Friday, July 28, 2006

On 19 & 26 July, 2006 -- Part I: Civil War territory

Young Avengers & Runaways #1Calvin Pitt and his anonymous commenter are right. Marvel's Pro-Reg faction is full of intellectual elite. Doctors, lawyers, scientists and what have you. I don't think that smacks of anti-intellectualism, however. Not quite. It's too clearly polarized, a better set-up for a parable than a diatribe.

I think these characters (those with Iron Man) are accustomed to living in their heads when they're not out beating people up. These are characters who, in their civilian lives, work through hypotheses and problems using pure logic and reason. Then they take their logical ideas (which tend to look great on paper), and test them in controlled settings, like laboratories and courtrooms. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don't, and sometimes they actually blow up, but whatever happens, the intellectuals generally live through it and move on to the next logical thing.

Well, Iron Man's headstrong team is sticking with the logic behind the the SHRA. And in a way, they're right. The idea of a little government oversight of superhero activities isn't a bad thing. The intellectuals though, to their detriment, are hanging onto that, apparently forgetting that the the "experiment" is not being conducted in a controlled setting. There are too many people involved, too many variables. And the Act itself, spurred by a rabid Public and rushed through Congress, is fatally flawed.

See, the deeper we go into Civil War, the more frightening the regulatory end of the SHRA becomes. Look at Young Avengers & Runaways #1. "Public Sympathy Ratings" determine how hard the SHIELD enforcers hit "rogue" heroes. Aren't the officers saying, in essence, that "it's okay to beat mercilessly on someone as long as the Public doesn't care?" It's not about what's right or just; it's about what the authorities can get away with. Ugh.

And look at Cable & Deadpool #30. (No, it's not part of my regular pile, but the Great Lakes Champions sold me on this issue.) The CSA hires a mercenary with questionable morals to do the government's dirty work. They do this after Deadpool, without provocation, attacks (and is thoroughly whipped by) Squirrel Girl and friends.

That's the government, and hopefully Marvel's authorities will feel repercussions in due time.

The Marvel heroes are already feeling them. For them, it has become a polarized battle between the head and the heart. In Civil War: Front Line #4, "Embedded Part 4," Ben Urich warns Sally Floyd about her speculations, about "seeing things that aren't there." He is a proponent of the objective fact, while Sally, is playing hunches and generally going with her gut. Guess who represents which side.

In Amazing Spider-Man #534, Peter feels as though he has no choice but to battle Captain America, a warrior for whom he has nothing but respect. His sense of logic says he's doing the right thing, but his conscience is eating away at him. His Spider Sense ought to be tingling.

And Civil War #3? Iron Man's strike team, in its cold logic, sets a trap for Captain America's Secret Avengers. The bait? A fake emergency, used with the knowledge that Cap and his teammates will follow their hearts whatever the risk.

Iron Man sets the trap because he's using his head, not his heart. Captain America falls into the trap because he's using his heart, not his head. Use one without the other, and you are running an enormous risk, aren't you? That's a good warning, whatever your political beliefs. Moderation in all things. (And an inefficient legislature helps, too.)

Look back at the panel up top, now, the one from Young Avengers & Runaways #1. Wiccan is right. Nobody is acting normally (normal being a relative term). Whether they are polarized by a villain or just Mark Millar, the result is the same. Follow the characters alone, and Civil War is becomes less a political diatribe about security versus freedom and more an allegory about the mind versus the... well, the soul. And what's not to love about that?

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