Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blogathon 16: Civil War

[Discussed in this post: Civil War #1-7.]

Actually, according to the cover, the proper title of this is Civil War: A Marvel Comics Event. Oh ho ho.

Civil War is a frustrating read, because it's not a story. It's a series of moments that have some relationship to one another. It's one 'fanboy orgasm' after another. I don't really buy into the incident that starts everything, first of all. Nitro, a human bomb explodes mid-fight and kills hundreds of innocents, including a large number of children... and how would that be prevented by government-trained superhumans? The guy can blow himself up at will! How can Iron Man stop that? Ellis has Doctor Samson say it in an issue of Thunderbolts later: it could have happened to any of them.

This is the first of Marvel's very cynical comics. This treats people in the Marvel universe in a very cynical fashion, including the heroes. How is it that the pro-registration side is filled with people who are willing to hunt down and fight people who were teammates days previous? Where was the person going "I agree with the SHRA, but I'm not going to arrest Captain America..."? It's such a 'with us/against us' mindset that it betrays Millar's cynicism about America. It's meant to capture that political climate of red states/blue states, but never really reaches any level of complexity in the process. There's no debate, just talking points. Which is fine for the TV excerpts, but for the heroes, it's just awful to read. A lot of these people are friends and we're to expect they'd fight in the streets?

Why is SHIELD, a UN organisation, enforcing US law in the US? Where is the goddamn Security Council demanding an answer?

Tony Stark makes some serious missteps, like using the villains. Seriously, how could any of them see that as a good idea? They were really making the leap from being friends to enemies to using former enemies to hunt down their former friends?

Reading this, I couldn't find a single thing I really enjoyed.

A lot of the meaningful action happens off-panel. Like the Thing leaving the country and the return of Captain Marvel.

Civil War is really constucted as the basic spine of a much larger story with the real stuff happening elsewhere and it shows. It's very uneven and doesn't really take the time to explain any of its internal logic.

I can't remember who said this, but one thing that Civil War does right is create a story where superheroes choose their fates. Everyone makes a choice -- granted, there are only two choices you can make and they're both stupid. And that's the making of an interesting, dynamic story that comes from the characters. However, the way in which it's executed doesn't show that part of the story off at all. None of the characters make choices with any sense of logic or explanation -- they all seem thrust on the characters from above (which they were).

As I'll discuss soon, another big downside is that when meaningful debate does happen, no one ever changes their minds. NOT A SINGLE PERSON. Horribly cynical and really goes against the idea that any of these people like or respect one another at all. I don't expect every superhero to be best friends with every other superhero, but Captain America and Iron Man reformed the Avengers together about a week ago! I think they'd have a goddamn conversation before beating the shit out of one another.

I honestly dealt with this book again because I had to here. It's a piss poor comic through and through.

In 30 minutes: Civil War: Captain America.

I would be more coherent in my thoughts, but the storytelling of the comic warrants only quick, unrelated thoughts... that's how the story is constructed after all.

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]