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The Mirror of Love is a
combination of poetry and images about homosexual love and persecution. The
words are by comic book author Alan Moore who has worked on many popular mature
works such as Batman, V for Vendetta, and The League of Extraordinary
Gentlemen. Jose Villarrubia is less well known, but has recently done the
art for the young adult version of Captain America by Marvel Comics.
This text was originally written in 1988 in the UK as a reaction against
Margaret Thatcher's government's legislation against gay rights, and it has
used in a performance of monologue and images. Moore's words tell the story of
homosexuality in compressed form and although the work was politically
inspired, it is far from didactic. Rather, it is filled with allusions to
other poetry and classical references. The book gets high praise on the back
cover from Clive Barker and other authors.
I wish I could share the enthusiasm
of others for this work. Unfortunately, I fail to see what is original or
moving about it. The words have an air of pretension about them that might sit
comfortably in comic book form but in an illustrated hardback seems overly
affected. Consider: "We gasped/upon Devonian beaches,/huddled/under
Neolithic stars.//Spat blood/through powdered teeth,/staining each other/as we
kissed.//Always we loved.//How could we be otherwise,/when you are so like
me,/my sweet,/but in a different guise./" Although there is a guide
at the back to some of the technical references, there's no explanation of the
incidence of same-sex love on the Devon shores in the Neolithic era. The imagery
obviously resonates with some, but for me it ends up being hard to take
The photographs fail to help. For
the page of poetry just quoted, there is a faded image of two men lightly
kissing on the lips. For the page on Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic
condemnation of homosexuality, there is a photograph of fire. Opposite a page
about Michelangelo, there is a picture of a white powdered male face like a
marble statue with a man's bloodied thumb rubbing blood on the lower lip. The
iconography seems adolescent and simplistic. It is perfectly suited to graphic
novel or comic book form, but this is a hardback book with photographs and the
style does not transfer well. The Mirror of Love is an interesting experiment
going beyond the existing comic book form and addressing important issues, but
it is does not live up to its artistic ambitions.
© 2005 Christian
Perring. All rights reserved.
Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities
Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also
editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.
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