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Monday, April 30, 2007

Miller vs. Millar

After the wretchedness of Marvel's non-excelsior unsaga "Civil War" starring Mark Millar as Captain America ("Heaven knows we need more statesmen!", to quote Bloom County), and just when you thought the Dark Age of Comics entailed dark mindedness, Frank Miller comes out as being on the same page as Dennis Miller with respect to national security.

Brad Melzer ruined the contemporary comics scene for the whole professional American comic book industry. He produced a story line for DC which displayed a character building scenario showing how otherwise well minded people can come to be at odds over dilemmas that are only faced by superheroes -- part of an intelligently crafted and surprising mystery for the DC specific universe. Unfortunately, he may have set the bar too high, since the Infinity Crisis never quite rose to the standards set by its prequel.

Enter Marvel with its own universe redefining story featuring its traditional focus on 3-D character development, or so we all thought. Unfortunately what looked like another deep exploration of how the gods might disagree about a moral dilemma that only they face turned out to be a political diatribe about the administration -- not that there's anything wrong with that except being dumbed down and boring at best and deheroifying previously sainted characters at worst. Rather than producing a conscience stimulating character developing story where the partisans on both sides of the issue are keenly aware of the difficulties and strengths of each option which manifest genuine moral tragedy and crisis, what we got were "heroes" who couldn't rise above the level of partisan jingoism with one time spouting off nativistic libertarian platitudes and the other spouting sycophantic litanies. Finally, when it does end (looking at both the Mark Millar and Peter Jenkins story lines), it becomes a classic piece of rhetoric where even if you were wrong all along you were right and visa versa. ("You can't touch me here.") At least we succeeded in offending -- or at least dissatisfying -- both sides. Finally, Cap is killed off because he has become a square circle for current writers and readers.

Enter Frank Miller, godfather of the Dark Age, with his outspoken views of how 9/11 helped him to close on patriotism, the American flag, and his WWII era parents. Miller, after all, is a Joneser, the lost sociologically category between Baby Boomers and Baby Busters, that have been tending to the social right since they were born. Frank Miller offers the potentially interesting secular insight that "patriotism" is really a species of rational self-interest, potentially solving Cap's false dilemma, something which merits further thought. But Miller still has the cultural memory that impresses one with the fact that secularization needs a theodicy.

Mark Millar, however, is clearly a generation well after WWII, one which is more like the generation prior to WWI, a product of the new quasi-public, not-for-profit sector of banalized good feelings. It is not surprising that the story of Civil War failed to be the advertized challenging tragedy and turned out to be sophistical formula.

I really shouldn't be the one to say this, much as it seems to need saying. But now I can stop because Frank's coming out. I look forward to "Holy Terror, Batman" (review and video clip) when it comes in print. (/rant)

2 comments:

Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

Mark said...

Good post, Gnu...