Marvel Comics’ Civil War and the Age of Terror

Critical Essays on the Comic Saga


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About the Book

Marvel Comics has an established tradition of addressing relevant real-life issues facing the American public. With the publication of Civil War (2006–2007), a seven-issue crossover storyline spanning the Marvel universe, they focused on contemporary anxieties such as terrorism and threats to privacy and other civil liberties. This collection of new essays explores the Civil War series and its many tie-in titles from the perspectives of history, political science, sociology, psychology, literary criticism, philosophy, law and education. The contributors provide a close reading of the series’ main theme—the appropriate balance between freedom and security—and discuss how that balance affects citizenship, race, gender and identity construction in 21st-century America.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Michael Scott is an associate professor and coordinator of English education at Albany State University in Georgia. He lives in Leesburg, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Kevin Michael Scott

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9689-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2218-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Key to Abbreviations xi

Foreword (Robert G. Weiner) 1

Introduction (Kevin Michael Scott) 3

Part I —The SHRA: What the Marvel Universe Tells Us About American Legal Culture

The Superhuman Registration Act, the Constitution, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Ryan M. Davidson) 11

Whose Side Is the Law On? Living with Legalistic Absurdity in Marvel’s Civil War (Daniel Davis Wood) 26

Part II —Superheroics and the American Response to 9/11

Marvel’s Illuminati: Who Watches the Watchmen? (Mark Bousquet) 37

“You wish to know of war, old man?” Generational Conflict, Moral Compromise and Youth Rebellion in Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways (David Sweeney) 48

Whither Alpha Flight? The Nationalistic Response to Canada During the War on Terror (Brenna Clarke Gray) 58

Freedom versus Security: The Basic Human Dilemma from 9/11 to Marvel’s Civil War (Travis Langley) 69

Part III —Political Philosophy and Civil War

Political (In)Visibility in the Marvel Universe and the Real World (Anthony Petros Spanakos) 77

The Language of Common Sense: Thomas Paine and Civil War (Scott Cleary) 90

Competing Authorities in the Nation State of Marvel (Karl E. Martin) 98

Iron Curtain Man versus Captain American Exceptionalism: World War II and Cold War Nostalgia in the Age of Terror (Kathleen McClancy) 108

Part IV —Super-Powered, American and Marginalized: Triple Consciousness in the Marvel Universe

Battles of Family, Freedom and Femininity: Portrayals of Gender in Marvel’s Civil War (Brandi Hodo) 121

Superdad: Luke Cage and the Heroic Fatherhood Ideal in the Contemporary Marvel Universe (Jeffrey A. Brown) 130

Part V —Character(s) Revealed Through Trauma

Between Two Towers: The Struggle for the Soul of ­Spider-Man (Daniel J. ­O’Rourke) 143

Captain America in the 21st Century: The Battle for the Ideology of the American Dream (John McGuire) 150

Part VI —Graphic Narrative and Cultural Resonance

Visual Form and Meaning Making in Marvel’s Civil War (Joseph J. Darowski) 165

When Flaw Meets Form Meets Function: Narratology, Crossover Comic Events and a New Art Experience (Kevin Michael Scott) 174

Part VII —Teaching the Trouble: Pedagogy and Civil War

Teaching Ethics When Hero Battles Hero (Mark D. White) 189

Illustrating Pedagogy of the Oppressed: A Freirian Approach to Teaching Marvel’s Civil War (Seneca Vaught) 200

Afterword: Why Civil War Matters, Why This Book Matters (Marc DiPaolo) 213

About the Contributors 221

Index 223