Tagged: Civil War II

The Law Is A Ass #410: Captain Marvel and I Indulge in Conspiracy Theories

I’ve never lied to you.

Last time I said I had no more Civil War II columns and here I am writing about Jessica Jones #6 and things that wouldn’t have happened without Civil War II happening. But writing about things that happened after Civil War II ended is not a Civil War II column. It’s a Civil War II aftermath column. So I didn’t lie. Technically.

And now that I’ve cleared my conscience, let’s get this over with.

Alison Green was one of the people that the Inhuman Ulysses Cain predicted was going to commit crimes. Which made her one of the people Captain Marvel arrested before they committed the crimes and threw into a preventative justice prison so that they couldn’t commit their future crimes. Unfortunately, Alison wasn’t going to commit a crime. Ulysses was as wrong about Allison as that soothsayer was about the Powerball numbers she gave me last week. And Captain Marvel was even more wrong to arrest Alison than she had been in arresting all the other people she was wrong to arrest.

Alison created an anti-super hero organization. Captain Marvel and Jessica Jones tricked Alison into believing Jessica Jones was disgraced so Alison would recruit Jessica into the organization. Which Alison did and got stung worse than Doyle Lonnegan after stepping on a hornet’s nest. Jessica helped Alison capture Captain Marvel, Then, when Alison thought she had the upper hand, she showed she had what it takes to be a comic-book villain; she went into full-blown monologue mode and revealed her master plan. Which was to kill the Champions in a way that would foster a huge anti-hero backlash and end the age of the super hero forever. (End the age of the super hero? I don’t think Disney pictures would like that very much.)

Captain Marvel said Alison’s Champions plan added conspiracy to commit murder to her other crimes. But I don’t know. See, the crime of conspiracy to commit a crime entails more than conspiring to commit a crime. As the details about Alison’s plan were sketchier than an Artist’s Alley commission, I’m not sure there’s enough there for a conspiracy charge.

Conspiracy has three basic elements. First, two or more people have to be involved. Second, they have plan together to commit a crime. Third, at least one of them has to commit some overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

Let’s take those one at a time. If only one person is involved, there’s no conspiracy. No one can conspire with him or herself. Even if all three faces of Eve agreed to commit the crime, that’s not a conspiracy because there’s only one Eve. And conspiracy is all about Eve and someone else planning a crime.

Second, the two or more people have to create a plan to commit a crime. They don’t all have to commit the crime. Even if only person commits the actual crime, as long as two or more of people planned the crime, they’d all be guilty of conspiracy. That’s two defendants for the price of one, what a bargain!

Third, at least one of the conspirators has to commit some overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. If Bonnie and Clyde create a plan to rob the Commerce Bank in Beverly Hills then go to sleep so they can get a fresh start in the morning, they have not committed a conspiracy yet. However as soon as they do something else – drive to the bank, steal the getaway car, kidnap Sonny Drysdale  to use as leverage against the bank president – they’ve completed the crime of conspiracy. It doesn’t even matter that they haven’t actually robbed the bank yet. By making the plan and then doing an overt act in furtherance of the plan they committed conspiracy, even if they never accomplish their ultimate objective.

So did Alison conspire to commit murder? Well, first we’d have to know did Alison make her plan to kill the Champions with one or more people? And, if so, with which people? If the only person Alison made her plans with was Jennifer Jones, then there can be no conspiracy. Jennifer wasn’t really part of the conspiracy, she was an undercover government operative. Traditionally, when the only other party to a conspiracy is a government operative, then two or more people aren’t agreeing to commit a crime. One plans to commit the crime, the other is just pretending as part of the undercover sting and we’re back to the a person can’t conspire with him or herself rule. Recently, some states and the Model Penal Code have started to move away from this position and allow conspiracy convictions when the co-conspirators are government agents, because the criminal thinks he or she has entered a conspiracy.

So if New York allows conspiracies with undercover police of if Alison made her plans with anyone in her organization other than Jessica, then the first element of the conspiracy is met. She probably did, but we weren’t given enough information in the story to know this for sure.

Assuming that Alison and others did plan to kill the Champions, the second element is also met. I trust that I don’t have to convince you that murder is a crime. I think I have to convince some writers of that, based on the way they have their heroes kill. But you, I shouldn’t have to convince. As murder is a crime, making plans with other people to commit a murder would hit conspiracy’s second element.

Third element, did any of the conspirators commit any overt act in furtherance of the plan to kill the Champions? We don’t know. We do know they were supposed to carry out the plan later that same night, so it’s likely that somebody had done something, because time was a wastin’ but the law doesn’t allow us to assume the existence of an element. So I can’t say for sure that anyone did an overt act or that Alison is guilty of conspiracy.

Sure Captain Marvel said Alison committed conspiracy. But let’s face it, Captain Marvel’s grasp of the law is about as firm as if she were noodling for mercury. While wearing a catcher’s mitt on both hands.

Now while I may not be able to tell you whether Alison’s guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, I can tell you this; I just checked my pile of write-about-these-someday comics and there isn’t one of them that’s connected to Civil War II. So I should be done with it. Unless Marvel’s got some new story coming up that connects back to Civil War II. And I don’t think they do. Civil War II is so last year. This year Marvel’s too busy secreting Secret Empire stories.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #409


Well, I can’t put it off any longer no matter how hard I try. And believe me, I’ve tried.

The last time I started a column with those words we were engaged in a not-so-great Civil War. It’s how I began my multi-column series on Marvel’s Civil War II. Today we turn to the aftermath of Civil War II. Call it Marvel’s Reconstruction Era, only the historical one was probably less painful.

Inhuman Ulysses Cain predicted future crimes. Captain Marvel arrested everyone the predictions said would commit some future crime and put them in jail. I wrote about why this was against the law. You know, it’s a pity that this Captain Marvel is forcing a perfectly respectable Captain Marvel  to call himself Shazam.

One of the future criminals Captain Marvel imprisoned was Allison Green. Problem was, the prediction about Allison was wrong. She was neither a terrorist nor a criminal mastermind. Or wasn’t until she got so upset by what happened to her that she dedicated herself to bringing down Captain Marvel and other super heroes. Then she became both.

Toward this end, Alison formed an anti-super hero network which Captain Marvel wanted to infiltrate. Toward that end, Captain Marvel enlisted former super heroine turned private investigator Jessica Jones. They faked a fall from grace that sent Jessica to jail and ruined her reputation. Then they dangled the Jessica bait in front of Allison Green.

This fake-somebody’s-fall-so-the-badguys-will-recruit-him ploy was already old when 77 Sunset Strip used it in its first season, and that was so long ago that even men of a certain age are too young to have seen it first-run. (Only men of an more uncertain age, like me, had that chance.) Still, the ploy worked as well as it did back when Hector’s grandfather was a pup. Allison Green scooped up Jessica and in Jessica Jones #6, Jessica lured Captain Marvel into Allison’s trap.

This ploy only works if the big bad cooperates by revealing his or her plan. Allison did not disappoint, other than that she fell for a trick as old as the fruit salad in the Garden of Eden. She monologued like she was performing every tragedy Shakespeare ever wrote. She admitted she was going to kill the Champions and make it look like it was their fault then use the ensuing chaos to turn people against the super heroes. “The world is going to burn you all at the stake. The heroes are going to try to fight back and that ensuing ugliness is the end of the age of heroes.”

At which point, Captain Marvel and Jessica Jones revealed their plan, arrested Allison, and told her that she was going to a deep, dark prison cell where the S.H.I.E.L.D. Psych Squad would “pull all the other names and details of your burgeoning organization right out of your head … whether you like it or not.”

This story raised a few questions. I have a few answers. Let’s hope as many answers as there were questions.

Was faking Jessica Jones’s fall from grace so Allison Green would recruit her into her evil empire entrapment? No.

Entrapment happens when law enforcement officials originate a criminal design and implant the disposition to commit a crime into an innocent person’s head. If an undercover cop offers to sell someone drugs, that would be entrapment, as the government planted the idea of buying drugs into the innocent person’s head.

Allison Green was about as innocent as a newborn babe thirty-six years later; after he had become a paid assassin. She had already committed some crimes. She formed an organization to commit more crimes. Jessica did not implant the idea of committing crimes in Allison.

Did Allison’s monologued confession violate the Fifth Amendment guarantee against self-incrimination? No.

Captain Marvel and Jessica Jones tricked Allison into confessing, so there was state action. But the state action has to force the criminal to confess in order to violate the Fifth Amendment. Allison gave her confession like she was entering Dracula’s castle, freely and of her own will.

If the S.H.I.E.L.D. Psych Squad extracts information from Allison’s brain “whether she likes it or not,” would that information be suppressed under the Fifth Amendment? Hell yes!

In Schmerber v. California, the Supreme Court ruled the police could forcibly take a blood sample from a suspected drunk driver. But taking evidence using a bodily intrusion could only be done after the police obtained a search warrant. Schmerber allowed this because blood samples are not testimonial in nature. That meant only Fourth Amendment search and seizure law applied, not Fifth Amendment self-incrimination law.

Non-testimonial evidence is evidence which doesn’t require the suspect to reveal anything. As the Supreme Court noted in Curcio v. United States, the Fifth Amendment prohibits forcing someone to “disclose the contents of his own mind.” Ordering a defendant to produce blood samples, fingerprints, or the like does not require a defendant to “disclose the contents of his mind.”

Extracting thoughts from a criminal’s brain by telepathy “whether she likes it or not,” on the other hand, does force the defendant to “disclose the contents of [her] mind.” Literally.

So Captain Marvel, if you want to teep Allison’s house – well, her mental house, as it were – I have some advice; don’t. Any evidence telepathically extracted from Allison’s mind would be inadmissible because it would violate her Fifth Amendment rights. In addition, under the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine, that evidence wouldn’t be admissible against any member of her “burgeoning organization” either. Apparently Civil War II didn’t teach Captain Marvel anything about the law, because her costume is still a fascist statement.

Last, and most important question, do I have any more columns about Civil Wars II on tap? You’ll be glad to know, the answer is no.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll The Law Is A Ass #403


When is a murder not a murder? Give up? What say we find out.

It all started with Ulysses Cain. You remember Ulysses Cain, don’t you? Inhuman who can predict the future and caused the whole Civil War II imbroglio when Captain Marvel and Iron Man disagreed over how he should be used. Lord knows I remember him. In Civil War II #2, Ulysses predicted that Bruce Banner would become the Hulk again and go on a murderous rampage.

So in Civil War II #3, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, and more costumed heroes than you can shake a double-page spread at confronted Dr. Banner in his secret lab. You can probably guess from the fact that was only part three of a nine-part story, the confrontation didn’t go as planned.

While all the heroes except one were talking to Bruce outside his secret lab, the Beast went inside and hacked into Banner’s computers. He learned Banner was injecting “treated dead gamma cells” into himself. (Interesting biology note: a gamma cell is a cell in the pancreas that secretes pancreatic polypeptide. Somehow, I don’t think those would have had any inhibiting effect on the Hulk. I think Beast meant to say dead gamma-ray-irradiated cells, but he probably didn’t have enough space in the word balloon for all that.) When Maria Hill, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., heard that Dr. Banner was experimenting on himself, she placed him under arrest.

Which made Banner angry. And do we like Dr. Banner when he’s angry? Who know? No sooner had Banner raised his voice than an arrow struck him in the head. Killing him. (Civil War II is over-achieving. It’s met its “Someone Has To Die Or It’s Not An Official Cross-Over” quota twice now.) Then Hawkeye revealed himself as the shooter and gave himself up.

Hawkeye stood trial for murder; in a sequence that jumped back and forth in time between prosecution witnesses, defense witnesses, and flashbacks so often you’d think Quentin Tarantino was the court reporter. Hawkeye testified that Banner gave him a special arrowhead that Banner had designed; one that would kill the Hulk. Banner told Hawkeye, “If I ever Hulk out again, … I want you to use that.” Banner asked this of Hawkeye, because Hawkeye was one of the few people Banner knew who would be able to live with the choice.

Hawkeye also testified that his eyesight was more acute than most people’s eyesight. That’s what made him such a good archer. He saw Banner was agitated and that his eye flickered green. He knew Banner was about to Hulk out and shot the arrowhead. (Hawkeye saw a green flicker in Banner’s eye from his perch up in a tree that was more than one hundred yards from Banner? That isn’t just acute eyesight. That eyesight is better looking than a super-model.)

In Civil War II #4, the jury found Hawkeye not guilty. How did the jury reach that verdict and find Hawkeye’s murder not a murder? I think we can safely eliminate the persuasive powers of Henry Fonda. So what did sway the jury to vote not guilty? Let me count the ways.

One: the jurors believed Ulysses’s prediction that Banner was going to Hulk out and kill someone. So it found that Hawkeye acted in self-defense. Two: they could have found that because Banner asked Hawkeye to kill him it was a mercy killing. Three: they could have found that they didn’t care that Hawkeye was actually guilty, the world was better off without the Hulk and they weren’t going to punish Hawkeye for killing the Hulk. That last one would be what we call jury nullification; a jury finds the defendant not guilty despite the defendant’s actual guilt for some sympathy reason. Juries aren’t supposed to do that but some do. And when they do, it’s still a valid not guilty verdict even if the reason is invalid.

The jury could have found Hawkeye not guilty on any one of those theories. Or on any combination of those theories. Juries only have to be unanimous on their verdicts, not their reasons for the verdict. So if eight jurors believed self defense, three believed mercy killing, and one believed in jury nullification; it was still a valid verdict, because all twelve voted not guilty. Hell, a juror could even have found Hawkeye not guilty because the juror believed the costumes some artists forced Hawkeye to wear through the years was punishment enough.

So there you have it. When is a murder not a murder? When it’s self defense, a mercy killing, or a jury nullification. Of the fourth way, which is the way I think really applies here: a murder is also not a murder when the plot needs it not to be a murder.

The Law Is A Ass


“Bob, we need to talk.”

Those are normally not words I dread. I like a good conversation as well as the next guy and a good deal better, if the next guy happens to be Calvin Coolidge. But, as I studied the room full of people in front of me — family, friends, even editors — all trying desperately not to catch my eye, I knew this wasn’t going to be a good conversation.

“Is this an intervention?” I asked. I didn’t need an answer. Their expressions screamed: this is an intervention.

“We think you’re spending too much time on Civil War II.”

I’m spending too much time on it. The series ran for nine extra-sized issues, plus eighty-eight or so tie-ins in other comics. I’ve seen beached whale carcases that were less bloated.

“That’s seventy-nine or so issues to tell one story! Did you know Stan and Jack produced the first Inhumans and the first Galactus stories in only seven issues of Fantastic Four? Combined!

“And you’re complaining about a measly two columns!”

“But aren’t you about to write a third one?”

“Well, yes. We have Captain Marvel vol 9 #8 to deal with.”

I actually heard a collective sigh of “What now?” rise from the room full of interventionists.

Ulysses Cain, the Inhuman who can predict possible futures, made another one. A pulse of destructive energy was going to take out several blocks in Van Nuys, California. An explosion with an epicenter in the house of Stewart Cadwall, the former super villain named Thundersword.”

I looked up at a room full of stares as blank as the computer screen I had been staring at for hours. Many of the people here hadn’t even read the three — count ’em, three — comics from 1985 where Thundersword showed up. And as for the people in the room who had read those issues… Well, Thundersword was so obscure, I’m not even sure the people who wrote those comics remembered him.

“Stewart Cadwall was a failing Hollywood writer who became a super villain when the Beyonder imbued an award he won with powers. Cadwall used those powers to become Thundersword. He was captured sometime off-panel, made parole at some point, and hadn’t appeared since 1985. Until Ulysses sent Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and a cadre of SWAT police to Cadwall’s door. This was, as Captain Marvel described it, to bring Cadwall in, ‘by the book.’

“If, that is, the book is Mein Kampf.

“Captain Marvel’s team smashed in Cadwall’s door, searched his house, and found his old award. Cadwall had kept it, because it was the only thing he had to show he had ever been successful at something. Unbeknownst to him, the award was building up energy and was going to explode at some point.

“Yes, by keeping his former super-villain weapon, Cadwall was technically committing a parole violation. So, yes, Cadwall was guilty of something. But that still doesn’t justify Captain Marvel and her SWAT team breaking into Cadwall’s house and searching it without any warrant.

“At least, they never showed a warrant. But the prediction also said the explosion wouldn’t happen for several hours; plenty of time for Captain Marvel to obtain a warrant before going into Cadwall’s house. And as there was enough time for Captain Marvel to obtain a warrant, the Constitution required her to get one before she could enter or search a citizen’s house. If Captain Marvel acted without obtaining a warrant, she violated Cadwall’s constitutional rights and her team’s search and seizure was illegal.

“If they acted with a warrant, how did they get it? Would a prediction of a possible explosion give a judge enough probable cause that the judge could issue a search or an arrest warrant? I’m not sure it would.

“Anyway, Cadwall was arrested. But not to worry. In Captain Marvel vol 9 #10, another person stole Cadwall’s trophy from the evidence locker and used it to empower himself. When Cadwall helped Captain Marvel capture this new villain, she arranged for Cadwall’s parole violation to be dropped. She even let him keep his trophy. So it all went well for Stewart Cadwall.

“Which is more than we can say for Alison Green http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Alison_Green.”

I wasn’t surprised by the blank stares from everyone in the room this time. Alison Green wasn’t even an obscure villain everyone had a right to forget, she had never appeared before.

“In Civil War II #4

“See, that’s why we’re worried about you, Bob, you’re losing track of things. In your last column you talked about Civil War II # 2. Now you’re talking about # 4. What happened to Civil War II # 3?”

“Nothing happened to it. It came out before # 4, like it was supposed to. Oh, you mean what happened in # 3? Don’t worry, I’ll get to that.

“But in issue 4, Captain Marvel arrested Alison Green, a finance banker, because Ulysses predicted she was secretly a Hydra agent and was going to detonate a black hole bomb in the New York Stock Exchange. Captain Marvel reasoned this gave her the authority to hold Alison Green indefinitely so she could force a confession out of Alison.

“While Alison was in custody, S.H.I.E.L.D. investigated her. It found no ties between Alison and any terrorist organizations. Even the psychological screening S.H.I.E.L.D. put her through didn’t turn up and any connection to any suspicious organization. Nevertheless, Captain Marvel held Alison even though there was nothing suspicious about Alison.

“Well, Alison liked karaoke. That makes her suspicious in my book. But not in any law book. The law books might actually question whether Captain Marvel had the authority to hold Alison without charge forever.

“I’m not fully conversant with all of the provisions of the PATRIOT Act. I know it does say the government can hold an alien indefinitely, if it believes he or she may cause an act of terrorism, but I’ve never heard of a similar provision that applies to American citizens like Ms. Green.

“And, guess what? Turns out the prediction was wrong. Alison Green wasn’t a Hydra agent. Turns out the closest Ms. Green got to Hydra was a preference for Hydrox cookies. But she wasn’t any sort of a villain.


“Now, Alison wanted revenge against Captain Marvel, so she’s taken to hiring super villains to cause problems for Captain Marvel and her friends. So, congrats, Captain Marvel, if the prediction about Alison does come true, it’s because you and your preemptive-strike predictive justice task force pushed her into becoming a Hydra agent.

“And that’s all I really had to say about Civil War II this week.”

“All? But you said you’d get to Civil War II # 3.”

“And I will get to it. Next week.”

Next week. Hey, maybe an intervention wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Bob Ingersoll: Captain Marvel Fails At Being Civil


The Law Is A Ass Installment # 401

Despite Marvel’s claims about Captain Marvel being a human-Kree hybrid, she must really be an X-Man… because she certainly x-acerbated the whole Ulysses Cain problem.

Civil War II is a series about said the Inhuman Ulysses Cain and the problems he caused for the Marvel Universe. Ulysses, you see, was a seer; able to predict the future. He used mathematics to, “determine, to within a fraction of a percent, the probability that certain events are going to take place.” Kind of like Isaac Asimov’s psychohistory, only more refined. In Dr. Asimov’s Foundation series, Hari Seldon used psychohistory – a discipline that combined history, sociology, and statistical analysis – to make general projections about the future acts of very large groups of people. Ulysses’s brand of mathe-magic let him make specific projections about the future acts of specific people.

And why am I dragging the good Doctor into this? Foreshadowing. Psychohistory contains “psycho.” In comic books, has anything good ever come from something with psycho in its name? Or Civil War in the name, for that matter.

Iron Man overreacted to what Ulysses could do. Ulysses predicted that Thanos was going to invade. Captain Marvel heeded that prediction and sent a superhero team to Thanos’s predicted landing point, so heroes would already in place when Thanos put boots on the ground. Iron Man’s best friend, War Machine, died fighting Thanos. And the Shinola hit the fan. Iron Man kidnapped Ulysses and tortured him to find out how his powers worked. That’s how Iron Man overreacted.*

*(See last week’s column, Boisterous Bob.)

But let’s not spend all our time criticizing Iron Man. It’s not like Captain Marvel didn’t pull out the cooling rods on her own overreacter.

Captain Marvel saw Ulysses as having more potential than stopping random alien invaders. Ulysses could predict when people were about to commit crimes. Captain Marvel realized that if she acted on those predictions, she could “stop tragedies before they happen.”

So Captain Marvel went up to the people who were about to commit crimes and said to them, “Hey, I know you’re about to [insert whatever Ulysses predicted the person would do here]. Don’t do it. Because if it happens, I’m coming right back and arresting you.” Right?Unfortunately, no. That’s only a little onerous. Not nearly bad enough. Think bigger.

Captain Marvel assigned some superhero or government agent to follow the predictive baddie around very noticeably, until the time window for the prediction was over, to make sure the bad guy didn’t do whatever it was Ulysses predicted would happen? That might be a little sword of Damoclesian, but still not nearly authoritarian enough. Think even bigger.

What Captain Marvel did was…

Assembled the Cadets, a “predictive justice” task force composed of volunteers with “unique skill sets.” Then in Ms. Marvel Vol 4 # 8, put the Cadets under the supervision of Ms. Marvel. And not any of the first three Ms. Marvels, you know the adult versions. No Captain Marvel put the current Ms. Marvel in charge. The one who’s still in high school. What’s the matter, Captain Marvel, no supervisors in their terrible twos available?

And why did Captain Marvel think her Cadets needed a teenage mutant ninja babysitter? Well, as Captain Marvel put it, “Until we understand exactly how Ulysses’ powers work, [the Cadets] need to stay within the law.

In Ms. Marvel Vol 4 # 9, we learned exactly how Captain Marvel and her Cadets stayed within the law. By physically rounding up all the people Ulysses predicted would commit crimes and imprisoning them in a makeshift jail in Jersey City until the time frame for their predicted future crimes had passed.

That’s staying within the law the way a kid with a coloring book stays within the lines.

Captain Marvel was an operative of a defense agency which was overseen by a multi-national Board of Governors, so she was an operative of several governments, America included. For our purposes, how many governments doesn’t matter. Just as long as she was an operative of the American government. The government which is, itself, governed by the United States Constitution.

That Constitution says that when a government locks people up for something they haven’t done yet, it denies those people of their liberty without due process of law. The pre-crime detainees haven’t committed a crime yet so, obviously, they haven’t had a trial, let alone been convicted of anything. Nevertheless, they’re being imprisoned. It’s like that old Dostoevsky novel in reverse, Punishment and Crime. Or worse, punishment without crime.

By imprisoning people without due process of law, Captain Marvel was acting unlawfully. People who unlawfully restrain people aren’t the luckiest people. They’re criminals. After all, New Jersey may have been willing to look the other way over Snooki, but it actually has a law against false imprisonment.

So, good job of staying within the law, Captain Marvel. When you were a kid, did you keep secrets by saying, “Daddy, we didn’t go get ice cream today?”

Look, I know this sort of thing happened in the past. During World War II, thousands of Japanese Americans were interned without trial for fear of what they might do. But that was decades ago. Has anything like that has happened more recently? Guess I’ll have to Gitmo .

However, just because something that was wrong happened once before, or twice before – or probably more times than any of us really want to know about before – doesn’t mean it’s right for that same wrong to happen now. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Two 45̊ angles do.

And, yes, I know Captain Marvel had good intentions. Doesn’t matter. Because it wasn’t just Dostoevsky that got flopped. Captain Marvel’s road to good intentions was paved with hell.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #400


Well, I can’t put it off any longer no matter how hard I try. And believe me, I’ve tried. Since June of last year I’ve tried. But starting this series of columns – finally starting it – was one of my New Year’s resolutions and I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day. But there’s no putting it off any longer. I’ve got to write about…

Civil War II started in Civil War II #0, but we’re not talking about that issue. The zero issue was all prologue and introduction. I’ve seen fewer setups in a Volleyball match. Civil War II # 1’s where the action is.

Starting with the revelation that there’s a new Inhuman in town.  One named Ulysses whose Inhuman ability is to make predictions about the future. Dire predictions of the future, because where would the super hero story be if Ulysses was predicting sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows I don’t even think predicting somebody was going sleep on the subway, would cut it. (Jeez, when did I start channeling 60s on 6?)

Captain Marvel was delighted with this new weapon she could use to fight big, bad Marvel-style Big Bads. Iron Man, not so much. Iron Man didn’t know enough about Ulysses’s powers or agenda, so didn’t fully trust those predictions of the future. Actually, possible futures as Iron Man pointed out, because the Avengers stopped Ulysses’s first dire prediction — that the Celestial Destructor was going to invade — from happening in the slam-bang all-out action sequence that opened Civil War II # 1.

Iron Man’s problem with acting proactively to stop possible futures was, what if to stop a prediction from coming true, the Avengers had to do something bad? Like kill or imprison some people before they could sire a baby that Ulysses predicted was Hitler reincarnated. He had no problem with using Ulysses’s power to stop the Celestial Destructor from invading. That was an “easy call.” It was the potential Baby Hitler type thing that bothered him.

Iron Man didn’t think the Avengers should use Ulysses. Captain Marvel did. So she used him again. When Ulysses predicted that Thanos would raid Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. to get a piece of the Cosmic Cube, Captain Marvel assembled a team to prevent… (What do you mean, prevent what? Weren’t you paying attention?)

During the battle against the Thanos, War Machine died. When Iron Man learned his best friend died in a battle to prevent one of Ulysses’s predicitons, Iron Man went more ballistic than one of his Repulsor Rays set on overload.

“You killed my best friend. You killed him as good as if you did it with your own hands.” Which was, you should pardon the neologism, alternative facts.

Captain Marvel didn’t kill War Machine, Thanos did. What did Iron Man want the Avengers and War Machine to do? Ignore the possibility that Thanos was determined to strike in the US and let him do it?

If Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. called the Avengers after Thanos started his invasion, would Iron Man have had any problem scrambling heroes, up to and including War Machine, to stop Thanos? Of course not. So what was the problem with sending a group of heroes to Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. before Thanos invaded, so they’d be ready and waiting just in case he did show up like Ulysses predicted?

Not only was Iron Man’s position vis-a-vis the Thanos invasion suspect, it wasn’t even intellectually honest. Hey, Iron Man, remember when you said that using Ulysses’s power to make sure a “big cosmic monster doesn’t invade,” was an “easy call?” What part of stopping a “big cosmic monster” doesn’t apply to Thanos? By my count, it’s none.

Iron Man shouldn’t have been any problem with Captain Marvel’s strategy, except for the fact that for the story to movie forward, it needed Iron Man to act all pissy. So Iron Man acted all pissy and stormed out of the whole comic.

All the way into Civil War II #2.

Where he decided he had to learn how Ulysses’s powers worked. So he flew into the Inhuman’s homc city of New Attilan, grabbed Ulysses, took him to an undisclosed location, tied him to chair, and subjected him to some painful tests to determine the workings of his powers. Reports differ as to whether Iron Man tortured Ulysses. Ulysses said yes. Iron Man said “a little bit.” Let’s just say Iron Man employed some enhanced investigation techniques.

So the man who was worried about Captain Marvel going too far had no problem with invading New Attilan and grabbing up a college student for the purposes of a “little bit” of torture. Iron Man’s standards have more doubles than Wimbledon.

In New York, restraining another person, like Ulysses, of his liberty and holding him in a secret location where he isn’t likely to be found is both unlawful imprisonment and kidnapping.  That’s two felonies from the guy who didn’t want Captain Marvel to go too far. Which, I suppose, is only fitting, Iron Man commited double crimes with his double standards.

During Marvel’s first Civil War, I thought Iron Man acted a little out of character. Now, in Civil War II, with his ends-justifiy-the-means attitude he’s not a little out of character; he’s another character entirely. I’m not sure who. I’m detecting hints of Lex Luthor with traces of Doctor Doom and just a whiff of DeSaad.

Now, I could be wrong about every one of those traces I thought I detected. I don’t exactly have a refined palate. But it’s good enough to know that what Iron Man did was unpalatable.

Molly Jackson: Create or Die

create or die

In the past, many writers on this site, myself included, have written columns shining a light on the abused state of minority characters at the Big Two. While I agree with everything said, I think that we have left out the very important point of creating new characters. For the past decade or so, it’s felt like more of a rehashing of characters than creating. C’mon, when was the last time you thought of Marvel as the “House of Ideas” without being sarcastic?

In the last couple of weeks we’ve seen aggravating comic announcement from the Big Two. DC Comics is doing what seems like another reboot called Rebirth. This is rumored to bring the comics in sync with the movies and TV shows. Marvel revealed that they are doing another repeat event with Civil War II. All I can do is sigh.

If we want to see more diverse characters in comics, they will need to be created. New heroes and new villains to fill the diversity void. Yes, I want diverse villains. I need someone like me to be evil.

In fairness, Marvel has done some of that with the creation of Kamila Khan, a.k.a. the new Ms. Marvel. She is a great addition to their universe and her creation proves the whole argument about diverse comic company staffs. That series was heralded as a great change for Marvel but it seems to start and end there. Even in Battleworld, their latest event, Ms. Marvel does not fare well.

I understand the desire to use a large stable of artists rather than create. It means that they can avoid the trap of paying royalties to the creators while still swapping in and out lesser used characters. However, the comics are suffering in a major way. Stories are being retold over and over, rather than creating new ones. Creators are saving their very best for their creator-owned titles, but those are not getting the notice like books from DC and Marvel. Rather than innovate, they have chosen to focus on their entertainment properties because they represent a bigger financial growth. However, this will just hurt them in the long-term.

At this point, I feel obligated to point out that today Faith #1 is coming out from Valiant. Faith is an overweight female superhero, which is a unique change in a few ways. While Valiant has driven us all mad with the almost 12 months of promoting the limited series event, it is about an overweight female superhero. While most of you might be shaking your heads that this isn’t needed, there are plenty of overweight women (myself included) that are excited about it. But even more, I’m hoping that this book is encouraging to that comic reading high school girl who has body image issues. Seeing anyone overweight taken seriously, especially at that age, can make a real and positive impact. I haven’t read it yet (because I am speaking to you from the past! Ooooh, Time Travel!), but I am excited and hopeful that Valiant made a great stride here.

There are some great characters at the Big Two. Characters that I love and respect with all my heart. But the world is a changing and growing place, and the heroes we have are not necessarily the heroes we need. We need new heroes to represent the new world we live in: where racial and religious divides still threaten our communities; where gender and sexual orientation are still judged too harshly; and where we, as a global community, have started standing up against the hate to make these changes happen.

When anything fails to create, innovate and change, it begins to die. Hopefully Marvel and DC realize this before it is too late.

Mike Gold: Marvel, You’re Murdering Us!


Holy crap! I can’t believe this! Marvel’s next big event series is going to be a sequel to their hit event series Civil War. It’s called … wait for it … Civil War II!

You’d think there was a big budget movie or something coming out. Well, you’d be wrong. Civil War II comes out several weeks after Captain America: Civil War. It’s just a coincidence, kids!

Rocky & BullwinkleEven more astonishing, if that’s at all possible, is the announcement that Marvel is going to actually kill off one of their characters in this series!

I can’t believe it. Such courage! Such originality! Such redundancy! The House of Idea polished off that one idea once again, slathered on another coat of lipstick, bought it a tuxedo for the red carpet interviews and proudly informed The New York Daily News that “A mysterious new Marvel character comes to the attention of the world, one who has the power to calculate the outcome of future events with a high degree of accuracy … This predictive power divides the Marvel heroes on how best to capitalize on this aggregated information, with Captain Marvel leading the charge to profile future crimes and attacks before they occur, and Iron Man adopting the position that the punishment cannot come before the crime.”

Hey, this time Iron Man is on the side of the angels! Well, that’s different, but only when compared to the original 2007 Civil War event.

I wonder if Marvel is going to kill off a character they haven’t killed off before. I wonder if that’s even possible. Hmmm … do you think it might be a character whose movie rights are controlled by 20th Century Fox?

When it comes to marketing and public relations, often there’s a fine line between being forthcoming and being cynical. As Marvel publisher Dan Buckley informed the Daily News “The death is the marketing hook … The thing that’s really compelling is whether or not there’s a story afterwards that’s going to connect with readers and sustain it.”

This is true, but it would help if you gave us something new, Dan.

Major character deaths have become more common to comic books than staples … and a lot less permanent. Do you know what was really cool during Marvel’s first couple of decades? They shook up the moribund American comics market with tits-to-the-wind power and a long ongoing blast of creativity and originality the likes of which had never been seen in the medium previously.

Do you know what Marvel’s latest high-energy attempt at creativity and originality is?

They bought a new Xerox® machine.

Joe Corallo: Sight and Sound

beaton-david-bowie-300x392-9272532So I had written this week’s column about Marvel’s next big event, Civil War II, and how they’re going to be killing off a major character. I wrote about how it’s unoriginal, uninspiring, and how I wish we could do better. I was even planning on titling it “Civil Disobedience.” Really clever stuff. Then I woke up at 5:30am on Monday, January 11th to news that I didn’t think I’d hear for many, many years to come: David Bowie has passed away. What I had written my column about no longer mattered to me, and I started writing a new one. This one. About how important David Bowie is to a great many people, including myself. I’m just one of those great many people. When I a kid, David Bowie wasn’t terribly important to me. I was aware of him. I heard the big hits on the radio. My dad liked songs like Rebel, Rebel, and my mom owned at least the vinyl of David Live when she was a teenager, if I’m remembering that correctly. None of my friends were really into his music at the time either. Once I entered into college and became more aware of myself, I became more aware of who David Bowie was. Early on in college, I picked up The Best of Bowie followed by The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. I absolutely loved it. David Bowie was the queer icon I needed at the time. I would later meet a guy named Jake who was barely a month older than me, whom we shared a Bowie obsession that we were delving into roughly around the same time in our lives. We would hunt down the different Rykodisc releases of his albums that had the bonus tracks on them. Those were good times and memories I still cherish. I would go on to consume his entire discography, dozens and dozens of bootlegs of concerts, b-sides and outtakes covering everything from The Laughing Gnome, Vampires of the Human Flesh, the unused tracks from Outside and far far more, and to burn more than a few Bowie mixes for my college friends and acquaintances on CD. David Bowie also led me to watch the film adaptation of the novel The Man Who Fell To Earth, which remains one of my favorite sci-fi films. The film stars David Bowie as someone who may or may not be an alien, who admits to being attracted to both men and women, and features a gay couple as well. It was the first time I had seen a sci-fi film tackle queerness, certainly that early on. It reinvigorated my love of sci-fi at a time in which it had been my favorite genre growing, but was starting to slip away from me as I identified less and less with it. I was just beginning to come into my own, grappling with my sexual identity and the ramifications of that. David Bowie was someone who was openly queer in varying degrees throughout his life, while also being a popstar and cultural icon beloved by people in both the straight and queer communities. That was a kind of reassurance I needed, and I’m grateful that he provided that for me. And the fact that someone who clearly identified so heavily with alienation could be revered by so many through multiple generations is incredibly rare and almost entirely unique in modern music history. His vocals ranged from haunting to awe-inspiring. We would see a great many bands rise from their feelings of alienation, but David Bowie made it cool. And he paved the way for all that came after him. That’s not to say that others didn’t attempt to do what he did before him, or that others before him weren’t successful, but none have permeated through our culture into every medium of entertainment the way that David Bowie has as singular entity. From his music to his acting career, which admittedly was not as successful as he had hoped, he had inspired storytellers. Even in comics, you’ll see many references to his work scattered over the decades. Bowie had even been considered for a part in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and was even considered for the role of The Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman. Kate Beaton has done multiple David Bowie inspired comics like this one, as countless other artists have tackled him in comics as well, often playing up his sexuality. David Bowie’s sexuality wasn’t entirely clear. It didn’t have to be. Early in his career he had claimed he was gay, then moved into bisexuality. It should come as no surprise that as the world changed and entered into a more conservative time, championed by the likes of Thatcher and Reagan, that Bowie’s personas started to downplay his flamboyance for a time as he began to stay he was not really bisexual after all. He didn’t flat out deny his intimacy with men in the past, and did not reach beyond that to condemn those who were queer. Later on, his sexuality was simply ambiguous. How David Bowie handled his sexuality is important. He showed me, and I’m sure many others, that we don’t need to be a prisoner of our sexual preferences. Our sexualities can change, evolve, and become more complex as we age, just like everything else does in our lives. I went through my own journey of not thinking about sexuality early on in my life and defaulting as straight, then moving into bisexuality, then gay, and finally identifying most closely with the idea of being queer. People like David Bowie living in the public eye and going through his changes helped me understand myself in a way that few other people in the public eye have, and I’m thankful to have lived in a time where that was possible. I could go on about the impact he’s had on the world, but you probably all already know that, or have people who are more well versed in all of those things who have spent time with him and have the sort of insights that I’ll never have. Rather, I’d like to end this by saying thank you for entertaining me by reading my thoughts, reflections, and (mostly) coherent ramblings on a man that’s had a profound impact on my life, countless other lives, and perhaps your own life, and that I hope this may have given you some insight on me, people like me, and perhaps yourselves.