The U.N. has a long history of comic heroes and villians.
The U.N’s appearance in comics and fiction has been long and colorful — and often cartoonish. From The Simpsons (which mocked the global organization as a dysfunctional do-nothing) to the Animatrix (the prequel to the Wachowski brothers’ film series, The Matrix, in which the U.N. signed away humanity’s collective will to a new set of machine overlords) it’s been a checkered history.
More frequently, it’s the United Nations in need of a savior. Foreign Policy‘s Colum Lynch details the escapades of the latest group of superheroes to grace Turtle Bay — in DC Comic’s reincarnated Justice League International — but the history of heroes working with the U.N. goes much further back.
In 1965, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby developed the Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division, also known by the convenient acronym S.H.I.E.L.D. Lead by the gritty and battle-hardened Colonel Fury, they battled their evil rival, HYDRA, commanded by the former Nazi Baron Strucker. The writers note that S.H.I.E.L.D has the full backing of the U.N. General Assembly for its operations. And perhaps to be in close proximity to Turtle Bay, the organization’s headquarters were located on the Upper East Side of New York, with easy access to a helipad, among other technological amenities.
The “Master Chief” in Bungie’s best-selling video game franchise, Halo, may be a hero for millions of gamers blasting away at aliens, but the super-soldier only takes orders from the U.N. of the future. In Halo, the U.N. has evolved into the Unified Earth Government, a supranational regime boasting its own interplanetary force, the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) tasked with ensuring stability in the solar system. The back story, covered in great length in the Halo Encyclopedia, details the creation of the UNSC following the interplanetary war, a 4-year conflict between the U.N. and rebel groups lead by the neo-communist villian, Vladimir Koslov. The U.N. of today, however, is a long way from having its own internal rapid reaction force — and forget it being space-capable anytime soon.
Deus EX Series
Prophetically, the Deus EX video game series — launched in 2000 — opens with a catastophic terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Set in a cyberpunk mid-21st future, the U.N. is forced to respond to attacks on Chicago and New York’s Statue of Liberty. The protagonist, J.C. Denton, is an agent of the United Nations Anti-Terrorism Coalition, an agency responsible for finding and eliminating terrorist threats. Through the game, Denton uncovers sinister forces at work — the global body is actually being manipulated by the evil Majestic 12, an Illuminati-like organization conspiring to control the world through technology and finance. In 2005, the real U.N. established the United Nations Counter Terrorism Task Force, though we don’t have confirmation if they are using genetically enhanced super-agents yet — or are under the nefarious influence of Wall Street black hands.
The U.N. Heroes
In 1993, indie comic book publisher Gauntlet Comics published the first (and only) volume of U.N. Force, detailing the adventures of the global body’s rapid reaction force — something like peacekeepers on steroids. As the creator, Brent Carpenter, explained in an interview with CNN, the team was tasked with fixing problems that “went beyond the scope of any single government,” including major geopolitical issues such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square massacre, and terrorism. Eerily enough, the first issue of the comic predicted an attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. The team was composed of 25 members from 19 nations, many from regional powers, including, Lotus (India), Fusion (South Africa), and Mother Russia. The creators even included maps so that readers would be able to easily follow the globe-trotting escapades.