Ruby Nation

Ruby Nation
Ruby Nation: The Webcomic

Friday, March 16, 2012

Change Your Tights: Comics Without Frontiers on Superheroes and Drama

While it might not exactly be praise, it was flattering to see my earlier post about superhero fans fearing bad things happening to their favorite characters referenced by Miguel of Comics Without Frontiers. Miguel's blog is always great, thought-provoking reading, but this is an especially good piece.

The just of Miguel's post is a comparison between the drama of Mutant Massacre (one of my favorite comics of all time) and the drama of Fear Itself (the absolute height of mediocrity, without even the entertaining terribleness of Ultimates 3 or Cry for Justice). THere are many great points here, especially the observation that the Avengers never remove their costumes in Fear Itself. They're in their tights the whole mission, without showing any life outside of their battles and missions. You'd figure they'd at least change clothes to ward off the inevitable jock itch of sweaty spandex/leather/latex/armor.

I remember Mark Millar, when he was doing the Ultimates, commenting how he didn't like when Iron Man attended social functions in full armor. This is clear from the Ultimates series, where Tony (and the rest of the cast for that matter) spend as much time in their civvies doing normal-person things as they do on the battlefield in their action suits. Unfortunately, Millar fell victim to the no-life-outside-tights problem in Civil War, where most of the characters just hang around in their tights the whole story, and tense meetings have their drama undercut by the fact that characters are wearing their bird/bee/banana yellow wolverine costumes.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The "Autism Cure" In Avengers Academy, and The Fascism of Utopia

(This is largely reposted from the Comic Book Resources forums, in response to an issue of Avengers Academy where the corporate sociopath genius kid Jeremy Briggs starts recruiting super-teens away from the school. Veil, formerly a student at Avengers Academy, touts Briggs' merits by mentioning how the work they're doing reforming society and attacking social problems is far more important than fighting villains and getting bloody hands. However, the example she gives of her work is a cure for autism. Since I normally like Avengers Academy, and since Marvel is one of my main hyper-focused Aspergian interests, this read like a punch to the gut).

Wether it was Gage's intent or not, Veil's line about working on a cure for autism immediately made me want the proper Avengers to take down Briggs and anyone working with him.

The kind of " utopia " Briggs is working towards, like most science fiction utopias, is the ideal of a few imposed upon everyone else. It's getting rid of things that people consider problems with easy solutions, by making a magic pill to cure any perceived imperfections, or using force to quietly subdue any dissidents. It's creating a pretty-looking, clean community by retroactively removing any evidence that it might have been dirty, working towards an ideal while forgetting the minority experiences that give humanity diversity, meaning, and narrative.

The autism line hits home for me, true, but it's a good example in microcosm of why Briggs is as insidious as any super-villain. Maybe Veil believes that autism is just a disease that abducts children from their parents and creates wall-eyed freaks who will never grow up to prosper, but that's hardly the case for all autistics, most of whom are capable of communication, thought, and contribution (even if on different terms, such as requiring facilitated communication). Worse yet, it excludes people with the condition from the discussion. If Briggs and Veil created a cure for the X-Gene, would it be treated as an altruistic afterthought? How about the gay gene? Does society really get to decide how the individual's neurology should be, and change it by force?

The job of the superhero is to save peoples' lives, not decide how their lives should or shouldn't be. That's the other side of the coin that we've seen since the genre's inception, which is fascism.

And another good quote about the dangers of imposing one's views on others, from Big Boss in the game Metal Gear Solid 4;

" It's not about changing the world. It's about doing our best to leave the world the way it is. It's about respecting the will of others, and believing in your own. "