Sunday, May 13, 2007

My goofy fanboyish thing that I said before

Remember how I said two posts below that I had a superman thought, about how in a way Lex Luthor is still Superman's best friend?

I came to this conclusion while thinking about my friend Eric. Basically, it comes down to this; If Eric had superpowers, I wouldn't trust him to not start thinking of humans as cattle that are utterly beneath him, because that viewpoint is already tempting to him. So, it falls on those best capable for the task to make the superhumn human, to lay him low so that he feels kinship and empathy with those he might choose to serve and protect. It's a lot easier to disregard others as pathetic and weak if you don't have to face such feelings yourself.

So, basically, if Eric were superman, I'd be Lex Luthor. I'd even up the comic similarity one step further by pretending to never discover his secret identity- even though it would probably be pretty easy to find out a superhero's secret identity- but I'd threaten it constantly in order to make sure he valued it, protected it. Saw his human life amongst humans as a relief and a joy. And even though I'd have countless opportunities to kill him, I'd monologue to him instead of actually doing it, because killing him would be the last thing I'd want to do. Instead, I'd be showcasing human resourcefulness and telling him how he's not so special before essentially allowing him to escape and put me in jail. Ta-Da! I'm his best friend!

Also, what goes for Eric above also goes for Ian and Carl.

Most of my other friends I don't feel have such a profound distaste or lack of empathy, so I would (mostly) trust them.

Just a quick note about how much I hate JMS

go here.
When you are done reading that, tell me how Peter's glandular ejaculations can damage the Golden Avenger, especially from that angle; then tell me how Peter's able to immobilize someone as strong as Iron Man (class 60, bursts of 100) with his sticky spew. If you're going to respond with something about how tantric understanding allowed him a more complete release, and that that did it (and also apparently came from every direction at once and rotating) then to you I say, you're an idiot.

I believe that under a few circumstances, Spider-Man should be able to drop Iron Man, but this is not one of the ways; He should be in his mask, or Tony should be without his helmet.
If you didn't know that he was a total hack, it would be hard to believe that this was the same writer who had Spider-Man barely squeeze out a tie against the utterly powerless Captain America, whose best attack is to throw a disclike object at a speed which must seem like a warm penny melting through jello to someone 15 times (at least) more agile than a human, and to throw a skilled punch that packs, comparatively, as little power as Spider-Man's punches would against THREE HULKS IN ONE. But, of course, Straczynski is a total hack; he wasn't able to write a convincing explanation for why Peter switched sides; he couldn't write Peter as being trusting and loyal to Stark without making him seem like a total bitch; and he can't even seem to have Peter acknowledge the train of thought he employed in ASM 536, where he discussed his reasons for unmasking publicly and almost believably. Instead, he comes off as a whiny bitch who is trying to escape responsibility for his own decisions.

The only Spider-Man worth reading is the one appearing in New Avengers, but even there, Bendis doesn't have him do enough.

Oh, and can I rant real quick about Fallen Son: anger the avengers? It was, overall, a good issue, but the idea of Wolverine throwing Spidey off balance and then pinning him up against a wall is 1000 kinds of retarded. Spider-Man is as strong as 20 Wolverines put together, never loses his balance (it's a power) and can stick to the damn floor. As above, there are some ways Wolverine can put up a fight against Spidey, but that is NOT ONE OF THEM. JESUS.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Man, I gotta chill out a little.

When i started this blog I told myself I wouldn't edit it- just real, stream of consciousness type stuff- so I'm a leave that post down there alone. I don't agree with it all anymore, though.

Of course I oppose vigilantism, but I've been racking my brain to find a reason why the government should violate the search and seizure laws, essentially, just because of a birth condition. I'd be very opposed to adolescent gene testing to detect mutants, so after that, everything I said below is meaningless; all you can do is keep a police/fbi dossier on anybody that's displayed a dangerous mutant/mutate/technological ability, and essentially treat mutant/mutate outbursts similar to car accidents. It's scary, but essentially, if Purple Man moves next door, you're screwed, because diminishing his rights out of fear diminishes us all.

That being said, I don't think you need to go all the way to criminality before the government should start keeping an eye on you- when it becomes part of public awareness that you have a dangerous power, the Gov'ment should step in and tell you that unregulated use of superpowers is illegal, and that if another usage like this happens without registration, that you'll be held accountable not only for the damage/hurt you cause, but a sort of reckless endangerment charge for abusing the power, similar to the way a person would be charged for discharging a firearm in a city.

Is that better? Is that sane?

I don't know. I'm really tired.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

to be edited

this post is not to be read the way it is. It's notes for me for two future blogs on this site, but I need to put this down and I'm at lunch from work.

One is a fairly serious philisophical piece stemming from Civil War (I know I said I was done, but I don't think I ever will be now)
And the other is this totally crazy idea I had for a Superman story that might have already been done out there somewhere but it sounds really awesome to me.(Lex is still Supes' friend)

The Civil war post is going to be about freedom, or specifically, a government and its duties regarding freedom.
A lot of people are upset with the registration side of the 'civil war', viewing it as an impingement on freedoms. There are of course two different parts of that act- mandatory registration for superhumans, and a form of deputization for those who would be costumed crime-fighters. There are no strong, rational arguments for the latter, but a lot of people are comparing the former to fascism- that the government is absolutely impinging on freedom.

Of course it is.

The foundation of modern, western government (particularly the U.S.) is that each person is empowered with a certain amount of sovereignty, often termed Popular sovereignty, and described by John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. And, that in order to avoid anarchy, we divest ourselves of some of this sovereignty and pool it in the form of a government of representatives. This sovereignty of which we divest some is essentially the sum of our freedoms.

It is necessary to abandon some freedoms in order to gain a protection for others. This is simply unavoidable- unlimited freedom is, paradoxically, no freedom at all- we understand what freedom is- uncanny in similarity to one of Plato's Forms- we recognize its qualities, but it seems to me that there could never truly be unlimited freedom, especially not for all- if one person is not restricted, will he not take some of another's freedoms in order to better his own life, by, say, enslaving him? If this man will not, will not another? This unlimited freedom is Anarchy, and it cannot and does not last long. Nature abhors a vaccuum, and people gather and create power by their very nature, and others are compelled to seek it.

History has shown us that we will take the freedom of others for our own power.

So what remains is to create a government, divest ourselves of some of our freedoms in order to guarantee the rest of our freedoms. To the Government it creates do we leave the singularly unenviable task of valueing those freedoms.

This applies to Marvel's Superhuman registration act as well. We as people have many rights- those detailed in the constitution, those detailed in judgements of the supreme court and those enacted into law by our bicameral house of representatives and our somewhat democratically elected president (at best). And then, because we value freedom, and because we assume a freedom where no just, necessary restriction applies, we can be said to have many, many more rights (the right to watch Seinfeld, if, in fact, I have paid my power and have my television on).

We don't have a listed hierarchy of priorities of rights in our country. It would probably be of benefit if we did. But here I'm going to propose the start of one.

Freedom of Thought--->Freedom from Bodily Harm--->Freedom to influence others in good faith(freedom of speech)--->Freedoms of Action.

One last point about the role of government- it must not only provide punitive action for those who violate the rights of others, but must do its best to protect others using the specific rights they have given up in their appropriate fashion.
That's confusing, but I'll clarify with two example: Violence, for example, is the prerogative of the state. Except in extreme cases, usually self defense, we are assumed to have given up our right to use force against others- in exchange that the Government will judiciously, appropriately apply force on our behalf should it be necessary. This is the good faith the government MUST show us in exchange for our freedoms, and so we have the police. It also goes a long way in explaining why we feel so strongly about cops who abuse power- they are abusing power that we gave up so that they could protect us- in a way, they abuse us all twice by failing their oath.
My second example is financial law. it is entirely possible, given no market restrictions, or even just sufficiently lax ones, for a company to simply preclude any competition with practical means. This is an impingement of freedom of others by abusing ones' own freedoms. Many people feel that Microsoft these days is an example of this, but better ones exist- the old Standard Oil, Ma Bell, Hearst newspapers. Also, Stock Market manipulation is a good example of this- one can mislead or simply trade information in secret in order to make scads of money. In exchange for giving up the opportunity (freedom) to make money unencumbered by law, we gain the assurance that the government will do its best to protect us from those who would abuse us through unregulated use of money and power.

The government has a big responsibility, and it has a responsibility to make us accountable for our actions.

Ok, back to superhumans.

Some superhumans have inconsequential powers- for example, The X-Man Beak's wife, Angel, can eat like a fly. But other superhumans have incredible, amazing, spectacular, astonishing, uncanny or fantastic powers. powers, that like my deluded hero would say, Come With Great Responsibility.
However, in our world, it is too often not enough to simply hope that someone will choose to be responsible with their actions- in fact, we know they are all too often not. we have restrictions on other freedoms simply to prevent the access of the irresponsible to great powers- Driving, for example, or flying a plane; carrying a handgun is another great example. It is unfortunate to simply require a person to register and recieve training for nothing other than being born, or for accidental circumstances- but the consequences otherwise may simply be too great.

I can hear the voice of criticism. "Isn't this the same as profiling muslims and blacks?"

No. Not at all.

requiring a superhuman to get training in a legitimately dangerous superhuman ability is quantifiably different from profiling, because it speaks to how that superhuman is different. Requiring an Arab to go through training to learn how to not blow people up, to make a crude and offensive analogy, punishing a person for a perception, not a fact-makes assumptions about that person's character- that the government has no cause and no right to make- impinging on a person's sovereignty purely based on prejudice. (An Arab is not born with a bomb), while in the other it's not simply a matter of perception. Cyclops can and does shoot dangerous beams from his eyes, and as a matter of fact has limited control of them. He needs training to be safe, and to guarantee the saferty of others. Freedom from fear, as Norman Rockwell so beautifully illustrated, is also a freedom.

There also needs to be a safeguard against abuse. There are superhumans in the Marvel (and DC) Universes capable of great and terrible things- some of which could never be traced under normal circumstances.

One such example I have used in the past is of an adolescent boy with powers identical to those of Jebediah Killgrave, I.E. the Purple Man. Purple Man has a form of Mind Control, and can command people to do whatever he likes.
I'll be back on this later. Don't link to this until I edit it, Eric

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mighty Avengers #1

Well, this was a pleasant surprise.

I've never really enjoyed the Avengers. They always seemed like a hokey version of the X-Men to me- they didn't have the glue, the gum, the common angst or background to stick together, like the mutants did. (and the Avengers whoed it, with the ever changing roster.) I wasn't a huge fan of Cap, and I kind of liked Iron Man (mostly because I thought he looked cool) but most of the rest left me cold. As they did with most Marvel Fans- despite being the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, they were perhaps Earth's Least Impressive Selling Comic Book, routinely being drubbed in sales by several x-men titles and Spider-Man titles, and Wolverine titles, at the same time.

It was not a surprise to me when Marvel pulled the plug on the avengers- giving them a big, last hurrah- Avengers Dissassembled, which, while not super popular with fans, did draw on the Avengers mythos fairly well, and definetely conveyed a sense of senseless tragedy. Not every death is heroic, unfortunately.

Nor was it really a surprise when Marvel brought them back- just a few months later- as the New Avengers- finally cribbing from DC's book and actually putting some of their most popular characters in their 'big' team book.

With Spider-Man and Wolverine as draws, New Avengers burned up the charts, crushing everything in its way- DC wouldn't outsell it until 52 came out and Civil War diluted the appeal of the New Avengers- and it still remains Marvel's best selling ongoing, and it technically is the best selling ongoing, although 52 really isn't much of a mini-series, more of an ongoing with a cut off point- lots of comics don't make it to 52 issues.

Avengers purists, however, were not happy. Most of them are irrational nitwits, but there are a few who are able to legitimately voice complaints. The dynamic of the New Avengers does not resemble the Old Avengers- and The Avengers, while only somewhat popular, were popular enough to have a loyal following that sold them in the 30-40k region regularly. Also, virtually all Marvel staff are avowed Avengers fans.

So now they get their own book. That's not a surprise, either- Where there's a market, Marvel will go- but what really surprised me was how good it was.

Taking the form of a series of flash forwards, the book follows Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) and Tony Stark as they decide on a new team. Bendis is in perfect form here, with snappy back and forth dialogue, punctuated with thought bubbles. It's easy to follow their logic as they assemble a super-team- needing a team that fills different roles, but is truly Mighty. There's also a couple juicy bits in there- one, a slight revalation that Tony has the hots for Carol, is kind of a given, but a few others come out.
One, Tony refers to the recently deceased Captain America (Steve Rogers) as Rogers, which causes a hitch in Carol's mind, as she looked up to Cap as much or more than anyone.
Two: Carol, while making a soft attempt to capture Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) she says that Captain America is still alive, in a special facility. While Marvel's been quite clear on the fact that Steve is dead, I'm betting that they're essentially putting Cap back in the ice- having him be frozen or stasis-ed until medical technology advances enough to heal him. We'll see more about what this means soon.
Three: While reprimanding Carol for not taking Spider-Woman in, Tony acknowledges that they really have better things to do than bring in the New Avengers, but tells Carol that they have to or "They Will", which I'm inferring as a reference to the Council on Superhuman Activities' Thunderbolts, who are not under Tony's authority, and furthermore, are comprised of sick, twisted murderers and one poor girl who's just trying to get out alive. This, I believe, is a set-up for future clashes between Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, and the Thunderbolts. (Justice, Like Lightning)- and I'm looking forward to it. The Thunderbolts are a true superteam of Villains, with the law on their side- I'm really wondering why there isn't an iconic team like this already out there. I'll miss the old Thunderbolts, the ones struggling for redemption, but let's just say I won't be surprised when i get that book too.

Mighty Avengers makes me want to read the Avengers. Again, I tip my hat to Brian Michael Bendis.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

R.I.P., Steve "Captain America" Rogers

as one of a hundred kabillion bloggers to make a post about it, I don't really feel like waxing long or super eloquent about it. So I'll try to be quick and punchy about it.

Rest In Peace, Cap.

I was never a fan of Captain America. But I liked him anyways. I found him often boring and moral, but I enjoyed that someone boring and moral was really looked up to in the Marvel Universe as a leader- a kind of fantasy within a fantasy. But as the Marvel Universe changes to reflect our times, it's clear to me that there is no better time for Captain America to die.

Cap, in the MU, represents a living reminder of a time when we were unified- we had a common purpose. In my lifetime, only the aftermath of 9/11 briefly recreated a shadow of this unity. Now, 5 1/2 years later, America is more bitterly divided as a whole, rotten to the core with apathy, and wrangled forcibly in the directions of the few by those with an unlimited greed for money and power. The dream is, in many ways, dead- at least, further away than it has ever been. We hardly even seem to appreciate or love our symbols of unity anymore- sometimes lashing out against them. With our sense of unity and purpose gone, what does Captain America represent? Nothing but history. And to History he is now committed.

In a purely pragmatic sense, people will say "He'll be back". Yes, he will. Someday. You can, if you so choose, look into the crystal ball and dismiss what is going on in the now. Instead, you can look at comics in the now- and Right Now Cap is dead- and see if you actually like the stories being told.

Make Mine Marvel.
S. Mumbles.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Final thoughts on Civil War

Violence is the prerogative of the state.
I hope my friends clone me when I die.
It's not against the law for a duly deputized law enforcer to kill a dangerous opponent who is currently menacing said officer.
The fight is not about liberty and fascism, it's about liberty and accountability.

This is the point that gets the most sticking. Liberty is a religion in our country- well, it's not, but it inspires awe and worship. And rightly so. Liberty is a high purpose. But...

Liberty without accountability is anarchy.

That's what Cap was fighting for, a sort of Super-Anarchy. Wherein those with powers are free to do whatever they like as long as they mean well.

One of the principle restraints we must place on liberty is that man is not free to impinge on the liberties of another person. Certainly not directly, and to attempt to legislate in such a way as to prevent accidental infringement. That's Mill.

BUt one of the things that you find you must do, in order to allow for maximum liberty, is to place a system whereby people are educated and encouraged not to impinge on others' liberty. WE have a lot of this in our society- we don't have anarchy on our roads (excepting Massachusetts)

Man I'm too tired to write a philisophical post. Read Andrew Miller's review of Captain America/Iron man: casualties of war over at Spider-fan. Other than liking Straczynski, he's pretty smart.

I'll post some straczynski low-lights tomorrow.