Comic books take place in a world that’s like our own, but with some key, crucial differences.
It’s a world that has science and technology, but it’s different from from the science and technology that we know.
For instance, it’s a world where the phrase “radioactive spider” makes perfect sense. Where you can apparently buy a miniaturized nuclear reactor at any Bed, Bath, & Beyond. And where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting somebody’s force field.
Whatever else you may think about the fantastical universe of comic books, you have to admit that they keep the rules of that universe fairly consistent. It’s almost like comic creators all got together and agreed on the alternate laws of physics.
(Moderator: “Resolved: a 200 lb man who shrinks to the size of a Grape Nut will still have the strength of a 200 lb man. Because he’s still got all the same atoms and stuff, right?”
Crowd: “Well, that doesn’t really sound…”
Moderator: “We’ve already printed 50,000 copies of Ant Man.”
One of those bits of comic physics you can count on is the force field. Force fields in Fantastic Four comics from the ’70s and Justice League comics from the ’80s and Avengers comics from today all behave pretty much the same. They’re transparent, they glow with crackling energy, and if you hit one hard it will flash and knock you backwards.
However, if you push on a force field slowly, very slowly, you can often push all the way through it.
What got me thinking about this was Donald Trump.
Trump is a man who is very lucky in his enemies, because they can’t seem to think of any way to oppose him other than to scream at the top of their lungs and charge at him as hard as they can. When they do that, they end up just bouncing off his force field. Threatening to impeach him before he’s inaugurated, rioting, and a steady stream of absolutely bonkers conspiracy theories end up having the opposite of their intended effect as people who don’t even like Trump are forced to come to his defense in the name of sanity.
If Trump’s opponents instead made an effort to seem sane and reasonable — of pushing steadily into Trump’s force field instead of going all “Hulk Smash!” all the time — then Trump would probably topple right over.
I think this is going to end up being the pattern of the Trump presidency: the most aggressive attacks are met with the strongest resistance, while comparatively minor issues (see recent debt ceiling deal with Democratic leadership) serve to undermine him.