Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Never Say Never: Civil War - Again - Why It Upsets Me

I tried to explain my displeasure in Civil War to a friend today. I absolutely bombed. To me a conversation is someone stating their opinion and then a counter-opinion and going back and forth until both sides until understand each other, even if they don't agree. But I was everything but eloquent.

She's not a comics fan, and in fact looking at too many pictures in a row can send her to sleep. But the topic came up and we were having dinner and it's something she knows I'm interested in and I'd been having a rough day, so why not talk about one of my passions. It seemed like a good idea until I actually tried to do it.

First I tried analogies. It's partly how I communicate with the world and it's partly because she doesn't know what's happened and I didn't know how to include all the information that comes with the pictures in a comic, without me having to retell the whole story. But she got lost with the analogies and kept pressuring me to just tell her what happened and what I didn't like. So I tried again. But this time she said it sounded like my dislike for the plot was the issue and she couldn't figure out what about the story itself was bothering me. And as I do dislike the plot, I tried to find another way to go at it. So I tried a third time, trying to avoid all the little hotspots that make me want to go 'arrrgh!'.

And when I'd tried that third time, or maybe it was a fourth time, she said stuff like. "So Congress got scared and did something stupid that people don't like? Well duh, that happens." Followed by. "So Peter Parker was never one of their ideological equals and now they're suspicious of him? Well duh. It's a civil war, right? If he shows he's not down with them of course they're going to be suspicious." And then she said things like. "They're using unsavory tactics and they aren't really concerned about information? Guantanomo Bay anyone?" The only thing that made any impact on her was the government's side using villains. She found that just plain stupid.

I tried to explain that I found the story thin, that there was so much meat to it that just wasn't being used. But all the while I kept getting more and more irritated. Because my feelings before talking to her were that if Marvel was going to use a Metaphor, then it should be a Metaphor. And they shouldn't be trying to bend current situations into the Superhero world in some kind of morality play. And yet - she's right. And I absolutely loathe that. I still think the writing sucks, and the story has no depth, and the rush to get it out is ruining avenues of exploration. I still think that Tom Foss or Prok over in Blogger have some wonderful ideas for how things could have played out (Barring Prok's new theory that it's all about Wanda's mucked up mindfuck). But my friend was right.

The government does do stupid things. Ours does and theirs does. My own irritation that this is nothing more than a broader termed Mutant Registration Act is proof that they have tried stupid stuff before. And who says the government learns from its mistakes? Congress does use fear and paranoia to push through acts that limit the personal freedoms of its citizens. It's been done. We in America live there. And while what happened at the school doesn't seem to be enough of a big deal for such a huge public outcry. What happened in real life with the Towers shares one simple similarity in that the people in power should have been expecting it - there were signs. There could have been accommodations made.

Ironman and Captain America becoming so embroiled in fear and paranoia and mutual feelings of betrayal? It happens. Soldiers for a cause coming to the realization that they've been lied to and friends around them are dying for an unweighted cause? Search theinternet and you'll find the blogs.

I wanted to say to her that the Marvelverse isn't supposed to be like that. That the Superheroes should know better. That the real thing to come out of this should be a more formalized training system for young heroes; no more throwing the kids in the deep end and seeing how they swim. But I couldn't. Because what I wanted to say was that 'I don't want to see that in that world! I want things to make sense because it's fictional. Fictional chaos is part of a plan and a plot. There should be logic and reason to it when I take a step back.'

I do not believe that Marvel is purposely mimicking the irrationality of a fear state and loss of virtue of individuals as they obsess with their own self righteousness to the destruction of all else. I don't believe this has all been planned. I don't see the signs and cues that reassure me that Comic God is in his Heaven and all will turn out, if not right, at least fruitful - meaningful. I do not believe that Goliath's death was a meaningless death for the sake of a meaningless death. Because I can't believe they meant to make me feel this angry and this filled with the need to smack a bitch and talk to them about iconic images, black history in America and volatile emotions. And that I think is the biggest failure of all; that prickle in the mind that makes it all too real, too unscripted, too irrational and too far away from comic reality. I've lost trust.

A reader isn't supposed to lose trust in a story like this even if the characters themselves no longer know up from down. There are our heroes!

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