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Post By
Nitz the Bloody

In Reply To

Subj: " Power Corrupts "
Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 05:05:54 pm EST (Viewed 424 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Cool Extremis video
Posted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 10:58:39 pm EST (Viewed 7 times)

Previous Post

That was a pretty cool video and has be wanting to go and dig out those first 6 issues and actually read them back to back, instead of over a year or so.

They also make me very sad, and even somewhat angry.

Ellis laid the groundwork for a new iron man. One that was once again at the bleeding edge of everything. One that was powerful. One that had once again through his own brilliance created a way for a human being to fight whatever terrors the world may face... to walk beside (or fight) gods and giants.

And now, what is it, 5 or so years later... it's all being pretty much flushed down the freaking toilet.

I suppose it will all be pretty much ignored, but a number of simple facts remain.

Tony stark radically altered his physiology. That doesn't just go away, and noone is going to convice me that whatever computer virus the skrulls hit tony with, that it once again rewrote his genetic code.

so.... Tony still has the control sheath as part of his body in one way or another. His brain is still more of a hard drive than squishy meat equivalent... there should be NOOOOOOOO artificial heart... In short his body is still radically changed... of course this will all probably get ignored and swept away until it is forgotten, with little or no explanation.

Man, I liked extremis at the time, and i had no problem believing that tony would modify himself in this way because to be frank, the danger was more than it used to be, and to continue to be the hero he wanted to be it would take.... more.

Looking back on it, extremis was a quantum leap in potential coolness on the scale of the skin suit... and both of them turned out to be utterly wasted ideas. (granted the art for the skin suit was repulsive and i'm sure had at least something to do with it's downfall, well that, and geeee, why the hell actually try to do something in normal continuity bleeding edge with marvels supposed bleeding edge hero.

Many people have said it, and perhaps i'm starting to come around to the seeming truth of it. Tony is Marvels whipping boy. Given every hero, Tony is the one of the few that should become consistently more powerful, because technology marches on... and tony should be leading the band. We saw this at least for a short time with extremis... with even tony realizing the quantum leap he had taken and that his old foes were... not challenges anymore. We saw the occasional incredibly cool feat (channeling energy from multiple nuclear reactors in some way that i still can't explain.. be seemed like some sort of point to point transmission of energy with wicked results)

Someone else pointed out somewhere that they've taken more away from tony as far as abilities than anyone else... and you can mention any mutant that's lost their power in one way or another, but that doesn't compare... tony has lost more cool ideas and powers that would move him solidly into the heaviest hitters of the MU over and over and over. either one lame reason after another why they had to go, or just convenient forgetting of them by writers.

Is it so hard to let him be powerful? And if so, why? Because they can't find a writer who can write a powerful character for a long term and keep it interesting? Is it because it would upset the applecart, and perhaps force other writers to deal with an upgraded hero and changes to the status quot? (i suppose it's always easier to cultivate mediocrity, then ask for accomplishment ) Or is it simply that iron man is really is the MU whipping boy and it's become know that he can be used to build up other heros of villians because he's just not that important?

I still can't decide if fraction gets it or not... some days it seems like he does and some days it seems like he doesn't. given that he mentioned that his first 24 issues were basically three acts, i'm still curious how he will close out the third of his acts, and what comes after that...Perhaps at that point and with everything he's done, he'll feel that the character is truly his and allow Tony to excel.

If Iron Man retained the Extremis nanotech capabilities, but kept fighting super-villains, he'd trounce them easily. Not only would the already troubled dramatic tension of franchise superhero comics be further reduced, but Tony would almost come across as a bully for only fighting weaker enemies. Fiction favors the underdog-- another reason Tony is hard to write, because he's a rich genius who built his empire on military-industrial blood money.

This is why once Tony became Extremis enhanced, he stopped fighting villains ( except for cases like the Inevitable, which was meant to prove that he couldn't be bothered with costumed thugs anymore ) and went to bigger challenges; instead of just saving the world, he was trying to fix it. The Project ARGONAUT team of remote-controlled Iron Men was a precursor to this mentality, but the Director of SHIELD role was even more ambitious-- he'd gone from making Iron Man security for Stark International to security for the world. Which made the threats he faced even greater-- Ezekiel Stane being the harbinger of the new era, someone who spread super-terror on a level that not even Tony's awareness could match.

Of course, Tony DID match Zeke, but only by destroying his company and killing several of Zeke's cohorts. Which really unsettled Tony-- that story ended with him realizing that in order to fight that kind of brutality, he'd have to become more brutal himself. It's not about him being a human who uses the best of his species' abilities to compete with gods and monsters, but about a human who excises his species' innate capacity for good to compete. Note how this is the way many of Marvel's great villains started; Doom, Magneto, the Ghost, and others had good intentions, but they perverted themselves to the point where they couldn't even act decent any longer.

The problem with power is that even if you try to amass it for good reasons, somebody else is going to amass more of it in response, and then it becomes a vicious cycle. With Tony, this is mixed in with his self-loathing ablism-- wether he admits it or not, he wants the progressively increased strength of the Iron Man to compensate for his own failings. It's no coincidence that his greatest invention is a human prosthesis, that enhances his capabilities but hides his humanity. With the Iron Man, and especially with the Extremis enhancile that eradicated the barrier between man and armor, Tony used technological power to eliminate weakness, as opposed to accepting it. And hence, greater power leads to greater opposition.

Now, Tony Stark's failures have given us Norman Osborn's empire-- a man who has basically become a homunculus of Tony's sins. The system of SHIELD directors went from Nick Fury, who had to make hard decisions but whose sympathies ultimately lay with his constituents ( especially his troops ), to Tony, who made even more controversial decisions in the name of an ambiguous " better tomorrow ", to Norman, who does horrible things simply to serve his own ego. The Marvel power struggle in which Tony was so instrumental created an environment where a madman could become America's greatest hero through clever PR. Which left Tony a disgraced fugitive, feeling responsible.

This makes Tony's self-destruction in the current storyline an attempt to find a different solution, since gaining power had failed him and endangered others. Tony's new plan inverted his previous methods in an almost religious fashion-- stripping himself of all abilities until he's completely helpless. Not only because he didn't want his nanotech-enhanced brain falling into Norman's clutches, but because he wanted to break the cycle. On an ideological level, it worked very well-- his televised conflict with Norman had him severely handicapped, unable to speak in complete sentences, unable to operate any Iron Man except for the crude Afghanistan prototype, and barely aware of what was going on. By contrast, Norman appeared to the world as the complete monster the heroes and the audience know him to be, and without the Green Goblin persona to deflect his cruelty. When Norman beat the impaired Tony half to death, his power lost much of its meaning-- viscerally, there's no way for him to spin that kind of sheer cruelty.

I expect that once Tony's mind is put back together, he'll go back to being a man in a suit, without all the nanotech enhancements. He won't be as powerful as he used to be, though he won't be intellectually impaired either. But as a symbol, he'll be closer to what he wanted to be-- a man who uses his machines to oppose those who would kill and oppress others, instead of a man who uses machines to make more powerful machines for intangible benefits.

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