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?
There are hints of a past life, a possibly known identity for the Broken Man. However, pretty much everything here is speculative in nature. The Broken Man is in charge of the narrative, we are mere observers. The Broken Man warns that he is on a mission to save something (us, the world, mankind, the universe, we are not sure at this point) from the perceived threats of an entity know as the Oubor. He somehow broke the fourth wall itself to recruit readers' aid in his efforts. With our help, he was able to nudge Ben Pullam into becoming a guide to an Alien Ambassador named Telseth. ("Through Open Doors (Part One)")
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.
- He wears a white smock over a t-shirt depicting the famous Astro City Signal Rocket. The shirt is very popular with the tourists. Only the "Are You Jacked?" Jack-in-the-Box has higher sales.
- Kurt Busiek has commented that as the series of Astro City stories have so far circled around the Silver Agent as the overall background character, the next (current) cycle will belong to the Broken Man. Interesting... very interesting.
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.'
- According to a very speculative, jb the(tongue-in-cheek)ib