Monday, June 29, 2009

How Do Fictional Countries Affect the Comic Book World's Economy?

The long publishing history of Marvel and DC is filled with many powerful events. Terrorist attacks, government revolutions, totalitarian regimes, conquests, and liberations. And for the sake of political correctness, these events could not occur in real countries. After all, if a story calls for a government run by corrupt drug lords to be attacked by Batman or Iron Man, it isn't really fair to label an existing country as a place where crime and evil reigns. As a result, Marvel and DC have created fictional countries to be the locations of their stories.

Talking about ethnic cleansing in Kosovo may be too insensitive for a comic book. But ethnic cleansing in the fictional Slorenia is ripe for an intervention by Force Works. You can't really have Iran creating mechanical terrors to plague their neighboring countries. But Bialya is completely free to launch super-powered attacks on Kahndaq. It's politically correct, safe, and just makes good sense for a developing story. And it's fairly easy to create a country when you do so in regions that are nebulous to your America audience like the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and east Asia.

But making up fictional countries willy nilly is bound to have consequences. These new countries are additional economic variables added into the equation of Marvel or DCs fictional global market.

The techno-tribal monarchy of Wakanda is the primary source of vibranium for the Marvel Universe. And vibranium has all sorts of uses from making unstoppable shields to making unstoppable robots and other generally unstoppable things that may or may not be sentient and angry at humanity. This makes Wakanda an important nation that has a great effect on the global market. But because Wakanda is a fictional country which provides a fictional resource to the world, it's nearly impossible to calculate the effect Wakanda's creation has on the world economy. Granted, calculations could be posited and international trading agreements (likely between Wakanda and a nation that wants to use vibranium to make something unstoppable) could be postulated but the accuracy of such calculations would be flawed without a real world equivalent to base them on.

And Wakanda is only one small example of this process. As time goes on, writers continue to deform the geography of the comic book world, and with it the fictional global economy. International defense spending likely increased after Dr. Doom's Latveria was made and Black Adam resumed control of Kahndaq. The creation of these nations has far-reaching consequences for the comic book global economy. And yet writers continue to invent these countries with wild abandon. And I will greet each new comic book nation with the particular brand of mock outrage expressed above.

22 comments:

algeya said...

but as quickly some countries are invented in comicbooks some are long forgotten and some of them are so little like genosha to affect in global scale.

Can I give you a suggesion for the next rant , how about super hero funeral expenses since a lot of super heroes die a lot and they return alive after sometime, how about normal citizens after the summer big event thousands of citizens are killed

doktorholocaust said...

a lot of these fictional countries are essentially stand-ins for a real nation that the writer/editor/publisher does not wish to offend, so perhaps their economic impact could be approximated using the impact of whatever actual country they are a substitute for.

Alternately, one could look at the economic impact of countries with a similar economic situation if not parallel geography. Since Wakanda is a small monarchy with a natural resource that everyone wants, it could have the equivalent of a small real nation with lots of oil in place of the Vibranium.

Arkain said...

@Doktor
Not a bad idea except Oil and Vibranium are not equal. Oil is a necessity for most countries and bought primarily by the US, not so with Vibranium. Oil is burned and must therefore be 'replaced', Vibranium is durable. I would relate it much closer to minerals for ease, but even that would suffer in translation due to Vibranium's unique properties. Also into account is Wakanda's strict isolationist policy and the Black Panther's leadership, which I would think would lead to more SHIELD and Stark contracts, disallowing the majority of the world to even get a hand on Vibranium.

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