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Title says it all, really. I'll admit, I had fun reading this highly controversial comic. Admittedly though, I read it to see why the comic was so hated. And now I know why. From the inconsistent stories to the huge amounts of OOC moments (Spider-Man revealing his secret identity for starters), it's clear why this comic is so controversial.
Let's start with the plot itself. After a fight with the villain Nitro destroys most of Stamford, Connecticut, the government, led by Iron Man, decides to regulate and register all superhumans. Now there's a problem just in that sentence. The one question I wanted answered was this: Why didn't anyone come out and say, "It's all Nitro's fault"? Yes, the New Warriors acted like a bunch of reckless glory hounds, but Nitro's the one who blew up Stamford. Wolverine and Namor were the only characters to follow this part of the story. The rest of the heroes were too busy beating the hell out of each other.
Now let's look at the characters. There are a lot of OOC moments as I said. But we're going to focus on our two main characters: Captain America and Iron Man.
Let's start with Captain America. I didn't like the way Cap was portrayed in this story sometimes. Most of the time, he came off as a bit of an asshole. One example was when he refused to help the Runaways even though their whole Resistance movement was about helping unregistered heroes. Had the Young Avengers not helped them, they would have been captured and tortured by the Warden. But while I didn't like the way he was presented in the story, he doesn't hold a candle to.. Ahem...
Fuhrer Stark and Deputy Fuhrer Maria Hill. And let's not forget their chief Nazi scientist, Reed "Useless" Richards. Cap's worst crime was hiring the Punisher. These three did much, much worse. From their blatant disregard of the law and the Constitution, to their willingness to work with utter scum like Zemo and Osborn, to them making a clone of Thor, to their general Jerkassery, it's hard to see why we're supposed to root for these guys. The fact that they got away with everything made it more disgusting. Stark is head of SHIELD, Reed gets Sue to come back to him like a wounded puppy, And Captain America? He got shot by the Red Skull. What a way to end a story, huh?
Overall, it had potential, but ultimately wasted it.
Civil War was a mess. And even that might be giving it too much praise. And it wasn't just the attempts at moral ambiguity being handled rather poorly, either. It seems to me that Mr.Millar didn't know how to write anyone that he used in the book. He completely forgot (or was either unaware of, or chose to ignore, ) how the characters are supposed to act, and of their past histories with each other. Cap' and Tony are the biggest blunders by far; they're best buddies, having known each other for years, and while they've had their disagreements, they've always been able to work them out in time. And they would never go so far as to fight each other in a full-blown war. Except they did. Because Miller doesn't 'get' the two, or their relationship. And everyone else had similar problems, (Spiderman revealing his f'ing Secret ID, anyone?) as well. But, while I'm sure many already know the following, Tony, (or should I say 'Fuhrer Stark, ') was the biggest offender.
So, I would be sorry to say this, if Civil War had anything redeeming to it, but it doesn't; anyone who likes it needs to get a reality check. I'm all for having your own opinions, but I just can't help but be completely baffled at why anyone would like this atrocity.
(Now, to be clear; I think that Civil War could have been good. It definitely had an interesting premise, and could have actually been really darn good if handled well. But it wasn't handled well. What we got wasn't even the complete opposite of 'handled well', because this was even worse then that. I think what we needed was a different writer then Miller; someone who could truly understand the issue at hand, who got the characters, and who could show both sides as being truly ambiguous; neither explicitly right or explicitly wrong. But that just wasn't the case.)
Civil War is the best crossover ever. In fact, I began reading comic books almost 20 years ago, and I have long expected something like this to happen.
First, because of the changes. Changes are not just cosmetic, such as characters dying, returning, joining groups or getting a new suit. The whole superhero genre was reformulated, as it had never been attempted before. Superheroes would no longer destroy everything, fly away in the night and return to the safety of their secret identities: the options are either to follow military discipline, live always on the run, or give it up.
Second, because of the approach. It is not the first story with a Super Registration Act, but it's the first that doesn't use the "heroes = good, government = evil" angle. As if superheroes destroy your house fighting for the American way of life, and you had just to smile about it. I particularly enjoyed the meeting of Sally Floyd and Captain America: if I ever met Firmenich or Che Guevara, I would tell them similar things.
Third, because of the ending. With no good vs. evil angle, it was not immediately obvious how would it end. In fact, someone would have suspected that Cap would win, to keep the status quo. Not only it did not end that way, but the battle was not ultimately won by Iron Man, but by The Real Heroes. How often does than happen?
Forth, there was a detailed insigth into each character and their reasons to be at the side they were. Everything was fine, and made perfect sense. Specially for both leaders, with a visible conflict between their personal friendship and their view of the world. The issue when they tried in vain to settle their differences at the abandoned Avengers Mansion was one of the highest points of the story.
It is obvious that the story takes place in the context of the 9/11 and the Bush administration, but I don't see a problem with that. "Watchmen" and "The Dark Knight Returns" are widely acknowledged as the best comic books ever, and the Cold War is crucial to their plots.
If there was something wrong with it, it was that Marvel eventually backed off and returned to the standard superhero genre. That day, I ceased buying comic books. But Civil War and its aftermath was the best thing that I have enjoyed to read in comic books.
Some look back on Civil war fondly. All I see is a train wreck. Just look up "Civil War in 30 seconds" if you want to skip my rant.
Before the war, Marvel had already been in an accelerated cycle of event after event making the Marvel U ever closer to a crapsack world. Thor was dead. Secret War led to Fury being replaced by the obnoxious Maria Hill. The Avengers got disbanded. House of M got rid of a bunch of mutants.
Things weren't all bad though. The art was never better. The heroes were still heroes. Cable/Deadpool saved Deadpool from the cutting board.
Then Civil War came. Heroes were violently tossed in jail without trial by other "heroes." Villains were enslaved and forced to hunt heroes. Iron Man and Reed Richards made a racist murder Clor. Captain America was killed. Sally Floyd lived. All this occurred while they shilled Sentry doing nothing but hiding and whining.
With every single title tying into the event for months, it became impossible to avoid the event. Characters flip flopped with little to no justification on the vague registration. Stark and Carol Danvers became fascist thugs in all but name. Villains were given better treatment than most heroes.
Even worse, none of them paid for their crimes. Stark became head of Shield. Carol became head of "The Mighty Avengers." Reed Richards got Sue to come back to him like a lost puppy. Iron Man made Green Goblin the head of the Thunderbolts.
CW tarnished the image of more than half of Marvel's characters but none more than Spider Man in "One More Day." The devil contracted magical retcon tainted not only the Spider Man legacy, but Marvel as a whole.
Civil War marked the beginning of an age where past characterizations mean squat, editorial mandate ran roughshod over once great titles and author avatars attacking straw men became the norm. That age hasn't ended. May god (or Jack Kirby) have mercy on comic book fans. The publishers have led us into a dork age.
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