Tag Archives: Mark Millar

Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA vs. IRON MAN: Freedom, Security, Psychology

Superheroes at Odds

Superheroes at Odds. Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

What is most important to us? Freedom or security? Can both coexist? What if national security is involved? We have been grappling with this dilemma anew since 9/11. The current hit movie, “Captain America: Civil War,” pits superheroes in a bloody battle: Iron Man defending national security; Captain America defending individual freedom. “Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology,” published by Sterling, is a thought-provoking collection of ten essays exploring these very issues. One easy-going Sunday, Jen and I made our way to Miir, a favorite local coffee shop and store. We relaxed, chatted, and I put this review together.

Reading "Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology"

Reading “Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology”

Such basic issues as security and freedom naturally make their way into the often engaging world of superhero comics. Some readers dismiss superhero comics as just a genre full of capes and tights. But, as I always feel compelled to point out: Follow the story, not just the superhero! Always take note of who is writing the script! Because, without a doubt, compelling stories are there to be told. Mark Millar’s original comic book script for Marvel Comics is an exploration of this conflict between freedom and security. Congress passes a law requiring all superheroes to register just like any other law enforcement officer. Captain America is against such limits to his actions. Iron Man supports the new law, even if it leaves him at odds with Cap. And so you end up with a classic in the superhero genre.

Now, let’s place these two battling warriors on the psychiatrist’s coach. What are the root causes behind Iron Man battling Captain America? A Freudian could see this dispute as symbolizing the battle waged by the superego and the id to control the mind’s ego. And, since this is Freud, this would also be about masculine sexual competition. This is how we begin one of the essays to be found here, “Punching Hitler: Symbols in Red, White, Blue, and Gold.” It is written by the book’s editor, Dr. Travis Langley, and Tommy Cash. This essay represents the concise insight to be found in the rest of the book, steadily building from one idea to the next.

So, what further motivates this conflict? This strikes at the core beliefs of each character. Captain America originated during World War II and embraces America’s hopes and ideals of that era. Iron Man originated during the Vietnam War and cynically embraces the military industrial complex, “all the things the hippies hated,” for the sake of a greater good. You take those two symbols of heroism, Langley and Cash argue in their essay, and see how they clash with the contemporary framework of the War on Terror. You have the stage set for conservative fans on the side of Iron Man; and liberal fans on the side of Captain America. Each character represents a charged symbol, a distinctive way of seeing America and the world, one an ideal, one a reality.

The MiiR Flagship store in Seattle

The MiiR Flagship store in Seattle

Well, I hope this provides you with an intriguing taste of what to expect from this unique book. I was so happy to take the time out for this review and the setting I chose for my reading could not have been better. You see, MiiR is part of something really special. You could say they take individual freedom, and responsibility, very seriously. It all began with the goal of creating the perfect bottle and Miir did just that plus so much more. MiiR keeps giving back every step of the way. Each MiiR item you purchase directly supports a project helping those in need around the world. Hmm, talk about super powers! Check them out right here.

“Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology” is a 192-page paperback. For more details, visit Sterling Publishing right here.


Filed under Book Reviews, Books, Captain America, Comics, Iron Man, Mark Millar, Marvel Comics

Review: EMPRESS #2 by Mark Millar

Mark Millar Empress 2016

With perfect nods to everything from “Star Wars” to “Blade Runner,” but with its own distinctive style, “Empress” looks like a comic book headed for the big screen, and it is. Read here. Yes, this comic will be a movie. Someday, all comics will be turned into movies. Anyway, do enjoy it now since good comics help make everything better.

Mark Millar is one of those exceptional creators. He brings to mind Ed Brubaker, someone at home with writing everything from Captain America to his own work, like Criminal. Both Millar and Brubaker have contributed significantly to the Captain America canon. As for Millar’s own original work, there’s a whole universe of it. Ever hear of “Kick-Ass”? Miller has worked on so many titles it would make your head spin. That said, “Empress” feels fresh and fun, like a very special project should.

Empress Mark Millar 2016

With Empress, Miller is riffing on Star Wars and doing it in the House of Marvel Comics (Icon Comics), no less. That’s pretty cool. This is no mere rip-off of Star Wars but the similarities are unmistakable–it is a distant future/past; a lovely woman of noble birth must return to her home; she is on the run with a madcap crew; a funny little droid holds the keys to their escape. But no complaints here. Millar did a similar thing with Batman a few years ago to great effect. Basically, he has the uncanny ability of taking very familiar material and giving it a new set of wings. For instance, in this story, the stand-in for R2-D2 is called, Ship, and it can zap itself, and those near it, to other worlds. Nice wrinkle to a familiar story.

Switching bodies is probably never a good idea and Miller creates here a new wrinkle to that premise. I like the scene with the Quez, a blue mellow race of creatures. We see them here advertising a body swap where they will have one of their reps inhabit your body and engage in vigorous exercise while you get to lounge and pig out in their body. That’s a different level of borrowing. It’s a very clever nod to Robert Sheckley’s hilarious sci-fi classic novel, “Mindswap.” Bravo.

Jupiters Legacy Mark Millar 2016

And getting back to the Mark Miller universe at-large, be sure to check out “Jupiter’s Legacy Vol. 2 #1” on sale June 29th, published by Image Comics. “Empress #2,” published by Icon, is available as of May 4th. For more details, visit Icon right here.


Filed under Comics, ICON Comics, Image Comics, Mark Millar, Marvel Comics, Star Wars