The similarities pile up... now, we see the group of ‘heroes’ who reject someone with more knowledge of the problem that they face based on odd moral grounds that seem downright short-sighted when staring oblivion in the face. Are we supposed to cheer this decision? Are we supposed to feel good about their placing their own morality and personal views above the lives they have made it their life’s work to protect? What the specifics are don’t matter when the stakes are this high. As I’ve said in the past, they seem very quick to sacrifice their lives if need be, but not their souls. Is that heroic or pathetic?
It’s no secret that I’ve long taken issue with the near-universal condemnation of the Illuminati, a group of geniuses faced with two choices: let the world die or destroy other worlds. It’s a terrible place to be put, but they did what was necessary (until they decided that death was preferable and they were replaced by a group without their moral squeamishness). Some have argued that they failed because they were so insular or because they were willing to succumb to that horrible final resort. Except, here we are, the incursions are known to the world, and the only plan that seems to be working is destroying the other Earths. Bringing the problem to light has offered no new solutions, no new plans that escape the fact that Steve Rogers is alive because people kill on his behalf. An ironic position for a solider to be in, no? And he hunts down the Illuminati because they fucked with his mind when he decided that death was preferable to doing the fucking job he signed up for? Hickman’s depiction of Rogers here is certainly not a sympathetic one, but I wonder if he’s still not meant to be the hero somehow... or is the fact that he’s not Captain America anymore enough to knock him off the permanent moral high ground he typically occupies?
On the DC side, Father Time is condemned because he’s kind of shady (no pun intended) and, logically, thinks that examining the person possessed/controlled by Brainiac on the other side of the galaxy could maybe be a good idea if you want to better understand Brainiac and maybe defeat him and maybe save the world... maybe...? Except he’s actually a weird little alien and Frankenstein doesn’t like him and Hawkman loves the Engineer and... uh, good guys! The guy who’s been helping to save the world secretly for decades and has the best idea of how to save the world again is beaten on and imprisoned because the good guys find him morally questionable. They would rather sacrifice their lives – everyone’s lives, really – than feel a little dirty. And we’re supposed to be on their side? We’re supposed to boo Father Time because he doesn’t react to this baffling betrayal of everything with a measure of forgiveness and give them all of the information he has? Actually, yeah, because that’s being just as petty and weak as the ‘heroes’ who deposed him as head of SHADE. But, we also understand that someone as morally repugnant as Father Time would act that way. Shouldn’t the ‘heroes?’ Shouldn’t they put everything else before their personal feelings about the man and wait until the world has been saved to take him down? What’s stopping them from that course of action?
And what’s more is that I know that, were any of this in the real world, there’s a strong possibility that I would agree with these actions. Bring down the planet killers and shadow organisations that decide how the world should be without say from the rest of us. I’m not sure what I think of that. Should I apply my real world morality to fiction more vigorously or recognise the true self that fiction is showing me?
“What would Captain America and the Atom do?”