the field of cognitive psychology has shown that memory is rarely if ever perfect. When we recall a memory, we take all of the various pieces of encoded information and reconstruct it back into a narrative. It’s an inexact process, quite prone to all manner of interference and obstacle. Assumptions, other memories, mis-recollections can all act to obscure the memory and produce an adulterated, inexact recall.
Psychologist, Elizabeth Loftus, has conducted some of the more renown studies on the inexact nature of memory. In her research on the ‘misinformation effect,’ Loftus and her colleagues found that memory can be affected and impaired by way of retroactive interference. This occurs when new information influences and shapes older, previously encoded information. For example, someone can be shown a short film of a person wearing a red shirt performing a task; and then later shown a picture of that same person wearing a blue shirt. Quite often, when asked to recall what they had seen in the film, individuals will incorrectly recall that the person in the film was wearing a blue shirt. New memories mix with old memories, creating confabulated, mixed memories.
Or as Virginia Wolfe once wrote:
“Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither.”
In short, memory is not an exact process. And this important truth is underscored in this story-arc of Uncanny Inhumans. Just as memory is inexact so too it the re-manifested Auran an inexact being. She is a confabulated amalgam, both incomplete as well as boundless. The fact that Auran has been able to take Black Bolt’s voice, that she can now wield near unlimited destruction with her words, further augments the symbolism.
False memories, after all, can be hugely destructive. False memories have resulted in innocent people being sent to prison, they have ripped families apart, they add to prejudice and bigotry. The ‘capricious seamstress’ of memory is pure havoc, and it is wonderfully represented in an incomplete Auran armed with an ultra-destructive voice.
I cannot wait to see how this story resolves. Highly recommended. Four and a half out of Five Lockjaws.