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Old May 21st, 2006   superfriend is offline   #1
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Default The Road to Civil War *SPOILERS*


Amazing Spider-Man #529
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Ron Garney
Mr. Parker Goes to Washington Pt. 1 (of 3)

Peter and MJ are sleeping in their bedroom in Stark Tower when they are woken up by Tony, speaking thru an intercom in an eagle statue, asking Peter to come to Tony's lab and see him.

As Peter gets a shower, MJ asks Tony if he can see thru the statue. Tony verifies it is only capable of audio but comments on MJ's tan. He says it is a joke as MJ walks away, her bra covering up the statue.

Peter finds Tony at work on a new suit for Peter. Peter is surprised by this and inquires why Tony is making a new suit for him. Tony comments the previous one was made of cloth. The new suit has mesh webbing that will enable Peter to glide for short distances, heat-resistant kevlar micro-fibre that can resist small calibre bullets, built-in fire, police, and emergency scanner, and visual amplification including infrared and ultraviolet. There are carbon filter in the mouth area to keep out toxins and a short range GPS microwave communication system, all routed thru a computerized control system in the titanium chestpiece.

Peter decides to take it out for a spin and then Tony and Peter discuss how MJ's arm healed so quickly between issues. Tony's explanation is just as technical and involved as the paragraph above about the suit. Then, Peter and Tony give us, the readers, a knowing look.

An hour later...
Police are in vehicular pursuit of standard ski cap, tattooed thugs who also have kidnapped a girl in the trunk of their car. The thugs spot Spider-Man along the rooftops but their plan includes fleeing to locations that are not conducive to Spider-Man's web-swinging needs.

In glides Peter, and lands on the top of their car as he does significant property damage to the roof of the car by ripping it off and endangers everyone on the freeway by attempting this. Firing off several bursts at the roof with their Uzi, the thugs presume they may have shot Spider-Man. Peter uses his infrared/ultraviolet vision to see exactly where the thugs are situated in the car, and hearing over the police scanner that a particular exit off of the freeway is blockaded, Peter makes his move. Shooting webbing onto the steering wheel, Peter recklessly commandeers the vehicle and hits the exact off-ramp. As Peter spins the car around in a 180 degree maneuver, the thug with the Uzi begins firing on the blockade with his Uzi and Peter webs it and casts it out of the hands of the thug.

Cut to things well in hand, and Peter pulls the kidnapped girl from the trunk. As the thugs are being apprehended, the negligence of the police allow the thug to get his hands on a sidearm and fire off a shot at the girl whom Peter shields with his body. It is here we see how the suit can stop bullets just as Tony said. The thug is perplexed as Spider-Man is not known for being bulletproof. Spider-Man then intimidates by getting in the face of the thug while police explain to him that Spider-Man was also rumored to have been killed not too long ago either, presumable referencing The Other storyline, and that the thug shouldn't do anything to make Spider-Man upset.

We later find Peter, MJ, and Tony having dinner in Stark Tower as Peter recounts the events of this experience. Peter explains he heard from the police scanner that the thug's heartbeat doubled after he intimidated him and remarks that it was wonderful.

All seem pleased with the suit and the experience. MJ is in favor of anything that helps make sure Peter comes back safely. Then Peter asks Tony why he made a new suit. Tony asks why not and notes that Spider-Man was out of suits anyway. Peter feels there is an underlying agenda, remarking that he knows how Tony thinks now.

Tony comes clean and Peter, as an aside to MJ, says he told her he wasn't being paranoid. She rescinds any compunctions she may have had with her feelings about any paranoia with "all right, all right...." Tony draws comparisons between Peter and himself, that they are both practical, are scientists, they evaluate not react. Tony forsees tough times ahead and wants someone he can depend on at his side. Peter says Tony can depend on any of them, referring to the New Avengers. MJ retorts, "except Logan." Peter follow suit "except Logan" and goes on to say that any one would put their life on the line for Tony. MJ again adds, "except Logan." Peter again reiterates "except Logan."

Tony wishes that were all true, but over the long haul, he is unsure. He feels like Peter and his family are family to him as well. Tony wants to hire Peter as his protege. Tony needs someone he can trust implicitly. Tony needs Peter's help and his word that he will stick with him through what's coming, no matter what.

Peter says it sounds like a blood oath. Tony says that's what it is. Peter turns to MJ. Peter asks if Tony can tell him more. Tony says he can't unless he knows Peter will keep it a secret from the rest of the New Avengers. Peter asks, "even Steve?" Tony responds, "Yes. Even Steve." Peter admits Tony has helped him and he trusts Tony. Peter talks about an oath he took to help people in need and to be there for people who have been there for him. Peter agrees, shakes hands with Tony and give him his blood oath.

Then Tony gives Peter a dossier and says they are going to Washington. The dossier is a summons that Tony appear before the Senate Metahuman Investigations Committee to testify in closed session in matters of national security.


Comments:
Remember this is pre-Stamford so the overarcing fear and rage against supers is not present, hence the police working with Spider-Man, allowing Spider-Man to intimidate and work freely amidst a crime scene.

The fact remains, Spider-Man, in a common exercise of foiling crime, endangered people, destroyed property and made jokes the whole way thru. As well, what would become of an office who's sidearm was taken from him by the thug and said thug fired a got off a shot? Would he face disciplinary charges for his negligence and lack of caution? Should superheroes be held to the same standard?

However, the tone of the book is the standard superhero approach. We never get the sense that Spider-Man is doing anything wrong and his levity is much appreciated and played up. Peter is firmly in character, and as a reader, it's fun. The thugs are clearly the bad guys and we get insight throughout the story by Peter's internal dialogue and actions. We are definitely with him...and not civilians (of which none are personified -- perhaps the odd crashed car but no mention of the chase's impact on society) or ramifications to them. The cops have no problem with Spider-Man, as a matter of fact, they hold the thug captive while Spider-Man intimidates him and they play good cop to his bad as the thug's heartbeat doubles. This is clearly a violation of human rights but as a reader we see it as just deserts.

Tony's dilemma is cryptic and dire but Peter trusts him so we do to. Tony is portrayed as being in a tough position, but he is diplomatic and calculating. Tony is definitely in control but because of Peter's trust in him, you don't get the sense there is any reason to fear him--it is assumed he is on the side of the angels.

All in all, it creates the building blocks story-wise quite adequately for Civil War and the Pro-SRA mindset but it does nothing emotively to make us question what Spider-Man or any other superhero does on a day to day basis. In fact, the looming danger presented here, the one that Tony is preparing for, seems centered completely on the dossier we see at the end. The government is going to come calling, and this is something that Tony, and now by extension, Peter are going to have to come up against. There is very little sympathy for what the government might be summoning Tony to and by Tony's reaction it is dread that is translated to the reader.

More to come.
Last edited by superfriend; May 21st, 2006 at 10:52 AM.
 
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Old May 22nd, 2006   superfriend is offline   #2
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Default New Avengers: Illuminati

New Avengers: Illuminati
Writer: Brian Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev


Wakanda
Many years ago...
Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Prof. X, Reed Richards, Blackbolt, and Namor are introduced to T'Challa, the Black Panther. They are his guest.

Tony Stark has convened a meeting to discuss what had happened a week prior...The Kree-Skrull War.

Tony feels that due to their lack of combining efforts, they are somewhat to blame. Both Dr. Strange and Namor ask who he is referring to. Tony says if The X-Men, The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, The Inhumans and everyone else formed a delegation to share resources, information and efforts...they could do much good.

Namor objects immediately. Reed agrees as does Dr. Strange. They question how much would get done.

Xavier commiserates with Tony because Earth's populace were turned against the heroes during the War...something mutants feel every day. Tony responds saying that a coalition would give mutants validity. Black Panther interjects that it would do the opposite. Humanity would turn against all of them.

Panther, and Strange define superheroes as counter-establishment...not anti-establishment but not establishment.

Namor points out people of questionable reputation who are members of the Avengers like the criminal Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver or if Xavier would allow a rumored mutant assassin working with the Canadian government at his school or if Blackbolt's brother, one of the architects of the Kree-Skrull War, has been killed for his complicity in the War...Namor then asks if these are the people who will be setup as role models and delegates for Planet Earth.

Reed agrees that information would've given them a better chance of containing something like the K-S War and that they should meet. Namor adds the stipulation that it should be secret and confined to only them. Strange asks if they are on the honor system. Iron Man proposes Xavier use his powers to verify everyone is honorable. Xavier says he is not comfortable with that...that that's not what he does.
(is this pre-Deadly Genesis you think? The liar. lol) He says he will only if it's unanimous.

It is, except for T'Challa. T'Challa says they should disband the meeting. He says this is the exact reason why humanity fears them...secret cabals shaping the destiny of the planet. He asks presciently what will happen if they disagree? Or if someone discovers their group? T'Challa walks leaves.

They agree that meeting would be beneficial...especially Black Bolt who sees human allies as great assets to the Inhumans. They will keep it a secret. The scene ends with Xavier introducing the next topic of discussion...an island called Krakoa. The Illuminati is born.

Las Vegas
One month Ago...
The Hulk is rampaging thru Akron, Ohio. The Thing is there to deter him. Iron Man is on the HeliCarrier discussing the situation with Agent Hill. Hill blames Tony for the Hulk. She says an agent was speaking with her and asked why Spider-Man isn't at fault for Norman Osborne's homocidal rampages. The agent made the case that Spider-Man, the only person who has Osborne by the throat three times a year, is at fault for basically letting Osborne live. Hill told the agent that it isn't Spider-Man's fault, Osborne is just nuts. The agent responded, "it is his fault the guy's still alive." Iron Man interrupts her.

She says she is doing everything she can to stop the Hulk and asks Tony if he is too. [/b]And then she says, "The way I'm hearing things on Capitol Hill...They are looking for things to blame on you guys."[/b]

Iron Man leaves and meets with the Illuminati at the old Avengers HQ at Hydrobase. Namor, Reed, Strange, and Black Bolt. Xavier is absent. Iron Man says innocent people die because the Hulk walks the Earth. Namor vehemently objects. "One minute Bruce Banner is your ally and the next you want to shoot him into space???!" Namor proposes shooting Tony into the Sun because he used to have a drinking problem. Tony says it was different and he never killed anyone. Namor asks how he knows because of blackouts. Namor also calls out Reed and Tony and says if they would ply their scientific minds toward a cure instead of focusing efforts on their public appearances and action figure lines.... Reed interrupts incensed. He explains he's tried to cure Bruce and Ben with no success. Strange even tried to find a mystical cure and banish him once. Xavier probed Banner's mind and confirmed suicidal desires...if he could.

Iron Man argues that he's not even killing him...just sending him away. Namor says this is projection because of Wanda and the events of House of M. Reed moves for a vote. Unanimous except for Namor. He threatens to act if this is followed thru with. Iron Man insults him. He punches Iron Man across the bay and makes pursuit. Tony holds his own for a brief while but Namor takes him underwater and they are both subdued by Strange before Namor does Tony in.

With that, Namor takes his leave, the rest are convinced they are doing the right thing but Namor warns the Hulk will be back if they do this and will kill them all...and he will be right. He also says T'Challa was right.

They trick Bruce onto a satellite to repair A.I. problems setting him up for what will ultimately be a job only the Hulk can do. From there, they tell the Hulk, addressing him as Bruce, that they are sending him away so he will be safe. And they do.

At a Stark subsidiary
Today...
Tony waits for the members of the Illuminati. Namor, Black Bolt, and Reed arrive. Reed says Strange is on his way. Namor asks if
Xavier is still missing. Reed says "since the House of M." Namor ridicules them for another successful diversion of disaster. Reed asks why he is even there and Tony says because he invited him.

With that, Tony introduces something that is larger than any issues they have. He produces an early draft of a bill that wil hit the floor of Congress. The Super Hero Registration Act.

"Anyone with powers--anyone in costume--any mutant--any of our kind is going to be required by law to reveal themselves to the United States Government.

In return, the registered hero will be given a job as a guard in the new S.H.I.E.L.D. World Security Force. You will still get to be a super hero but you will have to answer to someone.

refusing to do so will be considered a federal crime. The feeling is that other countries will follow suit. But that the United States will lead the way and that this bill will pass."


Strange asks how the government will know because some wear masks. Tony says a special unit is being developed to hunt down anyone flagrantly disobeying the law. Strange says it's disgusting. Tony thinks they should volunteer willingly before they are forced. Namor smiles and says Tony fixed the Hulk and will now "fix" them...rolling over he says. Tony says he forsees something like Stamford, even though it's pre-Stamford and things will be rupture. He thinks they should cooperate. Namor prepares to leave and says it's a surface world problem. Tony says they will come for him. Namor says most likely they will destroy themselves before getting to Atlantis or it would be an act of war...either way, he doesn't care and he leaves.

Dr. Strange says it is wrong. He says that it's giving in to other people's ignorance. And that a lot their peers will fight for their rights...to the death.

Reed agrees with Tony. Strange is aghast.

Strange takes his leave and tells them never to call on him again. Black Bolt gestures, Reed prepares to leave and Tony is left sitting alone.


Comments:
If this isn't an endorsement for how much these character try to do the right thing by themselves and humanity, I don't know what is.

The SRA is most definitely looming and it's not a positive thing. Even Tony and Reed's last words to one another that it was fun while it lasted echo bittersweetly as nothing good can come of the SRA and it's ramifications.

The Pro-SRA side loses more and more ground as we begin to see the shape of things to come...and it is not good for the heroes of the Marvel Universe.
 
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Old May 23rd, 2006   Greg Waite is offline   #3
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The reason why I think the Illuminati sent Banner away is because Hulk would do worse damage than there already is.

Hulk is very angry and he destroys tons of things. It won't help either side if Hulk was still around wrecking the country. Nobody can control him.

(That's my reason why Tony and the others ent him away.)
 
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Old May 23rd, 2006   superfriend is offline   #4
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No doubt. The reasoning is clear, but it was only Reed, Dr. Strange, Tony and Black Bolt, not the Illuminati. Xavier was gone because of House of M and Namor would not go along with it.

I want to read Planet Hulk to see if Tony and others just made problems for other peoples somewhere else. They alluded to finding this location in Illuminati but they did not say if it was devoid of life. It would seem negligent to just make the Hulk someone else's problem especially since they know of the Hulk's destructiveness and especially if the environment was hostile to Bruce.

Tony may fancy the high ground but he may have given what equated to a death sentence anyway if they didn't do their homework on where they were sending the Hulk.
 
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Old May 29th, 2006   superfriend is offline   #5
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Default Fantastic Four #536

Fantastic Four #536
Writer: JMS
Artist: Mike McKone

"The Hammer Falls"

Prologue...
Six months ago, Thor's hammer falls from space and lands in an empty farm field in Oklahoma.

Six months later...Right now.
Reed is just getting home from the latest gathering of the Illuminati (as it states in the editorial notation in this issue). The one where Tony warns them of the impending Superhero Registration Act at the end of the New Avengers: Illuminati Special.

Sue asks him how it went. Reed says there are some bad things coming, there was disagreement as to how to handle it but he thinks they will be able to put their differences behind them.

[alert: continuity breach] Then we see on the TV how Tony Stark had testified in closed session in front of the Senate yesterday (the summons we see in ASM #529--see my review above). However, in Amazing Spider-Man #530 (review to come) Tony and Peter don't board a plane to Washington and testify until the morning after the meeting with the Illuminati so as Reed is coming in the door of the Baxter Building to greet Sue, Tony is hours away from meeting Peter on the tarmac to board said plane...as it states in the editorial notes in ASM #530...oops, though this TV blip wasn't necessary, A for effort in trying to tie in the Road to Civil War but ultimately falling completely on it's face. And JMS is writing both ASM and FF. LOL [/alert: continuity breach]

Anyway, Sue asks Reed rhetorically if he really think the government will pursue legislation. She chalks it up to election year posturing.

As Reed is about to respond, they are interrupted by a distress signal from a General William Ray who, in cooperation with SHIELD is contacting them on a matter of National Security. Doombots are attacking a government facility in Oklahoma. The FF mobilize and make haste to help with the problem.

The FF show up and join the fight. Reed makes his way to General Ray and Ray makes it known to him that all their GPS and satellite capabilities have been destroyed. Reed immediately tells everyone to take cover. A missile is on it's way.

The missile makes contact with the domed lab that sits on a crater. As Doom himself (who is presumed dead) exits the smoke and encounters Reed Richards, Doom says something fell there six months ago...a power that is rightfully Doom's. As Reed and Doom both spy what is at the bottom of the crater, they see it.

Thor's hammer.


Comments:
Another great example of how reliant on superheroes the MU is as the American military via SHIELD call on the FF to help avert disaster. When they want help, the government calls in the superheroes but clearly there is a political base that wants to control superheroes and no superhero, to a man, in the Road to Civil War storylines is relishing whatever comes of it.

They are mobilizing for something negative to occur. Something that will divide them. Something that will cause problems. Something they are treating like a threat.

So from that respect, we have yet to get a compelling perspective on why we, the reader, should feel for the SRA. Despite some lipservice from Marvel that it would be represented adequately, it has not shown up.

Besides the pleas of help from the government, who called SHIELD (who did not answer the call but were merely acting as a pass thru to the superheroes) we see Reed and the FF acting salvifically. The FF's first thought is to avoid casualties and protect humans from danger. Reed is attempting to surmise a strategy and when danger becomes apparent, Reed calls for everyone to fall back. They gladly abide and defer to Reed as a sort've field commander.

Not only that, but the entire reason this occurs is because the government has a secret. They found Thor's hammer and have been doing something with it...with little consideration to share their findings with Thor's peers...even Richards. It was their right, certainly, to do what they wanted to with what amounted to property on their soil but when things got dicey, you know who they called.

Thus far, on the Road to Civil War, we see how the government is duplicitous, scheming, witholding information, and calling the supers to clean it up when it goes awry. SHIELD will not even respond when the FF will.

Fun story but the motivations for why any one of them would hunt/oppose their fellow superhero is getting more and more outlandish.
 
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Old May 29th, 2006   superfriend is offline   #6
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Default Amazing Spider-Man #530

Amazing Spider-Man #530
Writer: JMS
Artist: Tyler Kirkham
"Mr. Parker Goes to Washington Pt. 2 (of 3)"

It's the morning following Tony's plea to Peter for help and the meeting between the Illuminati regarding Tony's reveal of the impending Superhero Registration Act (as it's stated in editorial notes --see New Avengers: Illuminati Special). Just hours prior, Reed came home to greet Sue from this very meeting and they turned onthe TV and saw how yesterday, Tony already testfied in closed session that he is about to do right now). Oops.

Tony and Peter are boarding a plane to sit in front of the Senate commitee. As they board the plane, Peter inquires about the midnight meeting that Tony spirited off to right after Tony's impassioned plea to Spider-Man to have his back.

Tony indicates it was a long-term planning session. Peter knows it was more but doesn't press the issue. Tony also has a 2.0 version of Peter's new suit. Peter realizes now why Tony has had so many suits in the past. "Art is never finished, Peter, only abandoned." Tony replies.

On the plane, Peter inquires about the SRA. Tony hands it to Peter calling it "The Enemy." Peter says it is larger than the last Harry Potter novel. Tony informs him that the bill is the first 30 pages, the rest are "riders and amendments tacked on by other senators to piggyback their own agendas."

Tony explains that there is pressure for people with powers to register their real names with the government or face prosecution. Peter sarcastically notes the government's record with trying to keep things like that a secret and knows this will be coveted information by their enemies. Tony says it makes sense but he is going to try and talk them out of doing this.

Tony drops Peter off at his hotel and Peter tries out the latest improvements to his suit which include the extra arms and making the suit look like his old one. He also accidentally does property damage to the hotel that he later tells Tony he'll have to pay for.

Amongst the buildings as Peter and Tony enter their limo for the Senate, the Titanium Man unsuccessfully targets them.

Tony and Peter enter the hearings and are greeted by one Senator Dickerson who comments on Tony as Iron Man. Tony corrects him...former Iron Man.

The senator asks Tony if he would say the same thing under oath. Tony says they can put him under oath but woud need to convene until he can get proper counsel which is his right. Dickerson clarifies that Peter is not Tony's counsel. Tony says he is an associate, a photojournalist and science expert who is familiar with superheroes.

Peter greets the panel and Dickerson scolds Peter and tells him he can speak when spoken to. Dickerson says placing Tony under oath can come some other time and with a smirk assures him that it will and then kicks things off by recognizing Senator Whitmore.

Whitmore estimates 200 billion dollars worth of costs that local and federal entities have had to absorb by superhero battles from 1946 (which they estimate the first superheroes came on the scene) to the present, and asks Stark to respond. Tony counters with 47 instances where superheroes have prevented the North American continent from being destroyed. He also counters with the defense budget for 2006 for the US alone is 419 billion dollars. 200 billion over 60 years is 300 million per year...Tony remarks that's less than what the US spent on ceramic body armor just this year. He makes the case that superheroes are a bargain fiscally.

Whitmore snidely calls Tony's remarks pretty but brings up the point that doctors, pilots and drivers must register and that everyone makes mistakes, so people capable of great damage shouldn't be exempt.

Tony has no response. Peter raises his hand and responds. Peter says bad guys are bad guys all the time but good guys sometimes do it part-time. Good guys have families and loved ones who would be at risk if this sensitive personal information fell into the wrong hands. Whitmore says police and others do the same thing. Peter says superheroes didn't aspire to their roles like police but want to help just the same. Whitmore asks if it would be easier for superheroes to help if they could do it openly and with the assistance of the police and other agencies. Whitmore feels Peter has made it even more compelling for their side. Peter is silenced.

They take a 10 minute recess and Tony gives Peter some advice...never volunteer anything when dealing with lawyers or politicians. During the recess, Peter's spider-sense goes off while talking to MJ on the phone but he chalks it up to being tired.

4 hours and 15 minutes later...
In the chambers of the session, Tony is closing by saying the system has worked for 60 years and bringing this law forth could be dangerous. Dickerson asks if that is a threat and wants Tony to elaborate. He cites Prohibition and The Vietnam Draft as phenomena that criminalized people who were otherwise well-meaning, good-intentioned people. Dickerson asks which side Tony will be on. Tony says he has always served at the pleasure of his country and it's leaders and nothing will change about that. They recess until the next day.

Enter the scene we saw on Reed and Sue's TV and we see Reed and Sue watching as well.

Just then, Peter's sense goes off and Tony is shot at. Peter changes to Spider-Man and attacks the Titanium Man who shows up to kill Tony Stark. The military open fire on Spider-Man and the Titanium Man assuming Spidey and TM are attacking the Senate building. TM flies off and Spidey follows with a webline attached to him.


Comments:
Tony is coming across really well here. He is trying to get the SRA stopped but diplomatically. He considers it the enemy and is opposed to it but has shown failures in arguing it in the pieces of the discussion that were shown from this issue.

And Tony is right. Damages are moot as they almost always are when dealing with a threat that will do more damage in the long run, so saving the world 47 times vs. 200 billion dollars is a great point. Licensing is an interesting philosophy but it's going to make it easier to hold the good guys responsible for damages than it will to stop damages. Perhaps it will cause the good guys to give pause and be less flippant but we've already seen the FF, Iron Man, Spider-Man and others employ their best judgement and use caution. They try to take conflicts away from the populace. They try to do the right thing. They are very cognizant of the dangers...so to assume they don't is incorrect. However, we did find out in the latest issue of New Avengers that Peter doesn't even have a driver's license. And he drove a car with webbing last issue. Yikes.

Besides, licensing or certifying, as we know it, doesn't apply correctly in a superhero universe. When faced with the reality of perpetual, non-licensed individuals with malevolent intent...it falls flat. If someone drove a car, unlicensed, with no regard for driving laws...then it's assumed they would be punished. This happens as an illusion in a superhero universe but perhaps more attention should be given to the security of detention facilities in the MU.

The senators were portrayed as smarmy and controlling. Tony gave us and Peter ample warning that they cannot be trusted and dealt with in a straight fashion. Still not seeing the advantage of the SRA argument here other than a convenient plot device to cause friction for the our heroes.
 
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Old June 27th, 2006   superfriend is offline   #7
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more to come.
 
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