By Mark Millar & Steve McNiven (Marvel/Panini UK)
The Patriot Act changed America as much as the destruction of the World Trade Towers. I’m not offering any comment on either event. It is simply that popular arts grow from the social climate as much as the target audience. In a post-9-11 America the creators and the consumers now think different thoughts in different ways. Thus the company that first challenged the middle-class suburban status quo of the comic industry in the late 1960s makes Homeland Security the theme of a major publishing event.
After a reality show starring superheroes goes hideously wrong, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of children, popular opinion turns massively against masked heroes. A scheme to licence, train and regulate all superdoers is mandated by the Federal government. A terrified and indignant populace quivers as a proportion of superheroes, led by the ultimate icon of Liberty, Captain America, refuse to surrender their autonomy and in many cases, anonymity.
The Avengers and the Fantastic Four, bedrock teams of the Marvel Universe fragment in scenes reminiscent of the American Civil War, with ‘brother’ pitted against ‘brother’. As the conflict escalates it becomes clear to all involved that they are fighting for souls as much as lives. Both sides fight for the love of their country and Constitution and both sides are right. Only a moral sacrifice seems able to counteract the heritage of atrocity that seems inevitable as battle after inconclusive battle divides and destroys heroes of the World.
Lavishly illustrated, action packed and yet more cerebral and philosophical than you’d imagine, this tale sadly just falls just short of total success. Mark Millar, though not American, ably illuminates the points of view of all concerned, but somehow, the reasons for the conflict just don’t seem enough to convince me that such comrades could so readily abandon their principles and their friendships. Nor do I buy that such tremendous collateral damage could be countenanced by such scrupulous defenders for so long.
Maybe it’s just me though, since the original miniseries was certainly successful enough. Perhaps you should simply pick up the book and decide for yourselves.
© 2006, 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved.