Tag Archives: Apocalypse

New Comic Book Day April 28, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

I’m a morning person, by nature. I know that makes me a freak to some people and I totally get that. I’ve met people who just can’t function properly before eight in the morning. I’m just not one of them. Ever since high school, I’ve been wired to get up before six and start doing whatever I need to do for my day.

That hasn’t just helped me with school, work, hobbies, and what not. It has nicely supplemented my love of comics, especially since Comixology entered the picture. I’ve lamented before how agonizing it was in ancient times before the internet. Back then, if you couldn’t get to a comic shop, which rarely opened before ten in the morning, you had to wait for your comics to arrive in the mail.

Except, they almost never arrived on time. In fact, a comic arriving on a Wednesday afternoon was something to be celebrated.

I don’t miss those days. Being a morning person, New Comic Book Day was less an event and more a test in frustration. That’s why Comixology has been such a godsend. Now, when I wake up early like I always do, I have my new comics waiting for me on my iPad. It’s a beautiful thing and I just love starting my Wednesday mornings with coffee and comics while watching the sun rise.

Even if you’re not a morning person, these are good times to be a comic fan. It has never been easier to get into. If you have an internet connection or a smartphone, you can immerse yourself in the world of comics. You don’t have to take in everything all at once. It can start with one Wednesday morning. Why not make it this one?

To assist, here is my pull list and pick of the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Action Comics #1030

Batman Black & White #5

Batman/Superman #17

Black Widow #6

BRZRKR #2

Cable #10

Detective Comics #1035

Fantastic Four #31

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #25

New Mutants #17

Savage Avengers #20

Silk #2

Star Wars: Darth Vader #11

X-Men Legends #3


My Pick Of The Week
X-Men Legends #3

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New Comic Book Day December 30, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

It’s the last New Comic Book Day on the last week of the year and I think I speak for many, comic lovers and non-comic lovers alike, when I say fuck 2020. Fuck this god-awful year. It cannot end fast enough.

I apologize. I just needed to get that out of my system. Thank you for bearing with me.

I know that’s a popular sentiment. I think everybody is ready to close the page on this shitty year and embrace 2021 in ways we usually reserve for puppies, kittens, and a cold beer on a hot summer day. However, we still have a few days left so there’s still time for an asteroid to hit.

For comic lovers, this year has been plenty challenging. At one point, the global pandemic that has dominated this year effectively brought the entire comic book world to a halt. It was a painful, heart-breaking time. I still remember it and the agony that came with it.

The industry has since adapted. It still has a long way to go and will likely face more upheavals in 2021. However, the bar for improvement is so low at this point that I’ll be content if it just means I can attend a comic convention at some point.

Normally, the last New Comic Book Day of the year is a time of bittersweet reflection. This year, which has been like no other, carries a very different feeling. Whatever that feeling entails, let’s try to enjoy it as best we can. Better days are coming. I believe that and I’m willing to work towards it.

In the meantime, here is my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #55

Avengers #40

Batman Annual #5

Ghost Rider: Return Of Vengeance #1

Justice League: Endless Winter #2

King In Black: Iron Man/Doom #1

Shang-Chi #4

Van Helsing #50

Wolverine #8

X-Men #16


My Pick Of The Week
X-Men #16

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How Conservatism, Christianity, And (Failed) Prophecies Created A Death Cult

When it comes to religion and religious people, I have a very simple standard for handling it.

If your religion gives you comfort and fulfillment, then that’s great. More power to you. I fully support you.

If being religious makes you a better person, then that’s great too. I fully support that as well.

If you sincerely believe what you believe and can tolerate others who believe differently, then that’s also great. We won’t have any problems. We’ll probably get along, as I’ve gotten along with many people who hold such beliefs.

However, if you use your religious beliefs to justify being an asshole to other people who don’t share your views, then that’s where I draw the line.

I’m willing to tolerate a lot of beliefs and theologies. I am not willing to tolerate that. Being an asshole is still being an asshole, no matter what deity, holy text, or preacher tries to say otherwise.

I make that disclaimer because there are certain sub-sets of every religion that does this. It doesn’t matter what they call themselves or what holy book they favor, they always seem to emerge. Assholes will find a way to be assholes. Religion just gives them more excuses than most and it’s incredibly frustrating. It’s one of the reasons I tend to criticize organized religion so much.

Religion can be a source of great comfort and fulfillment. It can also be a powerful tool for the corrupt and the power-hungry grifters who will jump at any opportunity to exploit people. Most of the time, it’s just infuriating to anyone with basic human decency. When religious zealots gain power, it becomes a serious concern.

However, there comes a point when serious concern turns into a legitimate, existential danger. It’s one thing for a group of uptight religious zealots to whine about a TV show that shows too many gay characters. It’s quite another when their policies and goals actively pursue the end of the goddamn world.

That’s not hyperbole.

That’s not even me taking their rhetoric out of context.

It’s true. There really is a certain segment of American Christianity that actively pursues a policy intended to bring about the end of days, as vaguely articulated in their holy book. They don’t hide it, either. That’s part of what makes it so scary, both to non-believers and other Christians who prefer the world not end.

This phenomenon is a dangerous and toxic convergence of extreme conservatism and evangelical Christianity. It centers largely around the nation of Israel, a country that has a way of triggering all sorts of extreme rhetoric. I won’t get into the particulars of that rhetoric. That’s not because I don’t think it’s relevant. It’s just impossible to talk about Israel these days without being accused of anti-Semitism.

There’s a reason why even Rick Sanchez got anxious when Israel came up.

All you need to know is that these end time beliefs rely on Zionism. Without getting too deep into the politics or the rhetoric surrounding this term, it’s a catch-all word for the creation and maintenance of a Jewish state in the holy land. Despite the historic presence of the predominantly Muslim Palestinians, these end times beliefs basically need Israel to be there. If it isn’t, then the prophecies in the bible can’t occur.

It’s the primary reason why this subset of Christianity is so dogmatically supportive of Israel, no matter what they do. It shows in polls. According to the Washington Post, half of evangelicals support Israel because they believe it’s important for fulfilling end-times prophecy. That continued support is a key political position for conservative politics. You can’t appeal to this brand of Christianity without supporting Israel.

Now, it’s one thing to dogmatically support another ally on the geopolitical stage. It’s quite another when your reasons for doing so have a basis in bringing about the end of the goddamn world. According to the prophecies that these right-wing Christians so ardently believe in, Israel has to exist in order for the anti-Christ to return and seize power.

Once the anti-Christ returns, the world basically descends into a massive glut of carnage and suffering. Countless people suffer and die. The world, as we know it, falls apart and becomes so objectively horrible that it’s basically indistinguishable from being in Hell. Anybody alive during this time, be they Christian or not, is left to suffer horribly.

Again, this movement wants this to happen. They, the conservative Christian evangelicals that so routinely vote for like-minded politicians, actively pursue policies that bring this suffering on. They’ll justify it by saying Jesus will come in the end and save everybody, as their holy text prophecies. Never mind the many times biblical prophecies failed to come true. These people are willing to take that chance.

It is, by any measure, a death cult. It helps explain why these same conservative religious zealots seem unconcerned with preserving the environment or facilitating peaceful relations in the Middle East. To do so would mean delaying the end of days and they don’t want that. They seem both eager and determined to bring about apocalyptic destruction their holy book depicts.

It would be one thing if these individuals were just another fringe cult in the mold of David Koresh and Marshall Applewhite. These people have legitimate political power. They have an entire political party in their palms. When they’re in power, they have access to nuclear weapons and military force. For anyone who doesn’t want the world to end, regardless of their religious affiliation, this should be troubling.

Death cults are dangerous enough, but one with this kind of influence is especially concerning. As someone who sincerely doesn’t want the world to end, I find this movement very concerning. Like I said earlier, I can respect anyone’s religious beliefs, but when those beliefs prompt you to support ending the goddamn world, how can anyone of any faith honestly respect that?

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New Comic Book Day November 25, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is always extra special. For me, it’s like an appetizer before the appetizers. It’s a mini-holiday before a major holiday, which only serves to make both holidays even better.

Does that sound complicated and weird? I don’t doubt that it does.

Does it make me love it even more? Absolutely!

New comics are a like a hot meal for my soul. They inspire and invigorate me like my mother’s famous pumpkin pie. Knowing I’ll be able to dine on actual pumpkin pie the next day only makes them more delicious. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Whatever your Thanksgiving plans are this year, tempered they might be, today is a good day to work up an appetite. Before you start slaving away in the kitchen, take a step back to enjoy a nice stack of new comics. It’ll make you feel like a hero when dinner is served.

To that end, here is my pull list and pick for this beautiful Thanksgiving Eve. Take care and I wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


My Pull List

Action Comics #1027

Batman Beyond #49

Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #2

Batman/Superman #14

Daredevil #24

Amazing Spider-Man #53.LR

Doctor Doom #9

Excalibur #15

Fantastic Four: Antithesis #4

Justice League Dark #28

Rick and Morty Ever After #2

Shang-Chi #3

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #6

Wonder Woman #767

X Of Swords: Destruction #1

X-Men #15


My Pick Of The Week
X Of Swords: Destruction #1

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New Comic Book Day October 28, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

The week of Halloween is a fun week. I don’t care how old you are. If you can’t have fun on a week dominated by candy, cheesy horror movies, and women dressing in slutty costumes, then you’re just being difficult. Even if you don’t go out trick-or-treating, Halloween has a little something for everyone to enjoy.

Add a stack of new comics to the mix and it’s like adding an extra layer of icing to a cake. It just makes everything so much sweeter. Now, it used to be that comic companies would often create Halloween special issues. While that still exists for some publishers, namely Zenescope, most have moved away from that.

Even without those specials, you can usually find a few comics that fit right into the Halloween spirit. Sometimes, it’s a simple Hulk comic. Sometimes, it’s Blade or John Constantine. It doesn’t have to be horror themed, but if it’s bloody, brutal, and has lots of elaborate costumes, it’s often close enough.

New Comic Book Day is festive enough. Add a little Halloween candy and a pumpkin latte to the mix and you’re really in the spirit. This year may suck, especially for Halloween parties, but there are still ways to celebrate. Comics and candy are as good as any.

In that spirit, here is my pull list and picks for the week. It may still be a bit premature, but I’ll say it anyways. Happy Halloween!


My Pull List

Action Comics #1026

Amazing Spider-Man #51

Batgirl #50

Batman Beyond #48

Batman: Three Jokers #3

Black Widow: Widow’s Sting #1

Detective Comics #1029

Dr. Doom #8

Fantastic Four: Antithesis #3

Immortal Hulk #39

Justice League Dark #27

Power Rangers: Drakkon New Dawn #3

Rick and Morty #1: Ever After

Shang-Chi #2

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #5

Wonder Woman #765

X Of Swords: Stasis #1


My Pick Of The Week
X Of Swords: Stasis #1

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New Comic Book Day February 26, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

Everyone has their vice. Some are more destructive than others. There’s no question that crack and heroin are more damaging than a spicy foods and late 90s boy bands. Some are only destructive to your wallet. In that sense, I’m lucky my vice is comics. Say what you will about the cost of a collector’s item. It’s still cheaper than cocaine, cars, and caviar.

Wednesdays are the days I know I’ll blast a hole in my wallet. When I was in college, new comic day almost always coincided with Ramen Noodle day. I don’t doubt that dining on cheap food had an impact on my health. For a fresh stack of comics, it was worth the stomach pains.

I’m not in college any more and I don’t have to plan new comic day around cheap meals either. For that, I’m thankful. I’m also thankful that as my financial situation has improved, I’m able to better absorb the weekly splurge I often do at the comic shop and on Comixology. It makes new comic day that much more enjoyable.

In terms of vices, it’s plenty manageable. Sometimes, the message boards are a little dramatic and so is social media. It’s still a price worth paying. Some weeks cost more than others. This week is definitely one of them, but considering what I get from that money, it’s still a bargain.

With that in mind, here’s my pull list and my pick for the week. My wallet may be hurting, but I’ll manage.


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #40

Avengers #31

Batgirl #44

Batman/Superman #7

Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey And Emma Frost #1

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #48

New Mutants #8

Rick and Morty #59

Star #2

Wonder Woman #752

X-Men #7

X-Men/Fantastic Four #2


My Pick of the Week

When you’ve been a fan of a particular comic or franchise for years, you get a sense for which issues will be controversial. It doesn’t always involve character deaths or betrayals, although that is an all-too-common trope. In fact, those that don’t involve character deaths tend to be the most controversial because they raise difficult questions that even long-time fans struggle to answer.

That’s exactly the kind of controversy that I imagine “X-Men #7” will inspire. It’s one of those books that introduces concepts that are sure make certain fans feel uneasy, but for entirely nuanced reasons. This goes far beyond Charles Xavier lying to the X-Men or Wolverine sleeping with Squirrel Girl. Writer Jonathan Hickman is taking the X-Men into some very morally gray areas that are sure to have larger consequences down the line.

There’s a context to those actions and one that has a basis in the founding of Krakoa. It’s established in “House of X/Powers of X” that creating a powerful mutant nation isn’t enough. Mutants are still a vulnerable species. They’ve been decimated through acts of genocide and de-powered through reality warping. To realize their potential, they need to get take back what they’ve lost.

However, doing so requires a somewhat distressing recourse, to say the least. It involves a process they call Crucible. It’s nothing what it sounds like. I won’t spoil it, but the goal is simple. It gives mutants who have been de-powered a chance to regain their powers, but how they go about it raises some serious moral dilemmas.

It’s a dilemma that some veteran X-Men, namely Cyclops and Nightcrawler, have mixed feelings about. It also raises questions about Krakoa’s resurrection protocols, which they’ve both experienced at one point. They act mostly as observers because as distressing as Crucible is, it’s something that de-powered mutants freely choose and who is anyone to question their choice?

It still feels like the X-Men are crossing some lines in their effort to make mutants stronger. It also raises more concerns about the nature of Krakoa and how the X-Men are going about realizing their goals. Years from now, “X-Men #7” might be one of those comics that acts as a turning point in a larger narrative. Hickman has never shied away from bold ideas, but this might be his boldest to date.

There are many concepts he’s explored since Krakoa’s founding in “House of X/Powers of X.” Many others are hinted at in “X-Men #7,” including some innuendo with Cyclops and Wolverine I’m sure will get a certain sub-set of fans talking. The X-Men franchise is entering uncharted, morally ambiguous territory. If nothing else, “X-Men #7” makes clear that there’s no going back and that’s why I believe it’s my pick of this week.

That said, it might be a good idea to avoid comic book message boards for a while. It’s going to get heated.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Powers of X #6

When assessing the greatness of a particular story arc in comics, there are many factors to consider. There’s the quality of the writing, the strength of the characterization, the cohesiveness of the plot, the vibrancy of the artwork, and how it all fits together in terms of the greater narrative. Many comics succeed in some of these areas and are worth reading. Very few manage to succeed in most.

I usually try to avoid spoiling too much of a great story, but I will spoil one thing. “Powers of X #6,” and the overall story arc it capped off, is among those select few. In the history of X-Men comics, Marvel Comics, and superhero comics in general, this is one of those stories that will likely stand out as an example of what’s possible when all the right story elements are in place.

Writer Jonathan Hickman has always been someone with big ideas who builds even bigger stories around them. He starts with a concept. Then, he positions the characters around it in such a way that requires them to evolve in ways that they’ve never dared. From there, the story only gets bigger in terms of scope, scale, and impact.

He did it with the Avengers. He did it with the Fantastic Four. Now, he’s done it again with the X-Men. As a lifelong X-Men fan, who has seen some pretty awful runs and some exceedingly dark times, I cannot overstate how refreshing this story is. I honestly cannot think of a time when an X-Men story arc felt so meaningful and relevant.

I’ve highlighted and praised various issues of House of X and Powers of X before, but “Powers of X #6” faces a unique challenge that many story arcs fail to overcome. It can’t just end the story on a particular note. It has to fill in some lingering plot holes while leaving just enough unfilled for future stories to build on. It’s a difficult balance to strike and one past X-Men story arcs have come up short.

That balance never falters in “Powers of X #6.” It fills in a few key plot holes, most notably the events of Moira MacTaggart’s mysterious sixth life. At the core of this story, and everything that stems from it, is the impact of Moira MacTaggart. It’s not hyperbole to state that she is now the most important character in the X-Men mythos.

Her role doesn’t just involve revealing what worked and didn’t work in terms of mutants trying to survive in a world that hates and fears them. In “Powers of X #6,” she witnesses the ultimate endgame for the human/mutant conflict. She sees the inevitable result of this conflict, regardless of which side she takes.

It doesn’t matter if someone sides with Magneto.

It doesn’t matter if someone sides with Professor Charles Xavier.

It doesn’t even matter if someone swears allegiance to Apocalypse and fights by his side.

The events in “Powers of X #6” establish that none of these conflicting groups, who have been clashing in X-Men comics since the Kennedy Administration, will be vindicated in the long run. Ultimately, they will be defeated, but not by the forces they think.

It’s a point that Hickman makes clearly by building on key moments established in past issues of Powers of X and House of X. Within these moments, harsh truths are dropped and fateful choices are made. They help give the achievements that played out in “House of X #6” even more weight. They also establish the stakes the X-men, and the entire mutant race in general, face moving forward.

These are powerful moments that impact the past, present, and future of the X-Men. Through Moira, the greatest threats facing mutants takes a very different form. It’s not a menacing new Sentinel. It’s not some mutant tyrant, either. It’s not even some bigoted human who thinks interment camps are still a good idea. I won’t spoil the particulars, but c makes clear that the X-Men have an uphill battle.

That’s saying a lot, considering the mutant race is more united than it has ever been. They have a home in Krakoa. Teammates who have been dead or missing for many years are back. They have valuable resources that the world wants. They’ve even won over their greatest enemies, like Apocalypse.

However, even with Moira’s foresight, that still might not be enough.

It might be the greatest achievement of “Powers of X #6.” It is an ending to a bold new beginning for the X-Men, but it also redefines the challenges they face. Through Hickman’s skilled world-building and artist R. B. Silva’s brilliant renderings, it genuinely feels like a true paradigm shift for X-Men comics.

They’re still mutants. They’re still the same superheroes they’ve always been. Their goals haven’t fundamentally changed that much. What has changed are the stakes, the forces opposing them, and their approach to dealing with them. It feels both hopeful and dire at the same time.

Whereas “House of X #6” establishes the promise of a brighter future for mutants, “Powers of X #6” reveals the ultimate barrier to that future. It’s not something they can shoot, blast, stab, or punch. If they want to succeed, then they have to fundamentally change how they go about Charles Xavier’s dream. Moreover, the dream itself needs to evolve.

Years from now, X-Men fans will likely look back on “Powers of X #6” as a defining moment for a narrative that has been unfolding for over 50 years. Those moments are few, far between, and precious. This one in particular may go down as one of the most uncanny.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: House Of X #6

There’s an unwritten rule in superhero comics. Heroes can enjoy a happy ending every now and then. However, it can only go so far. For every happy ending, there must also be a setup for the next conflict. It also can’t be too happy. The struggle can never stop or slow down. More epic battles must follow. Where else will Marvel and their Disney overlords get ideas for new billion-dollar movies?

Sometimes, the happy endings are as short-lived as they are shallow. This is especially true of X-Men comics. Their struggle is more complicated than fighting hordes of Hydra soldiers or battling invading Chitari armies. Sure, they regularly battle killer robots, but the primary source of their problems come from hatred and fear. There’s only so much they can triumph over that. A typical internet comments section is proof of that.

As a result, any victory the X-Men enjoy seems fleeting. Any semblance of a happy ending or true progress comes off as shallow or temporary. That has been my experience, as a lifelong X-Men fan. Then, “House of X #6” comes along and in the span of a single book, those unwritten are bent, broken, and redefined.

Throughout the X-Men’s colorful history, there have been many defining moments. Unfortunately, most of them often involve tragedy, destruction, and decimation. The moments that involve a triumphant, happy ending that feels like real progress in their struggles are few and far between. That only makes “House of X #6” more precious in the grand scheme of things.

This epic, world-building narrative began with a simple proclamation from Charles Xavier. While humanity slept, the world changed. In “House of X #6,” the sheer breadth of that change becomes clear. Xavier doesn’t just announce to the world that things are different. He explains why and how they got to this critical point.

It’s the kind of speech that leaves you anxious, astonished, concerned, and elated, all at the same time. He doesn’t talk around the truth or rely on alternative facts. He lays out clearly what mutants have been through. Even if you haven’t been following the X-Men comics for the past several decades, you get a clear understanding of how they got to this point.

They’ve been bullied, attacked, ignored, and driven to the brink of extinction more than once. They’ve clashed with other superheroes while being held to a different standard. In a world where so many other people have superpowers and aren’t subject to constant killer robot attacks, mutants are seen as a menace.

Now, they’re not just outcasts fighting for their lives and working towards impossible dreams. They’re a full-fledged society. They now have a home in Krakoa, which is now a full-fledged nation. They have their own culture and identity that they’re willing to fight for. These all feel like changes that are exceedingly overdue. Writer Jonathan Hickman finally put it into words while artist Pepe Larraz gave it vibrant visuals.

It’s a beautiful, cathartic moment that X-Men fans of all kinds can appreciate. On top of this momentous announcement, Hickman adds a few more details to the world-building. Now that mutants have their own nation, they have to go about governing it. It’s the kind of detail that tends to get overlooked in most superhero narratives, but it’s those same details that give depth to this emerging status quo.

The government of Krakoa is not overly complicated, but it’s still comprehensive in its vision. Hickman does not skimp on the details. We even get to see how Krakoa handles difficult issues, such as major laws and what to do with those who break them. It’s not quite like watching a mutant version of C-SPAN, but it gets the point across.

This isn’t just mutants consolidating their power. They’re trying to function as a real nation with real connections in the international community. They’re not going to be some isolated enclave. They actually have something to offer the world with the miracle drugs Krakoa produces. However, they’re not treating them as bargaining chips or gifts. They’re real assets with which to create standing in the world.

It’s uncharted territory for mutants. It also opens the door to a new host of complications, but for once, they don’t involve drawing battle lines between humans and mutants. Xavier still seeks peace, but not through impossible dreams anymore.

This is a huge shift for Charles Xavier’s character. It’s a huge shift for the X-Men, as well. They’re not just a team of mutant superheroes anymore. They’re something greater and “House of X #6” is their way of announcing that to the world.

I won’t spoil the many other ways Hickman and Larraz explore this exciting new world. There are plenty of moments that set the stage for a very different kind of struggle with the X-Men. There are also a few hints that they’ll be dealing with a few threats down the line, some more familiar than others. That’s unavoidable, both for superheroes and blossoming nations.

However, I will spoil one critical detail. “House of X #6” gives the X-Men, mutants, and long-time fans a reason to celebrate. It wasn’t that long ago that the X-Men were in a dire state. Marvel was going out of their way marginalized them in favor of propping up the Inhumans. Major characters were being killed off, left and right. Now, in wake of this issue, those dark days feel like distant memories.

The events of “House of X #6” feel like the end of a long, tumultuous period of tribulations and the beginning of a new era. It’s not all doom and gloom, for once. There’s reason to be happy. There’s reason to grab a beer and celebrate. If the X-Men comics were to end with this issue, it would be a damn good ending.

A new world has been built. A new era has arrived for the X-Men. It’s as satisfying as it is overdue. To X-Men fans of all kinds, get some friends, grab a cold beer, and have a party. Hickman has given us a reason to celebrate.

 

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Why Biological Weapons Will Be A (MUCH) Bigger Threat In The Future

diabolical-biological-warfare

It wasn’t too long ago that the biggest existential threat facing humanity was nuclear war. I’ve noted before how distressingly close we’ve come to a nuclear disaster and how the threat of a nuclear holocaust is still present. However, that threat has abated in recent decades, especially as nuclear weapons have gotten so destructive that their use is somewhat redundant.

More recently, people have become more concerned about the threat posed by advanced artificial intelligence. The idea is that at some point, an AI will become so intelligent and capable that we won’t be able to stop it in the event it decides that humanity must go extinct. It’s the basis of every Terminator movie, as well as an Avengers movie.

While I certainly have my concerns about the dangers of advanced artificial intelligence, it’s not the threat that worries me most these days. We still have some measure of control over the development of AI and we’re in a good position to guide that technology down a path that won’t destroy the human race. The same cannot be said for biological weapons.

If there’s one true threat that worries me more with each passing day, it’s that. Biological weapons are one of those major threats that does not slip under the radar, as evidenced by plenty of movies, books, and TV shows. However, the extent of that threat has become more understated in recent years and has the potential to be something more powerful than nuclear weapons.

By powerful, I don’t necessarily mean deadlier. At the end of the day, nuclear weapons are still more capable of rendering the human race extinct and turning the whole planet into a radioactive wasteland. The true power of biological weapons less about how deadly they can be and more about how useful they could be to potential governments, tyrants, or extremists.

For most of human history, that power has been limited. There’s no question that disease has shaped the course of human history. Some plagues are so influential that they mark major turning points for entire continents. The same can be said for our ability to treat such diseases. However, all these diseases had one fatal flaw that kept them from wiping out the human race.

Thanks to the fundamental forces of evolution, a deadly pathogen can only be so deadly and still survive. After all, an organism’s ultimate goal isn’t to kill everything it encounters. It’s to survive and reproduce. It can’t do that if it kills a carrier too quickly. If it’s too benign, however, then the carrier’s immune system will wipe it out.

That’s why even diseases as deadly as Ebola and Influenza can only be so infectious. If they kill all their hosts, then they die with them. That’s why, much to the chagrin of creationists, evolution doesn’t favor the natural emergence of apocalyptic diseases. They can still devastate the human race, but they can’t necessarily wipe it out. It would only wipe itself out in the process and most lifeforms avoid that.

It’s also why the large-scale biological weapons programs of the 20th century could only be so effective. Even if a country manufactured enough doses of an existing disease to infect every person on the planet, it won’t necessarily be deadly enough to kill everyone. Even at its worst, smallpox and bubonic plague never killed more than two-thirds of those it infected.

That’s not even factoring in how difficult it is to distribute these pathogens to everyone without anyone noticing. It’s even harder today because powerful governments invest significant resources into preventing and containing an outbreak. If large numbers of people start getting sick and dropping dead at a rapid rate, then someone will notice and take action.

That’s why, for the most part, biological weapons are both ethically untenable and not very useful as weapons of mass destruction. They’re difficult to control, difficult to distribute, and have unpredictable effects. They also require immense resources, considerable technical know-how, and a keen understanding of science. Thankfully, these are all things that extreme religious zealots tend to lack.

For the most part, these powerful constraints have kept biological weapons from being too great a threat. However, recent advances in biotechnology could change that and it’s here where I really start to worry. With recent advances in gene-editing and the emergence of tools like CRISPR, those limitations that kept biological weapons in check may no longer be insurmountable.

While I’ve done plenty to highlight all the good that tools like CRISPR could do, I don’t deny that there are potential dangers. Like nuclear weapons, this technology is undeniably powerful and powerful technology always carries great risks. With CRISPR, the risks aren’t as overt as obvious as fiery mushroom clouds, but they can be every bit as deadly.

In theory, CRISPR makes it possible to cut and paste genetic material with the same ease as arranging scattered puzzle pieces. With right materials and tools, this technology could be used to create genetic combinations in organisms that could never occur naturally or even with artificial selection.

Imagine a strain of smallpox that was lethal 100 percent of the time and just as infectious.

Imagine a strain of the flu that was as easy to spread as the common cold, but as deadly as bubonic plague.

Imagine a strain of an entirely new pathogen that is extremely lethal and completely immune to all modern medicine.

These are all possible, albeit exceedingly difficult, with genetic editing. Unlike nuclear weapons, it doesn’t require the procurement of expensive and dangerous elements. It just needs DNA, RNA, and a lab with which to produce them. It’s a scary idea, but that’s actually not the worst of it, nor is it the one that worries me most.

A doomsday bioweapon like that might be appealing to generic super-villains, but like nuclear weapons, they’re not very strategic because they kill everyone and everything. For those with a more strategic form of blood-lust, advanced biological weapons offer advantages that sets them apart from any other weapon.

Instead of a pathogen infecting everyone it comes into contact with, what if it only infected a certain group of people that carry a specifics traits associated with a particular race or ethnic group? What if someone wanted to be even more strategic than that and craft a pathogen that attacked only one specific person?

In principle, this is possible if you can manipulate the genetics of a disease in just the right way. Granted, it’s extremely difficult, but the potential utility makes it more useful than a nuclear bomb will ever be.

Suddenly, a government or terrorist organization doesn’t need a skilled assassin on the level of James Bond to target a specific person or group. They just need the right genetic material and a working knowledge of how to program it into a synthetic pathogen. It could even be made to look like a completely different disease, which ensured it didn’t raise any red flags.

It’s not the ultimate weapon, but it’s pretty darn close. Biological weapons with this level of refinement could potentially target entire groups of people and never put the attackers at risk. As a strategy, it can effectively end an entire conflict without a shot being fired. Those infected wouldn’t even know it was fired if the pathogen were effectively distributed.

It’s one of those weapons that both terrorists and governments would be tempted to use. The most distressing part is they could use it in a way that’s difficult to detect, let alone counter. Even after all the death and destruction has been wrought, how do you even prove that it was a result of a bioweapon? Even if you could prove that, how would you know who made it?

These are the kinds of questions that only have disturbing answers. They’re also the reasons why I believe biological weapons are poised to become a far bigger issue in the coming years. Even if it’s unlikely they’ll wipe out the human race, they can still cause a special kind of destruction that’s almost impossible to counter.

Unlike any other weapon, though, the destruction could be targeted, undetectable, and unstoppable. Those who wield this technology would have the power to spread death with a level of precision and tact unprecedented in human history. While I believe that humanity will eventually be able to handle dangerous technology like artificial intelligence, I doubt it’ll ever be capable of handling a weapon like that.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: House of X #2

What would you do if you could live your entire life over again with all the memories of your previous life? What if you could do that more than once and come into the world with knowledge and experience equivalent to multiple lives? Movies like “Groundhog Day” and “Edge of Tomorrow” attempted to answer that question in part. Jonathan Hickman tries to answer that question more fully in “House of X #2.”

As someone who has been reading comics for a sizable chunk of his life, I know how rare it is to see a single issue come along that both redefines a character and explores a host of new, exciting concepts. I thought “House of X #1” was one of those once-in-a-decade comics that wasn’t going to be matched for a good long while. I was wrong.

I’m glad I was wrong too because what Hickman accomplishes in “House of X #2” is as remarkable as it is engaging. It doesn’t just give context to the previous events that were revealed in both “House of X #1” and “Powers of X #1.” It completely redefines the entire history of the X-Men.

For a series that includes multiple time travel plots and multiple dystopian timelines, that’s quite an accomplishment. It’s how Hickman and artist Pepe Larraz go about it that makes “House of X #2” so impactful. It begins and ends with how the story rewrites the role of Moira MacTaggart.

It’s not hyperbole to say that this single issue makes Moira the most important character in the history of the X-Men, the mutant race, and their future. For a character who was either a love interest for Charles Xavier or a side-character who often got overshadowed by other mutants, that’s quite an accomplishment.

This is not the same Moira from the “X-Men First Class” movie. This version of Moira is a mutant with a very unique power. It doesn’t involve shooting lasers out of her eyes, reading minds, or shape-shifting. Her power is basically a more complete version of the abilities that Bill Murray and Tom Cruise enjoyed in the aforementioned movies.

In essence, Moira lives her entire life, dies, and is reborn with all her memories and experiences intact. It’s not restricted to a single day. It’s not indefinite, either. Like an old Mario game, she has a limit to the number of lives she can live. What she does with them is up to her. Knowing what happens to mutants, humans, the X-Men, and Charles Xavier informs her choices.

It raises many profound questions about Moira’s role in the history of the X-Men and the Marvel universe in general. It also expands on how Moira came to influence the events of “House of X #1” and “Powers of X #1.”

The story, itself, is built around the multiple lives that Moira has lived. I won’t spoil the details, since this is one of those comics that needs to be read to appreciate the impact. I’ll simply confirm that she tries multiple approaches to averting yet another dystopian future for the X-Men, mutants, and humanity as a whole.

Some of those approaches involve working with Charles Xavier. Others involve actively opposing him. In all the lives leading up to her tenth, there are a few common themes. When two competing species inhabit the same world, there’s bound to be conflict. Efforts to escape or preemptively win that conflict rarely pan out.

Like Phil Connors constantly waking up on Groundhog Day, no matter what he does, Moira keeps hitting a proverbial wall. No matter what she attempts, there doesn’t seem to be a way around this conflict. It’s not until her 10th life that she comes to the realization that leads to “House of X #1.”

It’s hard to overstate how much “House of X #2” changes the overall context of the X-Men comic. Suddenly, Moira MacTaggart is the most influential character in the history of the X-Men, mutants, and everything in between. What she does, why she does it, and how she goes about it changes how we see the past, as well as the present.

The benefits of hindsight make it seem simple, but it isn’t. It also raises a great many questions. If Moira has all this knowledge, why didn’t she use it to achieve more? What made her choose the path that led to the most recent events for the X-Men and the Marvel universe, as a whole? Most of these questions go unanswered, but there are some telling clues that add even more intrigue.

Hickman and Larraz achieve something truly uncanny with “House of X #2.” I know I said the same thing about “House of X #1,” but that comic now has a greater meaning thanks to this one. The stakes for every other X-Men story that unfolds after this has a new meaning as well. Few comics can boast that kind of impact without being written by Jack Kirby, but “House of X #2” is definitely one of them.

Even for those unfamiliar with the convoluted history of the X-Men can appreciate the concepts this comic explores. We see someone who has lived multiple lives, cursed with knowing how things play out for those she cares for. She wants to make that life better for herself and the world as a whole. She’s in a unique position to pursue that change, but it’s fraught with more complications than any “Groundhog Day” rip-off could convey.

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