CFP: Marvel’s Civil War: How Comics Defined the Post 9/11 Era
Not since the comics book industry’s response to World War II have comic books addressed contemporary events in American culture so powerfully than they did after 9/11. As the United States invaded Iraq and struggled to deal with fears about terrorism at home, the medium that has often depended on icons of American exceptionalism found the very idea of the superhero—who exerts his power over others with little to no oversight—politically charged and problematic. Marvel Comics responded with its now famous Civil War series, pitting superhero against superhero and placing the very embodiment of American values, Captain America, in the position of criminal and fugitive. The series, a seven–issue comics event that ran from 2006 to 2007 but included nearly a hundred other comics from across the Marvel universe, had at its center the classic, painful question of “how much liberty will you give up for security?” The answer would control the storylines within the Marvel universe for the next four years and engender a sustained and sophisticated discussion of America’s values and its political system.
The volume editor, the coauthor of The Porning of America (Beacon, 2008), seeks a variety of essays addressing the Civil War event as well as the storylines that followed from it, for a collection being developed with McFarland Books.
The editor seeks essays of about 5000-6000 words and fitting two categories:
First, essays examining the Civil War events themselves both in the tent-pole series and throughout the Marvel universe. (The following list is not intended to be complete. Other approaches are welcome.)
• Comics and the representation of historical trends in Civil War.
• American responses to terrorism as represented by Civil War.
• Race and ethnicity in Civil War and their correlation to pro/anti-registration status.
• Readings of Civil War from disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, and so forth.
• Civil War and issues of Constitutional Law and Civil Rights.
• Civil War and Social Contract theory (trading rights for security).
• Gender, women’s (superhero) social status, and the benefits of registration.
• The significance of “42,” the prison in the Negative Zone, as a kind of Guantanamo Bay.
• The “Illuminati” and the limits of power.
• The co-opting of super-villains as servants of government efforts.
• The representation of journalism and the lives of non-super-powered civilians (Civil War: Front Line).
• The nature and actions of S.H.I.E.L.D. as international police force during and after Civil War.
• The prose adaptation of Civil War as a novel, its differences from the comics series, and their importance (its focus on Obama-era America).
• Analyses of key characters individually or in comparison (Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-man, Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, and so forth).
• The video game, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, and its interpretation of the storyline.
• Teaching Marvel’s Civil War.
Second, essays exploring the consequences of the “Civil War” within the Marvel universe over the next four years. Each listed topic could include multiple essays.
• Avengers: The Initiative as super-powered Homeland Security.
• The Avengers split (New Avengers vs. Mighty Avengers) as representative of ideological splits within American culture.
• The Planet Hulk and, especially, World War Hulk storylines in relation to the Civil War.
• The Secret Invasion storyline as investigation of American identity.
• The Dark Reign storyline as interpretation of Bush era America.
• The storylines Siege and The Heroic Age as culmination and antidote to the themes of Civil War.
As well, the editor would welcome essays discussing Civil War in terms of narratology and/or other theoretical approaches that can be effectively applied.
The audience for this volume is undergraduates through active scholars, though books on this topic will also attract an audience among fans of the medium.
Please submit abstracts of 500 words to Kevin Scott (firstname.lastname@example.org) by December 31, 2013. Abstracts should be accompanied by a short biography. Notification of acceptance will be given by January 15, 2014. Completed essays will be due by May 1, 2014.
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