Posted by : Wendy B Sunday, 14 August 2011

The problem with quitting something you love when it turns sour is that, in the future, you will inevitably find people who love it and their constant chatter will tempt you to catch up.

Ten years of comics is a LOT to catch up on.

Most recently, my friends have been discussing Marvel Civil War so I had to up and read it myself. I did not read all the extraneous titles surrounding it, so I am missing details in regard to character and plot development but the seven issues, with some Wiki help, were enough to help me understand what they were going on about.

On a side note, when I started reading this, I immediately equated it to the current #NymWars spawned by Google+'s suspension first administration of their new "common name" policy. Those against the use of pseudonyms argue that they are no benefit to truth and justice and the internet way. Unlike mutants who can vaporize you, the worst 'Nym users can do is troll you, and they are at the mercy of your block button.
SOURCE: www.ryanestrada.com 

Anyway, Civil War is the result of a reality show gone wrong that ends up killing 600 people, including some of the superhumans who caused it. The people are understandably angry and want superhumans kept in check and held responsible. Enter The Superhuman Registration Act, this time with Iron Man at its head and Captain America against.

The idea of prejudice against superhumans is not new to Marvel comics (ref: Genosha, God Loves, Man Kills) and certainly, when dealing with people who can blow things up with a mere thought, a bit of paranoia is to be expected, no matter how many times they save the world. It is perfectly reasonable to expect superhumans to respect the laws and, you know, not blow shit up all the time without taking any responsibility.

The heroes discuss anonymity on Google+
Unlike the other battles over this issues, the superheroes end up divided, with Iron Man, influenced by the mother of one of the slain children and his prediction coming true, works with the government's hasty implementation of the act, with the aid of Reed Richards and Harold Pym. Previously Iron Man had wanted to work with the government to diffuse such an act.  This time, his plans have added bonuses.

Meanwhile, Captain America is ordered by S.H.I.E.L.D., currently headed by Maria Hill in Nick Fury's absence,  to help in the capture of the superheroes who choose defy the new law. Captain America refuses, and thus friends become enemies.

Lots of fighting and explosions ensue, and that's when everything in this story starts to fall apart.

Basically, it seemed to boil down to randomly rolling the dice to see which hero was on which side, and then rolling again to see which hero would change sides when faced with various conflicts of interest. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, all three sides (Captain's Secret Avengers, Iron Man's Avengers, and Maria Hill's S.H.I.E.L.D.) always went with Option A: BLOW SHIT UP. It's not until the very end that someone realizes that hey, all our fighting is hurting the people that want to lock us up, and now we're giving them all the more reason to do so.

This could have been a great story, but for three things:

(1) The decision to make Iron Man evil. Iron Man's original idea of diffusing the Act from the inside was a rational one. It could have meant a compromise that allowed for the accountability the government seeks, and even the State-specific teams, without actually revealing the identities of the superheroes to the world. A verification process to allow Google+ users superheroes to do what they do best, with the people comforted by the fact that the government knows who they are and can track them, just in case. Yes, there are some questions of human rights here, but when you can blow up a house by sneezing, you have to make some compromises.

Iron Man's role then would have been to make sure the government did not take advantage. Instead, Iron Man went all out to capture and contain everyone, including trickery, cloning and the use of bad guys. Nothing to make his decision seem at all the right one.

(2) Pulling punches. People complained about The Black Guy DiesTM plot device, but frankly, it was a logistical issue that resulted in his death.  Admit it. He made a pretty obvious and convenient target.

My problem is that his death, or rather, the "person" who caused it, was a cop out. Ultimately, we know it's Iron Man's fault, but he wasn't the one who physically did it. If you wanted this to be a really powerful death, then it didn't have to be the only one and it should have been at the hands of the actual warriors involved. No, not The Punisher. Let's see what happens when a good guy actually kills a friend in the name of whatever side they are on.

(3) The cliche plot devices. Really? You walked into that trap? Really, you walked into that trap? Really, there was a spy in your ranks? Really? There was a spy in your ranks?

What I did appreciate was the fact that the X-Men stayed out of the whole battle (and that Emma Frost was their spokesperson!). One did join the fray, but he, thankfully, got stomped in the head. Think I might need to make that scene my new desktop.

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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