Conservative Comic Book Pundit

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Christopher Priest on Civil War (not really, but sort of)

Christopher Priest is one of the better comics writers out there - Marvel should be ashamed it doesn't give him more work. His politics are to the left of mine, but he usually writes good stories that put characters and story first. Here is a post from his blog I found intriguing in light of Marvel's heavy handed Civil War. Some excerpts:

Half the fun of reading comics (or any serialized literature) is The Rules. Birds of Prey Must De-Cloak Before Firing. The bane of most fantasy fiction has been the trend, mostly by people who have run out of ideas, to break or ignore these rules, seemingly at will.
To help figure out Captain America, I once posed this question to Jim Shooter. Billy Bob has a farm. Magneto, Thanos and Dr. Doom have a bunker at the remote end of Billy Bob’s property. Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and Captain America arrive at the farm. Do they cross Billy Bob’s property to save the world?
Spider-Man doesn’t even stop at the property line. He just goes right in without giving the matter any thought, followed by Johnny Storm (and, likely, Sue Richards, who nobody can see anyway). Reed Richards asks permission (as Ben Grimm scoffs), Billy Bob says no. Reed regrets having to go against Billy Bob’s wishes, but there’s simply too much at stake. They go in, leaving Cap at the property line.
Reed turns, tells Cap to come on. Cap says he can’t. The man said no. Cap won’t violate the farmer’s rights in the name of saving the farmer’s life. Reed says time is running out, what will Cap do?
Cap heads off in another direction, saying, “I’ll find another way.” And he will. That’s Captain America, and those are The Rules.
These days, writers seem to change the rules whenever they feel like it.


I’d be much more impressed by writers who can thrill and entertain within the conceit of The Rules rather than coming up with new ways to ignore or break them simply because they’re either burnt out or don’t really know the character or the universe. The resultant music may seem exciting, but if you know what you’re listening to, it all has a dissonant sameness and disingenuousness that just makes you long that much more for the real thing.

Go read the whole thing. Now, think about Civil War and how Reed and Captain America are being used by Millar and Marvel.


  • Bravo to Priest. I recently wrote a bit on this, and specifically noted the classic Avengers #181 where the federal gov. first played a forceful role in governing Avengers' activities. On the [George Perez] cover and on the inside, it is Cap calming down an irate Iron Man who wanted to punch out Henry Gyrich for assisting the feds in horning in on Avengers activities! Cap is accomodating all the way (even if he does meekly voice a bit of displeasure), even going along with the forced membership of the Falcon (who had never been an Avenger) because of affirmative action policies.

    By Blogger ColossusHube, at 4:10 PM  

  • Well, far be it from me to argue that marvel ain't a lefty operation at heart, but Cap is a man out of time and arguably if he thought the ban was unamerican he would fight against it. Interestingly, Civil War doesn't seem to play up much the irony that a super soldier won't give up the power of being a lone masked vigilante. Ultimately, the rules really are that marvel needs to be edgey and more this reality based--its their halmark. Back in the 70s the federal governement was not considered some all consuming evil,plus you have to consider the comic code was working differently back then. In Super-villian team up the FF leave Doom alone because Henry Kissenger is neogating alliances with the new nuclear power, I don't think that was a character choice I think it was a marvel being edgey choice. Frankly, the reality is that brand names sell a lot of comics. You can't not have the FF or no avengers or no Cap, so how do they return all this to near status quo. Edgey has it limits.

    By Blogger genie junkie, at 4:13 PM  

  • Cap's being a bit of a hypocrite, I think. If he didn't flip out over the internment and disposition of huge numbers of Japanese civilians during WWII, why in hell should he get bent out of shape because the U.S. government is getting leery of having large numbers of unidentified, unaccountable super-humans running about, prone to inflicting massive destruction in their immediate vicinities as they are.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:47 AM  

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