Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What the F#&k, Civil War II? (Part 2)

In Part 1, I delved into Avengers Standoff, the currently-running Avengers crossover event that totally misses the point and turns Maria Hill into a demented monster. You can check it out here.

Marvel recently released two posters depicting which heroes stand on either side of the moral conundrum at the heart of this summer’s Civil War II by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez. It was a big moment for fans waiting to see which way their favorite heroes lean on the matter of using an Inhuman child with a high precognitive success rate to stop crimes before they happen. It’s a rip on Minority Report with no real qualms about being so, and the team rosters choices are really quite puzzling.

TEAM IRON MAN (Like, whoa dudes, let’s not f#&k over random peoples’ lives before they even do anything wrong; for serious, this is a terrible idea.

- Deadpool
- Black Widow
Totally Awesome Hulk
- Hercules
- Luke Cage
Miss America
- Thor
- Daredevil
- Black Panther
- Star-Lord
- Captain America, Sam Wilson

Before I look at Team Captain Marvel, let’s examine Team Iron Man, the roster that makes sense in context. Sam Wilson has been against Project Kobik and using the cosmic cubes for national defense since the first few issues of Captain America: Sam Wilson, so no surprise there. Luke Cage and Star-Lord both have less-than-stellar pasts, so the thought of being incarcerated for something they haven’t yet done is obviously a bit offensive; the same goes for Black Widow and Deadpool, really, as they both started as criminals and have taken steps to reconcile who they were with who they have become.

Miss America’s universe is a magical realm made possible by the Demiurge, an older version of Billy Kaplan (formerly of the Young Avengers, currently of the New), and her adventures with younger Billy made it obvious to her that fate, destiny, and the future are never set in stone; NEVER. The current Hulk, Amadeus Cho, is the eighth smartest person on the planet, and he’s sided with the third smartest (I think) person, Stark, as well as T’Challa; two other incredibly intelligent, super-genius intellects who understand how bad an idea precognitive crime prevention would be. Black Panther’s time with the Illuminati and their hand in the end of the multiverse has made his stance of playing god very, very clear.

Hercules has been around long enough to probably have seen this before and know it won’t end well. Thor is the ‘wild card’ here, as there doesn’t seem to be a discernable reason why she’d choose Iron Man’s team, but the idea that she needs a reason beyond having common f#&king sense about the situation is absurd.

Now onto Team Captain Marvel, the craziest hodge-podge of mischaracterizations I’ve ever seen banded together for a very silly and very unethical movement.

TEAM CAPTAIN MARVEL (Guys, how can we not use this Inhuman kid to predict and stop future crimes; what’s the worst that could happen from f#&king with reality like that???)

- Winter Soldier
- She-Hulk
- Spectrum
- Ant-Man
- Blue Marvel
- Medusa
- The Vision
- War Machine
- Hawkeye
- Spider-Man

Carol Danvers is a conservative military type, so it makes sense that she’d support a program that most effectively curtailed crime and harm to civilians. Same goes for James “Rhodey” Rhodes in the War Machine armor; he’s a soldier of the US military, Carol’s boyfriend, and holds similar views on security. As queen of an entire species, Medusa has more credence to want a way to protect Inhumans as they face prejudice and fear and danger from the world at-large, a system to make sure she could keep her subjects safe and alive. Beyond these three, though, the picks get incredibly ridiculous.

She-Hulk is an attorney; she obviously understands innocent until proven guilty, and that there needs to be a crime from which to charge someone. Ant-Man and Hawkeye were both incarcerated before they became heroes (like Luke Cage!) so it makes no sense that they’d support a system that punishes people preemptively. Spectrum and Blue Marvel are both on the Ultimates (now, it seems, at odds with their teammates Miss America and Black Panther) and both incredibly intelligent scientists who should know that even a 99.9% accuracy means a margin of error big enough to argue against the project, AND they should know better than to screw with time like this, even passively.

The Vision makes no sense on this team; he was a major proponent for civil rights of artificial intelligence when faced with fear, prejudice, and possible genocide of all non-organic sentience based on what could come of technology that might evolve to stand against humanity. Similarly, Winter Soldier’s reputation has followed him since he was freed of his dogmatic brainwashing and became a hero (even taking the mantle of Captain America for a while), and he takes an aggressive stance against S.H.I.E.L.D. during Avengers: Standoff for screwing with reality in the name of safety, actions that would absolutely have resulted in his incarceration had this Inhuman child predicted Bucky would be a threat to S.H.I.E.L.D.s operations. I’m not saying S.H.I.E.L.D. will be in control of the Inhuman precog, only that future crimes aren’t necessarily black or white, and Bucky should know this more than most as someone who was a hero, then a brainwashed villain, then a hero again, and eventually a super spy who had to make incredibly difficult ethical decisions to keep Earth spinning. Spider-Man is an outlying variable, as there doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason why he’d throw his support behind Captain Marvel, except...

STEVE ROGERS. The real wild card of this team because HOW IN THE HOLY H%LL DOES STEVE ROGERS SUPPORT THIS AT ALL!?!?!? It’s ludicrous to believe that the man who once shed his title based on his principles, became a fugitive over the Superhero Registration Act, who harshly judged the Illuminati for preemptively destroying whole worlds to stave off the decaying multiverse, and who is currently pissed the h%ll off at Maria Hill for using Project Kobik to rewrite reality would in any way, shape, or form support Captain Marvel’s ludicrous plan to hope that this precog gets it right most of the time, to allow heroes to play god and decide who is right and wrong based on one person’s predilections.

I assume that's our Inhuman in the middle?
Which leads to the real question behind this entire crossover event: Who is this Inhuman?

Leaks from 4Chan some weeks back pin the character as an Inhuman child named Homer (who knows if that name will be in the final version of CWII) who possesses the ability to predict future events with 99.9% accuracy. With just this information, ‘Homer’ is simply a plot device and nothing more. But he/she/it can’t be just that; there needs to be more to the character. How does Homer feel about using his powers in such a way? Where does Homer come from and what influences his decisions to seek out the Avengers and/or agree to help when they find him? Will there be outside influences that attempt to shape the future using Homer’s ability to deceive heroes and villains alike? Which character from which side of the debate will eventually attempt to manipulate Homer into giving false readings to either A.) Tarnish Captain Marvel’s name, or B.) Prove Iron Man’s stance na├»ve? What if Homer has his own personal agenda that none of us know about yet?

As fun as it is to posture about the team rosters for Civil War II, they don’t really make a difference one way or another – the ethical implications behind each side of the debate are the most important factor of his story. I’m a Carol Danvers for nearly ten years now and I understand that she’s more conservative and militant than most characters in the Marvel universe, so it doesn’t upset me that Carol wants to ‘Change the Future’ now, or that she supported the Superhero Registration Act during the original Civil War, or even when she hunted down her friends for committing multiversal genocide in “Time Runs Out” – in fact, I actually love Carol even more now because CWII shows how her views haven’t changed, that her characterization has stayed consistent over the years. All that said, my personal politics concerning the issue of preemptive crime prevention has me already rooting for Team Iron Man, the team with actual sense and responsible ethics at the core.

Of course, none of what I’ve written means much; there’s still too little information concerning Civil War II to make accurate or informed decisions on how the story will go. The lack of info about the Inhuman kid, the reasons each character choose their respective sides, and how this conflict will affect the world population, S.H.I.E.L.D., and other heroes is yet to be known. And that’s a real problem, because right now, it feels like Civil War II is about a select group of characters unilaterally deciding what to do with a great and terrible power they may or may not be able to control. Sound familiar? It was the premise for House of M, Age of Ultron (the comic, not the film), Avengers vs. X-Men, and basically Jonathan Hickman’s entire New Avengers run. In fact, a major aspect of Hickman’s Avengers was commentary on the nature of the Illuminati, a group of ultra-intelligent heroes working toward a clandestine future without accountability or oversight, and how they fell from grace and undermined all their principles in the process.

Have we learned nothing? Do the heroes of the Marvel universe not remember these events? I know Secret Wars rewrote a lot of history and the new ‘Prime Earth’ isn’t exactly set in stone, but to offer readers yet another narrative based in personal opinions extrapolated into territory dangerously close to worldwide oligarchy is simply ridiculous. There’s so much precedent for not f#&king around with forces we don’t understand – Brian Michael Bendis’ own X-Men saga was one long, arduous, bloated ode to the dangers of messing with time and space and the future and the past. So why does Civil War II yet again try to make readers think this is something new or noteworthy.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ll read Civil War II and probably all of the tie-ins because I’m a sadistic completionist with crossovers, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be critical about a rehash of a rehash of a archetypal narrative trope.

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