Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Civil War

Pesharim - Civil War

CIVIL WAR - This has split my family as well. It is undoubtedly the greatest, most interesting, and downright most clever thing Marvel has ever done.

The basic premise is as follows. For a long time the US government, some foreign governments and political constituencies have wanted to register mutants and superheroes so that they can be controlled and monitored by a governmental agency. This push has accelerated as a result of the War on Terrorism and because certain superheroes have conducted ad hoc and private anti-terrorism/anti-ICC campaigns of their own which many in the government, military and in certain agencies consider dangerous.

A short time ago a junior grade team of upstart superheroes decides they will recapture some known escapees and supercriminals who are on the lam, but whose location they have discovered. The attempt to take them into custody bounty-hunter fashion results in one of the supercriminals triggering a catalyzed fuel explosion on a school bus which also ignites and blows up an elementary school resulting in between 600 and 900 probable fatalities, most of them school children.

As a result of this lethal incident an immediate emergency legislative session is called and the Congress passes a mandatory pubic registration act for all mutants and superheroes, which the president is going to sign.

This splits the superhero community in half, some, siding with Tony Stark, Reed Richards and Peter Parker decided to go the registration route and to publicly disclose their identities, becoming governmental employees.

Others, backed by Captain America decide to try to maintain their identities and natures as vigilante operatives outside official legal and governmental control.It has become a fascinating series with extremely interesting points and arguments on both sides. I've never been a big Marvel fan, except for Spiderman, Daredevil, and sometimes Iron Man. I never cared for Cap until reading recent New Avengers. Since then I've gained great respect for the Cap character and his leadership abilities.

My wife, who before we married never read comics and also didn't like Marvel very much, (we're both DC fans, and for team or group magazines we prefer Justice League) has though become as equally enthralled by this series (Civil War) as she has with the New Avengers.

Her position is that no superhero should be forced to register, reveal their secret identities, or be forced to work for, be paid by, or employed by any government, the US government included.

Yet despite the fact that I Vad, often intentionally avoid the authorities, almost never operate in any way but alone, I cannot help but finding myself in general sympathy with Iron Man, Richards, and Spiderman that superheroes and mutants should register and be in some way regulated.

Now I think a compromise could be reached in which mutants and superheroes could be registered for legal purposes, information collected about them, maybe even genetic samples taken of them, and yet their personal identities guarded from general public disclosure, just as is the case with many Intel agents and operatives and even case officers and is the case with many Special Forces Soldiers, especially in active theatres of operation. I also don't think it necessary or desirable that such individuals would become automatic representatives of some governmental agency or directly employed by and paid by the US government. Some could form up as special paramilitary units, others as law enforcement units, some as Intel, some as special operatives and some could assist on a strictly voluntary basis. But, and maybe this is just age and experience on my part (when younger the thought of something like registration would have brought automatic revulsion for me), given those general conditions I would register if so approached. As a patriotic act and to assist others if I could.

One thing I really like about this series and storyline is that it asks some really interesting and difficult real world questions, questions I've faced before personally and other things I could easily imagine myself undergoing in such a predicament and situation, and I can see hard arguments both yea and nay on both sides. Also the series thus far has made no attempt to preach or proclaim a "right side" in such a conflict, as there is I think no right side in such matters. In any case I think this is the best comic myth storyline series I've read in over a decade.Excellent work and tough considerations. I like very much this Civil War.

I encourage everyone to read this series if they enjoy comics.

Addendum: Since the cloned Thor killed Bill Foster (Goliath) I have begun to have serious reservations about the manner in which the registration program is being executed. I still support the idea of registering superheroes, or at least of devising a compromise, but the very fact that Reed Richards, Tony Stark and others supporting superhero registration are involved in illegal cloning projects and that these clones seem to be under external control instead of possessing free wills of their own, and the fact that they would attempt to clone a character like Thor (who up until recently I did not like at all, I kinda do now) and deploy him in such a way that this cloned Thor ends up killing a man, that bothers me a lot. I think now the program should be suspended and negotiations begun and some type of compromise reached, as I outlined above.

I think though that the killing of Goliath and the introduction of the cloned Thor and deploying a team of super-villains to assist the Avengers against the Secret Avengers has made an absolutely brilliant set of plots and stroylines just that much more ingenious.

I highly recommend this series.

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