Tagged: Civil War

John Ostrander: The Power of Pop

Uncle Tom's CabinI had reason a week ago to watch Ken Burns’ classic documentary The Civil War – part of the research for Kros: Hallowed Ground, now fully funded at Kickstarter, thank you very much.

Briefly, the series mentioned Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the famed novel written by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe and published in 1852. It was the most popular novel of its day and is credited as a cause of the Civil War. Lincoln supposedly told Ms. Stowe on meeting her after the war started, “’So this is the little lady who started this great war.’” The story is apocryphal, according to most historians.

Pop culture has the ability to change the society of which it is a part. Mind you, that’s not always its intent or even aim. Sometimes a comic book is just a comic book. And maybe it doesn’t change things as overtly and dramatically as Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I do think, however, that pop culture has considerable power.

Pop TV, by featuring black characters and, later, gay and lesbian characters, helped normalize the unknown to the wider audience. People who didn’t know (or realized they knew) or were friends with anyone who was black or gay or lesbian now welcomed them into their living room. Part of the sense of betrayal that people feel with Bill Cosby is that they thought themselves friends with Cliff Huxtable. It was as if they suddenly didn’t know him.

Roots also had a profound effect on the American audience at large. White people found themselves identifying with generations of African-Americans. The show was a phenomenon.

Hillary Clinton, in a semi-private discussion with members of BlackLivesMatter, recently said, “I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts, and change some systems, and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them.”

In many ways, I admire what she said. I thought it was far more direct, far more candid, than what you ordinarily hear from presidential candidates.

However, I disagree with it.

I think you do change hearts with the arts and especially pop culture. A show, a song, a movie, a play may reach people and open up their minds a bit because it first opens the heart in ways that arguments, sermons, speeches and so on cannot. In those cases, we’re a bit more guarded. We anticipate our thoughts, our beliefs, our biases being challenged and we may have our defenses up. These days, I post far less political stuff on my Facebook page, not because I believe in certain things any less but because I don’t see any of the discussions/arguments changing anyone’s mind – not mine and not with the person with whom I am having that discussion/argument. That becomes, to me, a waste of time.

I think the way to change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate is by opening the mind and that is done by first opening the heart, by creating a groundswell of demand within the population for that change. Pop culture can do that by skirting the defenses; after all, it wants to entertain us. It must do that first in order to have a right to speak its mind. Our defenses may be lowered and we may be more receptive.

I’m not saying that Pop Culture is the most important agent of change. It’s not Rosa Parks, it’s not the March on Selma, it’s not the Stonewall Riots, it’s not Harvey Milk, or any of a thousand other events that changed our world. However, it is a part of that change or, at least, can be. Sometimes. It reflects where we are, it shows where we can go. To make a change you first have to imagine and visualize that change.

As I said, Pop Culture doesn’t always do that and often, it’s not trying to do that. Sometimes, however, it can. Mrs. Clinton’s view is very pragmatic but, if she wants to win, if she wants to govern, she needs to engage our hearts as well as our minds. She needs to take a few lessons from Pop Culture.


John Ostrander and the Vampires of Gettysburg

KrosWar is always a horror story. Terrible things are done and people kill one another in violent ways for what must have seemed very good reasons to them at the time. Sometimes, not always, the war is necessary. Opposing Hitler and the Nazis in WWII was necessary; wasting lives and dollars in Iraq was not.

The Civil War seemed necessary and inevitable. The United States was lurching towards the conflict since the country was founded. As Abraham Lincoln said in his “House Divided” speech on June 16, 1858 (a speech considered by many to have lost Lincoln the Senate election in Illinois that year), “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” The issue would have to be settled and settled in blood, in war, with horror.

This past week we observed the 152nd Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the climatic battle between the forces of the North and the South. The war would go on until 1865 but at this point it became a war of attrition. The South was not going to win after Gettysburg. The killing, the horror, would go on.

The Battle of Gettysburg is also the setting for Tom Mandrake’s and my new project, Kros: Hallowed Ground. Coincidently, we launched our Kickstarter campaign on the eve of the anniversary. (You can find our Kickstarter right here)

Oh… and we added vampires.

You might ask yourself, “Why did you do that, John and Tom? Surely the events of that great battle are dramatic enough on their own.” They are, and don’t call me Shirley.

The difference is that we’re not telling the story of the Battle of Gettysburg; we are using the Battle as the setting and the backdrop for the story we are telling. The Battle of Gettysburg is a huge tale and has consumed many, many books from different authors in its telling. While you can tell the story from many different perspectives according to who you focus on, there is no one character of the battle that can be called  the main protagonist or antagonist. That’s not ideal for graphic fiction; you want one central character around which the story revolves. That’s what we’ve done.

“But why vampires?” You are insistent on that, aren’t you?

I’ve long been interested in what I call narrative alloys – combining elements of one genre with another. Robert E. Howard created Conan and other sword-and sorcery works by combining historical fiction and what was referred to as “sword-and-sandal” with supernatural stories, especially monsters. When I created GrimJack, I smushed together sword-and sorcery with hard-boiled noir detective fiction. When creating Agents of the Empire in Star Wars, I combined James Bond with Star Wars.

In combining the Civil War with horror fiction, I’m hoping to underscore the horror that was the Civil War. Too often I’ve read fairly bloodless accounts that focus on dates and names, troop movements and the order of battle. I think your skin should crawl when you read about the Battle of Gettysburg. We give you two Battles of Gettysburg; one by day and one by night. The concept is that Civil War battles would call to vampires who, like carrion birds, descend on the battlefield when the cannons and the rifles fall silent. The vampires come to feed on the wounded. Imagine for yourself the horror you would feel if you were badly wounded and still lay upon the ground where you fell and then, in the dark, a monstrous creature comes to suck the remaining life out of you and you are helpless to stop them.

That makes my skin crawl and I’m betting it will do the same for you.

Our protagonist is a vampire hunter – a dampyr – named Kros. This time, however, he discovers that he cannot fight alone and soldiers from both the North and South must come together to fight a greater evil that may literally consume them and everyone they care about. I want the reader to see the Battle through new eyes and to feel it viscerally. Tom Mandrake will make that happen. He is doing the best work of his storied career; his art creeps me out sometimes and I know what’s coming!

You can get a peek at all this at our Kros: Hallowed Ground Facebook site and, of course, the Kros: Hallowed Ground Kickstarter site.

Tom and I are editing ourselves on this which you might say makes us unsupervised. We intend to make Kros: Hallowed Ground the way we want it to be. What we want is to make your skin crawl.

Fans willing, we’ll do just that.


Molly Jackson: Re-Embrace Nostalgia

Last week they announced a remake of 1970s cult classic The Rocky Horror Show. Social media collectively said “Are you &)$!* kidding me?” and expressed their righteous anger to the world. I was among them, filled with fury.

The biggest outcry to these remakes/reboots/retcons is that our media tends to forget the original in favor of the newest one. The first time I noticed this is with the movie Yours, Mine and Ours. I adore the original 1968 movie starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. Every time I saw it was on, I watched it. That is, until the remake starring Renee Russo and Dennis Quaid came out in 2005. Then, I never saw the original playing on TV. It was like the media world forgot about it.

Then, a few months ago, Marvel released a number of pictures hinting popular stories would be reprinted starting in 2015. We know now that is due to their upcoming Secret Wars universe reboot. Still, they gave off the air of “Let’s just give them what we think they want, which is the same story over and over.” I complained about that one too. If I really want to read Civil War, I’m going to grab the original before anything else. Granted, me complaining about lack of innovation in comics isn’t new. Still, enough is enough.

I have decided not to let the remake of comic books, TV shows, and movies get me down. If I loved something, remaking it doesn’t affect my personal feelings for it. Or, at the very least, it shouldn’t.  I can still love the ‘90s live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies without cursing Michael Bay’s name – even though he deserves it. His crappy movies don’t change my love for the Turtles or those films.

I have always had strong connections to characters. If they get abused, I want to defend them. They are as real to me as the woman giving me a weird look on the subway right now. I’m going to remember my characters for who they were when I loved them, not the current shlock in which they are currently featured.

I’m still going to give remakes a chance. Some of them might even be good but most, I wager, will disappoint me. Still, I am not going to be upset that a story lives on – even in name only. I’ll just be nostalgic for the good ol’ days.


Marc Alan Fishman: Iron Man Invented Ultron!

Did you see it? Did ya did ya did ya? The latest trailer to the future billion-dollar-blockbuster-to-be Avengers 2: Age of Ultron didn’t dance around the revisionist history of the cinematic 616. Ultron, once the product of Dr. Hank Pym – of Ant Man fame, don’t you know – has been shifted to the fatherly arms of one Tony Stark.

Now, the movie isn’t out yet, and I’ve abstained for seeking any real spoilers (that the trailer didn’t spoil itself). For all I know, Tony “invented” it the same way Microsoft invented the Zune. But, let’s just assume that in the world of Joss Whedon’s Marvelverse, Tony Stark did as he said: he attempted to create a solution to the ails of the world… and in doing so, created a would-be destructor instead. Simply put, this is a brilliant move by the boardroom of Mickey Mouse. Old school fans be damned.

An old adage I was taught in screenwriting class was that “you don’t put a gun on the table if you don’t plan on firing it.” The idea being that storytelling in a restricted amount of time (like a 150 minute movie) means sometimes having to consolidate resources. And while I’m sure I could have my ear talked off by someone older than me on the rich history of Pym’s creation of the aforementioned villain, it’d fall on deaf ears. The biggest reason: the story thus far in the Marvel movies has wonderfully built to this outcome.

Take a trip through Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Avengers, and Iron Man 3. The genesis to the Marvel Studios empire was built on the back of Anthony Stark: war-monger, philanthropist, martyr. It makes complete sense coming out of Avengers and Iron Man 3 that Tony would feel compelled to create a machine to solve the world’s problems. And it’d make even more sense he’d imbue it with a bit of his own panache. Any decent scientist will tell you the man who could invent Jarvis as presented is more than capable of creating the AI that wants to end humanity in order to save it. No one builds a monologuing AI better than Tony “Poke the Hulk in the Tuccus” Stark.

What I love even more than the choice to saddle Tony with the idea for Ultron is the potential stories that spin out of it. Akin to Grant Morrison’s astounding Tower of Babel arc in JLA, here the biggest threat to the Avengers (and the world at large) isn’t the rampaging id, alien demi-god, or right-wing cyclops… it’s the narcissist futurist. And given the name drop of Captain America: Civil War and the leaked stories of Tony’s appearance in it, it doesn’t take much brain power to see that Captain America may end up opposite his teammate over something as trivial as potentially almost ending the world. Plus, Tony also sorta created Whiplash and a fire-breathing Guy Pearce. If that’s not enough to go to war, then I don’t know my politics.

Beyond Cap there’s potential steam to be blown off by countless others. And what of Tony’s Science Bro, Dr. Banner? Maybe he’ll be more sympathetic to a man trying to quell the beasts of the world and messing up. And what of Black Widow or Hawkeye? One would imagine they aren’t ones to choose sides quickly. And then there is S.H.I.E.L.D. and all of that potential mess.

Whedon’s recent interviews have all beleaguered the point that with this sequel the story is decidedly more insular than the previous iteration. Avengers pretty much charged out of the gate swinging, and there was hardly time for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to fraternize. Those critics devoid of our fanboy hearts saw the coming together of the menagerie of complex costume choices as being inherently explosive.

In simpler terms, put that many type-A personalities on one giant flying fortress and you were bound to have an alien invasion and the near destruction of New York City. Of course we’d all beg to differ, but the outsiders have a point. And it all comes back to Tony.

At the end of Iron Man we were introduced to the concept of the superteam – a­­nd the tin man was clearly at the core of it. When Tony stepped on the Triskelion, he treated it as if he owned it. And after he illegally downloaded all the secret files within, in a way he did. And he was quick to reveal to his fellow Avengers how secretive and potentially damning their would-be employers were. Forever the smartest man in the world… doomed to see his biggest ideas twisted into death and destruction. Tony Stark is karma’s bitch.

And Avengers 2 will be amazing because of it.


Emily S. Whitten: Spider-Man & Marvel’s REAL Civil War!

Wait, what? You guys, what?? Is it…is it true? Did the magical wish-granting fairy grant my (second biggest, after the upcoming Deadpool movie) Marvel movie wish? Is Spider-Man really coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in time for Civil War? Or am I hallucinating due to lack of sleep?

Nope, it’s real, and what’s more, I’m not the only one speculating that Spider-Man’s first appearance in the MCU may be in the Civil War storyline, which is something I’ve been wishin’ and hopin’ for ever since the possibility of Civil War on the big screen was even a glimmer of a speculative thought. It’s no secret that I love the Civil War crossover storyline, and if you don’t know why, just read those two links for plenty of reasons (and, uh, SPOILER WARNING and all that, both for those links and below).

But in brief: the Civil War crossover, though complicated in many ways, can be distilled down to the introduction of the Superhuman Registration Act into the Marvel universe, and the two sides distilled down to those who decide to register and reveal their secret identities, and those who fight registration to retain their personal privacy and freedom. It was a brilliant concept when introduced, because not only can readers identify with it via the analogies that can be drawn to various real-world issues (like surveillance and invasion of privacy and personal freedom, and the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D., which is supposed to be a governing force for good, ends up being a brutal enforcer of the Act), but it’s a fight that every main character in the MCU has a stake in, merely by dint of being a superpowered or vigilante fighter.

The secret identity angle is such an integral part of most super-folk that it pulls most of them in to some extent or another – but also, the backstory and personality of a particular character do a lot to determine what side they choose. And some of the choices are surprising. The Civil War storyline allowed writers to delve into the heart of why the heroes make the choices they do (although I always wish they’d done even more with them). And it gives us a legit reason for more badass scenes like that one in The Avengers where Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America duke it out full force, even while they remain (more or less) the sympathetic heroes that we love.

But despite all of the reasons I’d be excited to see any version of Civil War onscreen, if it turns out that Spider-Man’s first MCU appearance is in Civil War I’ll be doubly excited because Peter Parker’s heartbreaking journey during that storyline really gave it a focus and a character’s path to follow, even in the midst of all the rest. The choice he made to support the Act for both logical and personal reasons, and to work with a man he looked up to, Tony Stark; the consequences of that choice in both the short term and the long; the manipulation and betrayal by Tony even while they both thought they were doing the right thing; and the decision that Peter made to turn his back on his original choice, despite it almost being the death of him, make for a compelling story that pulls the rest of the characters’ journeys together; and any Civil War without Peter’s story will be severely lacking. Not to mention that the visual and emotional impact of some of Peter’s scenes would be amazing on the big screen, as would the Iron Spider suit that plays a big part in Tony’s betrayal.

Really, I could go on for hours about why Spider-Man is, in some ways, the heart of the Civil War tale, and it just wouldn’t be the same without him; but instead I’ll just take this moment to rejoice in his return to the fold of the Marvel family on the big screen, and to hope with all my little comic-book-loving heart that he takes his rightful place there in a well-told story during Civil War.

And until next time, cross your fingers with me and Servo Lectio!


Marc Alan Fishman: Dear Marvel and DC…

Dear Marvel and DC,

It’s been too long since I’ve written you, and for that I am very sorry. I’d think it awkward, given that I was once a weekly reviewer of your monthly publications, but I’ve essentially all but given up on them over the last six months. And it’s not because of financial concerns, or even a matter of proximity. Certainly sparing ten to twenty bucks a week for a decent load of your wares from one of the fine comic shops mere blocks from my office was once a weekly delight. But over time, my pull list dwindled and dwindled. Each book in your respective repertoire began to feel repetitive, dull, or forced. And as insult to the injury… the shop I frequented only carried indie books they “knew would actually sell” unless I specifically sought them to be ordered and held. It was a dark time, and I flew a white flag.

I’ve done this in the past. Like a jilted lover, sometime absence makes the heart grow fonder. I figured I’d soon see the new announcements stemming from successful dalliances on TV and the multiplex. With a growing fan-base learning about Hydra and Kree maps, or hearing the name Black Adam whispered with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson being cast, there was no doubt in my mind you knew that the world was set to look at your publishing ventures as potential incubators for those next great ideas.

And then, as if you’d not learned from past mistakes, you started announcing one major-huge-epic-don’t-miss-it-or-by-Rao-you’ll-be-out-of-the-loop-for-decades event after another.

I believe in tough love. It’s never easy to swallow, I know. In my life, it’s always followed by a period of reflection and growth. My high school art teacher said I couldn’t draw my way out of a paper bag. I went to art school and learned how. My college professor said I’d only get out of my art what I put into it. In response, I completed an 8′ x 10′ woodcut with a 1mm gouge. My first employer after graduation said I’d never amount to an art director. I’ve been one now for going on eight years. So trust me when I say that this comes from a place of kindness:

Your events, by and large, really suck.

Yeah, I know you’ve got sales data to prove me wrong. But you know what I have? I have an informed opinion. Civil War was cool. How did The Initiative do for you shortly after? Identity Crisis was excellent, until it got rapey. Fear Itself was novel for a hot minute until I realized it was a D&D campaign from 1996. Flashpoint, Countdown to Final Crisis, and yeah Final Crisis were worth more as toilet paper than as solid fiction. Oh, I’m sorry, I was supposed to read them in 3-D, and backwards because Grant Morrison said it’d make more sense that way? I said the same thing when I tried to convince my wife sweatpants were a viable option for date-night.

And here with both of you announcing and announcing cryptic apocalyptic coinciding crises sometime in the spring? It’s reminiscent of The Producers. I mean, how many dancing Charlie Xaviers will we need before we start guessing it’s all one big joke to you?

The fact of the matter is no amount of adjective-dropping will entice me away from my most glorious hibernation. You’ve both cried wolf far too many times now. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me thirty-two times with multiple X-Men deaths and rebirths, time-bullets, time-vampires, ret-conned continuities, and multiple-multiverses… shame on you. You seem to forget that after every one of these universe shattering events comes fallout. Canceled series of stalwart brands. Bold new books that will be canceled long before their given a chance to find a rhythm and fan base. Not to be lewd about it, but guys, you can’t shit the bed and then expect us to clean it up with a smile.

I don’t care if Tony is going to be a power-sharing super-douche. Or that Alexander Luthor never really died. Or that Wolverine is dead until Shadowcat phase-pulls his rotting corpse out of his statue-self followed by a trip back through time using Booster Gold’s leftover suit. I don’t even care if you’re exploring new What-If universes with Spider-Gwen. It doesn’t get me hot and bothered that you’re potentially ret-conning away the New52. No matter your proposed gimmick, I’m not buying it.

At the end of the day, I smell your desperation a mile away. It wasn’t like this when Mark Waid was batting 1000 on Daredevil. It wasn’t like this when Geoff Johns was expanding the Green Lantern and Flash mythos without traveling outside the borders of their respective books. You know you can be better than this, but instead are trying to win over everyone with a grand sweeping motion. It’s just not necessary.

And when you realize that? I’ll be back in the shop with my money in hand.


Marc Alan Fishman

Ex-Pat. Indie Creator. Bridge Burner.

Marvel Reveals Movie Slate: It’s… Amazing!

At a special event in Hollywood today, Marvel Studios officially announced its film schedule for the next four years.  Confirming rumors, the Doctor Strange film was announced, as well as pleasant surprise announcements for Captain Marvel and Black Panther

MarvelMoviesAfter an initial tease that it would be “Serpent Society”, the real subtitle for the next Captain America film was confirmed: Civil War.  The plot would be the cinematic version of the story, following up from the events of Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2, written and directed again by James Gunn, has been moved up for a release date of May 5, 2017.  As soon as Gunn returns from Japan (he appeared via video) they’ll begin asking the hard questions, like the status of Cosmo, not to mention that odd looking fellow who looked, walked and sounded like a duck.

GotG2 was moved up to make room for Thor: Ragnarok. Featuring a return of both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, the film will follow the events of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, and will serve to revitalize the character”.

Casting for the role of Doctor Strange with Buttercream Crinklebort had not been finalized “Otherwise we would have announced it today”, but assured it will be announced “some time before the release of the movie”, which has been scheduled for November 4, 2016.  the film will open the door not only to the world of the supernatural, but to the world or parallel dimensions, a statement which will certain raise interest and eyebrows.

Black Panther is scheduled for November 17, 2017.  Producer Kevin Feige announced that T’challa would appear, in costume in Captain America: Civil War, which meant that casting had already been decided.  This was verified by the introduction of the actor, Chadwick Boseman, who came onto to stage amid thunderous applause.


Not bad, eh?

Captain Marvel was another unexpected surprise, scheduled for June 6, 2018. No casting was announced for Captain Marvel, though is was confirmed it would indeed be the adventures of Carol Danvers, an adventure that would span Earth and space.  Announcements for the writer and director for the film would preced any casting announcements, with no timeframe set.

Marvel’s twentieth film will be Inhumans, scheduled for Nov. 2, 2018. The Kirby/Lee creation has long been theorized to be a potential replacement for Marvel’s mutant populace, unavailable for the studio’s use as the X-Men rights remain in the hands of 20th Century Fox.  It was teased we might find out more about the Inhumans’ place in the MCU “sooner than you think”, suggesting teases in more imminent films.

And confirming the suspicions that started with the cameo of Thanos in the first Avengers film, Marvel announced that the plots in the films have been leading to the assembly of the Infinity Gauntlet, culminating in a two-part film, Avengers 2: Infinity War.

Noted omissions included no Hulk solo film, nor on for Black Widow. Marvel confirmed that both characters will appear in several of the Phase Three films, and while there’s a desire for more there are no specific plans.  However, Feige did point out that there were plans where black Widow would play a “key, key role”, opening the door for more hopeful hoping by fans.

Making a passing mention of the upcoming Netflix series, Feige verified that unlike DC/Warner Brothers’ choice to keep the TV and film world separate, all of Marvel Studios’ productions take place in the same world, however on the outskirts some may be.  We’ve already see connections between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Cinematic Universe, so the door appears open for the web series as well.

To summarize Marvel’s Phase 3 release schedule:

  • Captain America 3: Civil War – May 6, 2016
  • Doctor Strange – Nov. 6, 2016
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017
  • Thor: Ragnarok – July 28, 2018
  • Black Panther – Nov. 3, 2017
  • The Avengers 3 – Infinity War: Part 1 – May 4, 2018
  • Captain Marvel – July 6, 2018
  • Inhumans – Nov. 2, 2018
  • The Avengers 3 – Infinity War: Part 2 – 2019

THE LAW IS A ASS #302: A Civil War Never Is

“Whose side are you on?” That’s how Marvel touted its mega-event of 2006-2007, Civil War. Me? I’m on the readers’ side. So, even though Civil War ended some time ago, we’re still living in its aftermath and I’m still looking for a way to prove it couldn’t have happened.

Civil War started because the New Warriors, a team of “poorly-trained” super-heroes, tried to boost the ratings of their reality show by capturing a group of super-villains on camera. One of the super-villains, Nitro, the villain who can blow himself up over and over, decided that rather than be captured, he would blow himself up “real good,” killing over six hundred people, including a school bus full of children.

Everyone blamed the New Warriors. I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s easier to blame the heroes than the super-villain who actually killed the six hundred people. Maybe because Civil War’s plot needed a plot device that would prompt Congress to enact a Superhuman Registration Act. All I know is that in the eyes of the law, the New Warriors shouldn’t be blamed for Nitro’s acts.

See, the law has this thing called the Doctrine of Emergency, which says people can act in emergencies without being subject to normal standards of care. The doctrine exists to encourage good Samaritans, so the law seeks to immunize them if they try to do good in an emergency situation but cause some harm as a result. So if a person performs emergency CPR on a heart attack victim and accidentally breaks the victim’s ribs, the good Samaritan isn’t liable for breaking the heart attack victim’s ribs. In the same way, if a group of super-heroes takes on a group of super-villains who are attacking a city, the heroes shouldn’t be held responsible if third parties get hurt or killed in the fight; and they especially shouldn’t be blamed if one of the villains acts on his own and kills said third parties. God, if the Doctrine of Emergency didn’t exist, can you imagine the property damage and wrongful death suits that would have been brought against Superman after [[[Man of Steel]]]? Instead, he got thanked by some Metropolans in the middle of a bomb crater.

Civil War had major problems in its premise because of the Doctrine of Emergency. The New Warriors shouldn’t have been be liable for the deaths that Nitro caused. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that the law may not be on its side, the Marvel Universe Congress passed the SRA. After all, when has a little thing like the law not being on its side ever stopped Congress?

The SRA required all super-powered individuals in the Marvel Universe to register their identities and super powers with the federal government, so that the government could train meta-humans to use their powers properly. Riiiiight. Our government couldn’t even train FEMA agents how to book passage on Orbitz to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, it’s the perfect organization to teach Captain Wrigley how to keep his mutant-powered minty freshness fresh all day.

Under the SRA, failure to register was a criminal offense. Several of the super-heroes, most notably Captain America, opposed the SRA. They refused to register, and immediately became outlaws and fugitives because the SRA and its registration requirement went into effect the day it was enacted. Which is the second legal reason why Civil War couldn’t have happened.

In the real world, laws have a phase-in periods. New emission control standards don’t go into effect overnight, before any automobile manufacturer had a chance to comply with them. Car manufacturers are given time to get their cars into compliance with the standards; usually years. Registration laws also have phase-ins periods. When the Selective Service Act was enacted, the federales didn’t start rounding up the unregistered at the stroke of midnight on the day the law went into effect. No, the SSA gave people a period of several months to register before they were called draft dodgers.

Why? Well, what if someone was in Europe on the day the law went into effect so couldn’t register? Should he be a criminal under those circumstances or should he be given time to return from Europe and register? Now multiply that problem a millionfold for super-heroes. What if, when the SRA went into effect, a super-hero was visiting the Blue Area of the Moon, or fighting Blastaar in the Negative Zone, or was dead and hadn’t been retconned back to life yet? Should said hero be guilty of violating the SRA?

So, if the SRA had a phase-in period, and it would have had one, that means Civil War hasn’t actually happened yet. Remember, the Marvel Universe time moves much, much slower than real time. In the Marvel Universe, the SRA’S months-long phase-in period probably wouldn’t be ending until right about now. We still have time to give Captain America and Iron Man a copy of Civil War #7, with its oh-so-obvious solution to the problem, and keep them from fighting in the first place. We can keep Civil War from happening.

And that means we don’t have to see Tony Stark become someone unrecognizable to anyone who grew up with him when he was a hero. It means we don’t have to see Reed Richards explain that he was in favor of the SRA, because the law was the law and as long as it was the law, we have to obey it; conveniently forgetting that in his own origin he stole a rocket ship, thereby committing the grandest grand theft motor vehicle in history. It also means that we don’t have to see Captain America scolded for not really knowing what the American people wanted because he didn’t have a MySpace page or a YouTube account. (After all, everyone knows that you really measure how in touch with the American people a person is by counting how many e-mails offering financial aid he gets from deposed Nigerian princes.)

So Marvel’s Civil War couldn’t have happened. And we can ignore all those stories that came during and after it. Well, not really, but sometimes don’t you wish you could? I was born in 1952, some ninety years too young to have been in the American Civil War. And after thinking about Civil War all over again, I realized that I wish I had been too young for Marvel’s Civil War, too.

Author’s Note: I wrote a few installments of “The Law Is a Ass” for Comics’ Buyer’s Guide which, for a variety of reasons, it never printed. From time to time, I am going to run one of these previously unpublished installments, slightly edited to bring them up to date. This is one of those times.

The Law Is A Ass

The Law Is A Ass #307: Back In the Saddle Again

Let’s see now, where were we before we were interrupted?

Back in the Mesozoic Era, there was something called the print media. You remember the print media, don’t you? It was in all the papers. Well, one of the all the papers that print media printed in was Comics Buyer’s Guide; or CBG as those of us who didn’t want to type out Comics Buyer’s Guide all the time called it. CBG was a weekly trade paper about the comic-book industry. It wasn’t as big and important as Billboard or Variety or even as vital as that paper that gives positive reviews to every movie no matter how wretched, because studios have to get their pull quotes from somewhere. But CBG was ours and we loved it.

And I  loved CBG more than most, because for over two decades I wrote a regular feature called “The Law Is a Ass” for it; a column that combined legal analysis and comic books.

Legal analysis and comic books? How did that unlikely combination come about? (more…)

Mindy Newell: 60

newell-art-131028-150x143-5027895Yes, this past Thursday I hit the big 6-0. Yeah, yeah, I know a woman isn’t supposed to reveal her age, but just who the hell would I be fooling? Not my family. Nor any of my friends. Not even those who read my comics back in the 80s and 90s and care to do a little homework and math – IIRC, the New Talent Showcase issues included bios by all the tyros whose work appeared in that book. Mine lists my birthday. And as long as I talking about that bio, for the record I was not particularly inspired by Star Wars or – with absolutely no disrespect intended, and I’m not saying I don’t love their work – to George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Gerry Conway, or Doug Moench. This is how I remember it happened.

Joey Cavalieri (who wrote the bios) asking me who my favorite writers were. “Edna Ferber, Herman Wouk, James Michener, John Steinbeck, Sinclair Lewis, Theodore Dreiser… “ I said off the top of my head.

He laughed a little and said something about readers not getting that or caring or not knowing who they were. (Which I still find hard to believe.)

“How about Gerry Conway and Doug Moench?”

“Uh-huh,” I said. “They’re good, too.”

“How about movies?”

Again off the top of my head. “Oh, The Searchers. Bridge On The River Kwai. Sunset Boulevard. Casablanca.”

Joey didn’t seem too happy.

Oh, wait, I get it, I thought. And wanting to please, being the good little Jewish girl, I said,

Star Wars, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Alien.”

So after thirty years, I’m glad to get the chance to correct that little bio. Although if it was happening now, I wouldn’t be the “wanting-to-please good little Jewish girl.”

By the time you get to 60, you just don’t give a crap.

Oh, I still give a crap about a lot of things. This country and its future. (It doesn’t take a writer’s imagination to think that a second Civil War is not exactly out of the range of possibilities.) This Earth and its future. (Whether you want to call it global warming or climate change there is no denying that we, the population of this planet, have majorly bug-fucked Mother Gaia.)

And when I think of the future, I think of my niece Isabel and my grandson, Meyer Manual (who was five weeks old on Saturday) and I really give a crap.

And then I get really scared.

But then again…

We Baby Boomers have lived through temptuous times when many believed the end was nigh. The Bay of Pigs. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The assassination of Martin Luthor King. The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. The social revolution of the 60s. The Vietnam War. Richard Nixon and Watergate. Jane Fonda workouts. Disco.

So fuck the Tea Party and fuck Ted Cruz and fuck all the racists who can’t believe a nigger is our President.

Yeah, I can’t believe I wrote that word either, but that’s the damn truth of it, that’s what’s really driving those bastard ignorant asshole Confederate punks and you know it as well as I do, only you won’t, but I will because I’m 60 and I don’t give a crap.

And if you think I’m feisty now…

Well, like a certain Whovian told me recently:

“60 years is nothing for a Time Lord. Just look out for Daleks.”