It’s funny that Andy Greenwald chose to write about superheroes and villains today for Grantland, because he appears to possess his own superhuman level of insight into the cultural goings-on of Mad Men. Whether his abilities are natural — he was bitten by a radioactive spider/just came upon this analysis himself — or manufactured — he built an iron suit/has some kind of inside track to the Mad Men writers’ though processes — I have no idea, but he uses them like an expert:
It can’t be a coincidence that Matthew Weiner, Mad Men creator and control freak par excellence, introduced his own Martian, copywriter Michael Ginsberg, the same year Marvel Comics unveiled the Silver Surfer. Like Holocaust baby Ginsberg, the Surfer was an unlikely survivor, the product of a desperate sacrifice, his still-beating heart a constant reminder of those left behind. Ginsberg feels like an alien, both to himself and to his new colleagues at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, yet he is eager to belong. As long as he keeps his voice down and his otherworldly skills focused on mundanities like cologne ads, his stranger-in-a-strange-land eccentricities (like understanding The Beatles) can be tolerated. Michael may call himself a spaceman, but inside the sturdy walls of a Manhattan office building, he’s really just another Other, not all that distinct from fellow outsider Dawn. Their differences are folded into the established culture easily enough because, when you get right down to it, they need their jobs more than their jobs need them.
Of course, the Silver Surfer didn’t come alone, and neither did Michael Ginsberg. Both served as harbingers for leggy, purple-mini-skirted giants who possessed the ability to unmake worlds. One was called Galactus. The other is married to Don Draper.
His post will undoubtedly make the most sense if you watch Mad Men and have at least some familiarity with the Silver Surfer and Galactus (even that atrocious Fantastic Four sequel), but even if you don’t, I think you should check it out anyway. It’s a great piece of writing.