My Dearest Reader,
(Do yourself a favor and play Ashokan Farewell in another browser tab while you read this…)
It has been within a fortnight since I wrote you last, yet oh, I feel the absence. This place is nothing like home. How I miss mother’s cooking, the sight of the old farm, the sound of the wind through the corn!
With the Civil War upon us, I know you must be a-wondering how it is that such true and noble men have come to blows. I know it is hard—for after all, we’re talking about the Marvel universe, where tis the part of all of us without capes and chromosomes to stand by, fearful, and untrusting. But I shall try my best to help you understand.
When first this great nation heard the terrible rumor of civil war, the sound of repulsors and vibranium, it was a very different war. This was back in Ought-6, perhaps before moving pictures were invented, and so we could not watch, we could only read.
And oh, the tragedies we read. Stamford was a small town, but a horrible accident by Nitro, a wicked fellow, destroyed a school, and I suppose that such things cannot happen, but that they must be washed away with blood. The great men in Washington, and by that I mean politicians and I understand how that may be a confusing metaphor, my dear Reader, in talking of men who can grow to the size of a planet, or heal themselves from incineration. And it does not help that I flatter myself I am doing a passable job of talking as if t’were The Olden Days. But as I say, the great men in Washington passed a law, as they are wont to do. And throughout the land, any honest man with any sort of extra-ordinary power had to register his identity with the government.
That didn’t sit well with the conscience of the Captain.
He went AWOL, which the powers that be were none too thrilled at, they having been fixing their hopes on his leading the fight. So instead they appointed Mr. Stark as Judge, Jury, and Executioner. And judge he did. The law of the land was so: that if you had great power, you were his responsibility, whether you liked it or not.
The Captain had allies who didn’t think it was a government’s place to tell them who and how to save, who didn’t trust politicians and pen-pushers with the safety of their secret identities, or who were just plain ornery. Mr. Stark had allies who were just the sort fora man who always thinks he knows best for everyone, and who always has to be the smartest man in every room. The Mutants, already battered and bruised, did their best to stay out of things.
It was an unglorious fight. Young Mr. Parker, set up to be an example of how superfolk could trust the government with their secrets, lost his elderly aunt and subsequently his bride to an assassin when t’was proved that no, no they could not. Dr. Richards had his wife and family leave over a prison he built for those who would not have registration—for they were held without trial or charge in a place called the Negative Zone, which I suppose is just as nice as it sounds. And as with any Civil War, mere children were dragged in to the thick of it.
In the end it ended as it must, with Captain America dead. I do not know if they intended to make reference to another Civil War, but I shall beg your pardon, reader, if I repeat: O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done, etc.
I suppose the intentions were honorable. Perhaps the fellows at Marvel wanted to write another Watchmen, another God Loves Man Kills, where a great social question is weighed in the balance and you, Reader, were asked to find it wanting. But if so they have failed.
All of us were behind the Captain, right from the beginning, for who would go against him? If you are against Captain America, why, then you are standing with Nazis. And to judge from what the Registrar’s side did, nor can you stand against him without becoming one.
For all our lifetimes, he was held up as the one incorruptible, the one honest man. In a universe whose theme is that the superhumans are only human, that every hero has flaws, he was the one who was always trustworthy and right: he was the one DC hero in the Marvel world. You cannot take such a man and wonder aloud if he is wrong. You cannot place such a man at the forefront of a question and expect us to see both sides of it.
The writers themselves seemed to be on his side as well. It became a battle not between Right and Right, as must have been the plan, but between Wrong and Hopeless.
Then it was over, the best that anyone could say was that it was over. As Mr. Stark himself is said to have said, over the Captain’s grave: “It wasn’t worth it.”
So we have a new Civil War, my dearest Reader, and though my heart trembles at the thought that I must again turn my face away from home, I am heartened. For this war is not like the old one. This one has no Mark Millar sneering at the very idea of the super-hero. This one is not asking us if something is wrong when we had all plainly said that is it was veriest wrong. This is no dour, grim, joyless battle from people who have not even tried words, for we’ve seen them arguing, and this time, both the Captain and Mr. Stark have good points to make.
So take heart, my Reader. Even this month, even this week, we have seen a good ending to this Civil War. I shall leave you these words, that have been a great inspiration to me and all my companions so far from home:
(Sung to “Battle Hymn of the Republic”)
Mine eyes have seen the movie ‘bout Sokovia Accords,
There’s a Robot and a Panther who’s some kind of royal lord,
There’s a Man who is a Spider and a Witch with magic wards.
My popcorn is all gone!
Give my love to mother, and tell Ol’ Jebediah for me that he’s a good dog. As I set my face toward home at last, know that I shall be thinking of it until it see again, or until you receive my next.
-The One Who Has Written This