Limits to mixing
Posted by aogSaturday, 28 July 2007 at 08:41 TrackBack Ping URL

Now this is disappointing. It seems that Warren Ellis, a well known comic book writer, has gone either loopy or completely cynical even for an artist. He’s written a new comic book series that asks the question, “if super heroes fight crime, why wouldn’t they take on criminal political regimes?” and answers it “no, they’d kill President Bush and his entire cabinet instead”.

This is wrong in so many ways, the biggest being that the in-story reason is that Bush started an “illegal” war that caused deaths in “four figures”. What Al Qaeda and its ilk in Iraq, who have kill in the five figures? What about other regimes that are in five figures, such as Sudan, or six figures, like North Korea? They’re not Rich White Americans, and so are of no interest to Ellis.

But beyond the base level stupidity is what I think of as the “Captain Hook” problem. This is from the movie Hook. It was a bad movie becaues it tried to mix incompatible things — a children’s movie of a children’s book with gritty realism. So at one point the Lost Boys are throwing eggs and the next some one is getting gutted by a cutlass. Ellis is doing the same thing, trying to mix fantasy tales with real world politics and it just doesn’t work. The standard “it’s just a story” excuse is eviscerated by the use of real politics, but those politics are handled in a very shallow way, because otherwise you don’t get a good story. You end up with something lousy that is only liked by people who want to use it as another thread in their reality cocoon.

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Michael Herdegen Sunday, 29 July 2007 at 22:52

It’s incomprehensibly stupid, because if superheroes were involved with politics, then Bush never would have been elected, and therefore never would have chosen a cabinet. (And what does Warren Ellis have against Elaine Chao and Colin Powell anyhow? I’d bet my life that Ellis knows the names and acts of only a half-dozen or fewer of these people, and yet superheroes would “kill the entire cabinet”?!?)

Superheroes would fill almost all important executive positions, and without fail one would be elected President. ‘Cause, duh, they’re super, and therefore superior.

And that’s if, in fact, politically-active superheroes would allow democracy to continue to be practiced at the highest levels of gov’t, which I think is quite improbable.

Also, the invasion of Iraq was as legal as any such act can be, endorsed by both the U.S. Congress and (unanimously) by the UN Security Council.

Therefore it’s supremely ignorant, and even within the context of ignorance, unimaginably shallow, as well as the highest comix sin of all: Uncreative.

Ali Choudhury Monday, 30 July 2007 at 07:11

I read the first issue of that and thought having a Daily Kos-reading superhero kill Bush was an interesting premise. Doubt it will amount to much since Ellis’ views on politics are the typical anti-corporate left-wing ones, he tends to spread himself over too many projects at the same time and he prefers very late nights, cigarettes and ungodly amounts of Red Bull to a healthy lifestyle.

To his credit he did come up with the great line about libertarians being people who wanted the income tax abolished so they could get their own rocket-ships.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 30 July 2007 at 08:51

Mr. Herdegen;

Yes, that’s why it was so disappointing. But that seems to tie in with Mr Choudhury’s comment, because isn’t that precisely the sort of plot Ellis could write in his sleep?

I didn’t notice the dKos reference, but I suspect that Ellis intended that to mark the super hero as enlightened, rather than (as I read it) a stupid dupe of lousy propaganda.

As silly as it was, I think The Authority did a better job (a rather low bar, I suppose, more like an expansion joint in a sidewalk). They actually start by opposing real oppression, although the writers indulge in their anti-Americanism by making it all examples allied / sponsored / controlled by the USA. Ultimately they don’t end up getting elected but form a more Iranian style system, which I think is more “realistic”. I.e., governments go on as they do now, but the meta-humans override the government whenever they think the governments have done things wrong. Why bother with the mess of electoral politics and the grinding day to day of actually running things? Far better to just get involved in the cool stuff.

Ali Choudhury Monday, 30 July 2007 at 09:57

To clarify, the assassin isn’t actually presented as a Kos reader but his justification for the murders is pretty much lifted from the stuff you see there.

Michael Herdegen Monday, 30 July 2007 at 18:13

To his credit he did come up with the great line about libertarians being people who wanted the income tax abolished so they could get their own rocket-ships.

That is a good line, but in the context of a world filled with superheroes, it kind of loses its bite, since why couldn’t another impossible thing happen ?

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