Dare I say it?
Oh what the hay! It’s a Brand New Day after the elections and if you don’t like it, take it up with Mephisto. It seemed as if across the globe, people watched the election results roll in with eager anticipation. While my thoughts danced with what in Good God’s name Ultimatum #1 was going to look like, the rest of the country was looking towards a future that didn’t involve an entire universe’s peril. Okay, maybe some of them were, who knows.
If there is one thing I have learned in my ancient years of wisdom is that there are two hot button topics that are always going to cause a stir in uncertain company: religion and politics. No matter what you say, someone can take issue on a deep and personal level and the next thing you know: chaos. But in the wake of the election results and the lingering haze of American politics, I’m actually reminded of a little something I heard almost two years ago from the Distinguished Competition.
Ah yes, coming up on two years actually, when I attended my first DC Nation panel at WonderCon, a man stood up and asked if the upcoming Amazons Attack would be in any way political in nature what with the War in Iraq. I know, he should have asked if it was going to be any good or make any sense, but hey, all we had to go on were solicitations and a dream. For the True Believers in the audience, let me explain: Amazons Attack was a rather poorly-played event-ette of a series that tied in with a few books and revolved around the idea that the US military and the Amazons of Wonder Woman’s home isle of Themyscira. The US wanted the purple ray of healing that the Amazons had so they held Wonder Woman captive and tried to get the secrets of the ray out of her. Cue legions of angry Amazons and we have a title.
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to draw some parallels between this and the newspaper headlines of torture (not to mention the acquisition of the Inhuman’s Terrigen Crystals in Son of M and silent war that same year, but that’s neither here nor there). The question of whether or not this US attack on foreign soil was going to suggest current opinions on the war. Now, what I remember quite clearly about this is the very quick and resounding ‘No’ that came from Bob Wayne. Stated with absolute honesty and incredible clarity, Mr. Wayne said that while comics can have themes that echo current events, having heroes specifically play out political themes or interact with current events not only does a disservice to the seriousness of the situation, it also weakens your heroes. They seem petty if they don’t step up to the cause and they seem weak if Superman doesn’t simply go to the Middle East and tells everyone to play nice.
A quick aside, DC Decisions rather confuses me on this particular topic as how heroes might vote or have voting tendencies sort of plays into my first thought. If you want to remain in polite company, stay off religion and politics, guys.
Still, Mr. Wayne gave us an incredibly true statement, despite the legacy of war comics with Superman paratrooping in with World War II soldiers. They can help raise morale, they can even touch on themes within the headlines and serve as touchstones of honesty under trying times, but to confront them head-on would trivialize very important issues that can’t be so easily handled by mortal men such as us. Civil War brought up a lot of concerns regarding the price of American liberties within its storyline but never was there a ‘Mick Haney’ wiretapping Spider-Man. Sure, the comics medium loves them some ‘Somewhereistan’, a fictionalized country that just so happens to have something from the current headlines with a couple of the names changed, but these tend of come of as preachy to an audience that catches on quick to what the writer is so cleverly hammering on our heads. The character of Captain America is a political symbol like none other and he can give stirring speeches on what he believes in about the country he serves, but his actual election to President is reserved for What If? stories and alternate timelines. Superheroes are what we use to describe the world around us, but rarely do they ever fit inside of it.
With this in mind, Colbert ’08.