If the prisoner believes he is a free man… who’s to say he’s not? By the same token… if the free man serves the whim of hidden overseers… is he anything more than an unwitting captive?
In the previous issue, Magneto surrendered to S.H.I.E.L.D. As he is taken into custody, he muses about the reality of freedom and whether people are truly free. I have contemplated this myself on numerous occasions. Living in a country that prides itself as a “free country” and places value on individual freedoms, I can’t help but wondering just how free we really are. Americans like to believe they are free, but is it real freedom, or the illusion of freedom? Are we the “unwitting captives” serving the whims of corporations and governments? It’s a legitimate question and I don’t claim to have the answer, but I think it is something that each individual should ask himself or herself honestly.
Anyway, as I suspected, when Magneto allowed himself to be captured, he had a plan and this was part of it. I won’t tell you what happens, because I hate to spoil it for anyone. I will say that it is an excellent issue, the writing and artwork are impeccable as always, and it is definitely worth reading.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this issue, except that I find it intriguing that Magneto has surrendered to S.H.I.E.L.D. This is definitely a set-up issue, beginning a new chapter in the saga. I have no idea what the writers are planning, but something inside me tells me that it is going to be interesting. I generally trust my gut instincts—they are usually correct. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Magneto is planning something and allowing himself to be captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. is part of that plan. I guess we will find out more as the story unfolds. Stay tuned.
Just as I was thinking about discontinuing reading the Magneto series, I was reminded of how good it is and how thought-provoking the writing is. This issue is excellent and explores something I find fascinating: how stories affect our concept of reality.
Stories, when repeated, become part of the fabric of our collective consciousness. They teach us things about ourselves and build a bond which helps hold our society together. On a level, we know that these are just stories which, although fiction, express universal truths regarding the human experience. But sometimes, as this comic points out, people begin to accept these stories as facts which lead to the birth of urban legend, and in more extreme cases, self-deception.
What is the appeal of ghost stories? Gathering around a darkened room… speaking in whispers… recounting the tales of monsters that lurk in shadows. Is there comfort there? The reminder that… while we speak of the dead… we are all truly alive, or is it purely for the thrill? The pumping heart… the racing blood… the trembling flesh. Among these tales of terror… the “true” ghost story is among the most offensive. “Listen,” you say. “This is what happened to me.” You know the entire time that your every word is a lie… and your audience realizes the same… although they force themselves to believe. And so it is the ghost stories we tell ourselves… when no one else is listening… that are the most egregious. Lies for our own benefit. “This really happened to me.” Lies we force ourselves to believe.
This hit painfully close to home. When I was younger, I lied to myself as a way to justify my actions and to absolve myself from guilt and shame. In these stories I forced myself to believe I was the hero. I twisted history to view myself as making the right decisions, to validate the choices I made, to make it easier to live with myself. It was a coping mechanism for me and one that I suspect many people still rely upon. It is painful and difficult to look at yourself and judge your actions honestly, but it is important to do so. This is the only way that you can grow as an individual.
As you know, I love stories, but I must be careful not to allow stories to distort my view of reality. It is appropriate to use stories as a way to interpret reality, but it can be a slippery and dangerous slope when we allow stories to define our reality.
This issue details the battle between the super-villains and the Red Onslaught. It basically moves the general story along, and as with all the installments in the series, it is richly illustrated and the writing is good. There is one panel that stands out for me, though. Magneto is remembering a discussion he had with Charles Xavier regarding mankind’s prospect of peaceful coexistence.
Charles: Don’t you think… can’t you imagine… that mankind has learned from past mistakes? Peaceful coexistence is more than just a dream.
Magneto: It’s madness, Charles. And it saddens me to think of the day such a realization will crush you.
This is something that has been on my mind lately. As I watch the news footage of the unrest in Ferguson, MO and the continued fighting and hatred in the Middle East, I cannot help but wonder if humans will ever learn to exist together peacefully. Are we capable as a species to learn and evolve, or is there some instinct that is hard-coded in our DNA that triggers the tendency toward anger, fear, envy, and resentment, the core issues at the heart of humanity’s intolerance toward others?
While my views on humanity are stained with cynicism, I am still a romantic and an idealist at my core. So yes, I feel that someday, although not likely in my lifetime, humans will evolve to an enlightened state where peaceful coexistence will become a reality. Unfortunately, I see a lot of death and destruction before that Phoenix can rise and become a reality.
This issue addresses with the question: What is a hero?
It is most often in times of great tragedy that heroes are born. Only the flame of suffering burns hot enough to forge one’s spirit. These men and women… these heroes… have seen sorrow. They have endured and triumphed. At times, I have been the source of said adversity. Yet they have come through the fire stronger than they were before. But none of that matters now. The Red Onslaught is upon us, and perseverance in the face of tragedy… is worth no more than the dirt upon which heroes fall.
I’ve read this passage several times and it keeps getting deeper for me. All heroes suffer. All heroes overcome adversity. But ultimately, all heroes fall. There is a cycle that pertains to the heroic. And whether the hero falls as a result of a tragic flaw or a mistake, the fall is inevitable.
I will say one more thing about this issue; Doctor Strange makes a brief cameo appearance. I confess that I am very excited about the upcoming Doctor Strange film. I wonder if Marvel is going to start dropping Easter Eggs in their comics.
This is the first part of a mini-series featuring the Red Skull. He is a pretty nasty character who runs a concentration camp for mutants. Magneto experiences a series of memories from when he was in a Nazi concentration camp. During his incarceration there, he was forced to load bodies into the furnaces. These memories cause him to act recklessly as he feels that stepping forth to challenge the Red Skull will constitute making amends for his acquiescence and his failure to fight against the Nazi atrocities.
Memories can be terrible tormentors. For a long time, I was tormented by the memories of things I did, and failed to do. It is easy to look back at our past and imagine how we could have or should have done things differently. But I eventually figured out that it serves no purpose. The past is the past. At best, we can learn from our mistakes. Obsessing about what happened serves no purpose. It is easier said than done, and I often find myself slipping back into self-obsession, but I usually recognize this when it happens and can change my thinking. The truth is, it’s much easier to change your thoughts than it is to change the past.
I decided to read the new issue this morning since Nathan Edmondson, the writer, will be in town this weekend for the Asheville Comic Expo. The issue is good and includes another Marvel hero, Hawkeye. Are we surprised that Natasha has also been romantically involved with Hawkeye? No, this seems to be her modus operandi.
There is a parallel storyline that switches back and forth. In the present, Natasha’s friend and lawyer Isaiah has been kidnapped by someone from Natasha’s past. The parallel story provides the details about what happened in the past and establishes the connection to the current situation. It works well, and I like the way the artist employs different color schemes to differentiate between the two strands.
I am looking forward to the expo this weekend. I plan on attending with my daughter, who is also excited. I’m sure I will be leaving with yet more stuff to read, because that’s my modus operandi.
The two previous issues of the Black Widow series each included an appearance by another Marvel hero, and this one continues the streak with the inclusion of the Punisher. I get a sense that the writers are weaving together a story that will ultimately connect others in the Marvel universe. That works for me. It is like a bonus feature.
In this installment, Natasha continues her search for the mysterious organization, Chaos. She locates a vessel off the coast of Costa Rica that is being used as a transmitting station by Chaos. It is there that she encounters the Punisher who aides her in overcoming the Chaos henchmen. Unfortunately, the vessel is destroyed and Natasha is left with unanswered questions.
The reader is also left with unanswered questions, which make you want to get the next issue and find out what happens (great way to ensure you meet your sales projections). I have to say, I am enjoying the complexity of this storyline. It seems that there are a lot of strands that are all leading somewhere.
In this issue, Magneto is in Hong Kong investigating the disappearance of mutants there. He uncovers a ring of people who kidnap mutants and force them to participate in gladiatorial fights to the death while humans cheer and place bets. He also discovers that these individuals are using advanced anti-mutant technology and harvesting mutant cells to inject into humans who seek to enhance their abilities. It is a fairly dark and violent issue.
There is a section of this comic that I found particularly interesting. As Magneto is in the pit getting ready to fight, he is contemplating the nature of adaptation and how it affects an individual’s personal development.
It is a common misconception among humans… and even among many mutants… that we are defined by our powers. Mutation, though, is adaptation. I was born with the power to shape metal. But I was forged into the man I am today. It is my conviction… not my abilities… that makes me who I am.
I have always felt that a person’s determination and perseverance is what actually allows one to achieve success. I have seen plenty of people who are talented fail because they lack the drive or the confidence needed to reach their goals. That said, one cannot deny the impact that innate abilities and environmental conditions have on a person’s development. As I see the effects of climate change manifesting in the world and I envision how humanity must ultimately evolve in order to adapt, I wonder what it is that will enable some people to survive while others perish. I don’t have the answer to this, but there is one thing of which I feel fairly certain, that the abilities which will allow our species to survive the impending global changes will not the same as the ones that have allowed us to dominate the evolutionary scale for so long. I suspect that we will soon witness, first hand, Darwin’s theory played out.