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Post By
Omar Karindu

In Reply To
Evil G:DR

Subj: And on the merry-go-round we go again; CW Commentary in latest Wizard Magazine [SPOILERS]
Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 01:13:10 pm EDT (Viewed 2 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Mark Millar and Steve McNiven CW Commentary in latest Wizard Magazine [SPOILERS]
Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 02:05:08 am EDT

Previous Post

> Just got the latest issue of Wizard, which has a Director's Commentary on Civil War. Millar and McNiven show up to give their commentary on the series post-publication, but unfortunately they don't say much that hasn't been said before on the Internet.

There've been so many online interviews, there probably isn't much new left to say, true.

> Much of the commentary is their defense of the controversial moments in the series, followed by a lot of self-congratulation towards each other and some immature joking about Sue Storm's T&A.

Not that scene with Johnny carrying her in mid-flight?

> ( Of course, this IS Wizard, so they do know their audience. Which is no longer me, since the only part of Wizard that I really cared about-- the TPB reviews-- has been cut out, replaced with a mere laundry list of graphic novel solicitations But that's neither here nor there ).

I'm surprised you still bother, given that most of the news in it gets reported online weeks earlier.

> Anyway some things of note....
>
> -- The scene of all the heroes gathered to discuss the SHRA in the first issue is based on a splash page by John Buscema, circa Yellowjacket and the Wasp's wedding. In that scene, the heroes are casually partying and sipping non-alcoholic punch. In Millar and McNiven's scene, they're arguing about the Act, with some of them uncharacteristically supporting it. Something seems very wrong about how the original shot was used for this.

Do they identify who the guy in the orange (or was it yellow?) mask who appeared in one panel was? That's still confusing me.

But I'm not sure why the idea of anyone supporting registration is "uncharacteristic". The ones with no secret ID who already work for the government had no real reason to oppose it. Yes, Reed has changed his mind on the subject, but the world is a very different place since last time he had to think on the matter in 1989.

> -- Lots of disbelief on Millar's part about how Iron Man is viewed as a bad guy. He discusses the Cap/IM meeting in issue 3, and makes a point that Cap throws the first punch ( which is an untruth, because Tony took down two of Cap's men first ). He seems to think that Iron Man's comprimising with the government is somehow a justifiable position. Given Millar's political statements in previous interviews, it seems odd that he'd take Tony's side.

Since the event ended, Millar's been pretty consistent in his statements that Tony was right, and that compromise with the government is less-worse than a masked elite standing unaccountable and above the law, and less-worse than a running battle with their own government, less-worse than ignoring the will of the people, less-worse than "we're going to pick and choose which laws we obey".

> -- Discussion of an email Millar got about how Thor is an Aryan Superman taking down one of the few black heroes in Marvel. Millar defends himself by saying that he just wanted to kill off a giant hero. While I don't think that Millar is a racist, I can't believe that he's surprised that someone would read in those overtones.

Well, let's face it, regardless of who or what the method of death is, it's flat-out impossible for a comics writer to kill (or do anything else bad to) any character that isn't a straight white male without getting accused of prejudice or racism by knee-jerk reactionaries.

Millar is known for having a giant-killing fetish, and poor Bill Foster is probably the only giant hero Marvel would let him kill off and have him stay dead (Millar has made the point that he went for killing off minor characters in Civil War so that the deaths would actually stick).

Do they discuss the idea of creating FrankenThor in any more detail? As much as I love the concept, he has so little role after #4, it tends to feel like he only exists for a bait-and-switch shock ending to #3.

> -- Comparison of Cap and the Punisher as " the same guy " because they both represent American wars in the 20th century. Seems rather oblivious to the individual personalities of both characters ( that Cap is the MU's paragon of virtue, and Frank is a serial killer who happens to go after people who arguably deserve it ).

That the Punisher has started going after goofball supervillains who don't really deserve anything approaching a bloody death tends to suggest he's crossed any line of being able to justify his actions.

We've seen Cap/Punisher comparisons before, as the products of America's war's, notably in 'Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe', so it's not like Millar pulled it out of nowhere. And they've managed to work together before, so it's not improbable that Cap would allow him onto the team, and in doing so let in someone who's an even worse killer than any of the criminals that Tony signed up.

And once he realises his mistake, we get the sheer joy of the beatdown.

> -- Close-up on Woody Allen, who makes a cameo amongst the crowds in the final issue.

I can't say I noticed that. I wonder whose side he's on.

> Anyone else read this? I'm not reccomending it, but it is certainly interesting ( if troubling ).

Not worth picking the issue up for, then?


> But I'm not sure why the idea of anyone supporting registration is "uncharacteristic". The ones with no secret ID who already work for the government had no real reason to oppose it. Yes, Reed has changed his mind on the subject, but the world is a very different place since last time he had to think on the matter in 1989.

It might have been nice if Marvel had worked out some relatively clear version of what the SHRA was and made sure all th writers got the memo. The "gotta be registered and take basic training" bit is far more defensible than the "backdoor draft/Initiative" angle.

That said, the enforcement of the Act, even as portrayed in the mini itself, is draconian and frankly disgusting. Secret extradimensional prisons and detention without trial for anyone refusing to register? And that's the "good guy" position?

It's especially ludicrous when you reaize that merely being detained and unmasked effectively completes the bulk of the registration process anyway. Once you're in the system, would it matter if you were offering some putative resistance to...being entered into the system?

> > -- Lots of disbelief on Millar's part about how Iron Man is viewed as a bad guy. He discusses the Cap/IM meeting in issue 3, and makes a point that Cap throws the first punch ( which is an untruth, because Tony took down two of Cap's men first ). He seems to think that Iron Man's comprimising with the government is somehow a justifiable position. Given Millar's political statements in previous interviews, it seems odd that he'd take Tony's side.
>
> Since the event ended, Millar's been pretty consistent in his statements that Tony was right, and that compromise with the government is less-worse than a masked elite standing unaccountable and above the law, and less-worse than a running battle with their own government, less-worse than ignoring the will of the people, less-worse than "we're going to pick and choose which laws we obey".

And this is why Mark Millar has become fundamentally inapable of writing Marvel-style superhero fiction that works. He simply misses the underlying premise of the genre: that the heroes are not an "elite" in the first place. Yes, in the "real world" masked vigilantes would be an awful thing, because the real-world sorts of people who engage in systematic and sustained vigilante campaigns tend to be pretty awful people. But that's simply never been true of the vast bulk of Marvel's underdog (and often hangdog) heroes. Does anyone in their right mind really think of Spider-Man as a dangerous elitist?

It's imply not a reading that can be applied successfully to...well, the pre-Civil War Marvel Universe. If any heroes were part of an elite, they were the Avengers. And the Avengers, of course, spent the majority of their history very much tied up with the government.

I might add that using Iron Man and the Illuminati as the lead-up certainly didn't help whatever specious point Millar meant to make. If you're arguing against masked elitism, it's a bit hard not to think that the Illuminati secretly meeting to decide whether the superhuman community -- whom nobody asked them to represent, mind you -- should or shouldn't comply with the law.

There's also the basic problem Millar seems to have utterly, abysmally missed: the SHRA isn't being enforced or run by directly elected officials. It's being administered, per the end of CW #7, by a largely unaccountable international spy agency and supported by two of the most elitist superheroes around (Tony and Millar-Reed, who does not resemble any other Reed).

It's not as if Tony Stark is currently responsible to "the people," now is it? Yet Millar seems to think that a centralized and sinfinitely classifiable administration of superhumans granted official police powers is less elitist than a loose confederation of gifted amateurs so long as Congress passed a law permitting it. For God's sake, he really seems to be arguing that we'd all be better off if, say, the NSA ran the prison system and the police.

Back when Millar was writing The Authority, fans of his run often argued that he was as hard on the team's quasi-fascism as on their largely one-dimensional opponents when someone made the point that the Authority themselves were effectively totalitarian enforces of their own private laws.

It's rather harder to do that after reading Civil War; Millar really seems to like stories about law enforcement by way of black ops and wetwork and the like. There's a certain fetishization of the ubermenschen-as-hard-man in a lot of his work, and I'm becoming quite uncomfortble with him as a writer as a result. The way in which his work presents ideas of democracy and law isn't so much challenging or daring as morally imbecilic, and I'm rapidly tiring of it.

His work genuinely seems incapable of containing or getting over the idea that not every law enacted via a democratic-republican process advances the interests of democracy. And that's a lesson I imagine a seventh-grader in a Histry or Civics class could work out.

Millar's work has crossed the line for me from deeply irritating to ethically indefensible. Luckily for me, it's also becoming increasingly difficult to defend aesthetically, so perhaps I can just be done with his writing for good and all.

- Omar Karindu

"A Renoir. I have three, myself. I had four, but ordered one burned...It displeased me." -- Doctor Doom

"It's not, 'Oh, they killed Sue Dibney and I always loved that character,' it's 'Oh, they broke a story engine that could have told a thousand stories in order to publish a single 'important' one.'" -- John Seavey


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