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Post By
Omar Karindu

In Reply To
Dark Marvel

Subj: I've made my argument lots of times before...
Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 04:02:11 pm EDT (Viewed 2 times)
Reply Subj: Which part about the SHRA do you hate/like? nt
Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 11:00:18 am EDT

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Viewed from an in-universe perspective, it's a long-overdue and commonsensical idea, one that no one in their right mind could oppose in principle. In terms of enforcement, however, it's often been ridiculous and heavy-handed, with the absolute worst excesses outside the Civil War series being the CSA's Thunderbolts lunacy -- the equivalent of asking serial killers to enforce weapons permit laws -- and the continued existence of the 42 prison in the Negative Zone with the policy of permanent detentions for noncomplying superhumans.

Viewed from a writerly perspective, it's ****ing disaster. Leaving aside the issue of its inconsistent portrayals depending on who's scripting the comic, it's simply a mess for a shared universe that has to incorporate multiple superhero subgenres. It screws up the X-Men's premises rather badly, since mutants are now either indistinct from either the outlaw superheroes and/or the registered ones, and thus no longer work as a civil rights allegory if the SHRA gets any play in their titles. And Wolverine's solo title has made virtually no sense whatsoever if you try to work out how anything in it squares with the SHRA plotline; he simply ignores the thing, but simultaneously belongs to the New Avengers team whose current premise is entirely built on defiance of the Act.

It makes a mess of any and all street-level vigilante comics, in that the likes of Spider-Man and Daredevil should have Cape-Killer squads crawling up their backsides every time they turn up in public. The current Spider-books have responded by making a bit of fun of the whole bit with Blue Shield's woefully stupid efforts to enforce the Act, Jackpot's indifference to it; and otherwise leave it entirely in the background. Daredevil's title has responded by ignoring the whole thing.

It also creates some rather strained narrative logic in titles like New Avengers and Moon Knight, where the Act has come up as a plot point. The heroes have to inevitably escape the pro-SHRA heroes in order to have a comic, or get endless "you can go free THIS TIME" moments from characters who otherwise staunchly enforce the thing. And it's best not to think at all about the mental gymnastics Tony Stark has to employ to keep the current Captain America a going concern. (The fact that the anti-SHRA books tend to outsell the pro-SHRA books suggests what a mistake the thing is from genre terms.)

The worst of it, to my mind, is Mighty Avengers, ostensibly one of the two books that foreground the pro-SHRA heroes. So far as I can tell, the MA are simply a more aggressive pre-SHRA Avengers, and they have their massve super battles right in the heart of Manhattan as often as not: wasn't the entire turn in Civil War #1 and #7 about just that sort of thing and its potential menace to civilian bystanders? For that matter, why does the PRO team include a god of war who in nearly every prior appearance was a homicidal and smetimes genocidal villain; and a mentally unstable nigh-omnipotent character whose major plotline involves his dark side manifesting itself and menacing all humanity? Considered halfway rationally, the Mighty Avengers present a far greater threat to the average person's life and limb merely by continuing to operate than do their anti-SHRA counterparts. Certainly the New Avengers aren't the ones whose ongoing subplots involve an actual team member as a ticking time bomb.

Basically, the SHRA is a very, very poor fit with the shared-universe superhero genre. Mark Millar's rather preachy little point simply wasn't thought out in storytelling terms; all the pseudo-political yammering in the world doesn't shore it up as narratology.

- Omar Karindu

"A Renoir. I have three, myself. I had four, but ordered one burned...It displeased me." -- Doctor Doom

"It's not, 'Oh, they killed Sue Dibney and I always loved that character,' it's 'Oh, they broke a story engine that could have told a thousand stories in order to publish a single 'important' one.'" -- John Seavey

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