Thursday, June 29, 2006

This Is Not A Good Sign

Before I get to my main topic from Amazing Spider-Man #533, I have one quick thing to quibble with. During the "villain reaction" pages of the story, they showed Eddie Brock, lying in a hospital bed, because, you know, he's dying of cancer. Except I'm pretty sure Millar's run on Marvel Knights Spider-Man said Brock died of that within a month, and that was two years ago our time, which i figure means six months, Marvel time. C'mon, the man is dead already, just let him go! For the record, I'm not advocating the "Mac Gargan as Venom" story, I'm just pretty much ready for Eddie Brock to go away - permanently. Still, I'd say the enemy I'm most curious to see the reaction from is Doc Ock. He did try to marry Aunt May, and part of me would just love to see him fighting off a bunch of Spidey's other enemies that were trying to hurt her. Why not? Civil War (or rather the futurist Iron Man) prophesied enemies would become allies.

My main question is what does it mean that Jameson stopped smoking? As I understand it, only villains are allowed to smoke in the Marvel Universe these days. Putting aside for the moment that this is idiotic, it does make it fairly simply to tell good guys from bad guys, to an extent. So Jolly Jonah isn't a smoker, therefore he can no longer be easily classified as a villain. So what does this say about Civil War at large?

Well, we know Jonah is in favor of the Registration Act, he's been screaming about "these damn vigilantes menacing the public" for years, so if one of the most vocal supporters from the "flatscans" (dredging up the early '90s X-Men terminology, oh dear) isn't smoking, then it has to be a good idea, right? He's not a villain, so if he supports it, then it could be argued to be good, or right.

But at the same time, he's still Spider-Man's enemy. He's suing Peter for fraud and all that other crap the lawyer said. Given he's Spider-Man's enemy is this the way of foreshadowing that Peter's going to switch sides? Because Peter's registered and still being attacked by a supporter of the act, does it demonstrate that he's in this for all the wrong reasons (not because he believes in it, but because he's scared)? Does it mean that the heroes who won't sign up are bad guys, even though they don't smoke either? Because it seems as though you could argue that abrupt shift in Jonah is more significant than the fact that Captain America doesn't smoke and never has.

But we have to consider that Jonah hasn't given up the addiction, he's just switched his method of obtaining his fix. He's chewing the gum, and liberally using the patch, if his words to Robbie were the truth. So that could mean that registration is still wrong, it's just trying to do a better job of disguising that it's a cheap rip-off of Nazis slapping Stars of David on all the Jews clothing, to keep the stupid cows that are the public from getting too concerned about any larger implications, such as what might happen if SHIELD decides to conquer the world, and now all the super-heroes work directly for them, who's going to fight back? Nobody that's who. Well, I guess Black Panther, Namor, probably Doom, the Hulk if he ever gets back.

A couple of things about this. One, this would all be a lot more interesting if we weren't being beaten over the head with a dozen other things to tell us something's up with Peter. Between threatening Stark if anything happens to May and MJ, to the lawsuit, to his assorted Rouge's Gallery, to "Cap's #1 Fan", to Peter not being all that happy about being on the "Hunt Down the Dissenters" squad. Kind of lessens the impact a more sneaky statement has, which is too bad. The not smoking thing was the most interesting part of the issue.

Two, were I ever to gain control of one of the major comics companies, you can rest assured that you, the fan, would hear nothing about major developments that were upcoming. In the case of Civil War (if I would actually allow something like Civil War, which I wouldn't), yeah I'd tell you it was coming, that heroes would be divided, but that's it. No hints about heroes revealing their identities, or switching sides, or who's going to play a surprisingly big role, or any of the other crap that's removed a good chunk of the suspense because we already know what's coming.

Third, I wonder if the "disguising it as something to fool the people" analogy doesn't apply to what Marvel's trying with us. Trying to convince us this isn't just another big crossover designed to rake in money through controversy, because this time it's of a topical nature in our real world. If that's true, it means I'm a stupid cow, and while that's entirely possible, it's not particularly pleasant to think about.


LEN! said...

I remember a few years ago Marvel tried to say absolutely nothing about the contents of any of their books beforehand. The solicitations didn't even have any information. It only lasted about 6 months, then a sales dip caused them to stop doing it--they didn't promote any books doing it that way.

I don't care what form of entertainment it is, but some sort of previewing has to take place. If it's nothing more than a paragraph on the back cover of a book--or something similar--then its done its job. It's said enough to interest the audience.

Still, I agree with the overall point. Marvel tries too hard to make money through shock value. Today's dollar is the only dollar for them.

Anonymous said...

You know, I hadn't thought of that. The idea that they've been giving us info to the point of disappointment. I thought that the info for Infinite Crisis was handled well, but yeah. Civil War has been a mix of 'Here's the whole plot of the first issue, so why buy it' to a mother's 'Well, we'll see when we get home'. Questions are either poorly explained (goddamned you, New Avengers #20!!) or given the brush off.

They just have to come up with a solid method of promoting their books. Oh, and cure cancer.

Anonymous said...

I thought the smoking ban was a universe-wide thing because Quesada's dad died of lung cancer from smoking and so it's a bad message to send to children.


It's the cigar, really.

Anonymous said...

I keep myself in suspense for this event by not reading any of the preview articles for it. I don't want to know what's going to happen. I don't care if they let me know a broader plot outline before a first issue, but I don't want to know exactly what happens until I read it, so I just avoid spoilers.