I'm not on Millar's side in this argument, that's for sure
NRAMA: So how much of this is just a good ole fashion superhero story, and how much of it is meant as allegory and perhaps commentary on some of the political and social realities of the post 9/11 world? For instance, the debate in regards to the compromising of civil liberties stemming from the Patriotic Act, and the privacy issues surrounding the wiretapping controversy in the U.S.?It's very hidden/cryptic, but I think Millar just hinted at something I suspected this miniseries could be about: supposed hostility to immigrants by the American public.
MM: It's actually both, though should be read as a superhero story. The Golden Age Superman isn't about immigrants needing a hope figure in the middle of the Depression. It's about Superman fighting Luthor and mad robots. Spider-Man isn't about sexually repressed teenagers secretly firing a thick, gooey substance behind their auntie's back, it's about Spider-Man fighting the Green Goblin. The undercurrents are there with all these stories and it gives them a little depth. Children and adults will, even subconsciously, be able to identify this as the world they're living in and hopefully what's essentially a fanboy beat-em-up on some level with also have a little more resonance.
NRAMA: The fact that you're not an American, don't live here and didn't grow up here, do you think that outsiders perspective is a benefit to tacking issues like these, or a limitation?And in all due fairness, you don't have to be a foreigner to have a bias against a certain government's policies to the point of letting it get in the way of everything else, to the point of hampering what creativity you could have. That aside, Millar seems to be avoiding the question as best as he can, probably because his standings are pretty apparent - he's against the Dubya administration's policies (and he did speak against them four years ago), uncertain as they are, and is using this book as an excuse to attack them over it.
MM: I don't think it matters at all. You can write X-Men without being a mutant. You don't have to be a horse to be a vet.
As for the part about "Whose side are you on?", the Q&A is as follows:
NRAMA: Marvel has played up the "Whose Side Are You On" angle, and have identified Captain America and Iron Man as leaders of the two factions. Some readers have speculated that Cap, being the soldier that he is, would naturally side with his government and the pro-registration side. But looked at as a symbol of the ideals this country was founded on, i.e. freedom and civil liberties, the case could be made he's actually on the con side - a case supported by the fact that Wolverine and Namor seem to be on his side, and its hard to imagine them on the pro side under any circumstances. Any thoughts you can share as to who is on what side and why?It is interesting how Millar uses that answer as a means of obscuring a storyline he needlessly regurgitated a few years ago in the Ultimates - the spousal abuse inflicted by Hank Pym against Janet Van Dyne, something that doesn't even seem to factor into this interview.
MM: No, I don't want to give that stuff away. That's really what the book's about. I wasn't even going to reveal who picked what side, but that seems to have gotten out there already. Tony has his reasons - as you'll see in the book - but, as you say, Cap is about freedom more than anything else. He's about altruism and not being in anyone's pocket. He'd be repulsed by the idea of doing this as a job. He's all about civic duty. He's no lapdog and is bigger than any government, whether it's Republican or Democrat. He represents the ideal.
NRAMA: Do you think they'll be much division in fandom in terms of this issue? It's one thing to advocate giving up civil liberties when you feel genuinely threatened and it could make you more secure. But these are comic book superheroes. Do you think there will be equal number of fans that feel strongly that superheroes should be registered with the government.Here, I think it's the interviewers I must take issue with - since when did/was the general public ever required to give up civil liberties? That's the exaggeration/distortion that's been made by various opposers of the Patriot Act over the years.
MM: Yes. Definitely. And you'll constantly change your mind as you keep reading. Both sides have very compelling arguments. As readers, we might be drawn to the old ways we've always known (which Cap reps), but think about it: Would you rather The Punisher or Ghost Rider or Namor were licensed (or even locked up) or would you be quite happy seeing them running around doing whatever the Hell they wanted?
NRAMA: It was just a few years ago that people were burning Dixie Chicks CD's and voicing dissent in regards to the Iraq war nearly got you branded on a traitor on cable news talk shows. You think Civil War - which seems to be about deep political dissent - could have been published a couple of years ago?I'm sorry, Millar, but I must disagree. Books were decidedly not dull when the Boy President was around. In fact, I'd say it's almost the other way around now: with political biases creeping into various comics in this way or that, this has the effect of either making them dull, since they cloud a lot of entertainment value, or making them simply unbearable.
MM: Yes, definitely. I think Marvel's been great in this regard. The Ultimates is at least as political and we've never been touched despite the fact that we clearly stated last year that Bush's long-term plan (for himself and whoever succeeds him) was Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea and eventually China. They sent the heavy guns into Iran in Ultimates 2 to halt their nuclear program and it's kind of depressing to see it all unfolding in real life now too as guys like Seymour Hersh expose their nuclear ambitions for the region.
That said, I live miles away and am quite safe and it all makes great comics. Remember how dull books were under Clinton? Like the 80s, we need a Republican in the White House to react against to make good comics. Well done, Bush. May you reign forever.
And just look at how he keeps on with that moonbat implication that Dubya's "only doing it for himself." A better question might be, "is he really serious about liberating any dictatorial regime from the grip of tyranny?" (Thank goodness Abdul Rahman is now free. No thanks to Dubya, of course).
And Millar more or less admits it in the third paragraph - that without the kind of political attacks he's writing, that's why comics, in his mind, were dull. (Since when did 80s comics spend their entire time attacking Reagan, as Millar implies? I've got plenty of 80s comics around the house, and any criticism of Reagan is very minimal, if at all. In fact, contrary to what Millar's saying, they were quite favorable to him then!)
So if there's any side I'll be taking here, it most certainly won't be Millar's.