Drink your Fruitopia, here comes Utopia. It gives you so much hope-pia to read Utopia.
My reviewing skills are even better than my Adam Sandler impression, so read and comment!
DARK AVENGERS #7
“Utopia” Part 3
WRITER: Matt Fraction
PENCILER: Luke Ross
INKER: Rick Magyar, Mark Pennington & Luke Ross
COLORIST: Rain Beredo
LETTERER: Cory Petit
With Beast literally coming apart, Norman questions whether Dark Beast’s power-dampening Omega Machine tortures its subjects into uselessness. Cyclops drops in to order Osborn out of San Francisco and jetpacks away.
Meanwhile, Norman’s X-Men arrest some C-List mutant vandals and bring them to Alcatraz. Emma Frost demands to see how Osborn treats the mutant prisoners, so Norman shows her around, using holographic inducers to hide the real cell conditions and a few key inmates. However, Charles Xavier manages to overcome the power retardation and telepathically contact Ms. Frost.
At Saint Francis Hospital, Simon Trask rallies a cybernetically brainwashed army of staff and patients.
Minutes after I uploaded the review of Part 2, Zarius posted the following comment:
“I loathe playground politics, I want to see quite little of it in comics…an impossibility these days”
I’m glad he specified “playground politics” (which I assume means superficial partisan digs like the anti-Bush fist bump in a recent Amazing Spider-Man) because purging comics, or any art, of all political content can’t be done. Creators filter every story through their personal lenses, even when not specifically dealing with controversial topics. After all, the very act of sorting contentious subjects from those that one takes for granted as immutable features of the status quo requires a value judgment, meaning nothing remains sanitized from the comic maker’s worldview.
I disagree with Zarius that creators do it more explicitly “these days” than in comicdom’s heyday. Heck, in Amazing Spider-Man #83, Peter Parker flat out calls Vietnam “a war nobody wants, against an enemy you don’t even hate”! Political statements don’t get more blatant than that, and nearly every issue from that time had some sort of social moral. Call it preachy, but Spider-Man would not be the character we love without Stan Lee’s left-leaning social conscience influencing his mission. The same applies to Steve Ditko’s Objectivism’s role in shaping Peter into an aloof, heroic individual striving lonesomely in hostile waters. Superman, the most iconic superhero of all, started out fighting depression era greedy landlords and corrupt politicians. Timely themes in comic books aren’t just inevitable, but desirable because they sculpt our favorite characters into who they are. For this reason, intelligent folk like Zarius distinguish between thoughtful political flavoring and ham fisted “playground” tactics.
Does Dark Avengers #7, in evoking the real world controversy over the classification of certain interrogation techniques as torture, violate the Zarius Doctrine? That depends on the reader. Read it as a direct allegory, with the captured mutants representing Guantanamo Bay prisoners, the Omega Machine representing water boarding, and Norman Osborn representing Dick Cheney, and you’ll probably notice that the portrayal imperfectly mirrors reality and accuse Matt Fraction of unfairly casting one side of the debate in a bad light without giving due weight to its arguments. For example, water boarding’s status as torture seems far more ambiguous than what Beast goes through, the mutant captives are US citizens unlike (with a few crucial exceptions) the Gitmo detainees, and Cheney’s hair isn’t as awesome as Norman’s (I mean DAMN, check it out from the back—CORNROW SWIRL!).
However, I suggest viewing these dissimilarities not as weaknesses in the allegory, but as reasons to dismiss the allegorical interpretation altogether. Start by taking it as just a story. It sure works with the characters. Dark Beast would torturously experiment on prisoners. Osborn would care more about how it hurts his plans than about the moral implications. Frost would play in the gray area but demand that Osborn treat her kind with dignity. See the real world shadow as something secondary, put there to make you think. The inconsistencies with reality invite you to compare and contrast the truth with the fiction, asking questions like, is it morally relevant that one set of prisoners comprises citizens and the other does not? The answer matters less than that Fraction gets readers asking such questions and considering the matter more deeply in the first place. He handled that aspect of the story well.
I also like the funny captions with which he introduces characters. Lord knows the dozens of characters competing for panel space need something to keep them straight in the reader’s head. It gets overwhelming, and the crowding means no one gets a chance to shine. The Dark Avengers do nothing except watch TV and bicker, and the boring Dark X-Men lack any personality or motivation whatsoever. One would expect a team featuring the son of Wolverine, Emma Frost, and the Sub-freaking-Mariner to burst with dramatic fireworks. Not so much.
Luke Ross does a good-but-not-Deodato-good job on the art.
“If only you could see the world through my eyes, you’d see how big of a win this all is.”
3.5 Zariuses (or would it be “Zarii”?) out of 5.
3.5 Zariuses (or would it be “Zarii”?) out of 5.