Sunday, June 18, 2006

Captain America to the rescue!

My old pal Warren Bluhm and I have known each other since, oh, 1968 or so. Back then, we were pen pals, two teenaged comic book geeks sending each other weekly dispatches coast to coast, knee-deep in comics fandom. And the superhero we adored above them all was Spider-Man.

But Warren and I, who renewed our friendship on the Internet just a year ago (and we’ve still never met), are 38 years older now — and wiser, I hope. And while we would have stood by Spidey through thick and thin at 14, we’re both crusty, middle-aged, radical libertarians now. And we can’t ignore the obvious.

The ol’ webhead’s a sell-out.

Warren posted this weekend about the latest shocker in Marvel Comics’ current Civil War story arc: bending to a Superhero Registration Act that orders all superheroes to reveal their identities and list themselves in a federal database, Spider-Man unmasks himself in a press conference. Peter Parker, lapdog to the State. As Warren writes, this event “smashes 44 years of tradition” and “violates all artistic sense — 44 years of establishing a character with an intense sense of privacy flushed down the toilet.” Like Warren, I think this plot device is a betrayal of the spirit in which Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created the “classic” Spider-Man.

Ironically, the Marvel hero who leads the resisters to Civil War’s national ID mandate is Captain America, often portrayed in the past as a “my country right or wrong” Cub Scout. When the feds demand that Cap “obey the will of the American people” and assist in arresting super-rebels, he shouts, “Don’t play politics with me! Super heroes need to stay above that stuff or Washington starts telling us who the super-villains are!”

So...a big raspberry today to Spider-Man. And three cheers for Captain America, upholder of freedom, privacy, and the American Way!


At 8:28 PM, Blogger B.W. Richardson said...

Gee, now I'm not sure, guys - I picked up Spider-Man #531 today and Mr. Parker gives an eloquent speech about why the Superhero Registration Act is a dumb idea. How he goes from there to federal puppy dog must be an interesting story ... or else it's a trick. or a dream. or an imaginary story.


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