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Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2007-02-23 08:36:17

Comics Review

This past Wednesday yielded a ton of decent books, but just a couple of stand outs.

The big one was the final issue of Marvel's Civil War mini-series. For those of you who have no idea what this is: legislation passed requiring all super heroes to register their real identities and work under the direct auspices of the government, and many refused, resulting in a "civil war" between the two camps of heroes. The government forces are led by Tony Stark (Iron Man), a CEO technocrat who slides nicely into the machinations of the military-industrial complex. The rebel camp is led by Steve Rogers (Captain America) who sees these new laws as egregious violations of civil liberties.

I really dig this Captain America. So often, he was portrayed as a flag-waving lapdog of the U.S. government, but here we see him taking a stand for what he perceives as true American values and freedoms. Finally, we're given a Cap that truly grapples with patriotism (he's branded a traitor for his actions), and that functions as a soldier (as opposed to a costumed adventurer). The series itself is a thinly veiled allegory of real life erosion of constitutional rights, such as the Patriot Act, suspension of habeas corpus, and warrant-less eavesdropping. As such, the primary conflict discusses the issue of liberty versus security, taking the pajama party that is super hero comics about as far as it can go toward being socially and politically relevant. Issue #7 completed the series, without an encompassing resolution, but sets up nicely the new status quo of the Marvel universe. For once, a comics "event" looks like it'll have meaningful impact for years to come.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH!!! Some of that dribbled into Amazing Spider-Man #538. Because of Spidey's role in Civil War, it appears that Aunt May was killed. (If so, let's hope it sticks this time. She died and was written back to life during that infamous clone saga.) This would be a meaningful bookend to Uncle Ben's death that kicked off his story, driving Peter Parker to reexamine the nature of power and responsibility. I'm assuming that this is what triggers the upcoming "Back in Black" return of his black costume. I bring up this issue not because it was stellar, but because it has the potential to be one of those seminal events like the death of Gwen Stacey. Given Marvel's editorial climate currently, this looks like a permanent change to Spider-Man's status quo.

The last book I wanted to talk about is Invincible. It just hit #39, and every single issue has delivered. It's written by Robert Kirkman, who continues to impress. To boil it down, the protagonist is Peter Parker with Superman's powers, and it captures the best of both archetypes. If you love Spider-Man, but hate where his comics have gone (losing that genuine teen angst and life troubles), and you also dig the cosmic kickassness of Superman but dislike what an old tool he is, Invincible is perfect. On the covers, the tagline "Probably the Best Superhero Comic Book In the Universe!" floats over the logo, paying homage/satirizing the old Fantastic Four headers. The thing is, I can't disagree. I recommend this book 100% - just read it.

David Vargas David Vargas: (dave-deleteme[at]-deleteme-squishycomics [dot] com) 2007-02-25 03:04:18

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