CivilityHere's most of a long post I've put on a couple of other boards, featuring some general feelings I have about what Marvel has done to their universe with the recent CIVIL WAR event. It won't get much (if any) more attention here than the other places I've posted it, but this blog is sort of my 'paper of record', and I think I make some excellent points in this post.
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As to CIVIL WAR and its fallout -- a key thing in keeping a superhero universe successful is to make it seem realistic and internally consistent, without actually making it realistic and internally consistent. The reality of a superhero universe, with all that advanced technology and all those paranormal individuals, would be very different from the world we all inhabit. But we don't want to see our heroes in a very different world from ours; we want to see our world, WITH SUPERHEROES. The fact is, if our world had superheroes, it would no longer be our world, it would be something we can't even imagine (although it would probably be something similar to what we see in Alan Moore's America's Best Comics titles).
Yet with CIVIL WAR, Marvel has taken their universe and actually made it 'realistic' by asking, and answering, the question -- should superheroes, and superhumans, for that matter, be subject to intense government supervision at all times? The actual answer is, of course, yes -- the idea of someone with Cyclops' powers walking around on a city street, with nothing between the people around him and a horrible massacre but a pair of Raybans, is ludicrous and horrifying. Even the Human Torch's powers badly, badly need some kind of oversight -- realistically, that boy should have inadvertently started thousands of fires over the course of his career.
The simple fact is, though, that this isn't any FUN. We just don't want this level of detail in our superhero fantasies, and we certainly don't want to fantasize about being a superhero who has to fill out insurance forms and get bonded and go before government oversight committees and maybe report once a month to some kind of state or Federal supervisor of superhuman activities. I mean, that's just b.s. The whole basis of the superhero fantasy is a POWER fantasy; we want to become someone else (hence the mask and the cool costume and the code name) and run around doing whatever we want, and feel like it's all justified because we're using our powers in the service of the common good.
I used to feel that both DC and Marvel had made grave and potentially fatal mistakes by turning their comic book universes into places that weren't any FUN any more, that none of their readers would ever want to live in or even visit, or, more specifically, that none of us would ever want to fantasy project ourselves into. But I seem to have misperceived the zeitgeist. While this has alienated ME from both universes, the overall audience today seems to like reading about universes they would not want to actually live in, like, I don't know, the WATCHMEN universe, or the SUPREME POWER universe, or, nowadays, the post CRISIS DCU, or the post CIVIL WAR Marvel U.
But for me, a great deal of the pleasure of reading about my favorite characters is gone, because I no longer have any desire to fantasize about being a superhero in those worlds and hanging out with those guys. It's two fold -- first, the worlds themselves are dismal, depressing places nowadays. Second, a lot of my favorite characters have turned into pricks. (The one that Marvel resolutely couldn't turn into a prick, Captain America, they decided to put a couple of bullets through instead.) I'm still reading DC because DC has good writers; I no longer read Marvel, because Marvel doesn't. (Not only that, but all the really popular writers at Marvel are British Invasion Alan Moore wannabes who can't freakin write, and nobody seems to care, either.)
But, as I say, I seem to be in a minority; there is definitely an audience out there for dystopian superhero universes. And if such universes are well written, I can even enjoy them, too. But first, such a universe would have to feature characters I am not emotionally invested in (like the current DCU) and second, it would have to be well written (again, see current DCU). If the universe features characters I love from childhood and they are being treated disrespectfully (see: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Captain America) or simply turned into jerkwads (see: Iron Man), well, that's going to aggravate me, and when your 'best' writers are Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis and Warren Ellis, well... see ya. Wouldn't want to be ya.