Monday, September 21, 2009


Hail Dharma! Immortal Dharma!

Hey, do you remember my theory about Lost? The one that involves everyone from the Dharma Initiative to the Hanso Foundation to the Widmore Group and the Others/Hostiles all being different factions of the same organization? And that their factional struggle for control of the Island was what Lost was really about?

Well, remember that, because I'm going to come back to it in a moment.

But first, a bit of background. I don't know that I've mentioned it here before, but for the last year or so I've been engaged in a very long-range reading project, gradually working my way through the entirety of Silver Age Marvel Comics one series at a time. Currently I'm working my way through the Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD stories in Strange Tales, which I've read before but not for several years.

I've just gotten to the first of the stories to be written and illustrated entirely by Steranko, where things really start to tick over, but the seeds of greatness are there from those earliest Kirby-Lee chapters. I'm obsessed at the moment with SHIELD's nemesis organization, Hydra.

When we're first introduced to Hydra, they're a pretty compelling bunch of bad guys from the start. They keep their identities hidden behind masks, even from each other, and even if you manage to kill off a whole swarm of them, there's always more ready to take their place. "Hail HYDRA! Immortal HYDRA! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off one limb and two more shall take its place!"

The leader of Hydra is known simply as Supreme Hydra, or Imperial Hydra, and he is as anonymous and faceless as any of the rank and file. With his mask off, even his own subordinates don't recognize him (and, in fact, the first Supreme Hydra is executed by his own minions when they encounter him maskless).

Hydra is structured into different divisions, each identified by a animal code-name, each responsible for some different vital function.

But Hydra is far from the only secretive organization of masked villains in the Marvel Universe. There was also AIM, or Advanced Ideas Mechanics, a group of scientists bent on world domination (and who were responsible for potentially the greatest Marvel character ever, MODOK).

And there was the Secret Empire, a group of hooded villains bent on taking over the world, in part by infiltrating large corporations and steering them from within.

In the pages of Strange Tales, it was eventually revealed that all of these various criminal organizations were interrelated, and that AIM and the Secret Empire and others were all secretly subsidiaries of Hydra. This must have been a mindblowing reveal for readers at the time, to discover that the villains that had been appearing in the adventures of Captain America, Nick Fury, the Incredible Hulk, and others for years were all part of one larger conspiracy.

(Parenthetically, if you're a lapsed Marvel fan, you owe it to yourself to pick up the new collection, Secret Warriors Volume 1: Nick Fury, Agent Of Nothing, plotted by Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman and scripted by Hickman. I won't spoil the big reveal at the end of the first issue, but Nick Fury learns that the arms of Hydra reached even further than he ever imagined. A terrific reimagining of the SHIELD/Hydra dynamic, and one that plays out to nice effect.)

So anyway, back to Lost. Remember my theory, about how all of the different groups fighting for control of the Island are really just factions of a single larger group (even if the players themselves have forgotten, or never knew, the connection)?

The Others. The Hanso Foundation. The Widmore Group. The "Shadow of the Statue" outfit. The Dharma Initiative. All of them spliters of the same group, all of them struggling for control of the Island.

(And come to think of it, there was a Hydra Island in the Marvel comics.)

The Dharma Initiative divided their resources on the Island into different Stations, many of them named after animals of one kind or another. And one of the only ones of them that the Others make any real use of is the Hydra...

Do you see what I'm getting at here, folks? The Dharma Initiative is Hydra.

Now, I'm not saying for an absolute fact that the many-armed/many-headed organization of Marvel Comics was a direct influence on the development of the plot of Lost, but I'm not necessarily saying that it wasn't, either. The creators and writers of Lost are pretty notoriously pop-culturally aware, and Lost writers Lindelof, Loeb, and Vaughn have all written for Marvel at one point or another. So it's possible that in devising the Dharma Initiative and its "sibling rivals" the creators of Lost looked to Hydra as a model.

Hydra. Dharma. Of course, it might bear mentioning that Marvel, the company that owns Hydra and related characters, is being purchased by Disney, who owns ABC and, by extension, Lost. Will it be too much longer before Hydra and Dharma are revealed to both be parts of an even larger conspiracy...?

I know I'd get back into Lost if we suddenly had guest appearences by Nick Fury and/ or Baron Strucker.....

Although my favourite theroy re Lost is that all of JJ Abrahms shows exist within the same universe. Alias/ Lost/ Fringe crossover? maybe with a dash of Cloverfield?
Sold, Mr. Humphries :)
Great now I'm going to be paranoid for at least a week. Thanks, Chris, thanks a lot.

Seriously though, love the thought process, it's that kind of inventive puzzle building that I get a kick out of be it Lost, X-Files, Wold Newton or your own books, I love secrets and connections, and conspiracies. Pattern Recognition at its most warped and finest....
I kind of look at all of the Bad Robot productions as being in the same universe, myself. Even Cloverfield, though to make it fit I imagine that it's always set just a little bit into the near future, so the other shows don't have to acknowledge that NYC isn't there anymore...

(Hell, considering that the Rimbaldi device appears in Star Trek, I imagine that probably fits in the same universe, too.)
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