SHIELD, HYDRA And Evil

Okay while I understand it’s just comic book stories and there has to be a definitive good vs. evil story line, I have to admit I was a little disappointed by the HYDRA story line in the last episode of Agents of SHIELD. I think it would have been much more interesting and subversive if it was discovered that SHIELD had been slowly taken over by HYDRA operatives or people who supported the fascist goals that HYDRA stood for.

Seriously, in the real world, look at the CIA, who have done things that many of us would consider to be pure evil: hell, I’d say that most of our troubles in the Middle East and in Central America and even internally have been caused by the CIA. They use many of the same methods as the Soviet KGB or the Schutzstaffel of the Nazis, what do you think would happen if they came right out and started calling themselves that? Better to keep the original name and pretend what you’re doing is for the good of the nation.

I was making a point of this elsewhere, talking about the old Brotherhood of Evil Mutants: why would anyone intentionally join something that openly proclaimed itself to be evil? Magneto certainly thinks (and he makes a good point) his cause is a good one, protecting his people from persecution. The people who flew the planes into the World Trade Center didn’t think of themselves as evil, they had a holy cause. I’m sure the SS and the KGB never saw themselves that way, even if they were just enjoying being brutal for the sake of being brutal, they thought what they were doing was perfectly reasonable. The slave-owners of the Confederacy didn’t think they were evil, they believed (and many still do) that they had the favor of God.

So anyway now it appears that we will have a kind of Civil War between SHIELD and HYDRA. But the HYDRA operatives inside SHIELD severely hurt their cause by coming out into the open like that, what purpose did they think they were serving? We know SHIELD is eventually going to win out, because it’s still a comic book story even if it is a Joss Whedon thing, but I have to say I think it could have been handled better.

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On Editors And Censorship

“Creative people listen to [editors] because [they] make that a condition of employment. [Editors] are worse than useless when it comes to creativity. [They] are intrusive.”
Dave Sim

I think Mr. Sim is equating editors with censors here, and in that vein I disagree. Even the best writers can get caught up in their own work and not see how it appears to others. A good editor, who has the respect of the writer, can actually improve on a work with subtle changes. And all due respect to Mr. Sim, whose work I admire, someone could have told him to tone down the rants or at least publish them separately, as I feel his personal issues became far too much of the Cerebus story.

Even censorship can be a positive thing: after all, the Smothers Brothers thrived on pushing the edge, it was CBS that went overboard by canceling them. Two of Seinfeld‘s classic episodes became that way because they had to find creative ways to get around censorship: how funny would The Contest have been if they were free to just say “masturbation”? Or Not that there’s anything wrong with that?

I agree with Mr. Moore (from the article) that working for a big corporation like Marvel or DC can really stunt the creative process, and he has every right to disassociate himself with them (and kudos to him for continuing to work even when the situation changed, as he pointed out, he had a responsibility to others who were working), and of course Sim, to paraphrase one of his own characters, did more than just pick a side and start swinging, he started his own side.

I made a point in an earlier post that I don’t submit any of my work for critique: I’m confident enough in my own writing style and skill that I don’t feel the need for that kind of validation, if a company wants to perform my play, that’s recognition enough for me.  And I can also edit my own work, and a harsh editor I can be: I’ve had to remove some very good lines because they don’t fit into the greater work that I’m doing, and I will rewrite whole scenes if I don’t like the tone, even if they’re important to the story.

But if someone makes a very constructive comment, I listen, and sometimes I wish I had someone working with me who could show me a new angle or way of thinking.  I still have the final say, as I think all artists should, but I won’t discount any constructive comment out of hand.