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Monday, September 17, 2007

Comics That Have Pissed Me Off: Issue #1 - Fantastic Four #244

We've all seen 'em - those little bits of comics that make us say "What?" immediately followed by "That's bullshit!" Whether it's something that's completely out of character (all of Marvel's Civil War); a revelation that made little sense and had little, if any, emotional impact (DC's Armageddon 2001, DC's Identity Crisis); an "event" that turned out to be a cynical ploy to boost sales ( DC's Death of Superman, DC's World War III, DC's Amazons Attack! hey, pick up a DC book and there's a 50/50 chance it'll disappoint you - stick with Marvel, their disappointment is guaranteed), or just overall giganta-levels of bad, it's a guarantee in life that a comic will one day piss you off. Gentlemen, today is that day for me.

Actually, a lot of comics piss me off, so I've decided to make this a running feature for the ol' blog. I find that I'm most motivated to write when I'm pissed off at something, so the category is a natural for me.

The inspiration for the feature came while I was reading the book Super Heroes and Philosophy (and boy, was there a lot of shit in there that pissed me off, right good!), and came across Charles Taliaferro and Craig Lindahl-Urben's essay, "The Power and the Glory." The whole thing is about Galactus and Doctor Doom, and, not giving a shit about the Fantastic Four as more than material for lame jokes, I skimmed it as Rob Liefeld once skimmed "Anatomy for Beginners." I did, however, find myself re-reading a bit of dialogue describing the so-called "personalist ethics" of The Avengers when it came to dealing with giant, pink-colored space eaters. From Fantastic Four #244,

Captain America: "... but Galactus is a living, sentient being and he does not act out of evil intent. He does what he must, simply to survive, just as we would."

Reed Richards: "We are bound to help Galactus."

Whoa, whoa, whoa... hold up der, Reed - you're not "bound" to help anyone, least of all the giant, skirt-wearing, cosmic being who already promised not to eat you back in the sixties. The only thing you're "bound" to do is kick his ass off the planet and call it a night. But Galactus gotta eat, I guess?

Oh, and Cap? Quick question: you and Hawkeye are trapped on a deserted island with no source of food and no means of escape. Who's gonna devour whom? Whose "survival" is considered paramount here, Cap? You could skin and eat Hawkeye before he even knew you'd moved - and it's all right, because you didn't have any evil intent, you were just trying to survive, like any of us would have done. Sucks to be Hawkeye.

Sure, saving Galactus might work out for a few years now that you've earned his "respect," but how long will it be before "he does what he must" again, and comes a'knockin'? You've excused his actions (the devouring of other "sentient beings") as necessary to his survival - but that survival comes at the cost of others', as well as your own. As such, you've demonstrated to Galactus what is clearly more important here: his survival, not before others, but at the expense of others.

To put things more succinctly: the motherfucker tried to eat you and your entire planet. After promising not to do it again, he came back to do it again. He, presumably, still eats other civilizations who don't have the mighty Reed Richards to watch out for them. You don't help this thing when it starts to die, you let it die.

No wonder Richards supported Iron Man's "super human registration act:" some people have to be under constant threat if the more important "sentient beings" are to be comfortable. Super-humans are to be sacrificed for regular humans, humans and other civilizations are to be sacrificed for Galactus - it really depends on who's bigger in the end, doesn't it?

Addendum: If you want to read Fantastic Four #244 for yourself, it's available in The Trial of Galactus paperback. This trade also includes "The Trial of Reed Richards," which sounds just intriguing enough for me to track down and find something within that pisses me off.

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