Yes, there are otaku lurking at the NYT, and the horribly artsy (therefore acceptable to New Yorkers) Chris Ware can go screw himself. Or bore himself to death. Myself, I'll always love watching the Archetypes wrestle with the Zeitgeist. I hear the Zeitgeist is getting a couple of evil sidekicks, Weltsmerch and Schadenfreude:

From The New York Times, February 20, 2006
".... America's current real-world political issues will wind themselves into the lives of the heroes of Marvel Comics in "Civil War," a seven-issue limited monthly series set to begin in May. In the series, the beliefs of many well-known Marvel characters, including Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and Spider-Man, will be challenged. ...

"Civil War" provides problems in spades. The story opens with a reckless fight between a novice group of heroes (filming a reality television show) and a cadre of villains. The battle becomes quite literally explosive, killing some of the superheroes and many innocent bystanders. That crystallizes a government movement to register all super-powered beings as living weapons of mass destruction. The subsequent Registration Act will divide the heroes into two camps, one led by Captain America, the other by Iron Man. Along the way, Marvel will unveil its version of Guantánamo Bay, enemy combatants, embedded reporters and more. The question at the heart of the series is a fundamental one: "Would you give up your civil liberties to feel safer in the world?"

".... As deeply entangled in current United States politics as the new Marvel series seem, "Civil War" and the accompanying "Front Line" series won't be written by Americans. Mark Millar, a popular comics writer who is Scottish and lives in Glasgow is writing "Civil War"; Paul Jenkins, a British writer who lives in Atlanta and had a lengthy run on "Spider-Man," is writing "Front Line."

".... Mr. Millar said the story would cause a "seismic shift" in the Marvel heroes: "Before the civil war, the Marvel universe was a certain way. After the civil war, the heroes are employed by the government." But don't think that gives away the ending. "Some people refuse to do it," he said, "and those guys are performing an illegal act by doing so."

[--do the words, "Spider-Man: Threat or Menace?" strike a familiar note? As the most human of heroes, fighting for the little people and not ideologies, I'm sure that Spidey, bless him, will find himself bucking authority for the sake of some victim of "collateral damage", and get booted out of Stark Tower with the rest of the Mets fans. -- M.]

"Mr. Jenkins's "Civil War: Front Line" will explore the ramifications of the events in the main series and more. "I have absolute carte blanche to take on the political landscape as it exists in America and all around the world," he said in a telephone interview.

"Mr. Jenkins will be telling some of his stories through the viewpoint of two embedded reporters. One works for a left-leaning newspaper, The Alternative. The other works for The Daily Bugle, whose fictional publisher, J. Jonah Jameson, Mr. Jenkins likened to Rupert Murdoch. Jameson has an agenda and pushes his embedded reporter to meet it.

"Mr. Jenkins will be doing some embedding of his own, using, in part, actual war letters and diaries, including "The Diary of Anne Frank" to tell the parallel story of a frightened young mutant girl in Manhattan, and the World War I poem, "Futility," by Wilfred Owen, to chronicle the last moments of a hero's life.

"Are these stories getting too heavy for comics readers looking to shut out real-world tensions?

"Not really, say the Marvel writers. "Civil War," Mr. Millar said, will work on two levels: "At the core, it's one half of the Marvel heroes vs. the other half." But, he added: "The political allegory is only for those that are politically aware. Kids are going to read it and just see a big superhero fight."

There's a part of me that still believes in Truth and Justice, and despite what television says, that doesn't always include the "American Way".

To give credit where credit is due, DC and Frank Miller covered these conflicts back in the 80s, when Batman used kryptonite to beat the mortal shit out of Superman for protecting a Reagan lookalike: "Keep talking, Clark; you've always known just what to say. 'Yes'-- You always say 'Yes'-- to anyone with a badge, or a flag. Just like your parents taught you. My parents taught me a different lesson, lying on this street, shaking in deep shock, dying for no reason at all." One thinks of the recent photographs-- I'm not going to post them, you can hunt them down yourself if you need to be taught that lesson over again-- of children screaming over their parents' body parts in Iraq, and parents trying desperately to put their broken children back together.

People who don't read comics, but are interested in this war of ideals, or the intersection of human reality with fantasy are encouraged to start with Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross' "Marvels". A recent New Yorker cartoon showed a grumpy old man growling past a bookstore, "Now we have to pretend to read GRAPHIC novels, too?"

1 comment:

Ian Thorpe said...

Amazing where a web search can lead. I sort of guessed what weltsmerch meant when I read it in a British mag but searched looking for confirmation.
And found this post which I enjoyed readin, thanks.