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  1. #1
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Default How exactly did the SHRA in Civil War even work?

    I feel like Civil War is a series that could've had a lot of potential, but between the lack of communication between writers, a clear plan, and blatant favoritism for certain characters (regardless of how badly written they are), it comes off as a mess. But the potential was there, as for all its flaws, the Civil War event has sparked plenty of discussion over the rights of a superhero as the years went by. I just think it could've been done a lot better.

    One big glaring flaw is that there was no concrete grasp of what the Superhuman Registration Act, or the SHRA, even was. It wasn't even known between all the writers in Marvel, leading to different tie-ins going from the most benevolent version (you don't have to sign for the SHRA if you don't use your powers) to the most fascist one (you have to become a child soldier by force), and everything in-between. Also, they didn't chicken out from it and just chalk it up to being the plot of supervillains. For three years, it was the Marvel Universe status quo across the board, and hell, I wouldn't be surprised if the intention was for it to last longer than that.

    Considering this was the status quo for three years and the basis for Marvel's big defining event, it should've been something that was well-defined from the start. They said "we wouldn't understand it", but it really comes across as lazy.

    Everyone should've been on the same page with this stuff. A good way to look at it is that the Marvel Universe is like an RPG, and the ones making the events (Mark Millar and the higher staff) are like the Game Masters, and they're playing as their own characters in the wide world. Imagine playing an RPG where everyone has a different idea of the rules, and the GMs don't bother to explain! That would suck.

    Here is where I'm asking what the SHRA is supposed to be, in hopes that I can find some answer.

    1. It requires mandatory registration of superhumans. This means that superpowered individuals who don't want to fight crime, including teenagers, are conscripted into being costumed soldiers. And the problem is that Millar said Iron Man was in the right for leading the side that enforces this. I get the idea behind it, because let's be real, a world where you don't know if someone is superpowered and can level a city in a moment's notice is very scary. But the thing is, most superhumans don't have the kind of power to the point where they need to be controlled in such an invasive way. Yet superhumans all the same are to be sent to boot camp and made government sponsored superheroes against their will, or be put in a special prison. Think this is a good thing? Tell that to poor Cloud 9, she gets sent to boot camp and becomes a cold sniper all because she wanted to fly. The least strict definition would be that one who is superhuman but doesn't use their powers would be exempt, and those who do would receive special training. But you see S.H.I.E.L.D agents breaking into people's homes and conscripting them by force, so that's not it at all. Again, Millar said Iron Man was right, and not the "both sides are right, both sides are wrong" that it should be, was advertised as, and portrayed far better in other media.
    2. Related to the above, what are the boundaries of the act? For example, Hawkeye (Kate Bishop; Clint was elsewhere at the time) isn't superhuman. She's just a really athletic teenager who's a damn good archer, but she's no more superhuman than a really physically fit high school girl. Yet she's expected to sign for the SHRA, and so are other non-powered superheroes. So does wearing a costume and fighting crime make you liable to the act? Also, what about people who use fancy equipment but have no powers? What's the standard?
    3. All crimefighting and lifesaving by non-registered superheroes is illegal. How does that work? If someone with powers sees something bad happening, like a mugging in an alleyway or worse, should they be expected to just walk away from it? That seems really, really messed up.
    4. Also messed up is that Pro-Reg side seems perfectly fine with hiring the Thunderbolts to fight on their side. Who seriously would be in favor of letting people like Venom, Bullseye, and Lady Deathstrike roam the streets because they have the approval of the registered superheroes?
    5. How does this affect mutants? The mutant population as a whole, barring a few exceptions, were neutral in the war itself because they thought it was someone else's problem (plus, after the Decimation there just wasn't very many left). I think I remember hearing they were exempt, but I didn't read all the tie-ins and it's been a while, and I don't care much to read through the entire event 14 years later.
    6. Seriously, what were the limitations of this act? It seemed to be in effect before it was passed, and in the worst cases it seems like people just didn't even have rights when it came to this stuff. That's not how the law works!
    7. How does this even affect the non-American heroes? There are actually a lot of heroes who aren't from the United States, so that would mean having to do something different for them. What's funny is that Black Panther was held to the law, who not only isn't American, but is a head of state and thus should logically be exempt. Hell, why not just have Cap and all the Anti-SHRA people relocate to somewhere like the UK with the Excalibur until the whole thing blows over, or even better, move everyone to Wakanda under the protection of BP, and operate worldwide? Seems like a good loophole. The MCU version got around this by making the Sokovia Accords a UN bill, which is what they should have done if they wanted this to be believable.

    There's probably more but I've gone on long enough. There was so much potential, and while some of it was entertaining, there were huge flaws and is rather dated to its time (the whole "conscript teenage superhumans against their will and have it treated as a good thing" fits much better with the 2006/7 outlook than today). It's a story more important than good, placing the Avengers at the heart of the Marvel Universe, but overall it was just so sloppy for an important event.

    Let me know what you guys think, and what answers are available, and discuss.

  2. #2
    Mighty Member
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    I'm surprised it didn't cause an international incident everyone would see the United States using child soldiers as a major violation of various UN treaties. If we tilt our heads funny, we might say training people with nuclear-based powers might be a violation of nuclear testing treaties.

    I'll also laugh at the fact we had heroes who got powers from drugs like Captain America and Black Panther would fall into the same boat as doping athletes. The law was written and explained so vaguely that it could very well be the case.

    But seriously, fanfic writers thought this through better.

  3. #3
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    No one wants to see their hero get arrested just for going out and fighting crime.
    And if you arrest them, where do you keep them where they don't get out.
    Just that alone would suck.

    In one of the books I remember seeing that you could be ticketed for appearing in costume outside without registering. That seemed like the most benign form of enforcement, though Im not sure how you'd ticket anyone if you don't know who they are.

    Hell, why not just have Cap and all the Anti-SHRA people relocate to somewhere like the UK with the Excalibur until the whole thing blows over, or even better, move everyone to Wakanda under the protection of BP, and operate worldwide?
    many heroes moved to canada.... along with many villains.
    This led to canada cooperating with shield and usa to extend their jurisdiction and take aid to deal with all that.

    It requires mandatory registration of superhumans
    Entirely depended on the book. Some like new avengers had it mandatory where shield would come and make you comply, others you could retire or at worst could be ticketed for appearing in costume outside.

    How does this affect mutants?
    they were being monitored by O*N*E at the time and had human controlled sentinels guarding the mansion. Though in the civil war tie in it was brought up that registration would help them gain legitimacy and resources or something. Since the whole idea was to contain super humans I guess ONE was considered enough
    Last edited by Ichijinijisanji; 01-13-2020 at 11:44 PM.

  4. #4
    Fantastic Member scourge's Avatar
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    It really didn't work. It was just a mess in and out of universe.

  5. #5
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scourge View Post
    It really didn't work. It was just a mess in and out of universe.
    I don't think it was intended though. That's what makes Civil War such a blunder, because it was meant to be this big status quo change, but it was so poorly handled that they had to undo it just three years later when Norman Osborn got the power as a direct result of the new status quo. I believe they thought they were doing something new and different that would last longer. It's very clear that the writers weren't in sync with each other as they were making it, and the fact that they didn't even define just what the SHRA was because "we wouldn't understand it" or something, just came off as bad writing.

  6. #6
    Invincible Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Cloud 9 was kind of a poster girl for the SHRA. When it was repealed, she gleefully tore up her registration card and went off to live her own life, since she never wanted to be a superhero. She only recently returned to the superhero community, appearing in Bendis's final Iron Man as one of several recruits to Leonardo Da Vinci's attempt to rebuild SHIELD (which also included Miles Morales and Ironheart, but never went anywhere because Miles, Riri, and Tony's new writers all went in a different direction) before being listed as a member of the Champions Reinforcement Roster (though nobody on that list ever showed up, as it was cancelled 9 issues later). I wonder if she'll show up anywhere in an Outlawed tie-in?

    Clint wasn't elsewhere. He was operating as Ronin, and was a member of the outlaw New Avengers.

    Yeah, some people did simply flee the country, such as Julia Carpenter, Arachne, who joined Omega Flight. That's a good point about why people didn't just emigrate. I wonder if that will come up in Outlawed? A couple of the Champions are foreign nationals.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    I don't think it was intended though. That's what makes Civil War such a blunder, because it was meant to be this big status quo change, but it was so poorly handled that they had to undo it just three years later when Norman Osborn got the power as a direct result of the new status quo.
    They didn't "have to" undo it. They always intended to. The SHRA was never meant to be a permanent change to the status quo.

    For CW to work as an event, what happened in it obviously had to be reflected across the line.

    Having heroes and villains alike contend with the SHRA was a way to generate some different types of stories and spin some new titles out of it. Have fun, shake things up a bit.

    Some books might have handled the material better than others but regardless it was never meant to be more than a passing era. Before CW #1 even saw print, Marvel already knew what the next phase beyond it would be. And probably the one after that. They tend to plan at least two years out or more.

  8. #8
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    That would surprise me if they had it all planned out, considering how poorly written a lot of CW was in general. But I can see what you're getting at. A modern example is kind of like how the Dawn of X era for the X-Men comics is a way to do different kinds of stories that couldn't normally be done, before the X-Men are back in Westchester again. It's pretty well telegraphed the Krakoa will fail, and something is up with "Xavier", not to mention that Hickman even said he intends to put the toys back in the box eventually.

    Is that apt?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    That would surprise me if they had it all planned out, considering how poorly written a lot of CW was in general.
    Well, in your opinion. I'd say it was a mixed bag - both CW and the stuff around it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    But I can see what you're getting at. A modern example is kind of like how the Dawn of X era for the X-Men comics is a way to do different kinds of stories that couldn't normally be done, before the X-Men are back in Westchester again. It's pretty well telegraphed the Krakoa will fail, and something is up with "Xavier", not to mention that Hickman even said he intends to put the toys back in the box eventually.

    Is that apt?
    Yes, exactly. Before they make any big moves - whether it be CW, Superior Spider-Man, Hydra Cap, or DoX - Marvel always knows ahead of time how things will be eventually set right.

  10. #10
    Extraordinary Member jackolover's Avatar
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    I think the answer to why was it so disparate between writers is, they could do anything they wanted to, thatís why I think it worked. You take any terrorist, and what the government does to them, and water boarding is fine. They even sent superheroes to the Negative Zone. I think the SHRA works because everybody could do whatever they wanted to superhumans. There was no standard procedure, just like the government did to terrorists after 9/11.

  11. #11
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    Millar (or maybe it was someone else at Marvel) said that the reason they made the pro reg side act so heinous was so there would be some conflict. When you remove the pro reg sides transgressions, they at least have the more reasonable argument while the anti reg have no leg to stand on.

    And that's why Civil War was the way it was. The writers had to preemptively come up with excuses as to why the SHRA, a law that in paper actually seemed like a smart thing to have, had to be so bad it would be removed.
    Last edited by Agent Z; 01-14-2020 at 07:25 AM.

  12. #12
    Fantastic Member scourge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Millar (or maybe it was someone else at Marvel) said that the reason they made the pro reg side act so heinous was so there would be some conflict. When you remove the pro reg sides transgressions, they at least have the more reasonable argument while the anti reg have no leg to stand on.

    And that's why Civil War was the way it was. The writers had to preemptively come up with excuses as to why the SHRA, a law that in paper actually seemed like a smart thing to have, had to be so bad it would be removed.
    I would say not really. There's one very big argument for why the SHRA would never work in the Marvel Universe and pretty much makes the anti-registration folks right 100% of the time.

    The Marvel Universe's government is the bad guys all the time. Constantly invaded and controlled by bigots, villains, and more. The only time the SHRA ever worked was that one What if where Cap and Tony ended up stopping the fight and working together instead and making it all entirely hero run.

    I think one of the biggest issues with how the whole thing went down was Millar/Editorial deciding that "Iron man has to be right" despite the majority of the fanbase and writers pointing out that Cap was.

  13. #13

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    Civil War was written in 2006, when the Ultimates were in their prime (along with Ultimate Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, the new coming of Galactus trilogy and Ultimate power; and no Ultimates 3 or Ultimatum in sight yet). That reimagination of the Avengers proved to be much more successful than the standard Avengers, at least as comic books were concerned (remember as well that there was no MCU yet). It was a bit too evident that Civil War was an attempt to turn the Avengers into the Ultimates. But that's easier said than done, as Millar started the Ultimates from scratch, but the Avengers and the rest of the MU comes with a baggage of decades.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    It requires mandatory registration of superhumans. This means that superpowered individuals who don't want to fight crime, including teenagers, are conscripted into being costumed soldiers. And the problem is that Millar said Iron Man was in the right for leading the side that enforces this. I get the idea behind it, because let's be real, a world where you don't know if someone is superpowered and can level a city in a moment's notice is very scary. But the thing is, most superhumans don't have the kind of power to the point where they need to be controlled in such an invasive way. Yet superhumans all the same are to be sent to boot camp and made government sponsored superheroes against their will, or be put in a special prison. Think this is a good thing? Tell that to poor Cloud 9, she gets sent to boot camp and becomes a cold sniper all because she wanted to fly. The least strict definition would be that one who is superhuman but doesn't use their powers would be exempt, and those who do would receive special training. But you see S.H.I.E.L.D agents breaking into people's homes and conscripting them by force, so that's not it at all. Again, Millar said Iron Man was right, and not the "both sides are right, both sides are wrong" that it should be, was advertised as, and portrayed far better in other media.
    You forgot something, also from the Initiative comics: if you don't want to be conscripted, you can have your powers removed and go back to your life. In other words, if you don't use powers you are exempt indeed; but the government will make sure that you really don't. "I promise to behave and don't use my powers" is not good enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    Related to the above, what are the boundaries of the act? For example, Hawkeye (Kate Bishop; Clint was elsewhere at the time) isn't superhuman. She's just a really athletic teenager who's a damn good archer, but she's no more superhuman than a really physically fit high school girl. Yet she's expected to sign for the SHRA, and so are other non-powered superheroes. So does wearing a costume and fighting crime make you liable to the act? Also, what about people who use fancy equipment but have no powers? What's the standard?
    The law would apply if you have superpowers or if you engage in superhero stuff. Either one is good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    All crimefighting and lifesaving by non-registered superheroes is illegal. How does that work? If someone with powers sees something bad happening, like a mugging in an alleyway or worse, should they be expected to just walk away from it? That seems really, really messed up.
    No, it isn't. That's exactly the way the world, the real world, works. You can google the concept "State monopoly on violence". There are some legal defenses, such as the good samaritan law and the citizen arrest, but they have their limits, and will simply not protect a guy who conceals his identity and goes around the city looking for people to attack for a cause he considers justified.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    Also messed up is that Pro-Reg side seems perfectly fine with hiring the Thunderbolts to fight on their side. Who seriously would be in favor of letting people like Venom, Bullseye, and Lady Deathstrike roam the streets because they have the approval of the registered superheroes?
    They have full suveillance and those fancy chips that make sure that they do exactly as ordered and don't try anything funny.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    How does this affect mutants? The mutant population as a whole, barring a few exceptions, were neutral in the war itself because they thought it was someone else's problem (plus, after the Decimation there just wasn't very many left). I think I remember hearing they were exempt, but I didn't read all the tie-ins and it's been a while, and I don't care much to read through the entire event 14 years later.
    They made a compromise: no action would be taken against mutants that stay within the Xavier mansion. As you pointed, they were in the Decimation years, and there were not many mutants around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    How does this even affect the non-American heroes? There are actually a lot of heroes who aren't from the United States, so that would mean having to do something different for them. What's funny is that Black Panther was held to the law, who not only isn't American, but is a head of state and thus should logically be exempt. Hell, why not just have Cap and all the Anti-SHRA people relocate to somewhere like the UK with the Excalibur until the whole thing blows over, or even better, move everyone to Wakanda under the protection of BP, and operate worldwide? Seems like a good loophole. The MCU version got around this by making the Sokovia Accords a UN bill, which is what they should have done if they wanted this to be believable.
    Diplomatic immunity in the real world does not work that way. It does not mean that you can freely commit crimes and have no consequences from it. For example, the Mexican ambassador in Argentina was caught a month ago stealing a book, there was a scandal and he had to resign, see here. And that's just a petty and trivial crime in comparison. So what it we take things a bit higher? What if the head of state of Wakanda goes to the US, joins a domestic terrorist group (or whatever the resistance was) and fights alongside them? That would be a major diplomatic conflict, to say the least. Wakanda would have to strip T'Challa of his diplomatic immunity to allow him to be judged by the US, or recall him to Wakanda and judge him themselves. Otherwise, this would lead to both countries breaking relations, or worse, a casus belli.

    As for the international loophole of the SHRA, that one was exploited by Pym's team in Mighty Avengers. They had a base in a pocket dimension and can go from it to any location of the world and back, thus avoiding the forces of Norman Osbourne.

  14. #14
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    A lot of your answers are from best guesses, later sources after the event, and inconsistent information that's been contradicted. Not to fault you, but the fact is I don't feel bad for not getting how the SHRA works exactly seeing as how the writers clearly didn't.

    No, it isn't. That's exactly the way the world, the real world, works. You can google the concept "State monopoly on violence". There are some legal defenses, such as the good samaritan law and the citizen arrest, but they have their limits, and will simply not protect a guy who conceals his identity and goes around the city looking for people to attack for a cause he considers justified.
    The real world isn't a kitchen sink full of fantastical superpowers. If someone happens by a mugging, an attempted murder, or rape, and has the power to stop it, they should be able to. "Sorry, I didn't stop him from beating, raping or killing you because the SHRA wouldn't let me" doesn't sound like a good reason.

    They have full suveillance and those fancy chips that make sure that they do exactly as ordered and don't try anything funny.
    Oh, and I'm sure that's all well and good that the murderous villains on the Thunderbolts have Stark's blessing. That'll make anyone feel safe.

    Diplomatic immunity in the real world does not work that way. It does not mean that you can freely commit crimes and have no consequences from it. For example, the Mexican ambassador in Argentina was caught a month ago stealing a book, there was a scandal and he had to resign, see here. And that's just a petty and trivial crime in comparison. So what it we take things a bit higher? What if the head of state of Wakanda goes to the US, joins a domestic terrorist group (or whatever the resistance was) and fights alongside them? That would be a major diplomatic conflict, to say the least. Wakanda would have to strip T'Challa of his diplomatic immunity to allow him to be judged by the US, or recall him to Wakanda and judge him themselves. Otherwise, this would lead to both countries breaking relations, or worse, a casus belli.

    As for the international loophole of the SHRA, that one was exploited by Pym's team in Mighty Avengers. They had a base in a pocket dimension and can go from it to any location of the world and back, thus avoiding the forces of Norman Osbourne.
    Also, what I mean is BP having to register for the SHRA, when the law is US-specific and shouldn't even apply to him in this case. So long as he doesn't act in the US, he shouldn't even be factored.

  15. #15
    Mighty Member capandkirby's Avatar
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    The problem with the SHRA is that its an antithesis to the superhero genre.

    Most of the heroes were inspired by a vacuum that existed in real-life society, especially the Golden Age heroes. Superman was conceived because Jerry Siegel's father, a store-owner, died during a store robbery. So he birthed into existence a being who was good, and just, and strong, and would have prevented such a tragedy from occurring. Batman rose from the popularity of such heroes as Zorro or Dick Tracy... who were popular because, in real-life, the Prohibition had resulted in the rise of organized crime, so a hero immune from cop and city official corruption, who fought for the people against such corruption, particularly in a large metro area, really appealed. Steve Rogers was created because America wasn't taking a stance against Hitler, we were in a state of isolationism and there were even a lot of Nazi sympathizers in the country and that made Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, both Jewish, understandably furious. If America wouldn't protect the Jewish against a mad-man, then they would create an America who would. Cap was a political protest. The Punisher rose out of the disillusionment of the Vietnam war, how soldiers had been drafted into a war very few supported and came back and put on the streets, riddled with PTSD, without so much as a thank you for your service from the country who had forced them into said service to begin with, and none of them received adequate treatment for the scars, both mental, and physical, the war had left on them.

    The superhero genre revolves around the idea that the Earth needed special people with special powers beyond the capabilities of real-life governments or first responders, and, more importantly, beyond their rule book and political swaying. The creators were implying, some more subtly than others (and some not subtly at all), that sometimes those institutions weren't enough: not fast enough, not honest enough, not earnest enough, not strong enough, not ballsy enough, to be the hero the people need. Superheroes were an attempt to fill that void. That's the entire point of them. Making them a part of the institutions that Kirby, Simon, Siegel, Shuster, Kane, Finger and Conway were pointing out the flaws in is an antithesis to that intent.

    Moreover, it's not as if the government in the MU has been portrayed as being trustworthy or honest or just enough to control what amounts to an army of drafted superpowered people at their beck and call. Currently in the MU Roxxon is doing what ever the heck they want, including helping Malekith invade Earth, not to mention human experimentation, and getting away with it (Immortal Hulk, Avengers, Invaders). And they have political backing and politicians in their pocket. A Roxxon representative was shown at a UN meeting. Fisk is the mayor of New York. In the Cap book, a group called the Power Elite, consisting of the Lukins (Alexander is possessed by Red Skull), the Watchdogs, Fisk, the Chadwicks are not only attempting to take over America via collusion, they also have the press in their pocket and are controlling that. So is Roxxon.

    I had a very interesting conversation with a mutual on Twitter the other day that posited the following question: if the X-Men have given the US drugs that are supposed to cure multiple diseases and extend life, why is Aunt May sick and dying? And one of the conclusions we came to is that maybe the government is not actually distributing said drugs. Maybe they are hoarding them. Maybe this is a future plot point. We already know that Roxxon is on the verge of offering superpowers to whomever has the money to pay for it.

    And then there's the fact that the US created the Squadron Supreme, and Russia revitalized the Winter Guard, all under the direction Mephisto, in order to rage a superhero war with Atlantis and the Avengers.

    My point is that the world governments in the MU aren't exactly awesome (far, FAR from it), and since the SHRA was shown on panel as being the brainchild of the Bush administration (see below), this fact was true even back when Civil War came out, so the thought of these governments, and the US government in particular, having a registration that inscripts superpowered citizens is not... good (<- understatement).

    Last edited by capandkirby; 01-14-2020 at 10:03 AM.

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