Friday, March 21, 2008

In which Marvel History is laid bare...

In the few weeks since I've returned to blogging, far and away the post I've received the most commentary on is my list of the many, many failures of the Initiative in Marvel Comics. What's sad is that people are surprised by the level of ineptitude shown by the Marvel Universe's United States government. The truth is, that if you take a historical look at their track record when it comes to government superhumans, well, it doesn't take a futurist genius to realize that this idea was bad from the start.

Here's the list as best as I can get: feel free to add your own in the comments:

-Captain America and the Original Super-Soldier Project: Far and away the most successful thing you are going to see on this list in terms of producing a superhuman who protects the US (The people above the government, but all said and done, the ratio of Steve being helpful to the government far outweighs his occassional strong criticisms). To be as generous as I can, we'll even count the replacement Captains of the 1940s (the Spirit of '76 and the original Patriot) as successes, despite the fact that neither was superhuman. And we'll leave the Cap of the 1950s alone. Of course, you'd also have to consider that to get Cap, the government first did some pretty horrific product testing (See: THE TRUTH and also: Protocide), so you can argue that they did a lot of stuff to get to where they wanted to.

-Sentinels: OK, can someone tell me if outside of "Days of Future Past" the Sentinels have EVER been effective? Because it seems to me that from Day One to Sentinel Squad O.N.E. these guys have been the least competent killer robots imaginable.

-Henry Peter Gyrich: the former Avengers Czar who pushed the Avengers from being US-sponsored to being UN-sponsored. That's got to qualify as a massive clusterfuck, nevermind that time when he was on the Commission of Superhuman Activities and got brainwashed by Baron Strucker, or his problems in dealing with the Black Panther....moving on.

-The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants becoming "Freedom Force": I like to imagine this was the conversation that was had by the MU U.S. Gov't:

"So, we need a team of American Superhumans that will do as we request and serve our interests"
"Well, we've got the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants locked up right now. We could offer them pardons and give them carte blanche as Federal Agents"
"Are we talking about the same group that a few months ago tried to kill a U.S. Senator in broad daylight?"
"Yes, so?"

"And what precautions would we take to make sure that they don't, I don't know, kill the President if they feel like it?"
"OK, fine, just get the paperwork started"

Granted, they EVENTUALLY learned their lesson and then employed X-Factor as their team, which eventually included Mystique and Sabretooth, whom eventually killed a US Presidential candidate. Oops!

-GI Max - basically a low-rent Captain America knock-off from the early days of the Mark Gruenwald run. Of course, when it comes to Cap-knock-offs, you really have to talk about:

-NUKE: Yes, the surgically created, drugged up killing machine. Really, what more needs be said?

-John Walker: Another in the line of failed attempts to replace Captain America

-The "Super Sailor" from Priest's "Captain America/Falcon": See John Walker, but make him crazier. The End.

-WEAPON X: Ah, the Big Dog of Government superhuman manufacturing and control gone wrong. Now, I could spend an entirely separate post on the many, many failings of this group: from that one Hydra section chief they created (Silver Fox) to the random mercenaries (Maverick), but, then again, we've got the two most sterling examples of their work: Wolverine, a killing machine that trusts no government and pursues an agenda that is often at their cross-purposes, and Sabretooth: a pure killing machine that trusts no one and pursues an agenda of "killing whatever is in my immediate vicinity". How was it that when the superhuman community was assembled in the first issue of Civil War, and Susan Richards brought up the question of "what would be so wrong with getting government training?" that Logan didn't immediately chime in "I was registered and trained by my government, would you like to know what they trained me FOR?" DISCUSSION OVER.

So, should anyone be surprised that the current attempt at government superhuman control, no matter how benign, is riddled with incompetence? I think not. But then again, we aren't futurists like Tony Stark.

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