bardicvoice (bardicvoice) wrote,

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For love of the Impala!

When I got back from my vacation, I finally had the opportunity to read the second issue of the Supernatural: Origins comic book. For those of you reading this who may not be into Supernatural (what's the matter with you? Try it out! It's on the CW on Thursday nights at 9:00 Eastern, and during the summer, it's also running on Sunday nights at the same time), the comic is telling the story of how John Winchester became a hunter following the supernatural death of his wife, and takes us on John's journey of change with his two young sons in the back seat.

Long story short, the art hasn't impressed me, and I'm a little disappointed in the story execution (I want more detail! More detail!!), but those are common problems with me and comics, and they don't interfere much with my general enjoyment of the story itself. However, in the second issue, writer (and series co-producer) Peter Johnson provides the official origin story of the Impala - and I don't believe it for a second. Nope. Didn't happen that way. No way, no how.

I hated that take on the Impala so much that I couldn't resist writing to Peter Johnson care of WildStorm comics to explain why I am going to ignore that piece of his story totally. I have no idea whether or when he'll actually see that letter, or if he'll care about it at all, but - I'm feeling passionately aggravated, so I'm putting up the letter text here too. Who knows - someone may fall over it.

And I'm also writing my own love song version of the Impala's origin. My muse has spoken; I must speak for the car, which can't speak for itself except in the throaty purr of her engine.

Supernatural: Origins

Mr. Peter Johnson

WildStorm Productions

888 Prospect Street #240

La Jolla, CA  92037


Dear Mr. Johnson:


I’m very happy to see Supernatural: Origins, since the story of how John became a hunter and what his life with the boys was like while they were growing up on the road has been a constant source of questions and speculation. Thank you for telling John’s story! I’m impatient to learn more, and I’ll be in line for all the future issues.


That said, however, I do have one major complaint: the origin of the Impala, as told in issue two, was incredibly disappointing, thoroughly illogical, and totally forgettable. I read the interview with you posted on, in which you said, “For the comic, we felt it was more interesting to see some kind of character-driven way that he got the Impala. If he already has it it's kind of boring and it's a wasted opportunity for us. His transformation to monster hunter from suburban father is about his characteristics, his interests. He has to grow to want to drive a muscle car and like heavy metal music and dirty blue collar weapons.”


With all due respect, on the subject of the car, I totally disagree. The Impala was much, much stronger as a symbol when it represented the last surviving vestige of the normal life that John and Dean had known before the supernatural overturned their existence. That shot in the pilot of John and Dean sitting on the hood of the car, with baby Sam in John’s arms, linked the Impala into their story right from the beginning – and trust me, the Impala was definitely recognizable in that shot. That car’s lines are indelibly etched into the minds of fans, and we’d know it anywhere, in any lighting. Yes, there was also a station wagon parked in the driveway of the burning house, but the car they were sitting on at the curb was unmistakably the Impala.


Having the Impala simply become a chance acquisition along the way, rather than a possession John evidently had once prized, grossly diminishes its aura and significance. The power of that car in the show has always been its identification with Dean’s heart and soul, and that, for all of us watching, came from the implication that the car had been his one constant, along with his father and brother, and that it also represented John in some critical ways. The car had to change along with its owners – I always pictured that change being reflected in the trunk gradually converting from mere storage space into an ever increasing armory – but I never imagined that the Impala had been anything less than John’s mundane passion back in his normal life. Especially once we learned in Home that John had run a garage, it made sense that he would have enjoyed cars, and since the Impala would already have been a near-classic in 1983, when the Supernatural tale began, it seemed likely to me that John had restored the car and taken pride in its appearance. That apparent history and personal value were implicit in John’s disparaging comment to Dean in Dead Man’s Blood (“Hey, Dean, why don’t you touch up your car, before you get rust? I wouldn’t have given you the damned thing if I thought you were going to ruin it.”), and made the line all the more meaningful. Dean’s love for and identification with the Impala appeared to tie in with the car being a part of the concept of family that defines him. All of that was lost in the car’s origin story as presented in the comic.


My principal objection to the Impala’s origin story lies in its evisceration of the symbolism I’d invested in the car, but in addition, dumping Jacob in the Winchester family station wagon and taking Jacob’s Impala made no logical plot sense that I could see. Jacob’s disappearance would have been related to the Impala; any alert for him would have included the car. If his body were found in the Winchester station wagon – and there’s no guarantee that putting the car off a cliff into water would ensure that it wouldn’t ever be found – or if John and the boys were seen in the Impala, a whole new line of official inquiry would have been opened, with a lot of uncomfortable questions directed at John. Were Jacob discovered in his own car, John wouldn’t have been involved at all, so – why invite trouble? There’s no apparent logic to swapping cars.


So, no – while I look forward to reading the rest of John’s story, I’m going to forget even the suggestion that the Impala was chance-met along the way. I can’t accept that, and see the car devalued. I won’t. The power of the symbol that I built in my mind through two seasons of the show is too great for me to let it be erased. The real opportunity that was wasted here, in my opinion, was the story depth that would have existed if the comic had shown the Impala’s transformation along with John from civilian into hunter, from being John’s prized possession to merely a useful and appropriate tool, while still keeping it a potent symbol of what used to be and might have been for Dean.


I’m keeping my own shrine to the Impala, thanks.






                                                                                    Bardicvoice (well, gave my real name, too)

Tags: comics, peter johnson, supernatural

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