Nanowarriors: Military Nanotechnology and Comic Books

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Milburn, Colin (2005)
  • Publisher: eScholarship, University of California
  • Subject: Nanotechnology | Comic Books | Comics | Military Nanoscience | Science Fiction | Superhero | Cyborg

(Colin Milburn, "Nanowarriors: Military Nanotechnology and Comic Books," Intertexts 9.1 (2005): 77-103. This article is posted at the University of California eScholarship Repository by permission of Texas Tech University Press.) In 2002, MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN) appropriated copyrighted images from the comic book Radix in a grant proposal to the U.S. Army—a proposal that succeeded in securing $50 million for foundation of the Institute. While this case draws on questions of authorship and the local origins of words and images, it also vividly animates the nonlocal and nonlocalizable cultural narratives that enframe the field of soldier nanotechnology. Comic-book images of soldier nanotechnology may serve to inspire certain scientific projects as conceptual artwork, or even as design-ahead engineering diagrams, but they also bear in themselves traces of a long history of graphic narratives about superhuman techno-augmentation and military cyborgs. This article analyzes the intertextual webs of comic-book images and superhero narratives that entangle the research programs, the rhetoric, and the culture of military nanoscience.
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