Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fascism in the Marvel Universe

A warning: if you're not following Marvel's Civil War or the aftermath, this post won't make any sense to you at all...

So, of course, Captain America 25 is impossible to get. This was done as a complete surprise, so the shops didn't know to order extra copies. But the sequence is reprinted in Avengers: The Initiative by Bendis (with the Thunderbolts vingette by Warren Ellis) -- which, by the way, is very very good. (Mighty Avengers #1 is also very good.)

I am really impressed that they decided to kill Captain America. I mean, I liked House of M a lot. It was incredibly well executed, but for all its world altering scope (reducing the mutant population from millions to 198), it was actually a much smaller, more intimate story.

Civil War -- which is the best one of these big crossover books I've ever read -- is truly an epic, paradigm altering event for the Marvel Universe. And they do it organically, not with the reset button, as House of M did (not to mention Crisis and its sequel at DC).

And a lot of people expect them to find a way to hit the reset button here, for e.g., on Spiderman outing himself as Peter Parker. But in the end, they actually went much further than that: they've abolished the idea of secret identities. In the Marvel universe, secret identities are no longer remotely legitimate for superheroes.

If you have a secret identity, you're--by definition--a supervillain.

Supervillains are no longer necessarily people with superpowers who are bad. They're people with superpowers who are unregistered.

Conversely, bad people with superpowers who do register -- and who agree to be implanted with controlling nanites -- can be heroes. They get a second chance, e.g., The Thunderbolts.

Then again, who knows if they get a choice on those nanites... Maybe they get them no matter what, even if they're being shipped off to the negative zone prison.

I know some people are gonna say this is problematic. They're abrogating civil rights, and "heroes" shouldn't act like that. And, while I agree they are abrogating civil rights, I think it's problematic in a good way.

All superhumans--not just all superheroes--have to register with the government now.

So a superpowered kid -- whether mutant or otherwise -- now needs a license to use his powers. For example, if he has the power to fly.

That strikes me as incredibly wrong, but I'm eager to see the ramifications explored on both the micro and macro levels, as Stark and Richards -- and all of them -- are forced to confront the consequences of what they have wrought.

Their brave new world (like all brave new worlds) has a dark underbelly: fascism.

Anyway... Who's takin' bets on how long before Stark falls off the wagon?


Blogger dirk.mancuso said...

I would have probably gotten into the whole CIVIL WARS thing, except j. Michael Strazynski had a hand in it and after the mess he's made of the Spider-man mythos (Gwen Stacy sleeping with Norman Osborn? Give me a break!), I won't read anything associated with him.

As for the whole abolishing of the secret identity -- dumb, dumb, DUMB. If anyone understands the danger of your enemies knowing your identity and using that information against you (i.e., hurting your loved ones), it is Peter Parker.

I'm not against change (I'll admit, getting it down to 198 mutants is a good idea -- X-Men was getting out of control), but maybe someone should really be thinking about the logistics and long term effects of these stupid ideas.

3/8/07, 4:22 AM  
Blogger palochi said...

I'm giving Tony until about the third issue of The Initiative to hit the hooch. He looked close to it in the last issue of Civil War Frontline.


I'm betting Cap's "death" was staged by either Stark or Reed Richards (either most likely out of guilt) to keep him from going to trial. And maybe he was shot by Frank Castle as part of the plan?

If I were to take a further guess, Steve Rogers could be the next Iron Man, kept alive by the armor just as it kept Stark alive after his chest wounds (or whatever that was all about, depending on what origin you read). The recent pics you see around of Iron Man with Cap's shield make me think this might be the outcome. Or maybe Tony falling off the wagon is the reason and asks a hidden and recouperating Cap for help. Or maybe TPTB who oversee SHIELD will tell him no more playing in the armor and start running the office and goes to Cap. Or maybe a Plot Device (TM) will be used.

Either way, Steve's not dead. Trademark licensing of the bigshots is the great resurrector.

Thunderbolts' doctrine just pisses me off. No way should they have some psycho like Venom on the team. It's becoming such a blatant rip-off of DC's Suicide Squad. Zod, I hate that book now.

As for the secret ID thing being abolished (especially in Spidey's case), we know Wanda Maximoff is still out there. One wave of her hand and she hits the reset button on that little problem.

3/8/07, 4:43 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Dirk, I feel just as strongly about JMS as you do. He's a hack -- and if you think his comics work is bad, you should see his *TV* work. But he's not just a hack, he's an ASSHOLE. He accused some writers I know, and some I'm just very fond of, of stealing from him. (I sneered at him at Comic Con a few weeks ago.)

Here's the thing, though... JMS had *no* hand in Civil War. He wrote the issues of his own book that tied-in... That's it. You should really check it out. Mark Millar is one of the finest writers working in the industry--and Steve McNiven's art is equally top-flight.

Palochi... Either Avengers: The Initiavive of The Mighty Avengers has Ms. Marvel telling Spiderwoman that Rogers isn't dead... He's in surgery at the Raft. When Spiderwoman asks for an explanation, Ms. Marvel says, "What am I, a super-solder serum expert? He's not dead!"

On the other hand, I saw a solicitation for (I believe) Captain America 26 that features the autopsy on Rogers' body. So we'll see.

Your idea about Rogers in the Iron Man armor is interesting, but I think those images of Iron Man with Cap's shield are more about Stark having vanquished his foe.

But--again--we'll see. . .

re: Thunderbolts... It's being written by Warren Ellis, so I'll be giving it a shot. I don't care if it's a rip off of Suicide Squad -- almost everything in Marvel and DC is cross-pollinated (or ripped off).

Remember, they've got those nanites -- so they're being controlled by techs. Their heads can be blown off at any moment. :)

3/8/07, 5:18 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

I guess I remain too jaded about this "Death" of Captain America....I'm inclined to believe that he's either in critical condition with a long recovery during which time there will be "new" Captain America or Steve Rogers IS dead but there's some clone waiting to step in when the novelty wears off [sigh] for the paradigm-altering nature of Civil're right. If and it's a big *if* TPB at Marvel are willing to stick with this, it offers a radical shift in the entire superhero mythos....Here's hoping they don't press the reset button.

3/18/07, 1:26 AM  

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