TUNDRANAUTICA

Bringing Home the Freshest Kill

Posts in the Marvel Comics category

Somewhere on a veranda overlooking the cosmos, multiple parallel realities converge, and the following individuals enjoy a breakfast confab together:

Should gun-play break out, all parties will be armed with Walther PPKs (i.e., James Bond‘s gun).

This is the “What If?” of Uatu‘s wet dreams.

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ROM!

Rom, Space Knight. As rendered by Walt Simonson.

ROM

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On a Saturday night.

Tundranautica

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I’ve been reading comic books since I was a wee sprite. So I’ve been following the medium long enough to spot weird patterns and trends.

Here’s one that continues to trouble me:

The barely believable moral code of supervillains.

Ever notice that — whenever a villain has a chance to kill his super-hero nemesis — the villain declines, offering such questionable logic as “I cannot kill Super Guy this way. It would be too clean, too easy. There would be no honor.”

Sure. Whatever.

I think we can all translate the proper meaning here. “The publisher cannot afford to kill this top merchandising brand right now, or ever.”

Exhibit A.

In this panel (a flashback to a previous issue), notorious crime lord Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin, a longtime foe of Spider-Man, saves Spider-Man from certain death at the hands of the Hobgoblin, another storied nemesis of the web-slinger. Why? It’s “simply good business” says Fisk.

Really, Kingy? Suddenly, you decide that keeping Spider-Man alive is “good business“? What about all those times you plotted to kill him, hired someone to kill him, or fought him yourself in hand-to-hand combat? All those memories are just erased to ensure that the publisher’s title and current story arc trudge onward? I am not a fool, Marvel. Take this back to the chef. (I love the John Romita Jr. artwork though.)

Exhibit B.

Another implausible scenario. Dr. Doom has the Fantastic Four — his greatest enemies — trapped inside his kingdom, Latveria. He even has an “inhibitor ray” on them to mute their powers. So what does he do? He lets them go. Naturally.

Now, perhaps I’m being too cynical. As my pal Ricky points out, Doom is a notoriously sentimental supervillain. He cried after 9-11, for instance. And he was college buddies with the Fantastic Four’s leader, Reed Richards. (Below is the 9-11 panel in question).

Exhibit C.

Ricky found this stellar example. It’s from Captain America No. 133. The villain in question is MODOK, a levitating guinea pig.

The strangeness of MODOK, particularly his female permutations, deserves a post all its own. But that’s a story for another day.

One last example of supervillains’ contradictory and/or esoteric moral codes is the super-group Masters of Evil. Great name, right? How’d you think of that one, guys? Sat around a conference table and threw suggestions into a hat?

Anyway, look at this pic. It has more diversity than a United Colors of Benetton ad.

You have Thunderball, an African American, on the far upper right. You have Baron Zemo, a Nazi, addressing the group. You have Mr. Hyde, a mentally challenged villain, kneeling. You have Tiger Shark, who’s basically a fish. You have three (count ’em, 3!) women.

And we fans are to believe that these individuals, from such diverse and even divergent social groups, all gather for the sake of…what, exactly? Evil?

In essence, supervillainy trumps petty social differences. Or supervillains are incredibly tolerant people, behind the curtain of evilness. We are asked to suspend disbelief and follow this logic.

OK, fair enough. I’ve read prisoners’ accounts of their time in the Big House, and one recurring theme is that the skinheads and black prisoners “get along” fairly well — mostly because they are so upfront about their group solidarity. There is no moral ambiguity, no grey area — if push came to shove, each would slit the other’s throat, and neither makes an attempt to conceal this. Therefore a strange sort of respect emerges.

It’s more plausible than Dr. Doom saying “Leave my kingdom, Fantastic Four! I don’t feel like killing you right now. There would be no sport in it.”

Anyway, if you’re looking for a more challenging and complex interplay between supervillain and super-hero psychologies, I recommend Daredevil No. 180, in which Daredevil forges through the sewers of New York to find the Kingpin’s long-lost wife, Vanessa.

It’s one my all-time faves. At one point, Daredevil, hobbling around on a crutch, gives the crutch to a damned, legless soul, who proceeds to mock him for his generosity.

When I was busy reading that at age 10, I’m sure my parents thought I was knee-deep in innocuous “Whap! Bam! Pow!” mindlessness.

If only!

P.S. Here is a good analysis of the Batman/Joker psychological interchange by Erik Henriksen at the Portland Mercury.

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Via the AngerPainFearAggression Tumblr blog:

Beta Ray1

Beta Ray3

 

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Via the Comic Treadmill

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Marvel Comics used to produce a comic book series called “What If…?

The basic premise: The book’s narrator, Uatu, a member of a race of lifeforms called Watchers, speculated on how the Marvel Universe might be different if certain key events were played out in alternate fashion, e.g., “What if Captain America Had Been Elected President?” and “What if the Fantastic Four Had Not Gained Their Superpowers?”‘

Cover of "What If? Classic Vol. 1 (Marvel...

Wikipedia has the entire list of “What If…?” titles here, and many beg the question “What Was Uatu Smoking?

All that aside, I’d like to apply the “What If…?” methodology to the NFL, specifically,

“What if the World’s Great Philosophers and Thinkers Played Professional Football?”

Here is what NFL scouts are saying about the pool of talent available in philosophy and literature.

Immanuel Kant will be the best cornerback in next year’s draft and it’s not even close. Kid can run a Copernican Revolution in reverse….He ‘Tebowed‘ after riffing on the epistemology of Transcendental Idealism. I just thought that demonstrated a lot of chutzpah. Good kid. He’ll be in the running for the Heisenberg, even though he’s a defensive player.

 

Slavoj Zizek? Doesn’t look like much in his underwear, but the kid can flat-out play. He’s like loose silk in the open field.

If you ask me, Friedrich Nietzsche is an overrated piece of [expletive]. I don’t need grim meditations on eternal recurrence. I just need consistent play in the Red Zone.

There are no Jimmy Grahams in this year’s pool of tight end prospects, but I like Camus. He needs to grow up though. This is the NFL, it’s not the [expletive] Universitaire d’Alger. Still, the potential is there for big things.

If your O-line needs interior players, you could do worse than Søren Kierkegaard. I’ve warmed up to the kid but you’re gonna need a leap of faith to take him any earlier than the second round.

Other than Kant, I also like David Hume in this year’s batch of corners. Interesting kid — Scottish. He advocates a compatibilist theory of free will pretty nicely.

 —

At this rate, [Jean-Paul] Sarte is condemned to be free. Too bad, because he functions more efficiently in a ball-control, grind-it-out-offense. He’s a game manager, not a franchise QB.

 —

This kid Eratosthenes is a real mauler. Bookish guy but the cerebral part of him translates well to the game.  He didn’t look good late in the year though. Pass-blocking was horse [expletive]. Him and that whole part of the line were a sieve.

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daredevil_stopit

A classic Frank Miller Daredevil cover from the 1980s.

It ably articulates my own thoughts regarding modern life.

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I’ve been reading comic books since I was a wee sprite. So I’ve been following the medium long enough to spot weird patterns and trends.

Here’s one that continues to trouble me:

The barely believable moral code of super-villains.

Ever notice that — whenever a villain has a chance to kill his super-hero nemesis — the villain declines, offering such questionable logic as “I cannot kill Super Guy this way. It would be too clean, too easy. There would be no honor.”

Sure. Whatever.

I think we can all translate the proper meaning here. “The publisher cannot afford to kill this top merchandising brand right now, or ever.”

Exhibit A.

In this panel (a flashback to a previous issue), notorious crime lord Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin, a longtime foe of Spider-Man, saves Spider-Man from certain death at the hands of the Hobgoblin, another storied nemesis of the web-slinger. Why? It’s “simply good business” says Fisk.

Really, Kingy? Suddenly, you decide that keeping Spider-Man alive is “good business“? What about all those times you plotted to kill him, hired someone to kill him, or fought him yourself in hand-to-hand combat? All those memories are just erased to ensure that the publisher’s title and current story arc trudge onward? I am not a fool, Marvel. Take this back to the chef. (I love the John Romita Jr. artwork though.)

Exhibit B.

Another implausible scenario. Dr. Doom has the Fantastic Four — his greatest enemies — trapped inside his kingdom, Latveria. He even has an “inhibitor ray” on them to mute their powers. So what does he do? He lets them go. Naturally.

Now, perhaps I’m being too cynical. As my pal Ricky points out, Doom is a notoriously sentimental super-villain. He cried after 9-11, for instance. And he was college buddies with the Fantastic Four’s leader, Reed Richards. (Below is the 9-11 panel in question).

Exhibit C.

Ricky found this stellar example. It’s from Captain America No. 133. The villain in question is MODOK, a levitating guinea pig.

The strangeness of MODOK, particularly his female permutations, deserves a post all its own. But that’s a story for another day.

One last example of super-villains’ contradictory and/or esoteric moral codes is the super-group Masters of Evil. Great name, right? How’d you think of that one, guys? Sat around a conference table and threw suggestions into a hat?

Anyway, look at this pic. It has more diversity than a United Colors of Benetton ad.

You have Thunderball, an African American, on the far upper right. You have Baron Zemo, a Nazi, addressing the group. You have Mr. Hyde, a mentally challenged villain, kneeling. You have Tiger Shark, who’s basically a fish. You have three (count ’em, 3!) women.

And we fans are to believe that these individuals, from such diverse and even divergent social groups, all gather for the sake of…what, exactly? Evil?

In essence, super-villainy trumps petty social differences. Or super-villains are incredibly tolerant people, behind the curtain of evilness. We are asked to suspend disbelief and follow this logic.

OK, fair enough. I’ve read prisoners’ accounts of their time in the Big House, and one recurring theme is that the skinheads and black prisoners “get along” fairly well — mostly because they are so upfront about their group solidarity. There is no moral ambiguity, no grey area — if push came to shove, each would slit the other’s throat, and neither makes an attempt to conceal this. Therefore a strange sort of respect emerges.

It’s more plausible than Dr. Doom saying “Leave my kingdom, Fantastic Four! I don’t feel like killing you right now. There would be no sport in it.”

Anyway, if you’re looking for a more challenging and complex interplay between super-villain and super-hero psychologies, I recommend Daredevil No. 180, in which Daredevil forges through the sewers of New York to find the Kingpin’s long-lost wife, Vanessa.

It’s one my all-time faves. At one point, Daredevil, hobbling around on a crutch, gives the crutch to a damned, legless soul, who proceeds to mock him for his generosity.

When I was busy reading that at age 10, I’m sure my parents thought I was knee-deep in innocuous “Whap! Bam! Pow!” mindlessness.

If only!

P.S. Here is a good analysis of the Batman/Joker psychological interchange by Erik Henriksen at the Portland Mercury.

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