Because I demanded it -- my take on Marvel's big-ass crossover event, Civil War
Brace yourselves, dear reader, for a breath-takingly fresh analysis on this epic crossover that will forever alter the way you feel about superhero comics. Read on only if you are really
committed to challenging your perception of comics and their place in your life! It's all part of my Tony Robbins
-like mission to help improve your life during Relevant Content
Week here at Dave's Long Box!
Ah, I'm just fucking witcha.
What am I going to say about Civil War
that hasn't been said on dozens of blogs and message boards already? Do a Technorati
search and go nuts – there's more analysis and criticism of the series out there than you can shake a fake Uru hammer at. If you really want to know what I think, read on – just don't get your hopes up for anything Earth shattering or even original.Civil War
#7 - that bastard was late! Wasn't this supposed to be a 2006 crossover? We're a quarter of the way into 2007, for Chrissake. I'm sure the accountants at Marvel are happy with sales, but from a publishing perspective you'd think Marvel would be a little embarrassed.
Seriously, what the hell? How many major books has Marvel published in the past couple years that have been spectacularly late or have gone AWOL altogether? That Kevin Smith Black Cat
mini-series? Or Ultimate Hulk/Wolverine
? That Daredevil/Bullseye
book? What about Daredevil: Father
? I'm sure I'm missing a few. If Marvel's purpose is to use comics as a glorified R&D lab for Hollywood , they've got nothing to worry about. But if your main purpose is to actually publish comics
– I can't see how you could look on any of these late or MIA books as anything but a failure.
"Wasn't this supposed to be a 2006 crossover?"
At the end of the day sales justify all, so if suckers like me (and maybe you, eh?) stick with a late book and it still sells well, there's no incentive on Marvel's part to change. I just can't help wondering if there are folks at the Marvel offices with some integrity who are just mortified at how unprofessional this makes them look. This
is Stan Lee's legacy? For all the lip service given to the fans, if you cannot publish a book in a timely fashion or at all
but still expect "Marvel zombies" to stagger in every Wednesday and loyally keep buying your product, I think you're taking your readership for granted and are indeed holding them in contempt.
It just pisses me off. I'm not one of those guys that freaks out when somebody writes Reed Richards out of character or changes Thor's belt buckle or some shit. At the risk of sounding dismissive, there truly are more important real life things
to get outraged about. But if you can't publish books when you say you're going to publish books? You're just not treating the consumer with respect. And as an American capitalist pig, I cannot handle that.
See, I told you I wasn't going to say anything new.
Let's move on to the fanboy griping and throat kicking, shall we?
OK, so I had some issues with Civil War, primarily revolving around characterization and logic.
I can understand where the pro-registration people are coming from, although some of their motivation seemed a little loopy. For instance, Reed Richards had like, three different reasons for his pro-registration stance: 1) protecting his incredibly powerful wife from Bad Things, 2) some bullshit about Reed's uncle and Joe McCarthy, and 3) because he is so frickin' smart that he has predicted the future using mind-bogglingly complex social dynamics formulae and has determined that this is the least catastrophic course of action to take. I think I got that right. The last reason actually makes sense and is courtesy of the new FF writer Dwayne McDuffie, who is awesome.
"Maybe they should have beta-tested Clor more thoroughly."
Since Marvel has given me several different motivations for Reed's actions, I'll pick the one that makes most sense to me. But then - and this is stupid - he creates a murderous clone of Thor to help round up everyone who disagrees with him and oops! Clone Thor (Clor) kills Giant-Man. Maybe they should have beta-tested Clor more thoroughly. Incidentally, the pro-reg heroes forget that they have Pym Particles that can shrink Giant-Man's corpse and unceremoniously bury him in a HUGE grave without so much as a casket.
What the hell?
And Tony Stark, aka Iron Man? I can see how he would be in favor of the Superhuman Registration Act, sure. But does he have to create an all-villain squad, the Thunderbolts, to track down people who disagree with him. The new Thunderbolts include cats like Bullseye, Green Goblin, Lady Deathstrike... mass murderers. But hey, times are tough, the pro-reg people have to make difficult decisions, etc.
I call bullshit on that. You know who would make Clor? Dr. Doom.
And who would put together the Thunderbolts? Dr. Doom.
Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man are good guys! Heroes don't do shit like that! Don't give me that crap about moral ambiguity or complex characterization - I want my comic book superheroes to act like good guys! Reed Richards saved Galactus' life once just out of sheer principle - that's the Reed Richards I know and love. That's my homey.
Let me be clear: being pro-registration isn't what makes the Civil War versions of Tony Stark and Reed Richards dicks, it's what they do during Civil War that makes them dicks.
The other problem I have with Civil War is the application of real world logic and politics to the Marvel Universe. I don't think that the series is meant to be an overt commentary on the state of American politics - if it is, it's incredibly ham-fisted. Sure, there are some superficial parallels and some themes - freedom vs security - that apply, but I'd caution against reading too much into Civil War.
But series writer Mark Millar has created a daisy-chain of logic that would work - if the Marvel Universe were the real world. Millar has said that his sympathies lie with the pro-registration camp:
In the real world, no, I would not be psyched about opening the morning paper and reading about which major city was trashed last night by brawling demi-gods. But that's applying real world logic to this big sprawling fun fantasty world, and it's a slippery slope. If you want to get all logical and shit, any of the following elements in the Marvel Universe would irrevocably alter the fabric of modern civilization:
Think about it. Just about any one of those common elements of the Marvel Universe would, if one were using "real world rules," alter the nature of the world to the point that it wouldn't be recognizable to us. And therein lies the problem.
Unlike DC Comics, Marvel has always prided itself at setting its stories in the real world. The heroes don't hang out in Metropolis or Gotham, they hang out in New York City. Indeed, 90% of all heroes in the Marvel Universe live in or are within commuting distance of Manhattan. The point is, Marvel heroes are fantastic and colorful precisely because they exist in a real setting where they contrast vividly against the plain background. A little suspension of disbelief is required on the part of the reader in order to make this work. You can't think too hard about this shit or the illusion is dispelled.
The problem I have with the outcome of Civil War is that it seems to be leading to a distortion of some of the unspoken ground rules of the Marvel Universe. In the upcoming The Initiative books, Tony and Co create a vast superhuman national guard, with one just-add-water superteam for each state. All super-powered folk have to be registered, and seemingly all of the registered folks are drafted into military service. It's kind of a cool alternate-reality idea, but I'm not as psyched to see how it plays out in the Marvel books for the next year or so.
Bottom line: the thing that makes Marvel heroes special is that they are special. They're rare, colorful characters that are contrasted against our world. If you set these comics in a cluttered, sci-fi world where the very presence of heroes changes the balance of civilization, it kind of robs the Marvel books of the thing that makes them appealing in the first place.
Having said all that, I have to admit that I kind of liked Civil War
just because it was a big, sprawling hero vs hero story. If I read this as a kid, I would have loved it and been a little disturbed. Millar wrote some good set pieces and delivered a fair share of dramatic smack downs. Steve McNiven's art was incredible. I really like McNiven's work - dude knows how to put a panel together. Some of the inking on the final issue looks a little rushed - check out Johnny Storm's putty face over there - but overall I think the art was top-notch.
Plus, on a deep fanboy level, I love it when superheroes kick the ever-lovin' shit out of each other, and if nothing else, Civil War succeeds on that level. So that's my olive branch to the much-maligned Civil War.
Before I go, I have some questions about Civil War that I need answered.
Where are all the mutants? Did they just kind of collectively shrug and say, "Yeah, we've done this storyline to death. We're sitting this one out."
Since when can Atlanteans fly? Look at the image below of Namor and his Atlantean/Celtic warriors flying in to save Cap's bacon. First, mad props for putting Namor in his disco biker uniform, I love that shit. But they're all airborne. I mean, Namor can fly because he's a mutant - what are all those other blue guys doing? Vogueing as they plummet to their death from a great height? Explain.
Where's The Wasp? Is she so tiny that I missed her or was I not reading carefully?
Does anybody notice that killers like Bullseye are fighting alongside Iron Man and crew? We're told that the Superhero Registration Act is wildly popular with the public, but doesn't anybody take issue with all the mass murderers fighting on the "good guy" side? I'd write a letter to my congressman if that happened in real life.
Would Captain America really break down and cry because some buildings got fucked up? I could see how the breaking point for him would be, "OMG, I'm about to kill one of my best friends with this here shield. WTF am I doing? LOL!" Yes, Cap speaks Internet. I just can't see Cap going all emo because of some collateral damage. That's a normal work day for him.
Clone Thor? Is that really a good idea? Because when the real Odinson returns, I think he's going to be more than a little pissed off at Tony and Reed when he hears about Clor.
Is Civil War going to irreversably change the status quo of the Marvel Universe forever and ever? Wait, I'll answer this one: no.
Hey, if you made it this far, congratulations. Apparently I had a lot to get off my chest. It's all part of my quest for relevance and timely, life-altering blogging during Relevant Content Week.