Civil War's Worst Victim Should Not Have Forgiven Marvel's Avengers

When the inexperienced New Warriors carelessly launched a raid on a supervillain hideout to boost the ratings of their failing reality television show, the ensuing battle devastated the small town of Stamford, Connecticut, and killed over 600 innocent civilians. This event, known as the "Stamford Incident," turned the public against superheroes and inspired lawmakers to pass the Superhuman Registration Act, a controversial law that forced all super-powered individuals within the United States to reveal their secret identity and submit to government oversight.

Although Iron Man quickly became the public face of the Superhuman Registration Act during Civil War (by Mark Miller and Steve McNiven), the law's greatest supporter was without a doubt Miriam Sharpe, the mother of one of the Stamford Incident's victims. Miriam played a key role in the passage of the act, and she continued to hold a low opinion of heroes in the years following Civil War. However, Miriam's latest appearance showed that her views on heroes had undergone a fairly sudden shift, one that felt very out-of-character for a woman who had every reason to continue her unique and unconventional war against the heroes of the Marvel Universe.

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Before its destruction, Miriam lived in Stamford with her young son Damian, who she seemingly raised as a single mother. While Miriam was lucky enough to survive the Stamford Incident Damian was killed alongside many of his classmates by the mutant supervillain Nitro, and she held the heroes who'd recklessly started the battle equally responsible for her son's death. After Iron Man spoke out against the proposed Superhuman Registration Act, a furious and grieving Miriam publicly confronted him, and this traumatizing encounter caused Tony to re-think his opinion of the law. Following this interaction, Miriam organized a massive protest movement that advocated for greater accountability within the superhero community, the proposals of which were incorporated into the act before it was signed into law.

Over the years that followed, Miriam would make several sporadic appearances, defending the Superhuman Registration Act from its critics and denouncing heroes who refused to follow it. However, after a long absence, Miriam reappeared in Fear Itself: The Home Front # 1 (by Christos N. Gage, Mike Mayhew, Rain Beredo, and Dave Lanphear), and her views of heroes had undergone a surprising and dramatic change. Although she still held some resentment towards heroes, she admitted that they were necessary to protect people from threats that they couldn't handle themselves. While assisting in the effort to resist the Serpent's invasion of Earth, Miriam encountered Speedball, the former leader of the New Warriors and the one who led the failed mission that resulted in her son's death. Despite having every reason to despise Speedball, Miriam was able to see that the destruction of Stamford had affected him as deeply as it affected her, and she ultimately forgave him for her son's death once the crisis was resolved.

While Miriam's decision to forgive the man who inadvertently caused the death of her son and neighbors was certainly admirable, it also felt out-of-character when compared to her previous actions. Following Civil War, public opinion began to slowly turn against the Superhuman Registration Act, but Miriam steadfastly supported the law, using facts and evidence to support her views while maintaining a calm and rational demeanor that even her harshest critics were able to respect. Miriam's ability to turn millions of people against beloved heroes like Captain America without breaking the law made her an unconventionally effective threat to the superhero community, and the issue that lies at the heart of her beliefs remains one of the most compelling debates within the Marvel Universe.

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Whether they're battling superpowered villains or common criminals, heroes often cause a lot of collateral damage while they're "saving the day," and many innocent civilians have become unintentional victims of their careless actions. Even veteran heroes like Spider-Man, who have gone out of their way to improve their situational awareness, have occasionally harmed people in the heat of battle. Although laws like the Superhuman Registration Act and the Outlawed crossover event's Kamala's Law are undoubtedly flawed in their execution, they raised legitimate questions about the dangers that the actions of heroes could pose to average people, and Miriam gave a side of the debate that has often been vilified as a uniquely nuanced and realistic perspective that could have been explored further.

Through her unique ability to oppose heroes without resorting to villainous methods, Miriam Sharpe could have become a truly unique foe to the Avengers and other heroes, one who couldn't be defeated with physical force. Although she ultimately choose forgiveness over vengeance, Miriam lost everything because of the carelessness of people who'd sworn to protect innocent lives, and her tragedy serves as a grim reminder that heroes can't always save everyone.

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Drew Kopp (86 Articles Published)

Drew Kopp is a Comics Features Writer for CBR who holds a Bachelor's Degree of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. As a die-hard fan of comic books, fantasy/sci-fi literature, and video games, he loves nothing more than injecting his love of storytelling into his writing, and he also loves nothing more than writing about all things nerdy. When he isn't busy obsessively theorizing over comic book plots or drooling over the next big indie game, he can be found writing about those topics.

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