The Villain’s Safe Haven and its Real Life Equivalencies
January 11, 2003
By Avi Green
In the real world of today, there are many criminal factions such as
the PLO, Cuba’s Castro, and even Syria and Saudi Arabia’s own
dictatorships, who are internationally tolerated and given immunity
and recognition by many of the world’s governments, and allowed to
move freely within their countries.
Even years ago, in comics, there were criminals with many of the
same statuses who enjoyed safe haven within an enemy country, or who
even had immunity outside of them. And in this essay, we shall take
a look at these comic book villains who’ve enjoyed their own share
of immunity and haven within their own countries, the world, or even
outside of it.
The Silver Age Lex Luthor
Back in the Silver Age of comics, Lex Luthor,
then portrayed as a mad scientist, found a planet in the galaxy
conveniently named where he was hailed as a hero, whereas his
archnemesis Superman was considered a criminal. Many times, he would
head over to reside there, where he had immunity from both the Man
of Steel and the earth’s own justice system, and nobody could really
get at him. He even had a wife there named Ardora and a son.
In 1983, however, about two decades after this idea first came up,
Lex lured Superman to the planet, in hopes of killing his
archnemesis, and accidentally destroyed Lexor, killing its entire
inhabitancy, and his wife Ardora and son with it. Not surprisingly,
Luthor, crazy madman that he was, put the blame on Superman for the
destruction of the planet that respected him and his family, rather
than see himself as the one guilty for the loss of those he’d held
In the late-1960’s, there was an interesting similarity to the above
example in the 174th issue of the Flash, in which the first
Mirror Master, Sam Scudder, trapped the Scarlet Speedster in a
mirror world he’d been building with his mirror technology, in which
the Flash was thought to be a crook and the Rogues’ Gallery were
thought to be the goodies. The writer behind that idea was John
Broome, then one of DC’s most prominent writers on both Flash and Green Lantern.
Even more startling than the case with Lex Luthor of the Silver Age,
the Fantastic Four’s leading nemesis, Victor Von Doom, long
enjoyed not only his own safe haven on earth itself, but also
diplomatic immunity within, if anywhere, the United States!
Doctor Doom’s origin was in a fictional country in Eastern Europe
called Latveria, where he later returned to conquer the
country as its monarch. This period of history in the Marvel
universe bears a striking similarity to the case surrounding the
PLO’s Yasir Arafat, who’s parents are said to have once lived on the
Gaza Strip, and who later, under the shield of worldwide diplomatic
immunity, returned to take over as the dictator of the Arab
population living in the Judean desert and in Gaza. The demented
Doctor’s world immunity also made it very hard for his archfoes, the
Fantastic Four, to bring him down and to justice.
Years later, Doctor Doom left the planet earth and went to rule on a
world called, quite conveniently, as with Lexor, Planer Doom, giving
him even more shielding from his foes on earth.
Even the X-Men’s archnemesis, Erik Lensherr, Magneto, had
his own form of safe haven for a time, that being first the Avalon
space station, and later, when that was destroyed, he managed to get
the UN to grant him not only immunity, but also sovereignty over the
fictional island of Genosha.
I read this matter myself in 1998, in which, to the X-Men’s surprise
at the end of “The Magneto War”, that the UN sends its
representatives along to announce to Magneto his grant of rulership.
Wolverine shouts out, “What! That’s giving him what he wanted!”
As it was with the PLO, after all the horrific crimes they
committed, not only against Israel and its citizens, but also
against many other world countries and even against many Arabs
themselves. Surprising? Not with the way the real life world thinks
Meanwhile, under Grant Morrison’s pen, so Magneto is seemingly
killed by the attack of the forgettable villainess Cassandra Nova in
a show of extremely poor artistic taste, and Marvel says he won’t be
coming back. Yeah, right, we’ll see about that.
So there we have it, some very startling similarities to real life
cases of international criminals who’re given immunity and even
promoted to statesmen on grounds to which they have no national
claim. And in the case of Doctor Doom, it’s almost like a prophecy!
We can only hope that lessons can be learned from these examples.
Avi Green, who's waiting to see what Doctor Doom's soon to be
return to menace the Fantastic Four again will be like, can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2003 Avi Green. All rights reserved.
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