Letters : Staff : 2007 : To the Staff 30/03/2007

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Date: Mar 30, 2007
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From Murphyezek1823

Hello, I enjoyed your recent review concerning Captain America/Iron-Man debate. Unfortunately, I don't live near any comic book shops. My only comic book outlet is Borders and Barnes and Noble (both of which don't provide the said issue for which the review was focused on).

Would it be ok if you provided me with a brief synopsis concerning the actual debate between the two men? From what I've experienced in my time as an avid comic book reader, such intellectual criteria is quite rare.

Thanks in advance.

Here's the brief synopsis you requested.

How can you oppose registration, when you refused to allow the Young Avengers to operate? Your objection to the Young Avengers was precisely that they were untrained. Moreover, look at Spider-Man. If he'd been trained, maybe he could have saved Gwen Stacey from the Green Goblin. And finally, given that you approve of the draft for regular American young men, how can you object to it for superhuman Americans?

The analogy is inappropriate, because regular American young men don't have to fight the Green Goblin. It's precisely because superheroes face powerful and psychopathic enemies that they can't afford to make their identities public knowledge. Spider-Man lost Gwen Stacey, and the White Tiger lost his own family, because enemies found out who these heroes were behind the mask.

But secret identities won't be made public knowledge.

If the knowledge is in a computer database, lots of supervillains-Ultron, Dr. Doom, the Mad Thinker, to name a few-could get it out easily. In any case: superhero registration would align heroes with governments, which would cost them their independence. Governments don't always do what's right, as those who remember Japanese interment during World War Two can attest. It's precisely to avoid implication with such policies that lead me, in the past, to abandon the guise of Captain America to become Nomad or the Captain.

The concern isn't government policies, it's superhero policies: what about the Stamford incident?

The New Warriors had bad judgment, but their motives were pure. They were trying to catch Nitro, a mass murderer.

But they were also trying to boost ratings for their reality TV show. Their judgment was criminally bad.

...Why are you fighting so hard to support the Registration Act? Before it was proclaimed, before Stamford, you were a staunch opponent of such initiatives.

Stamford crystallized a development that had been coming for a long while. But in any case Stamford changed things for me, personally, because what the New Warriors did, I might have done. Back when I was drinking, I picked a fight with Machine Man just because I was drunk and ornery. And in that fight I would have killed several of my own employees if Machine Man hadn't intervened to save them. But if I had killed them, I would have needed to be held to account for my actions.

But we, the superhero community, would have. We court-martialled Yellowjacket when beat up the Wasp, didn't we?

And yet today Hank Pym is on the pro-registration side. His own experience has taught him that formal oversight is as necessary for superheroes as it is for soldiers or police officers.

But I was a police officer, once. I know how much red tape, how many false allegations of abuse, cops have to endure. Remember how Justin Hammer framed you for murder, of how the Secret Empire framed me? Without our autonomy, we wouldn't have been able to prove our innocence.

But what if we'd been guilty? You won't admit that we might, because you, Captain America, don't make mistakes.

But I do make mistakes; I got Bucky killed back in the war. I took a swing at you during the Korvac affair.

We remember those only because they're so exceptional. Most heroes have far less moral fibre. I'm one of the most brilliant and exceptional men in the world, but you intimidate me... how do kids like Cloak and Dagger feel, do you wonder? They idolize you, Steve... and you're using those feelings to your advantage. Some heroes are anti-authoritarian enough to take that stance, but most, heroes like Hercules, only oppose registration because Captain America does.

You're a fine one to talk about manipulation. Didn't you cynically manipulate Spider-Man into taking your side? His need for a father figure was blatant, and you exploited it for your own needs. Your own needs have always come first: whether during the Armor Wars, or Galactic Storm, you've confused what you wanted with the greater good. When you seduced Janet van Dyne immediately after her divorce, or when you gave me a replacement shield when I wore the guise of The Captain, you have no qualms about abusing your friends' trust to get what you want. It's a common behaviour among alcoholics.

So that's why you're resisting me on registration? Just because your father was an alcoholic, you have to take out your frustration on me, a fellow alcoholic?

It's not personal, it's philosophical.

Is it? You're the perfect man, and you live by standards no one else can live up to. So when we mere mortals disappoint you, all you do is dig in your heels and fight harder. You'd rather die fighting than compromise, because dying is easier for you; unlike the rest of us, you haven't grown up.

Spare me the psychobabble. If something is right, you fight for it, full stop.

But what are you fighting? Registration is actually the preferable alternative to things like Project: Wideawake. Sentinel robots patrolling the cities, genetic screening of the entire population, and so on. When I fight for registration, I am fighting against abominations like that... Steve. We're friends. We have to stop this war before any more people get killed. Tell me how I can stop it.

You can stop it by joining the anti-registration side.

No good. I believe in registration, and even if I didn't someone else like Mr. Fantastic would just serve in my stead. Why don't you join me? If you joined the pro-registration side, no one else could take your place.

Also no good. I won't become a prisoner, not literally, and not figuratively either. And registration is nothing but a prison cell.

From jeffsetgo

Mr. Miller, I feel you added a extra layer to your review of the last issue of Civil War. Thanks for helping put thing in perspective. As an American, I can tell you first hand that fighting is a way to clean the soul. It doesn't settle anything, but allows both sides to be put in perspective. Thanks again.

I'm glad you liked my take on the registration debate. I'm not sure I know what you mean when you say that violence puts things into perspective, but I do know what you mean when you say that as an American, you find violence to be a way to clean the soul. As I indicated in my review, it's an idea that Americans, and those of us who admire American popular culture, recognize immediately.

But in my case at least, while I recognize it I don't share it. I'm no pacifist; violence is often a necessary evil, but it's still an evil. If you want to hurt someone, you first have to see them not as a person but as a thing, as an object. But that's exactly the opposite of what any healthy moral code requires of us. Depending on the circumstance, the exercise of violence may be necessary; it may be honourable; it may even be heroic. But it should never be cathartic, and I think art that suggests that it can be so is irresponsible.