Thursday, August 31, 2006

An Un-Civil War: Marvel's Half-Ass Indictment of the War on Terror Pt. 2

A civil liberty or civil liability?

(Ed.: Okay, when I said conclude … um, I lied.)

We don't need your Civil Wa-aw-awr! What the hell's up with Spiderman's neck?Before I get to the meat of this second installment, I should probably say that I deliberated for some time before I decided to write anything about the Civil War series. That is, I really pondered as I read and re-read sections of the books whether or not the Marvel writers and editors really seemed to have a between-the-lines agenda or if I was reading into something that just wasn't really there.

Well, I certainly think those who don't agree with me could make a good argument. The government in the Marvel universe is notoriously corrupt. Think of all the conspiracy theories about our government throughout history – Marvel incorporates most of it. Corporations are criminally led and have a tremendous amount of influence and control over the government. In some comics, there's the implication that there is a shadow government run by corporations, criminals and super-secret organizations. That's the world in which they operate.

So, the argument could be made that rejecting this evil government is more patriotic and true to the intention of the founding fathers. And that, given the well-documented history of corruption, the Marvel universe is too different from ours to be any kind of commentary -- overt or covert -- on current day goings on. And they might be right.

But there were subtle underpinnings here and there. Supporting characters making comments here and there about fascism, comparing activities to those of the Nazis, and would generally talk about the steady decay of people's civil liberties.

Then something clenched it for me. One of the characters who was supposed to have died the horrible explosion that set all of this off, survived. He was apprehended and taken to a SECRET GOVERNMENT CONTAINMENT FACILITY. He was given simple choices, but all his rights were trampled all over. He was considered an "enemy superhero combatant." And it suddenly came into focus – this series is, at least in part, an underhanded way of bashing the Bush administration's social policies regarding the War on Terror.

And Civil Liberties seems to be the big problem that most of these heroes seem to have with the registration. They have powers, they want to use them to fight crime, but they have to register with the government. They fear what would happen if their names were made public – if some criminal or villain got a hold of that list – what could happen to the people they love.

The assumption on their part is that because they have the powers, they have an obligation (and in some cases, a holy mission) to use it for good. And that by requiring licensing, the government is trampling on their rights to use these powers.

Now, all this is quickly glossed over because, to me, it seems like a ridiculous argument. You may have been born with the natural ability to kick someone in the head faster than anyone in the history of the planet. But that doesn't give you the right to go around kicking people in the head.

Drivers have to get licenses to drive. Hunters to hunt, fishermen to fish … man, Marvel really went off the deep end here, I think. Just because you are good at doing something, doesn't give you the right to act on the behalf of your fellow man doing it. We require some oversight, buddy.

And instead of dealing with this issue simply, the character get hot, bothered and fight. Which happens all the time in the Marvel universe. But this time it's really a war. It's going to have long-lasting implications on the cannon, and it's dumb.

More than just having weak reasons to get so upset, many of the Marvel characters are acting quite out of character. Reader Mr. Black and White noted in the comments section of the last post the disparity between how you would expect certain heroes to react to the situation. And that, gentle readers, is the subject of the next, and last (promise!) post.

Will Cullen make a salient point? Will there be vindication? Will Thor make an appearance? Find out the answers to these questions and more tomorrow – same pica time, same pica channel!

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