No Stranger to Fiction: ‘Masters of War’

“Like Judas of old, you lie and deceive / A world war can be won, you want me to believe / But I see through your eyes and I see through your brain / Like I see through the water that runs down my drain.” — Bob Dylan, “Masters of War”

“All for freedom and for pleasure / Nothing ever lasts forever / Everybody wants to rule the world.” — Tears For Fears, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”

“Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” — William Shakespeare, Hamlet Act III, Scene I

Like most stories, what was needed was an inciting incident, a starting point for the tale that was about to begin. An excuse for action. A reason to issue a call to arms. Something that would necessitate inspirational speeches on the field of battle as the fight began. Something time-tested, past-approved and entirely foolproof.

They needed a scapegoat; that much was certain. They needed a failsafe; that, too, was without question. They required a lie with which to blindfold the public; this was unspoken, yet completely understood. They needed personalized artificial motivation to back up that lie, and they needed it in spades.

Wars had been waged. Invasions had occurred. The reign was in trouble, and what was needed most of all…was a siege. To prove our nation’s might. To prove we were still top dog, despite the fact that others lorded their connection to the heavens over us. These men of power wanted nothing more than to show the rest of the world that America was not to be trifled with.

These men of great power who had shirked their great responsibility should have heeded Charles Bukowski: “Before you kill something make sure you have something better to replace it with; something better than political opportunist slamming hate horse shit in the public park.”

That would, of course, require listening to the past. These days, most people are opposed to such behavior, citing the mistakes or victories of past leaders as weaknesses or flaws or flukes, preferring to go their own way every possible chance they get, often repeating their own mistakes but expecting different results, which both Chinese proverbs and Albert Einstein claim is the very definition of insanity.

So it would seem, then, that lunatics had seized control of the nation. Sure, some had quit when they had realized what they had gotten into; some had to be removed either through force or coercion; some were embarrassed into resignation and are forever remembered as the patsies of much weaker men. Their replacements, as is always the case, proved to be more cut-throat, more bloodthirsty, more villainous and terrifying than their predecessors. They mastered the tasks before them with aplomb, and the grips they held us in were tight enough to shatter even diamonds and bring down the heavens, crashing them into the houses of worship below in their attempts to rip the gods in twain.

They endured controversy; they quarreled amongst themselves; they were challenged by friends, enemies, terrorists and political opponents. They trampeled over the rights of minority groups who had sought acceptance for so long. They carefully crafted laws allowing unethical detainment and torture that George Orwell would never have even dared to dream of during the darkest nights of his soul. They were even called out by other individuals of questionable sanity. Normally, most people would quit when challenged by noted sociopaths, but these were not normal conditions, and those in charge were not “most people”.

And then, as it had to, the war began. A new sort of holy war for a new age, leading into a new tomorrow safe from the heathens who threatened the sanctity of our Christian nation with their worship of violent, barbaric deities who sought the destruction of the United States. These men of great power were not going to take their existence lying down, so when it appeared that the heathens had attacked America, whether or not you believe it was an inside job set up by the man at the top (and regardless of whether you believe his appointment to the office was legal or even fair, taking into consideration all of the facts and his personal history and qualifications), they had the perfect excuse to invade their homeland. I mean, look at the damage they’d caused. They’d killed scores of American citizens in the most public of ways. Retaliation was the only course of action.

In the heat of the moment, a battle plan was hastily put together, a plan that, had it been given more thought and time, could have benefited all involved nations. As it stands, the plan was tremendously flawed, leading to scores of unnecessary deaths and a war that should have been short and simple becoming protracted and terrible.

And that was even before the insurgents blindly struck our bold leader in the face, as if they were attacking the flag itself and all it stood for, all the while waving their own.

Soon it seemed like the insurgents and their nationalist allies outnumbered the American forces in might and willpower, if not in manpower, as well. They fought, some would even say valiantly, and still continue to do so.

Even though a new age is dawning, and even though the head warmonger is gone and considered a war criminal by many, including, possibly, the current President, the battle still wages on, and the siege is still in full effect.

Sic semper tyrannis. Thus always to tryants.

And as Asgard falls, so does Baghdad.

Gods bless America, and may Hela damn Norman Osborn.

And may Osborn drag the former regime with him, kicking and screaming, for though Bush has provided the Marvel Comics writers with some of the finest material they could ever hope to base their nuanced, fictional tales on–even though he made it possible for us to experience a collective national catharsis as Spider-Man decked his long-time foe at the climax of Siege #3 — he has broken our country, and not even the Barack Obama administration can put it back together quite right. The United States has become a jigsaw puzzle with a few missing pieces, and none of us can quite find them.

We have no Avengers to help repair this world. They only exist in stories.

But perhaps with stories, we can help salvage this nation.

Next Week: As the Vatican counters another sex scandal, we examine the relationship between sex, power and religion in modern comics in “Tears in Heaven”.

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