Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Are Economists and Merchants Cowardly Scum? Annihilation Says So

This weekend while I was re-reading Keith Giffen's cosmic epic Annihilation, I noticed some interesting social and economic commentary.

Cover to Annihilation #5, art by Gabriele Dell'Otto

For those of you who haven't read it, Annihilation is the story of the Negative Zone tyrant Annihilus and his genocidal campaign to exterminate all life in the universe. Standing in his way is an army composed of the several cosmic heroes and the military might of the Kree, a militaristic race often featured in Marvel comics. Naturally, a grand battle ensues where the fate of the entire universe is at stake.

But there's only one problem. The Kree are controlled by House Fiyero, a clan within the Kree empire composed of merchants and commerce analysts. Traditionally, this clan controls the Kree economy but because of trying times, they control the doings of the entire empire. This includes all military operations and the war against Annihilus.

But the hero of the Kree people, Ronan the Accuser, doubts the ability and the fortitude of House Fiyero's leadership. He believes that people concerned with the economy are not suitable to lead his people, especially in times of war. He thinks the economically focused House Fiyero will lead the Kree people to disaster. Eventually, he's proven right when House Fiyero chooses to ally themselves with Annihilus for personal and economic gain. Ronan then does what he does best (accusing, that is) and promptly sentences the traitorous members of House Fiyero to a crispy death. Ronan then seizes control of the Kree empire for himself and mounts a glorious attack against Annihilus.

Annihilation depicts House Fiyero (the group in Kree society concerned with all things related to economy and commerce) as a clan of traitorous, cowardly, incompetent, and petty individuals. Is that how economists should be portrayed in comics?

I ask you, good readers. What better symbolizes the economist?

This?

Cover to Annihilation: Ronan #1, art by Gabriele Dell'Otto

or this?

This is the Cowardly Lion

Please let me know what you think.

15 comments:

kmitcham said...

How exactly would the merchants hope to make any money if everyone was dead? Who would they sell to? Sounds like a stupid plot, even for a comic book.

Allying with Annilhus to kill Skrulls, now that would make sense.

Mark said...

Well the problem is that no-one knows Annihilus' ultimate goal is to end all life (including the lives of his followers). The members of House Fiyero merely believed he wanted to conquer our universe and chose to ally with him to what they thought was their mutual benefit.

James K said...

The notion of commerce as weak and dishonourable has a long pedigree. In feudal Europe merchants were considered to be morally suspect individuals because their method of gaining wealth (mutually beneficial exchange) was clearly morally inferior to the nobility's method of slavery, rapine and murder.

joselito said...

I think Giffen had to cut the part where Ronan asks 10 House Fiyero members a question and gets 10 different answers.
Also, no much drama demonstrating that House Fiyero analysts yield the same profit as using coin toss to make decisions, on long term.

Will said...

@Mark - Doesn't the name "Annihilus" kind of give a strong indication of his plans? Maybe it translates to something less sinister in Kree.

What I find more impressive is this view of economists was written well before the recent economic troubles. Annihilation came out in 2006 or so, right? That means it was in a period of relative economic stability and certainly not a reflection of public anger (like the ASM story with Electro was). In the current state after many economists (and others) missed the warning signs that led to the global economic problems, I could see why a story like this would be written.

And why do so many fictional alien races have a caste or "house" structure? I wonder if it is because it is just familiar enough to be understood, but just different enough to be alien.

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