January 03, 2007

Spider-Man vs. the Bush Administration

J. Michael Straczynski, in the latest "Civil War" related issue of Amazing Spider-Man, continues Marvel's not-so-subtle denunciation of the Bush administration via a Peter Parker diatribe on the New York airwaves. He says:

"I've seen the very concept of justice destroyed. I've seen heroes and bad guys alike dangerous guys, no mistake, but still born in this country for the most part, denied due process, and imprisoned, potentially for the rest of their lives. But there's a point where the ends don't justify the means, if the means require us to give up not just our identities, but who and what we are as a country."

I opined on Straczynski's work with Marvel previously over at the Four Color Media Monitor. But J. Michael is certainly not the only one who's being less than subtle in the whole "Civil War" mess. ("CW" writer Mark Millar being one -- see here and here.) Aside from it being nothing but a mega-crossover gimmick (amazingly, Maxim magazine and to no one's surprise Wizard, dubbed "CW" "Best of 2006" and the "Event of the Year" respectively), Marvel insinuates that it is neutral in its presentation of both sides. URRRNT! Try again. The anti-registration [of superheroes] side, led by Capt. America, is clearly the one for whom the writers want fan sympathy. The pro-registration side, led by Tony Stark (Iron Man) are imbued with some logical facets to their philosophy (notably, that super-powered humans are inherently different from normal people and hence should be subject to certain controls/restrictions that are not applicable to homo sapiens ... well duh!) but what the creators have done over the course of "CW" has eradicated much of the sympathy fans may have had for this side. (Four Color Media Monitor's Avi Green has been all over "Civil War" with numerous critical posts.) For instance, the pro-registration forces are utilizing the Negative Zone as a "special" jail for those heroes refusing to comply with the registration law. The NG, as longtime Marvel readers know, is essentially a parallel dimension full of ... well, nothingness. The analogy to Gitmo hits like a ton of bricks. Subtlety (real creative writing, actually) isn't in the cards at Marvel here. Given that Marvel doesn't even have deadlines anymore, this is doubly pathetic on the part of the creators.

The most ridiculous example, however, is the recent usage by the government of deadly heinous villains from the Marvel Universe to assist in apprehending anti-registration heroes. Included in this bunch are Bullseye (from Daredevil lore), Venom (Spider-Man), Taskmaster (Avengers), Lady Deathstrike (X-Men) and Jack-o-Lantern (Spider-Man). These villains nearly killed Spider-Man after he attempted to join the anti-registration forces. Iron Man and Reed Richards -- condone this sort of action?? The analogy? The "enemy of my enemy is my friend" scenario, apparently. Y'know, how the United States has made use of shady characters in the past (like the Taliban) to fight against a bigger enemy (like the Soviet Union). Of course, in the latter instance, the utilization of the unsavory characters was for use against other unsavory characters. In "Civil War," we have convicted multiple murderers apprehending not only (up till now) law abiding citizens, but people who have helped save not only the country but the entire friggin' planet.

Parker's airwave rant fails to address the most salient point: That the United States requires registration of not only weapons, but things such as cars. Mandating registration of a "person" that has the capability to perhaps annihilate an entire city does not endanger the "identity" of the United States. Sure, the pro-registration (government) side has gone overboard (as I'm sure the creators wanted it) with the Negative Zone and use of the super-villains as agents. It certainly would not have been unsympathetic to keep the dissenting heroes in a terrestrial prison (like the Vault) and grant them due process rights. But keep in mind that a person in possession of, say, numerous unregistered bazookas can face some serious jail time. If he refuses to abide by the terms of his parole and goes out and purchases more such weapons, his next sentence can be even longer. Why cannot this apply to superhumans? Illegal possession of such weapons has been against the law for decades; illegal possession of a super-power is only a recent crime.

"Civil War" could have -- should have -- been handled better. But to do that would have meant granting that the Bush administration may have had some good points in battling the war on terror. Admitting that, for leftists, is the pinnacle of anathema.

Posted by Hube at January 3, 2007 03:18 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I find it ironic that your guy, the Invincible Iron Man, is head of the pro-registration guys.

And while I am certainly in disagreement with the obvious anti-Bush rhetoric within the comics, I think I might side anti-registration in real life. (Though really I have no way of knowing given the hypothetical assumes some 40-odd years of prior superpowered activity.

Posted by: Ryan S. at January 3, 2007 04:51 PM