The "big" news this week was the finale of Civil War #7 and, like Abhay, Graeme, Jim, Chris and so many others, I found it lacking. Not so much that it was poorly scripted or drawn, but that it was absurdly anti-climatic and disappointing. It's an ending that really isn't an ending; it's an ending that just peters out.
But that's not what I'm going to focus on here today!
Let me take a moment to present you with an image. This is from last summer's Superman Returns movie.
Before I saw the original teaser trailer for Superman Returns, I was uninterested in the movie. Just not a huge fan of the character; I could take him or leave him. But that scene where Superman flies up above the clouds into the sunrise with Brando's voice-over...? That totally sold it for me. Why? Mostly because of the imagery.
The sun is an extremely powerful image. In the first place, everyone knows the sun. No matter where you live on the planet, no matter what your cultural background is, you know what the sun is, what it does for the planet, how it's important for all life on earth. Consequently, the rising sun is an almost universal metaphor for continuing life and, therefore, hope. The rising sun shows every day that there is a tomorrow to look towards. No matter how absurdly bleak things get, there is still something to look forward to. And silhouetting a hero against a rising sun conveys a very powerful message, directly comparing that rising sun's hope to the hero standing in front of it. In this image, Superman is the herald of tomorrow's hope just as the sun is.
Now, let's look at the final panel from Civil War...
We can't tell if the sun is rising or setting here, but it's cutting through an upside-down horizon created by the SHIELD Helicarrier. The arc of the earth is not present at all, and the sun is hung behind a massive, man-made structure hovering thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of feet in the air. We see what is essentially an image 180 degrees opposite of the universal image we have of tomorrow's hope.
You ever wonder why people hold a flashlight under their chin when they tell ghost stories? It's because they're forcing the light to shine on their face in a decidedly unnatural way -- we are used to seeing people's face lit by sunlight, which always comes from above. That a light shines from below makes them appear unnatural and adds an aura of fear and uncertainty to their tale.
The same principle applies here. The sun is universally above the earth. No matter how much of a horizon you find yourself looking at, the sun will be above it. By shifting the horizon (shown here as the underbelly of the Helicarrier) and having the sun hang below, artist Steve McNiven has created a wholly unnatural image.
Was that a deliberate and discussed story-telling point from the whole creative team? Was that something McNiven threw in to suggest his opinion of the story? Was it a conscious choice, or a more visceral and intuitive design decision? Am I reading too much into one piece of art?
Questions I don't have answers for. But I think the end result is extremely metaphoric -- I don't think there's much to look forward to in the Marvel Universe.