Wednesday, March 07, 2007

 

Don't Make Mine Marvel

I was a bit busy yesterday, so I wasn't able to get around to talking about Libby. And I will later. Trust me. But right now, I'd like to wear a hat I haven't worn for a few months: that of the angry comics blogger.

If you've been paying any attention at all to the comics industry, you'll know that Marvel has been running an event for the past few months called Civil War. The entire event was written by Mark Millar, who is the last person I expect to handle things in a sensitive fashion. It started out like this: when a group of young superheroes attacked a group of D-level villains, one of them exhibited powers on a level none of them had ever experienced before and ended up killing most of the supergroup... as well as 600 suburbanites, including a good number of children. Outrage grips the country, and the federal government insists on having superheroes register their identities so that they can be held responsible. Tony Stark, Iron Man, is in favor of registration, supposedly because he wants things to go smoothly with the government, and he believes superheroes could use training from an "official" source. Captain America is against the registration, afraid that it will lead to a gigantic loss of civil liberties for everyone. But as the story starts, they seem to be on equal footing, and both sides seem to have good points.

Then things get really fucking weird. SHIELD, the Marvel Universe's extranational police force/spy agency, starts forming "capekiller" forces to track down and violently subdue unregistered heroes, driving Captain America and members of his side underground. Iron Man and Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic, one of the Fantastic Four) introduce an extradimensional Guantanamo Bay for unregistered heroes that, depending on the book you read, is either a) a gilded cage, or b) a hellhole where the only escape is suicide. Iron Man clones Thor in an attempt to give the pro-registration side legitimacy, which horribly backfires when the cloned Thor kills Black Goliath (to add insult to injury, Black Goliath is then buried in a tarp and chains, because no one-- including the scientist who came up with particles that could shrink matter, who is pro-registration-- could think of something more dignified). The federal government picks out a group of known supervillains-- some of them notoriously psychopathic, like the Green Goblin, Venom, and Bullseye-- and starts training them as the Thunderbolts, a new superhero team. So, obviously, the pro-registration side is starting to look like a merry bunch of fascists. All the while, however, Millar is making heads explode by insisting that he would support Tony Stark, as would people in the real world.

Then comes Civil War #7, the final issue. The anti-registration forces have managed to break all the heroes out of the extradimensional prison, and are fighting the pro-registration heroes in the streets of Manhattan. That's when Captain America starts to notice the collateral damage--

--and gives up, throwing his mask to the ground and ordering his side to surrender.

That's right. The man who fought Hitler gives up because a few buildings get damaged. But it's conceivable. After all, he can always fight another day, on a ground where people are less likely to get hurt.

Then comes Civil War: Frontline #11. In this sidebook, two journalists have been researching Tony Stark's involvement in the fight, and found out that he managed to nudge the Atlanteans into military action against America, so that there might be a reason for government-trained heroes. Then, after the battle in New York, those two journalists track down Captain America, and... you know what? Fuck it. I can't even describe it, it's so mind-rapingly stupid. Go and read it yourself. Go on. I'll wait.

...you're back, aren't you? You just read the part where the reporter calls Captain America, the man who fought Hitler, the man who has always served America, its constitution, and its interests, obsolete and useless. Why? Because we're focused too much on pop culture effluvia to give two fucks about the state of our nation!

Oh, and those two journalists? They then visit Tony Stark and tell him what they know. And then they tell him that they're going to sit on the story. Why? Well, because Tony did the right thing, and the ends justify the means.

If you can't understand why I'm so angry, let me explain: I have always viewed comics as an escape. As a window into a world where the good triumph, and the evil fall. Where ideals are more than ideals, but embodiments. Where Captain America really represents America, even when America is twisted and perverted by those in power. In an age where the US government is systematically trying to redefine torture, of all things, I turn to comics for a better world.

And here I am, being told by Millar and Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, that this is a better world. Heroes have been imprisoned, former heroes have turned into Machiavellian villains, psychotic villains are being held up as heroes, Captain America is being called pointless to "our modern world" (gee, sound familiar?), and this is a good thing.

And now, the final insult. Today, the newest round of comics go out. And in his own book, Captain America meets his end. And here's what Joe Quesada has to say about it:

"He hasn't been living in the modern world and the world does move," says Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada.

Quesada said he wanted to readers find their own meaning in Cap's end.


I could visually depict what meaning Quesada is trying to get across, but Blogger doesn't like it when I link to Goatse. So, let me give you a verbal equivalent:

"America, the idealized version, is dead. Screw the land of liberty. Screw the stand for what is right. Now, you just do whatever you can for safety, even if it means fucking the other guy over. After all, it's what the people in power believe, and when have they ever been wrong?"

So, in summary, fuck you, Quesada. Fuck you, Millar. Fuck you, Paul Jenkins, who wrote that long steaming coil of dialogue in Frontline. Fuck everyone who played a willing part in this abortion to make a heroic world downright villainous. One day, sanity will return, and maybe then, I'll return to the House of Ideas. Until then, I'll just be reading the titles that don't crap on my idealism, and remembering the words of Squirrel Girl:

"I remember the day when comic book worlds were places you wanted to escape to. Not from."

Comments:
Well said.

Between this, and "Identity Crisis" and the bloodshed over in "Justice Society" and "52" with DC, it's almost as if the entire industry is happily veering off the cliff into the realm of self-parody.

I just don't understand how so many people, some of them genuinely talented, can miss the point. I read even the more "gritty" and "realistic" superhero titles for seeing people with incredible, hard-to-emulate ethics. Even in Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?", which exemplified "darker" and "more mature", Superman still felt that simply accidentally killing Mr. Mxyzptlk was such an egregious violation of his personal code that he deserved to lose his powers.

Instead we have "heroes" that start wars and imprison their allies to further their goals. With such morals, superheroes become much less special - and much more like echoes of the sort of "heroes" that populate television and our action movies. And that's depressing as hell.
 
If you're still willing to see how these bullshit comes together, I'd recommend Warren Ellis's "Thunderbolts." It seems that he, unlike Millar, Jenkins, or Quesada, realizes how immensely fucked-up this new Marvel Universe is (hell, his first issue had a Thunderbolts action figure set that had Captain America as a "terrorist"). It's going to be grim as all hell (it's Ellis writing the MU equivalent of Suicide Squad, for God's sake!), but at least it will have a point.
 
You said exactly what I've been thinking, except more compactly.

And my god, the metatext of it. As Jer said "almost literally the military-industrial complex versus America and in the end the military-industrial complex defeated America with the help of the 911 heroes. Then they locked America away, berated it with rants about how old ideals are no longer important in the age of YouTube and American Idol and NASCAR. Then they shot America in the gut and left it for dead on the steps of a courthouse."

And it's not just that, the symbology was just obscene on so many levels. 'You see, if the blacks and liberals on the anti-reg side would just listen to the smart white rich men, the imprisonment without trial and the oppression will merely be a temporary measure that leads to the Bright Future.' You had Susan Richards obediently coming back to her husband, despite the fact that he didn't show regret for his actions and hadn't 'fixed this'. You had Speedball, who had protested the act and felt he was being unjustly imprisoned, accept that it was Indeed All His Fault and *torture himself*. You had Captain America unable to articulate any coherent protest against a side that used FUCKING BULLSEYE, except to spout the most cliched NRA lines.

Frontline #10, CW #7, and Frontline #11 between them form an almost perfect right-wing/PNAC fantasy, where liberals acknowledge how wrong they are and torture themselves, where they are easily cowed by the righteous rantings of the true believers, and where the only empathy shown is with the suffering of the autocrats, for their angst over the Terrible Things That They Must Do to Save Us All. And where the very mandate of heaven is withdrawn from the anti-reggers, allowing their underpowered selves to somehow kill dozens of bystanders while Sentry can destroy buildings in Mighty Avengers with nary of word of casualties.

It's just *obscene*.
 
Good points, Laura. Although you forgot, "Journalists who know that the people in charge have done something horribly wrong and potentially treasonous should just sit on their hands, because the leaders really do know best."
 
I have made many comments concerning this subject, and love what I just read...but let me put in my two cents, if you will, on this as well.

I HATE MARK MILLAR, JOE QUESADA and all the other dickheaded cunt fucktards who made Civil War. It led for me to so many things being blown open(in terms of fun I had with various stuff in comics and otherwise)and it did a lot of cruel
and wrong things to many characters. And after Marvel, the home of the most faggot ass fuckheads ever in terms of writers and workers, promised there would be no right or wrong side and both would be treated equally, no less.

The following things...

* Ms Marvel being made to separate Arachne from her daughter

* Reed becoming an uncaring prick and he and Susan being broken up

* Iron Man being made into a jerk ass who would lie to a woman(he told Tigra Cap was wrong when she asked what category he fell into, and then later prayed he was doing the right thing)enlist wicked nasty
baddies(Bullseye, Taskmaster, Lady Deathstrike, and so on and so fourth)manipulate people, ruin Spider-man's life and a lotta other shit that is not like him at all.

* Spider-Man unmasking in front of THE ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD!!!

* Tigra being made a spy and working FOR TONY when really she is almost as loyal to Cap as Hercules is and so all of this is not the real her!

* Spider-man's life being ruined and Mary Jane and Aunt May put into the sniper's bullet range.

* Cap being portrayed as an arrogant fool and then being lead to his demise.

* Goliath being slaughtered unintentionally by a Thor clone thanks to an unforseen error.

* The Negative Zone being made to lock up any unregistered superhumans.

* The Public being shown as a hateful and ungrateful lot.

* And a whole lotta other stuff that made this series the killer of all Marvel.

...makes me wanna fly to Scotland, find Mark Millar, run up to him AND KICK HIM IN HIS NUTS!!!!!!!!!!

HARD!!!!!!!

And then tell him: "I wish I could go back in time and kick your bitch of a mother in the stomach when she's pregnant with your sorry ass. Then Scotland, and the rest of the world, will be a hell of a lot better off.

Any comments or opinions to what I've written, I'm ready and anxious to hear. If you got something to put in, please do.

TY very much, bye now. And Millar, GO TO HELL!!!! And you, Quesada and Tom Breevort and all other Civil War makers, Paul Jenkins no exception of course, FOLLOW HIM!! I hope Lucficer roasts you over his hottest fires.

Abandon all hope, ye who wroteth Civil War. YOU ARE DAMNED!!!!!!!!
 
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