Tag Archives: Tony Stark

Why Superhero Secret Identities Are More Relevant Than Ever

Superman

You don’t have to be a lifelong fan of superheroes to know the role that secret identities play in their over-arching narrative. It’s one of those story elements that often goes hand-in-hand with a hero’s journey. Part of becoming a hero involves forging an identity and, more often than not, this identity can’t function alongside the one they start with.

It’s a story that has roots in the early days of modern superhero comics. It wasn’t just a common plot point. It was practically a given. It was as necessary as capes, colorful costumes, and punishing masked criminals.

From a practical standpoint, having a secret identity has some legitimate merit. There are things Bruce Wayne can do as Batman that he cannot do and vice versa. The same goes for Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and many other iconic heroes. In “Batman Begins,” Bruce Wayne set the stage for his secret identity by crafting Batman as a symbol, one that conveyed an idea that went beyond the person in the costume.

In recalling that scene, I think that idea was more prophetic than Christopher Nolan initially intended. When I look at how secret identities have come to define many characters, I believe they’re more important today than they have been in any other era.

I don’t just say that as a long-time fan of superhero comics who has used his knowledge of the genre to explore serious issues. I believe that we, as a society, are entering uncharted territory when it comes to how we manage our identities. The influence of the internet, social media, and an increasingly connected world is more powerful than any fictional hero. It’s already finding its way into superhero media.

This topic became especially relevant for Superman fans because back in late 2019, the release of “Superman #18” officially revealed Superman’s identity as Clark Kent. Now, it wasn’t not the first time Superman’s identity has been exposed, but this time it wasn’t a gimmick. Now, Superman had to learn how to be Superman without a secret identity.

Over the past decade, the value and vulnerabilities of secret identities have been under fire. One of the most jarring moments of the original “Iron Man” movie was the very end when Tony Stark didn’t attempt to hide the fact he was Iron Man. For those not familiar with the comics, it might not have seemed like a big issue. Trust me, it was a major shift.

While Tony Stark debuted as Iron Man in 1963, his identity didn’t become public until the early 2000s. That’s nearly four decades of him operating with a secret identity. In the context of his journey, this was not a trivial decision.

What happened to Spider-Man at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” was even more jarring. While his secret identity has been revealed many times in the comics, it’s almost always retconned. Like Batman and Superman, he has to have a secret identity. He has to have a civilian life that’s separate from his superhero life.

There’s even a notable episode of “Superman: The Animated Series” in which Superman flat out admits that he’d go crazy if he couldn’t be Clark Kent. Think about that for a second. Superman, one of the most powerful and iconic superheroes of all time, admits that can’t handle a life without a secret identity. This is someone who can handle Lex Luthor, Darksied, and Brainiac. If he can’t handle it, then what hope do we have?

That question might not have been too relevant 20 years ago. Before the age of smartphones, broadband internet, and social media, a superhero might have been able to get away with having their identity exposed. You could say the same for anyone who happened to have a dirty secret or a double life. Whether it was an affair or a secret hobby, you didn’t have to work that hard to keep it secret.

Back then, not everyone had a fully-functional camera in their pocket or a means of sharing their media on a mass scale. Even if someone did manage to take a compromising picture or video, it wouldn’t be a huge revelation unless it was published by a major news source and even then there was no guarantee it would have staying power, especially if other major stories broke at the same time.

Now, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can capture compromising footage of anyone and share it with the world in seconds. In the world of superheroes, it makes keeping an identity harder than ever. Spider-Man found that out the hard way at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Ordinary people and major celebrities are finding that out as well in the real world.

The internet and social media has created an unusual, yet potent system that skews the dynamics of having an identity, secret or otherwise. On one hand, it’s easier than ever to create an anonymous persona on the internet. With that persona, people are unbound by the propriety of real-world interaction.

It’s part of why the comments section of any website or social media feed is full of deplorable rhetoric that highlights the worst in people. Ordinary people can use the anonymity of the internet to say thing they would never say to another human being face-to-face. At the same time, celebrities and people of influence have the opposite problem.

In this hyper-connected world, every word and every action is permanently archived and subject to greater scrutiny. Every mistake or misstep is amplified and blown out of proportion. Every bit of subtext and nuance is completely lost in the various biases and agendas of the public. In essence, public figures have little to no control of their identity. They are very much at the mercy of how others perceive them.

That kind of scrutiny can have benefits and drawbacks. You could argue that the added scrutiny of social media has held celebrities and people of influence to a higher standard. They can no longer operate in the shadows with impunity. Dirty secrets will come out. Bad behavior will be documented. The O.J. Simpsons and Bill Cosbys of yesteryear could not get away with their deplorable behavior in today’s environment.

That may be a good thing on some levels, but it comes at a cost and not just for those who have had their lives ruined by the internet. In a world where anonymous identities are easily created and valued identities are easily ruined, how can anyone hope to maintain a balanced perspective? Whether you’re an accomplished celebrity or just some random blogger, don’t you still need a persona that feels true?

For people who are stuck in difficult situations, such as those belonging to racial, religious, or LGBTQ minorities, having that secret identity might be the only one that feels true or genuine. If that gets exposed, then those individuals could be in legitimate danger. There are parts of the world who will punish these individuals in ways far more serious than online trolling.

In the past, these kinds of people didn’t have an outlet or a means of connecting with others who share their struggles. They either had to organize in secret or set up their own communities, which often meant making themselves real-life targets. The ability to create an identity, secret or otherwise, can be a powerful mechanism for helping people forge an identity that feels true to who they are.

To some extent, superheroes embody the importance of these identities. They can’t do what they do without them. They can’t remain connected to the people and the world they’re trying to protect if they’re always in costume, trying to maintain this persona they’ve created. Without it, they become disconnected and overwhelmed. As a result, they can’t be the heroes they need to be.

For people in the real world, having these identities is more important than ever. You don’t have to be a superhero to appreciate their value, but as our world becomes more connected, it’s become a lot easier to understand why Spider-Man and Batman work so hard to preserve their secret identities.

The fact they still struggle, despite having super-powers and billions of dollars, is a testament to just how difficult it can be. As the world becomes increasingly connected and increasingly tribal, it’s only going to get harder.

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Filed under Current Events, Marvel, media issues, outrage culture, political correctness, politics, psychology, Spider-Man, superhero comics, superhero movies

Captain America: Civil War And Its Overlooked (And Understated) Flaws

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I’ve been working on for a while now. It breaks down “Captain America: Civil War,” a movie that’s held in high regard in the pantheon of superhero movies. I saw it too. I enjoyed it. However, I feel there were some significant flaws that got glossed over and overlooked.

This video is my way of highlighting those flaws, as well as a deeper exploration into what made the Civil War event in the comics so impactful. Enjoy!

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New Comic Book Day November 4, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

We did it, America!

We made it through Election Day. I understand that can still change, but we still made it. That’s progress, in my book. I also doubt I’m alone in being relieved that we’ve finally made it through.

Now, I realize that there’s still plenty of post-election drama to unfold here in the United States. I may end up talking about that at some point. For now, I’d rather focus on something that brings objective joy to the world, namely comics.

The day after such a contentious election is the perfect day to indulge in some comic fueled awesome. I am not just ready. I need this and I suspect many others burned out on politics feel the same. The real world has been objectively awful on so many levels in 2020. An escape has never been more necessary.

That’s exactly what comics provide us. They are a simple, inexpensive joy that takes us out of this crazy world for a brief moment and into one full of wonder. I love every New Comic Day, but this particular day has never been more cathartic. To that end, here is my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Avengers #38

Batman #102

Black Widow #3

Captain Marvel #23

Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team #3

Dark Multiverse: Batman: Hush #1

DCeased: Dead Planet #5

Deadpool #8

Hellstrom: Marvel Tales #1

Marauders #14

Mighty Morphin #1

Red Sonja #21

Star Wars #8

Thor #9

Wolverine: Black, White & Blood #1

X-Men #14


My Pick Of The Week
Avengers #38

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Jack’s Comic Gems: Superior Iron Man

The following is a video for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s part of my comic gems series that highlights an overlooked or underrated gem from the world of comics. Enjoy!

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New Comic Book Day September 2, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

What do you do when you’ve had a lousy week? How do you make it bearable or, at the very least, somewhat less awful? These are questions I’m sure many people have been asking throughout 2020. There have been many lousy weeks thus far for reasons I hope are obvious. This past week certainly threw in a few more gut punches with the death of Chadwick Boseman.

As objectively awful as that is, we still move forward. We still try to make the following days less shitty. For me, enjoying a stack of new comics is part of that process. I’ve had many bad weeks throughout my life. Between puberty, high school, and graduating college during a recession, there was never a shortage of misery.

However, every Wednesday morning brought a ray of hope. Thanks to Comixology, the prospect of New Comic Book Day has always offered a boost to my dampened spirits. After this past week, I need that. I think we all need that. We find that boost wherever we can. For me, it’s new comics on Wednesday morning.

I’ve got my iPad, a fresh cup of coffee, and a wounded spirit. I’m ready to feel slightly less awful about the world now. I hope my other fellow comic fans can do the same. As always, here is my pull list and pick of the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Batman #98

Black Widow #1

Empyre #6

Fantastic Four #23

Guardians Of The Galaxy #6

Justice League #52

Marvel Zombies: Resurrection #1

Red Sonja #19

Wolverine #5

Young Justice #18


My Pick Of The Week
Empyre #6

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New Comic Book Day August 12, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

There are people who go out of their way to avoid the news, politics, and anything that might trigger a digital fist fight. I respect these people. At times, I’m one of them. However, avoiding the news and politics is one thing. Avoiding the effects is something else. You can avoid the constant whining and outrage surrounding an election or hashtag. You can’t avoid the reality of a global pandemic.

I’ve come to accept this in recent months. I don’t deny that, at one point, I tried to avoid any mention of it online or in person. That’s just not possible when entire parts of society are shut down and major events get cancelled. It’s sad, if not maddening. However, it need not be completely dire. Even if you can’t ignore these awful things, you can still find ways to cope.

For me, comics have been a preferred coping mechanism for years. Going back to previous crisis, including those of the personal kind, comics have given men some much-needed escapism from the harsh, unforgiving nature of the real world. During those times, New Comic Book Day takes on an even greater meaning.

I know it’s easy to take for granted, given how much upheaval the industry is in right now. For that reason, I cannot thank the writers, editors, and artists working tirelessly in the industry to give fans like me an escape. Their work may not be on the same level as doctors and nurses, but they still hold a special place in those fighting to endure this crisis.

To those wonderful individuals, I thank you on behalf of comic fans everywhere. Once again, here is my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy and stay safe, everyone!


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #46

Batman and the Outsiders #15

Captain Marvel #19

DCeased: Hope At World’s End #7

Empyre #5

Empyre: X-Men #3

The Flash #759

Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #8

Immortal Hulk #36

Marauders #11

Red Sonja: Age of Chaos #6

Star Wars: Darth Vader #4

Superman #24

Venom #27

Wonder Woman #760

X-Force #11


My Pick Of The Week
Empyre #5

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New Comic Book Day July 15, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

For lifelong comic book fans, like myself, there’s usually one Wednesday in every month where all the major comic publishers drop a glut of high-profile comics. It’s not always predictable. You rarely know when a week like that will drop. Sometimes, you’ll just have weeks that dump a large amount of comics on the market. Those are fun, but like many things, quality counts more than quantity.

Without going too deep into spoilers on this beautiful Wednesday morning, I can safely say that this is one of those weeks. It’s a week where quality, and quantity in terms of new titles, achieves a harmonious balance that would make Thanos himself smile. There’s no need for an Infinity Gauntlet or a snap that wipes out half of all life in the universe. It just happened, thanks to the tireless work of this colorful industry.

It’s another sign that the comics industry, as a whole, is emerging from the many delays and cancellations caused by the global pandemic over the past several months. There will still be effects here and there. I doubt we’ll know the full extent of those effects for another year. For now, though, the comic book world is hitting its first grand slam in months.

We all need good, encouraging news more than usual these days. For comic fans, this might as well be a trip back to the middle of 2019 before we heard of N95 masks and social distancing. I encourage everyone to savor this rare, yet precious iteration New Comic Book Days. We don’t know whether the world will go to shit again before we get another.

As always, here is my pull list and pick of the week.


My Pull List

2020 iWolverine #1

Amazing Spider-Man #44

Avengers #34

Captain Marvel #17

Catwoman #23

Empyre #1

Fantastic Four #21

Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto #1

Guardians Of The Galaxy #4

Immortal Hulk #35

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #51

Rick and Morty: Go To Hell #2

Spider-Woman #2

Venom #26


My Pick Of The Week
Empyre #1

 

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New Comic Book Day January 15, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

In the times before the internet, comic fans like myself built their entire Wednesdays around when and how they could get to a comic book store. As horrifying as a time before the internet might be to most people under the age of 25, some of us remember it. We also remember the challenges, but we don’t miss them.

For me, it was a tough challenge to get around. There would be days in which I couldn’t get to a shop to get my stack of comics and the mail service almost never delivered subscription titles on time. For that reason, and many others, Wednesdays were stressful. Now, thanks to online shops like Comixology, those dark times are distant memories.

It’s because of companies like Comixology, and their Amazon overlord, that Wednesdays are far less arduous. We wake up, log in, and have our entire pull list for the week at our fingertips. Throw in a cup of hot coffee with a pinch of whiskey and you’ve got a perfect storm of morning heaven.

Today is another trip to that heaven. With it, I have a digital pull list tailor made to make my Wednesday as special as it deserves to be. What follows is my pull list for the week and my top pick from that special lot.

Also, I wasn’t joking about the whiskey in my coffee.


My Pull List

Avengers #29

The Flash #86

Jessica Jones: Blind Spot #1

Valkyrie: Jane Foster #7

Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers #27

Iron Man 2020 #1


My Pick of the Week

Back in the mid 1980s, Marvel published a mini-series called Machine Man by Tom DeFalco, Herb Trimpe, and Barry Windsor-Smith. This underrated gem envisioned a cyberpunk future in which an emerging class of artificial intelligent beings clashed with humanity. On the front lines of that clash was Iron Man 2020.

At the time, it just seemed like a cool concept and a valid excuse to build a world around epic robot battles. Now, it is 2020. While we don’t have the same robot battles envisioned in that book, there are increasingly serious concerns about the emergence of artificial intelligence and what that could mean for the human race.

Iron Man 2020 #1” doesn’t just take this concept and run with it. It channels the spirit of Jack Kirby in pursuing bold ideas and the bolder implications behind them. Writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage embrace the aesthetics and themes of that old story. The Iron Man that emerges is a different kind if Iron Man.

If you haven’t been following the recent Iron Man comics, that’s not too great an obstacle. All you need to know is that Tony Stark lost control of his company and his Iron Man armor. It’s not because he’s “dead.” I put that in quotes because that’s somewhat of a relative term in this book, as well as many other Marvel books.

The Tony that had been running around as Iron Man was declared not to be the “real” Tony. He was just an artificial intelligence in a fresh body. Legally speaking, that means Tony is dead and everything he once owned now belongs to his brother, Arno Stark. If you don’t know his story, you’d be wise to look it up. For “Iron Man 2020 #1,” it’s not entirely necessary. You just need to know that he’s a new kind if Iron Man.

Tony’s presence still looms large, as do the ideas surrounding artificial intelligence, identity, and how it fits into a society still run by flawed, fleshy humans. There are a lot of new plots on top of ones that have been unfolding for years in the pages of Iron Man. “Iron Man 2020 #1” just sets the stage for what should be a very special year for all things Iron Man.

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Selling (And Exploiting) Human Enhancement: An Ominous Lesson From “Superior Iron Man”

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How much would you be willing to pay for perfect health, perfect beauty, and a greater capacity to enjoy life as you see fit? This is not a rhetorical question. I would even argue that it’s an increasingly relevant question. In the coming years, answering it might even become more urgent.

I’ve talked about the prospects of human enhancement through emerging technology before. From its impact on our concept of beauty to how our society will function, there are many impacts to consider. Some of those impacts are already manifesting before our eyes. Just last year, the first genetically modified babies were born in China. Like it or not, this is happening.

It’s impossible to overstate the benefits, risks, and upheavals that human enhancement will have on our species and our world. Nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen as this technology matures or how societies, economies, and governments will react to it. Even so, it’s worth contemplating. It’s even worth imagining elaborate scenarios in fictional worlds.

While plenty of noteworthy stories have imagined such scenarios, some more dystopian than others, there’s one in particular I’d like to single out. It’s not entirely dystopian, but it does offer some distressing lessons about the larger economics of human enhancement. It also helps that those lessons come through a forgotten, but criminally underrated Iron Man comic.

Given the rapid rise of Iron Man’s star power over the past decade, his character is uniquely qualified to explore these difficult questions surrounding technology and how we use it. He is, at his core, a visionary who uses technology to solve problems, save lives, and occasionally fight invading aliens. In the series, “Superior Iron Man,” he takes that vision several steps further and cross many lines along the way.

While there are some convoluted circumstances surrounding this series, the ideas it explores are profound, even by the standards of superhero comics. You don’t need to know the specifics of those circumstances. They involve forces like magic and inversion spells, which are far too complicated to explain to those who haven’t followed Marvel comics for more than two decades.

The only detail anyone needs to know about “Superior Iron Man” is that the Tony Stark in this story is not the same lovable character that helped make Robert Downy Jr. one of the most lovable stars in Hollywood. This version of Tony is less bound by concepts of heroism, selflessness, and sobriety. That’s not to say he’s evil, but he’s definitely no hero.

Within this ethically bankrupt state, Tony embarks on a new initiative that’s as selfish as it is lucrative. It revolves around Extremis, an exotic cocktail of nanotechnology and biotechnology that effectively rewrites the blueprint of the entire human body into something better, stronger, and more robust. In essence, it is the ultimate tool for human enhancement.

While the initial version of Extremis was lethal to most people who used it, Tony creates a more commercialized version in “Superior Iron Man” that gives everyone a chance to enjoy its benefits. He calls it Extremis 3.0 and people can access it through a simple smartphone app. With it, people can achieve what Tony describes as physical perfection.

Everyone can be perfectly healthy.

Everyone can be young and beautiful.

Everyone can be functionally immortal.

It sounds like a miracle drug and by every measure, it is. This isn’t some Dr. Oz wannabe pitching vitamins that do nothing other than give you false hope. This technology actually works. With it, Tony gives the entire city of San Francisco a chance to experience the fruits of human enhancement.

Understandably, once people get a taste of what Extremis 3.0 has to offer, they love it. They also take full advantage of it. At one point in the story, Pepper Potts says it’s turning the streets of San Francisco into a non-stop parade of debauchery and self-indulgence. Tony does not see this as a bad thing. If anything, it perfectly complements his plans and his renewed appetite for self-indulgence.

This is where “Superior Iron Man” attempts to answer that question about putting a price on physical perfection. Writer Tom Taylor, alongside artist Yildiray Çinar, doesn’t hide from the disturbing parts of that answer. By the end of the first issue, Tony puts a literal price on that perfection. Needless to say, it causes plenty of conflict and it escalates quickly.

When he initially released Extremis 3.0 onto San Francisco, he gives ordinary people a taste of what it’s like to be as fit as Captain America, as beautiful as Emma Frost, and as physically endowed as Thor. It’s not a drug that just attempts to match that feeling. It physically changes their bodies and their capacity for using them. That taste, however, was just a free sample. To keep enjoying it, they must pay $99 a day.

It’s crude trick right out of the playbook of subscription apps. People get a free trial period that’s just long enough to get them hooked. Then, before they even realize they have to pay anything, they get hit with a paywall. It’s a cruel bait-and-switch, but this isn’t just another streaming video service. This is physical perfection and unlimited self-indulgence. Is $99 a day really that unreasonable?

It certainly rubs plenty of people the wrong way, including many of Tony’s long-time friends and allies. Both Daredevil and Pepper Potts turn against him for such devious tactic. It also has some noticeable effects on the people who use it. By the end of the first issue, a stark class divide emerges between those who can afford Extremis 3.0 and those who can’t.

Naturally, it causes crime and conflict among the residents of San Francisco. Tony, now both feared and beloved by these people, takes it upon himself to manage it. He gains power, wealth, status, and an endless supply of eager party guests for whenever he seeks to indulge. It’s a perfect cocktail of recklessness and irresponsibility.

Without spoiling the rest of the story, which ended too soon, I think it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture that “Superior Iron Man” presented. If you take away the iconic characters and the superhero themes, you get a story about a selfish business tycoon who has sole possession of the ultimate biotech product.

The goal isn’t to heal the sick, ease suffering, or evolve the human species. The goal is simply to make a lot of money, feed an inflated ego, and indulge in every conceivable vice without consequences. It’s a worst-case scenario for liberals and conservatives, alike. At the same time, it makes a compelling case that our current system can’t handle the impacts of large-scale human enhancement.

That doesn’t mean it can’t succeed in our current system. The size of the current biotech industry is already measured in the hundreds of billions. Overpriced drugs are nothing new, either. Just this past year, the FDA approved a drug called Zolgensma, which costs $425,000 a year for five years to treat a rare genetic disorder called spinal muscular atrophy.

By comparison, Extremis 3.0 is a bargain with far greater value. Even at $99 a day, the yearly cost of enjoying that physical perfection amounts to around $36,500 a year. That still takes up a good chunk of the average income for most Americans, but considering all the benefits of having a perfect body, is it still a bargain?

For anyone who has overpaid for inflated medical expenses, I suspect they would gladly pay that high price for Extremis 3.0. Tony Stark banked on that in “Superior Iron Man” and he was right. People did pay and it was very lucrative for him. The population of the San Francisco Bay Area in which he unleashed Extremis 3.0 is around 4.6 million. At $99 a day, that’s a potential annual revenue of $167 billion.

In terms of business ranking, that would put Tony’s venture in the top 20 in terms of largest companies by revenue. If he were to unleash Extremis on the entire United States, the potential annual revenue would be near $11.8 trillion. That’s a little more than half of the entire US economy.

Imagine one company, let alone one person, having that much money and influence over a population. Tony was already a billionaire before “Superior Iron Man,” but Extremis 3.0 rewarded him with more than just money. Tony, being the sole provider, held a great deal of power and influence over San Francisco. As is often the case in superhero stories, that power goes to his head.

That story plays out in the real world just as often. In some cases, it brings out the worst in people. For a product like Extremis 3.0, which provides human enhancement into a simple commercial package that anyone can access through an app, the potential for abuse is much worse.

Beyond the greed it would inspire and the recklessness it fosters, it would also widen and solidify a gap in society that might be impossible to close. The wealth gap is in the non-superhero world is already egregious. Adding something like Extremis 3.0 to the mix would only make it immeasurably worse.

More than a few people has expressed concern about the prospects of such an enormous societal divide. “Superior Iron Man” showed just how bad it could get and how quickly it could escalate. While the series only managed to explore this conflict to a point before it got canceled, Tom Taylor did enough to get a powerful point across.

In a world where human enhancement is real and commercially available, how do we go about distributing it among a population? Should we put a price on it? How high should that price be? Who should be in control of it?

Worst case scenario.

Superior Iron Man” never got a chance to explore the answers, but these are questions that will become increasingly relevant as advances in biotechnology accelerate. We may not be close to having a product like Extremis 3.0 and it’s uncertain whether we’ll even develop something like it in the next few decades.

Even if we do, “Superior Iron Man” made one thing clear. We, as a species and a society, are not ready for it.

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Filed under biotechnology, futurism, health, human nature, Neuralink, Sexy Future, superhero comics

Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Captain Marvel #10

 

Captain Marvel (2019-) #10

Every so often, a new character comes along that you just know in your gut is going to be a big deal. I certainly felt it the first time I read about Kamala “Ms. Marvel” Khan back in 2014. I also felt it the first time I saw X-23 show up in a fateful episode of “X-Men Evolution.” It may be a bit premature on my part, but I definitely got that feeling about Ripley “Star” Ryan “Captain Marvel #10.”

For the past few issues of this series, writer Kelly Thompson has been teasing a new hero to challenge Carol Danvers in ways beyond who looks better in skin-tight outfits. Like Carol, she’s got blond hair, superpowers, and a fondness for punching the giant monsters that seem to invade New York City at least once a week. Marvel has even teased her as being the next big thing in their ever-evolving pantheon of heroes.

I admit, I was skeptical. Whenever a comic company goes out of their way to push a new hero like this, it tends to be hit or miss. Some, like Kamala Khan, work out wonderfully. Others become so forgettable that they’re relegated to punchlines for an entire era. For the most part, Star came off as just some generic woman trying to take advantage of Carol’s recent hardship. That all changed in Captain Marvel #10.”

After reading this book, I believe Star has the potential to be something special for both Captain Marvel and the larger Marvel universe. I’m not saying that potential could include a future phone call from Kevin Feige at Marvel Studios, but if I were Ms. Thompson, I would start preparing for that conversation.

Captain Marvel (2019-) #10

Whereas the past few issues have been full of questions, setbacks, and failures for Carol, “Captain Marvel #10” offers a fair amount of answers. Thanks to Tony Stark and an old adversary, Dr. Minn-Erva, who fans of the movie should recognize, Carol finds out why her powers have been acting up lately.

It has nothing to do with stress, mental blocks, or one too many grabs from Rogue. Someone infected her with a Kree-engineered virus and Dr. Minn-Erva doesn’t even try to make a mystery of it. She’s not exactly subtle and she gives Carol plenty of reasons to punch her senseless. On top of that, Dr. Minn-Erva is asking for Carol’s help. Let that sink in for a moment.

It’s not the charitable kind of help, either. It has been canon for a while that the Kree really screwed themselves, going all the way back to the “Black Vortex” event in 2015. They’re scattered, broken, and desperate. That gave Dr. Minn-Erva more than enough excuses to start experimenting with Kree and human DNA.

On paper, it seems like a good idea. Carol Danvers is half-Kree and she has proven on plenty of occasions that she can kick ass on an inter-stellar level. That’s exactly what the Kree needs in such desperate times.

As often happens with alien biology experiments in comics, things don’t go as planned.
Captain Marvel (2019-) #10

Without getting too deep into spoilers, I’ll note that Dr. Minn-Erva’s plans go beyond infecting Carol. I’ll also confirm that Star, who is revealed as Ripley Ryan, is a big part of those plans. Now, Ripley is very much a blank slate. Her first appearance was in “Captain Marvel #1” and she was just a sweet, hipster journalist looking to interview Carol.

Now, as Star, she’s a lot more than that. Between her powers and how she got them, her story is indelibly tied to Carol’s, more so than Kamala Khan’s. It’s also because of that connection that she has the potential to be Carol’s greatest ally or worst enemy. She proved in previous issues how capable she can be as an ally. In Captain Marvel #10,” she proves what she can do as an enemy.

Once the answers are laid out and the truth is revealed, the fighting starts. That’s where artist Carmen Carnero gives both Star and Captain Marvel the colorful spectacle that they deserve. It’s not just a clash between a new hero and an experienced veteran, either. There’s drama in this fight that you just can’t get from a typical rampaging monster or superhero brawl.

Captain Marvel (2019-) #10

The events of Captain Marvel #10 put Star at a unique crossroad. She can still become a hero. She can also become a dangerous new rival capable of challenging Captain Marvel, the Avengers, and anyone else who gets in her way. It’s not the least bit clear which path she’ll take, but the final pages hint that she’s willing to cross a few lines to realize her potential.

Thompson has achieved something special with both Star and Captain Marvel, which will likely make this comic a valuable collector’s item. Star isn’t the kind of superhero who got dragged into it by accident or circumstance. She chose to pursue it. She sought the kind of power and abilities that help make Carol Danvers the hero she is.

Star would not be on this path if someone like Captain Marvel hadn’t inspired her. It offers a unique perspective on the influence of superheroes. By doing what she does so well, Captain Marvel might have created her greatest rival. Like it or not, she’s a part of Star’s journey and “Captain Marvel #10” marks a critical stage of that journey.

It’s still hard to say whether Star will become the kind of character who will one day fight alongside Brie Larson in a Captain Marvel movie, but the potential is there. Since the world can never have too many charismatic female heroes, I’m certainly rooting for her.

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