Brave New World - History (Ben Urich)
Opinion – Urich’s Corner
Superheroes – They’re Here to Stay
Here’s What you Need to Know.
by Ben Urich
May 21st, 2012
That day will live on in the hearts and minds of this whole world forever.
The first encounter with alien life occurred three years ago today. That’s what the government has called it. Rumor has it that term came from Gene Roddenberry originally. And what saved us? Not the Police, not the Military.
By now, I’m sure everyone who reads this already knows me. My name is Ben Urich, and I’ve been working inner city New York since 1991. But I really became known around 2006 when I began to write about a Hell’s Kitchen vigilante known only as the Daredevil. Some have called him a hero, others have labelled him a menace. To be abundantly clear, since this is an opinion piece, this reporter’s has always believed that, regardless of the police’s opinion, the people of the Kitchen needed a watchful guardian, an extraordinary man who tries – even if he fails – to save them from those who would prey on them.
Isn’t it amazing, however, how quickly the world changes? Daredevil doesn’t sell papers anymore. People are less interested in a lone vigilante swinging from rooftop to rooftop – perhaps even in spite of what our glorious Editor might have us believe in these past few weeks. (Note – Once again, the Daily Bugle wants it known that Ben Urich’s opinion does NOT, in any way, reflect that of ME, J. Jonah Jameson, and that Spider-Man is clearly a menace to all citizens of this great city. — ed.)
As early as 2006, the existence of Mutants became the issue of the century. All at once, it seemed, people were displaying unique gifts and strange powers. Soon it became clear though speeches to Congress and everyone else who’d listen, that the human genome had changed forever, and that we were living in a world in which the so-called ‘X-Gene’ was suddenly expressing itself, and we weren’t going back. Dr. Jean Grey, as well as many other scientists such as Hank Pym and Henry McCoy ascribed it to evolution, a theory we can’t even popularly accept yet, and that sooner or later us ‘flatscans’ – as we are labelled in the underground Mutant community – will simply die off.
Say what you will, though, Mutants were the hot topic of every paper, every talk show, every internet news organization, they dominated it all. Almost overnight, it seemed, CNN had a Mutant working for them doing Opinion pieces just like mine on their internet site. And all the while, Senator Robert Kelly held up his faith and his ‘know-better’, and told us the entire time that Mutants were going to ruin everything.
Then, in 2008, Tony Stark revealed he was a superhero, and that his company was not only going to stop making weapons, but eventually, would declare themselves the free-energy leaders of the first world.
Suddenly, none of this stuff was theoretical anymore. Not that Tony Stark is a Mutant, which is another thing I feel compelled to set straight here in print, but this Superhero business suddenly made it all real. Now, that threat of that young girl in rural Alabama who kissed a boy and put him in a coma, or the other one who could walk through walls wasn’t just limited to so-called ‘red-necks’ in faraway lands.
And that’s the issue, isn’t it? Well, pardon my language here, folks, but I’m here to cut through the bull-puckey.
Right now, to boil it down for you a bit, there are three kinds of superheroes in this world: Mutants such as Dr. Jean Grey, Enhanced humans such as Dr. Reed Richards, and, basically, technological enhanciles such as Tony Stark. Some of the press has taken to calling enhanced humans ‘Metas’, short for Meta-Humans, but this reporter won’t be using that term, ever. The term Meta comes from the Latin ‘after’, or ‘post,’ and calling our heroes “post-human” seems to imply that they are no longer members of our race, or are somehow above it. Let’s be frank here, that is not true, at least in any meaningful, quantifiable way, and to classify them as post-human denigrates our race, and those important figures such as Reed Richards which help populate it.
You may be asking, what’s the difference? An tech enhancile is an enhancement is a mutation, right?
Wrong. Mutants have been born with a mutation in their very chromosomes; a gene that has expressed itself, usually on or around puberty, in a way that allows them to affect their own bodies or their outside world in a way that no other human can without scientific aid. An Enhanced human has been acted upon by some kind of outside force and has been fundamentally changed on a quantum, genetic, or molecular level. Lastly, a technological enhancile is someone who has used technology and science to enhance their bodies, but can at any point remove, or turn off these enhancements.
None of these three groups are really related in any way, but they do move in the same social circles, and that’s where people get confused.
But more importantly, each of these three groups has to not only be weighed and judged on their own merits and flaws as a group, but also on the behavior of their entire group, not just the extremists within it. Just like a U.S. soldier with a bomb on his back can be expected to act differently than a foreign terrorist with a bomb on his back, there are superheroes, and unfortunately, so-called supervillians.
So where does that leave us? May, 2012. First Contact. A group of extraordinary individuals starting with Tony Stark, an unidentified thing the press has dubbed “the hulk,” an anonymous blonde man in a cape, Captain America – apparently still alive and kicking from 1949 — and several agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stopped invaders from space.
It was like a video game. It was like a movie script. It was unreal, but it was very real. And suddenly, it all changed overnight.
First off, the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate, or S.H.I.E.L.D. was revealed as real. It gave the U.N. teeth that it had never had before. As it turned out, after the U.N. realized that Mutants were a very real threat in Madripoor and other countries, they found a way to leverage a black budget out of some of their members, and created a secret enforcement agency specifically designed to deal with enhanced humans, under the auspices of some of the heroes of the last three wars. Now, they weren’t the boogeymen of the mutant world, they were real, and had been for ten years.
But the U.N. wasn’t the only government who revealed legislation – For 2 years, the Superhuman Registration Act had been under debate behind closed doors, but now, with all our attention focussed on the superhumans working for S.H.I.E.L.D., this legislation was suddenly very public, despite the fact that everyone agreed it was doubtful the superheroes actually caused the invasion in any way.
Whatever your opinion, the actual laws shook out on the liberal side of things – at least in comparison to the our last reactionary law, the Patriot Act.
- The basics of the Act are: If you are born a mutant, or if you become enhanced through any means… Don’t ask, don’t tell. Simple as that. Of course, there are exceptions:
- If you manifest publicly – you register. Period. The reasoning behind this is, your body is a weapon, and must be registered as such. The ACLU is against this, and with assets such as Hank McCoy behind them, they may actually have a chance to repeal. But for now – you register.
- If your mutation gives you the destructive capability of any of the weapons listed on a Class III Weapons License (this license includes fully automatic weapons as well as explosives), then you are, essentially, subject to military draft. If you dodge, you’re imprisoned in a facility the coast of New York known as The Raft – a modern day Alcatraz for enhanced humans of all kinds.
- Vigilante Heroes: Short version: No. Long version: Vigilantes are vigilantes for a reason, they couldn’t endure, or didn’t bother trying, learning to be a cop or a fed, so you will be hunted by the cops or the feds if you try to do it without revealing who you are and registering with S.H.I.E.L.D. or the local P.D. Whichever beat you work, you work it with training. If you don’t – The Raft awaits.
Of course, by these laws, the DareDevil and the so-called Spider-Man are on the outs with the law, just like some of the criminals we’ve seen before, and a lot of New Yorkers are very unhappy with this. The law is still being called into question – but without a superhero willing to reveal himself and rise to the Supreme Court level to have it overturned, the law isn’t likely to change.
Many people are furious about these laws, and even more are fighting them. Tony Stark actively campaigns against the idea of it, as have several others. Just last year, Sue Richards of the Future Foundation has come out against it, despite being one of the most well-touted superheroes in all the world, though her husband has remained curiously quiet on the topic.
I’m not here to tell you how to feel, I’m here to keep you informed. Informed of the law. Informed of what’s changed, and why you should care.
Its 2015, folks, and we live in a different world.