Marvel’s ‘Civil War’

Tony Stark is a Proxy?
Despite the mixed reviews coming from the fans, Marvel’s Civil War is a momentous event. People can talk their DC Kingdom Come stuff as much as they want, but Civil War is the book that they’ll be talking about in the graduate-level Ivy seminars and MLA conferences ten years from now.

Why? Well, it’s certainly not the subtlety.

Most of the fan-problem with CW is that many characters are depicted out-of-character. After a 40 year friendship, Captain America (Steve Rogers) and Iron Man (Tony Stark) have suddenly been depicted as rivals . In Marvel’s continuity, Rogers and Stark have been friends and teammates on the Avengers for more than 40 years, yet, in an almost painful evocation of the McCarthy era and the Alien and Sedition Acts, Marvel has created a ‘Super-Hero Registration Act’ (SHRA) that requires all super-powered persons to register with the Federal Gov’t, otherwise face lifetime incarceration.

This is, of course, Marvel and their Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada’s response to our brave, new Post-9/11 Security state. In Marvel’s 616 universe , Superheroes now require registration or else face lifetime incarceration in a Negative Zone prison constructed by Reed Richards, Tony Stark and Henry Pym. In this juxtaposition Supervillains turned Fed. Enforcers , costumed heroes are either with the U.S. Government or they are criminals . Heck, in one entirely absurd twist of Civil War ‘s premise, even the VILLAINS are FOR registration as CW scribe Mark Millar has recruited the worst of the worst — Venom, Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin — as Federal Agents in the battle against unlawful superheroes combatants. Of course, the right-wingers in the comic book geek community are pitching a fit, but that’s the way these things often go.

Simple-minded, yes. But as an implied critique of the 43 rd President’s witch-hunt, Civil War is inspired. On the Right is Tony Stark/Iron Man, the industrialist and the very embodiment of America’s Military-Industrial complex. On the ‘Left’ is Steve Rogers aka Captain America who somehow (or some why ) still believes in a citizen’s freedom from unreasonable searches and freedom of speech, even if they’re masked vigilantes . But the double-irony is that they’re both extremely Right-Wing positions that effectively pits the border-patrolling Minutemen against the Fascists.

Is Civil War meant as a parody? Saddam was our ally, before he was our enemy, just as the U.S. has embraced numerous repressive regimes in order to pursue ‘ extraordinary rendition ‘. Given the many over-the-top moments and frequent character mischaracterizations, one can’t help but wonder if CW is meant as some kind of Borat -like satire of America and the War on Terror? Certainly, I would have never hazarded such a guess before I’d seen Sacha Baron Cohen’s performance, but now I’m not so sure.

Peter Parker unmasked As part of its inevitable march, CW has forced Peter Parker to reveal his Spider-Man identity to the public, broken-up the Fantastic Four and caused a rift in the New Avengers, a team that was all but decimated during Avengers Disassembled less than two years ago.

The only question that remains is how they’re going to get the genie back into the bottle once this is all over…

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