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Captain America vs. The Patriot Act? 303

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the what-would-superman-do dept.
Nerd_52637 writes "Yesterday, Marvel Comics released the first in its miniseries Civil War, which can only be described as a gutsy comic-book series focusing on the whole debate over homeland security and tighter government controls in the name of public safety. The seven-issue series once again puts superheroes right back in the thick of real-world news, just as DC Comics has Batman battling al-Qaeda in a soon-to-appear comic and Marvel's X-Men continue to explore themes of public intolerance and discrimination. In Civil War, hero is pitted against hero in the choice of whether or not to side with the government, as issues ranging from a Guantanamo-like prison camp for superheroes, embedded reporters and the power of media all play in the mix as Superheroes are ordered to register as human WMDs or be branded fugitives."
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Captain America vs. The Patriot Act?

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  • Watchmen. Astro City - Confession, etc.
    • by enrac (681907) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:24PM (#15266885)
      They touched on this in Dark Night Returns. Reagan uses Superman in some Cold War skirmish, Batman is a fugitive . . .
    • by Count Fenring (669457) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:48PM (#15267009) Homepage Journal

      Hmmm... I disagree. While both awesome pieces of work, neither is really dealing with the issues of government control in the same way, if at all.

      For one, the conspiracy in Watchmen is non-governmental: It's actually an exceedingly liberal private citizen (Adrian/Ozymandias) who is controlling public opinion and worldview. The government plays a strang side-role in this; they are environment, not actor.

      And Astro City: Confession, while one of my all-time favorite comics, is really dealing with public opinion and its manipulation by authority in a much softer, more human-focused way.

      Maybe a better example would be Frank Miller's Martha Washington books, or Elektra: Assassin. Still, I don't think anything out there invalidates this project.

      • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Friday May 05, 2006 @05:46AM (#15269014) Homepage Journal
        the conspiracy in Watchmen is non-governmental: It's actually an exceedingly liberal private citizen (Adrian/Ozymandias) who is controlling public opinion and worldview.

        I respectfully submit that when a person starts to think that they can cure all humanity's ills by themselves, that they are the only enlightened leader capable of doing so, and that the end justifies the means, even if the means is killing millions, that that person has no right to any political classification but Fascist.

        If they were to proclaim it was in service of the greater good, of which they are merely the executive officer, then they might make a claim to the classification of Communist (specifically a Marxist-Leninist, 'vanguard of the proletariat' and all that).

        In no way can it be claimed they are a liberal, not even in the distorted US meaning of the word.

        This message brought to you by your local Political Education Officer.

        Mart
    • When i read the part abotu prison camps and registering super powers, that suddenly reminded me of "Days of Future Past." That old X-men alternate future... how long ago was that?
      • 1980-1981, as I recall. It's remained a consistent reference ever since because the future is never in the present. So, though the inciting details have changed this could lead to the DoFP events as easily as assassinating Senator Robert Kelly (who, by the way, went mutant neutral/pro a while back).
    • paralells The Incredibles [go.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:14PM (#15267149)
      As a card-carrying member of Amnesty International (AI), I was shocked when AI accused Washington of running a Soviet-style gulag. I burned my AI membership card and flushed the ashes down the toilet. After all, AI could not provide any evidence supporting the outrageous claims, and using hyperbole to support human rights damages AI's credibility and the ultimate mission of rescuing victims of brutal (often Chinese) human-rights abuses.

      Then, last month, I read about the stunning news report by the "Washington Post" [belleville.com]. It reported on CIA-gate: the CIA, with the full approval of the president, has been running a network of secret prisons where enemies of the American nation are interrogated. Although this network is nowhere near the status of the Soviet gulag, the network does put tremendous credibility in the original accusations by AI.

      At times like these, we need a Captain America to fight for truth, justice, and Western values. A network of secret prisons grossly violates the most sacred of Western values.

    • Watchmen. Astro City - Confession, etc.

      Marvel tried this before with the Mutant Registration Act of the late 1980's (which figured into the X-Men titles for a while before it quietly disappeared).
  • by Ryz0r (849412) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:21PM (#15266865)
    The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny? [ultimateshowdown.org]

    OK, that flash has been overused recently, but Hero vs Hero? I couldnt resist!

  • by nizo (81281) * on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:22PM (#15266870) Homepage Journal
    ...Guantanamo-like prison camp for superheroes...

    I just know the issue where they make all the superheroes pile into a giant naked pyramid will be a big hit.

  • by i am kman (972584) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:24PM (#15266881)
    Kudos to Marvel!

    Comics in general and Marvel in particular have had a long tradition in embracing social issues - witness the classic Marvel comic series that decried on McCarthyism. This one is interesting because they aren't really taking sides.

    Of course, many cartoons these days are overtly political (Southpark, American Dad, Boondocks) - at least Marvel tries hard to let the readers make up their own minds and explore the issue themselves.
  • lol, wut? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:24PM (#15266883)
    Superheroes are ordered to register as human WMDs

    Or what? They'll arrest them? Superheroes are used to fighting other super-beings. If pissed off, how many puny humans could they kill before getting taken down?

    This could turn out to be made of Win and Good after all.
    • Re:lol, wut? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Firethorn (177587)
      For that matter, what effect would 'registration' have? How would having a list of 'Human WMDs' enhance your safety? It's like a gun registry. It only helps you when you feel the need to collect them from the law-abiding group who registered them according to the laws. The criminals aren't going to tell you about them. Besides, if you know enough to go after them for being a unregistered WMD, can't the government note that down in the list that way?

      GURPs superheroes had a service where you could regist
    • by deadsquid (535515)
      No, no, no. They'll sue them for copyright infringement because "superhero" is taken. "WMD" is not.
    • Re:lol, wut? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GreyKnight (545843)
      Superheroes are ordered to register as human WMDs
      Or what? They'll arrest them? Superheroes are used to fighting other super-beings. If pissed off, how many puny humans could they kill before getting taken down?
      Sonuds like you haven't been watching Justice League Unlimited. A government agency with sufficient resources can indeed make itself a threat to superheroes...
    • Re:lol, wut? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kelson (129150) *
      Or what? They'll arrest them? Superheroes are used to fighting other super-beings.

      Exactly.

      The ones who agree to work with the government are now authorized -- perhaps even obligated -- to take down those who don't.
    • Sentinels. [wikipedia.org]

      The issue of regular humans attempting to contorl the behaviour of superheroes has been covered dozens of times over the past 40 years, very prominently in one of the most popluar comic series of all time, the X-Men.

      As another poster already commented, I'm such a geek.
  • From TFA: "In the first issue of Civil War, he brilliantly folds an entire dissertation on security into one succinct dialogue bubble by saying: "Don't play politics with me, lady. Superheroes need to stay above that stuff or Washington starts telling us who the supervillains are."

    I would hardly call those two sentences brilliant, or even succinct for that matter. In fact, the third sentence does not even seem grammatically correct (though I could be wrong; English is my third language).
    • I would hardly call those two sentences brilliant, or even succinct for that matter. In fact, the third sentence does not even seem grammatically correct (though I could be wrong; English is my third language).

      When you can crush a man with your pinky finger or shoot lasers from your eyes... No one is going to tell you what they think your grammar skills.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    All very good, but enlightening a generation far too young to do anything. In another 15 years kids who experience political intelligence and develop the ability to weigh up complex social debates will be able to make a difference to the world. If one still exists. The problem is not our children, its the fucking clueless, apathetic, greedy and lazy adults that grew up on a diet of might-is-right Hollywood poison for the last two decades. How do you re-educate people who live in denial while other peoples k
    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:38PM (#15266956)
      All very good, but enlightening a generation far too young to do anything.

      Uh huh. And what would you say is the target demographic -- and the average age -- of today's comic book reader?

      (Hint: Your first guess is wrong.)
      • Uh huh. And what would you say is the target demographic -- and the average age -- of today's comic book reader?

        Why don't you tell us? I for one have no clue. I sort of understand the 80s were a silver age of comics, which would sugest that anyone who liked them then and still buys them would be in their mid 30s. But I don't have a clue... to me a comic book was something one bought as a kid as light reading on a long road trip... while certainly entertaining in order to get a full story one had to buy t
      • I'm guessing it's the same demographic that's already largely aware of current events, at least insomuch as there seems to be a large overlap between /. readers and comic readers.
  • Um... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slashdot@NOspam.gmail.com> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:38PM (#15266958) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    There is, for instance, one accident where a group of novice superheroes gets in over its head, leading to the death of a schoolyard full of children.

    The politicians are concerned about public safety. So Congress passes a bill forcing all superheroes to register with the government as human weapons of mass destruction, and to work, in effect, for Washington. Superheroes who don't comply will themselves be branded fugitives.

    Geez, weren't the X-men already hiding from the government for being dangerous?

    Try something more intelligent, people. Talk about the ISPs snooping on you, about the RIAA lobbying the congress, about the Patriot Act, DRM, DMCA and all that stuff that's being shoved down our throats.

    But do it in the near future, present a fear-driven country, where all civil liberties are ALREADY lost. We want to see people being arrested for having analog TV's! For copying music in authorized formats! For using encryption in their e-mails! We want Big Brother! (in the comics, that is)
    • Try something more intelligent, people. Talk about the ISPs snooping on you, about the RIAA lobbying the congress, about the Patriot Act, DRM, DMCA and all that stuff that's being shoved down our throats. But do it in the near future, present a fear-driven country, where all civil liberties are ALREADY lost. We want to see people being arrested for having analog TV's! For copying music in authorized formats! For using encryption in their e-mails! We want Big Brother! (in the comics, that is)

      Try reading Id

    • Re:Um... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pseudochaotic (548897) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:16PM (#15267753)
      Ah, slashdot. Where your pet issues are the only important, meaningful ones.
  • by MourningBlade (182180) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:48PM (#15267010) Homepage
    ...but even if they DO register as human WMDs will the government know where they are?
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:08PM (#15267119)
    I mean, think about it. Some guy with super powers that could bag any government agency including its agents anytime and twice on Sunday, and he's still allowed to have a secret identity, lead a normal life and only put on his spandex to hunt down some bad guys?

    In reality, he'd have been approached by the feds ages ago and offered the choice to either work for them or, more likely, some dirt would've been dumped on him to have the media label him the greatest threat to humanity since Saddam, then he'd been hunted down 'til he's dead.

    Face it. Government does NOT like power that isn't in its hands and under its control.
    • In reality, he'd have been approached by the feds ages ago and offered the choice to either work for them or, more likely, some dirt would've been dumped on him to have the media label him the greatest threat to humanity since Saddam, then he'd been hunted down 'til he's dead.

      It happened to Batman and Superman. Now mind you the President of the United States at the time was Lex Luthor but with Batman he was going after Bruce Wayne and accidently hired the only person who knew that he was a super hero.

  • How long did we wait for the third installment of DK Strikes Again - all the time hearing that the delay had nothing to do with the concurrent events following September 11 - all to bizarre effect - something that could have been bigger and better than DK Returns and fell to the earth with a muffled thud.
  • by orbz (939720) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:44PM (#15267300) Homepage
    To all you people rushing to say "Obscure comic company X did this in 1983 maaaan!"... just because some comic you read dealt with the issue of corrupt government before is not the same thing. This particular government is QUITE a particular government, and George Bush is named as the president in this Marvel series (according to TFA), which makes this a pretty specific attack on this very specific post-9/11 presidency and I think that makes this quite noteworthy. This isn't just about the fiction of it.
    • To all you people rushing to say "Obscure comic company X did this in 1983 maaaan!"... just because some comic you read dealt with the issue of corrupt government before is not the same thing. This particular government is QUITE a particular government, and George Bush is named as the president in this Marvel series (according to TFA), which makes this a pretty specific attack on this very specific post-9/11 presidency and I think that makes this quite noteworthy. This isn't just about the fiction of it.

      Th

  • by Ka D'Argo (857749) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:09PM (#15267431) Homepage
    Sure it's been done in the X-Men back and forth but in the Marvel Universe there's just too many uber-powerful characters to require Registration.

    Scarlet Witch registers, ok cool. So the government now has her on file as a human (or humanoid really for the non human types as well) WMD. That's great. What the fuck does that do to stop a character, like old Scarlet, from going apeshit and destroying the entire fucking universe?

    It's already technically done as well in another sense: villians. Example, take Thanos right. Villian, bad guy. Automatically you consider him a humanoid WMD right. Again same situation. Having him on file, does jack and or shit. So Uncle Sam keeps him on file, hell we'll go one step further, keeps GPS and the whole schebang on him 24/7. Yea when he gets a huge powerup like the Infinite Gauntlet, being able to scramble your military ain't shit. The only benefit it would have is if they notified heroes of such things apon villians. But it's not, since they are only doing Hero registration.

    Either way it's somewhat of an old storyline that while a good one, seems to be a publicity stunt. Considering the current state of America, we're pretty unhappy with our government, our president and basically how restricted life has become. Leave it to Marvel to sellout for the all mighty $

    • Scarlet Witch registers, ok cool. So the government now has her on file as a human (or humanoid really for the non human types as well) WMD. That's great. What the fuck does that do to stop a character, like old Scarlet, from going apeshit and destroying the entire fucking universe?

      Actually, she did go apeshit and she did warp the reality at large. According to Marvel that this does play a role in this storyline but I don't know how because I haven't read either storyline.

      • I know, that's why I mentioned her specifically. She's one of the handful of characters who have the power or ability to royally fuck up the universe, at a whim if deemed nesscary. It also opens the door to the whole entire Universe story arcs which half the time suck but thats another issue completely. Either way, characters like her make no sense to register for such a thing, even the government in the comics isn't quick enough or powerful enough to stop such a character from fubaring reality.
    • Of course it's a publicity stunt. It's an absolutely brilliant one, too.
      • If you aren't an avid comic reader or casual fan, sure you probably find it awesome. Every major world issue has been explored ten times over in comics since well, the creation of comics. X-Men as mentioned by others, has covered most of them, usually racial hate and intolerance. It's nothing new. At best Marvel will hit two markets with this; people who are either casual andor casual readers to people who hear/see/learn about this story arc specifically and get all into it cause its either controversial or
  • ...still wearing skin tight leotards?
  • Unfair! (Score:4, Funny)

    by SEWilco (27983) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:57PM (#15267668) Journal
    But I'm not a WMD, my only power is in gaining /. Funny mod karma!
  • by alfredo (18243) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:41PM (#15268107)
    bush? You can't hide the comics from him, he gets real angry when they do that.
  • The City of Heroes [cityofheroes.com] backstory timeline has covered a few similar events, notably the Might for Right Act [cityofheroes.com], which "proclaimed super-powered individuals and vigilante heroes a valuable national resource subject to draft without notice into the service of the United States government."
  • by Aceticon (140883) on Friday May 05, 2006 @05:00AM (#15268941)
    Aceticon's list of /. heroes and villains:

    Heroes:
    - First Poster
    - Insightfull Man
    - Super Funny
    - Anonymous Coward
    - Cmdr Taco

    Villains:
    - Grammar Nazi
    - Insensitive Clod
    - Mega Troll
    - Anonymous Coward's Evil Twin

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