The Broken Man
"The first questions will be: Why is he broken? And what -- or who -- broke him?"
--- Kurt Busiek (interview with Mtv's Geek-News)
Crazy or insane? Neither or both?
Some time later, he took the time to chat with us about the mission, but we got too distracted checking out the various knick-knacks in his collection. When viewing certain objects, past history started to reveal itself: Images and activities, presented in some kind of dream-like manner. To keep us from seeing events he deemed too risky, he showed us, as a sop, a coin bearing Dame Progress's image and its tale of the heroine's run-in with Mister Cakewalk circa 1900. ("Thumbtacks & Yarn")
And when Thatcher Jerome stole five containers of the alien chemical sorna from the Ambassador and was contemplating the wisest way to use them, the Broken Man was watching from a distance... ("Through Open Doors (Part Two)")
Yet while all this is going down, he's simultaneously stuck in a psychiatric facility, spending his days in a pharmaceutical haze. Somehow.
Who knows for sure? We might be listening to the rantings of a crazed fool, or the last sane warnings of a man driven to his mental limits by the awareness of a sinister and very real threat. So, for all of us, keeping a low profile might indeed be a good idea. At least until we know more about both the Oubor and the skinny man with the purple skin.
He has broken the fourth wall. He can communicate with the reader.
We know that in the world of physical reality, the Broken Man's skin is yellow. Just like the Bouncing Beatnik and the Halcyon Hippie, and possibly Mister Cakewalk too, though in his case it might just be clothes. Plus, all three of these men embodied cultural movements of their time. The Broken Man says he was once eternally young. So, even though they span different eras, could all four men be different versions of the same being?
We can speculate even further on the narrative powers of the Broken Man. The objects that he hangs from yarn and thumb-tacks are important elements to his dramatic concerns about the threat of the Oubor. They all purportedly have stories behind them. Yet to trigger their visual narrative requires a mechanism that is still mysterious and currently unexplainable. It's not time activated, we as viewers expended two panels of comic book page real estate focused on a magazine featuring the Iron Horse. Despite our intense and curious interests, nothing happened. Close proximity to a 45 RPM (revolutions per minute) vinyl record failed to elicit a day dream narration, even though the musical group had the intriguing name of The Kloo a play on the sound of the word 'clue.'