Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Civil War Revisited: Pre-Crime!!

Well, between vague promos and vague movie announcements, Marvel's Civil War has been talked about an awful lot the past few days.

One article, when describing the nearly-a-decade-old Marvel event, described it as "well written."

Hahahahahaha.

Now, this blog wasn't around during those days, even though I've made my disdain for Civil War: Front Line #11--The. WORST. COMIC. EVER.--quite clear.

But since it's back in the news, I'm glad to have the opportunity to share with you the exact moment--the very second--when it was clear that this series would be pretty damn stupid.

It's issue 1 of the main series, and we're up in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Maria Hill is quizzing Captain America about what the heroes' reaction will be to the pending Super-Human Registration Act, and whether Cap will lead the Avengers in enforcing it:

No, I'm not going to ding Mark Millar too hard for criminally blurring the distinction of whether S.H.I.E.L.D. is a national or international organization. Marvel writers have been blowing that one for decades. S.H.I.E.L.D. is an international organization, and has been since their founding. And anyone who says different is kinda wrong.

Still, even though it's a common mistake, it should be noted that this mistake really undermines the series' premise in a big way. Having S.H.I.E.L.D. enforcing the SHRA is akin to having NATO or U.N. troops enforcing the Patriot Act on U.S. soil--not bloody likely.

But again, common mistake, let's give him a pass.

No, what's more important is something that Hill says. Close-up, please:

See, the SHRA hasn't become law yet. It hasn't even been voted on in Congress yet, and doesn't look to become the law of the land for at least a month.

That's kinda crucial, as Cap and Hill argue about the act:




"CHIK-CHAK"??? Really?

Yes, really.


Let's be clear--S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are drawing their weapons on Captain America and are preparing to take him down BECAUSE HE DISAGREES WITH AN ACT THAT CONGRESS HASN'T EVEN VOTED ON YET. He hasn't broken any law yet, made any threatening move...apparently, in Mark Millar's view of how politics work, agents (federal or international) can draw their weapons on you for merely expressing a contrary opinion on a hypothetical law.

Ah, but it's just some out of control lackeys, right? This isn't official policy, is it?


Uh, yeah, it is. The director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to detain Captain America refusing to promise to help her enforce a law that hasn't passed yet.



And that's when you knew there was little hope of Civil War making a lick of sense.

Look, there were some interesting ideas in the mix for Civil War. A discussion of vigilantism, of private citizens holding essentially weapons of mass destruction, of post-9/11 America being willing to trade some freedom for security...I'm not saying that these are necessarily great ideas for a comic full of costume wearing super-heroes. But somebody else might have been able to make the idea work, at least a little better.

But when you try to make super-heroes a metaphor in your real-world allegory, and can't even get the basic facts about the real world right, you've lost before you started. By carelessly turning this into Minority Report--where people can be punished before they commit crimes, indeed before the law even exists--you're no longer making a slippery slope argument, you're setting up a very stupid strawman that takes everyone away from your real arguments. If your text doesn't make any sense, your sub-text doesn't, either.

All because Millar couldn't find a better way to get Captain America initially involved, and needed an action scene in a book where people spend pages and pages standing around talking politics.

"Well written" my ass.

9 comments:

Writrzblok said...

This whole series was an example of a decent premise gone horribly awry. Also, when first reading it, I couldn't help but feel Hill's characterization be a tinge more villainous than pragmatic. It was like she was trying so damn hard to be Marvel's Amanda Waller that she almost took glee in doing the job.

JohnnyBob said...

I really enjoyed Civil war.

Horses and courses.

pedrocabezuelo said...

Civil War was horrible and pretty much everything I hate about modern super-hero comics. As you say, there are some good thoughts behind the story that could be mined for strong drama, but the execution is painted in very broad (and stupid) strokes. JLU explored the potential dangers of super-heroes vs. the government much better in its season arc.

pedrocabezuelo said...

Civil War was horrible and pretty much everything I hate about modern super-hero comics. As you say, there are some good thoughts behind the story that could be mined for strong drama, but the execution is painted in very broad (and stupid) strokes. JLU explored the potential dangers of super-heroes vs. the government much better in its season arc.

SallyP said...

Civil War was the WORST storyline I have ever read...and I've read some doozies. In fact I pretty much gave up on Marvel for quite a while, although Hawkeye and She-Hulk have been luring me back through their awesomeness.

But still...Gawd, it was, and is, and always will be...dreadful.

The Mutt said...

I'd been reading Marvel Comics every week since 1964. Civil War caused me to kick the habit. Civil War made me quit Marvel Comics.

I think that says it all.

tomg said...

Civil War was a terrible event--not to mention the arguments were a rehash of what we had already heard during the Mutant Registration Act stories decades earlier

George Chambers said...

I still think as I thought then - the registration act would have quietly died in Congress had Cap just gone on TV and said, "This is bad legislation. Please advise your Congressman that you don't support it. I'm Captain America. I punched Hitler."

JohnnyBob said...

I'd been away from comics for a long time and came back as Civil War was going on.

Hungry people enjoy what's out before them. And I've gone back to it without feeling sick.