Category Archives: Poplitico

Poplitico: Transformers, IDW’s Political Drama

transformers_3When you think of Transformers, I’m sure you think of giant robots that change into things that fight against each other. What if I told you they were so much more. For quite a few years now, IDW Publishing, with numerous talented writers, has created the most subtle political drama of our time. they’ve transformed what were pretty simple characters into political dynamos, and by doing so, given us an epic story that questions the idea of revolution, armed resistance, and the corruption of government and individuals through power.

For me, much of the groundwork came to the forefront in issues #22 and #23 of Transformers written by James Roberts and released in 2011. While there was more previously, this is the clearest time, in IDW’s world, that there was much to the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.

During a journey to Cybertron, through flashbacks we’re presented with how Megatron, a manual laborer, went from lowly cog to revolutionary raging against a class system, apartheid, based on how one was created, as well as a government run amok.

It’s best to start with the issues to rage against. The Transformers race is divided based on what they change into, ie their utility, and how they were created either forged or constructed cold (think born versus genetically engineered). If your ability to change is that of a miner, you worked in the mines, never to rise above. There was a division of class based on labor and birth.

tranformers_1After being caught up in an unfortunate incident, Megatron, who already feels oppressed, is arrested and abused by local police, causing the former worker to radicalize.

At the same time, a young Orion Pax (later to be known as Optimus Prime) is a local police office who truly believes in the law he must enforce. He’s the uncorrupt cop in a clearly broken system. A system that wears the sigil of the Autobots and run by a Senate and leader dubbed the Prime. As we know though, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this Senate and the Primes are examples of that. That belief in justice and freedom puts Pax on a collision course with that corruption, forcing him to choose whether to continue be a pawn of a broken system or ensure freedom for all beings.

transformers_2

Pax has been won over by Megatron who has released his manifesto to Cybertron which asks three questions to the government:

  1. In whose interests do you exercise your power?
  2. To whom are you accountable?
  3. How can we get rid of you?

Pax, after an outburst before the Senate, showing off its corruption, is saved by a young Senator, in a twist that has taken 3 years to play out and a storyline just concluded with this week’s Transformers: Dark Cybertron Finale.

Megatron’s resistance of course is met with brutal action by the government, who through their actions radicalize the upstart further and labels them terrorists. All of this eventually leads to the war between the Autobots and Decepticons and the story you might be more familiar with.

Flash forward millions of years, and an event has led the Autobots back to Cybertron to rebuild, shifting the series to one of governance, and the difficulty to do so. At the same time, the series split into two, taking one storyline and a group of Transformers on a religious mission, while the others stayed and attempted to rebuild their world leading to drama worthy of Shakespeare in the crosses, double crosses, and subterfuge.

transformers_4And here we are, at the end of another major event. Those seeds place three years ago has paid off into a political drama unlike anything else in comics. The story clearly wasn’t about Optimus, or his band of brothers, it turns out this is Megatron’s story. A revolutionary, a radical, a terrorist, whose extreme methods lead to death and destruction. A man whose beliefs became corrupted and used to justify death and subjugation. And much like we’re shown Megatron eventually realizes his folly.

The Decepticon cause was never about that, we fought for peace – for equality.

Three years since we were presented the genesis of his political cause and the philosophy and it’s application is still evolving. We’ve been presented a tale about oppression, politics, corruption, and revolution. And soon we’ll be presented with the after effects of war, the nation building.

While you might see giant robots with guns, in reality, there’s more than meets the eye.

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Poplitico: President Obama Announces an Iron Man Project

Each week for Poplitico we look at a “political” moment in comics or a “geeky” moment in politics. During a White House manufacturing innovation event, President Obama joked that it was really an announcement that we’re building Iron Man. Again, the President in Geek shows off his nerd cred. It’s a pretty funny moment and worth the watch.

Poplitico: SC Legislators Want to Punish Colleges for Fun Home

fun home coverSouth Carolina legislators are trying to punish two public colleges for assigning Alison Bechdel‘s praised graphic novel Fun Home. The story deals with Bechdel’s childhood and her closeted gay father and her own coming out as a lesbian.

The state’s House budget-writing committee approved cuts on Wednesday of $52,000 to the College of Charleston and $17,142 from the University of South Carolina Upstate.

Those reductions is about what each college spent on their programs that involved the graphic novel as well as other selections on homosexuality. In USC Upstate’s case, they assigned Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio for a required course for all freshmen. The course also featured lectures and other activities.

Rep. Garry Smith said:

I understand diversity and academic freedom. This is purely promotion of a lifestyle with no academic debate.

The House Ways and Means Committee defeated by a vote of 13-10 an effort by Republican Rep. B.R. Skelton to restore the money. Skelton felt this sort of retribution was inappropriate action from the elected officials.

Skelton is a retired Clemson University professor and said:

If we’re going to begin funding institutions on the basis of books they’ve assigned, we’re going down a road we don’t need to go down.

Rep. Jim Merrill, a Republican felt the whole thing was “stupid” and only to make them “feel better.” That didn’t stop him from voting down Skelton’s attempt to restore the funding.

Skelton felt he wanted to make a point and offered an amendment to force the legislators to approve every book on a college reading list. He then pulled the amendment before a vote took place.

Poplitico: Ghostbusters and Iran

In the newly renamed Poplitico we look at a geeky moment in politics or a political moment in geekdom.

This week comes from The X-Files: Conspiracy: Ghostbusters which sees the Lone Gunmen head to New York and the Ghostbuster firehouse. There they come across their ghost containment unit… with this exchange.

iran

The panel is perfect timing as some sanctions towards Iran were lifted this week since they have done some work in suspending the nuclear program. So, not only was there an awesome political reference, but there’s also the timing factor. You couldn’t have planned it better.

Pop Political/Political Pop: Trolling the GOP with Comics

Each week I point out a nice “political” moment in comics, or a geeky moment in politics. It could be an entire comic, a Tweet, release, event or a moment in a comic series, recent or in the past.

This week’s entry is a great case in trolling that had me laughing for quite a long time. The GOP took to Twitter to ask what people’s “top issues” were. Comic writer Ron Marz had a response that was just too perfect to not be the top moment of the week.

But Marz wasn’t the only one to have this idea. Here’s some others that got in on the fun:

Pop Political/Political Pop: The Fox Cares About the Environment

Each week I point out a nice “political” moment in comics, or a geeky moment in politics. It could be an entire comic, a Tweet, release, event or a moment in a comic series, recent or in the past.

This week comes courtesy of The Fox #3 released by Archie Comics with the creative team of Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid. The issue has The Fox on an alien world, working to free a captive, has a stream of consciousness that includes some thoughts on his impact on the environment, all while dodging traps. Entertaining and also teaching good stewardship!the_fox_3_environment

Pop Political/Political Pop: The Beetle Vs. the Glass Ceiling (Spoilers)

Welcome to the first Pop Political/Political Pop which will be posted each Friday where I spotlight a “political” moment in comics for the week or a geek moment in politics. It could be an entire comic, a Tweet, release, event or a moment in a comic series, recent or in the past. This week’s first one comes courtesy of The Superior Foes of Spider-Man written by Nick Spencer with art from Rich Ellis.

Warning Spoilers Ahead!

The issue focuses on the new Beetle, who we have learned is the daughter of mob enforcer Tombstone. Janice wants to be a super villain but her dad has other ideas, such as her becoming a lawyer… they can steal way more money and do so legally. But, that doesn’t sit right where she protests that she wants to break the glass ceiling and become the head of a crew and run it the right way.

On being a woman and a career (in crime) she has this to say:

beetle_1Then there’s Janice’s dating life. In an awesome sequence of how she spends her time we get a snapshot of a date and what’s going on through her head.

beetle_2Between the Clinton reference and the X when Republicans are mentioned, I’m guessing Janice might be a Democrat.