Civil War comic review: a rushed battle for identities

Disney and Marvel‘s next movie superhero movie, Captain America 3, will feature the silver screen adaptation of Civil War, an event created to reshape the Marvel universe. I decided to finally read the seven issue storyline created by Mark Miller in preparation for the movie.

Public pressure is mounting on the US government to take action against masked superheroes, or vigilantes. Events such as Secret War and M-Day (House of M) only help to compound the situation. The tipping point comes in the form of a reality TV show featuring amateur superheroes who accidentally annihilate an entire neighbourhood.

The US government proposes a Superhero Registration Act in order to register all superpowered individuals and employ them in a law enforcement capacity. It’s a controversial proposition, which sees long-time friends and founding Avengers, Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Steve Rogers (Captain America) pick opposing sides of this new ideology. Iron Man heads up a pro-registration group, while the man brandishing the America flag is against it. Captain America argues that superhero anonymity is an age-old tradition and one in place to protect the everyday lives of superheroes.

The bill is eventually passed and those on the Pro side are tasked with tracking down and rounding up all of the anti-registration members. The ‘war’ only escalates from here as superheroes battle each other with ex-villains joining the fray.

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Marvel billed Civil War as a huge, monumental change in the status quo. It was also a comment on US policies at the time. The concept is very interesting with some very powerful twists and turns along the way, but I cannot help feeling underwhelmed by the entire event. Sure, we get to see Spider-Man donning yet another costume, Captain America going rogue, and the Fantastic Four actually being useful, but it wasn’t enough.

The execution felt rough and I wish Marvel would have rather put more effort into the core book instead of all of the other publications. For example, Spider-Man reveals his identity to the public in order to promote the registration act. This action has deep and far-reaching ramifications for the webhead, but those are only shown in The Amazing Spider-Man: Civil War, which eventually leads into the Back in Black and One More Day storylines.

In fact, the clash between all of the forces felt so abrupt. The “oh you’re not on my side I must fight you” is fast paced and breaks away from the story. A large portion of the characters appear to be jerks towards their fellow heroes for the sake of the story. Civil War could have used more dialogue and less action scenes to really portray its story properly. This all accumulated into an abrupt ending, which again felt a bit jarring for the epic event.

All throughout the book the artwork was incredible and in-line with previous work from Steve McNiven such as Marvel Knights and Ultimate Secret. Pivotal moments were beautifully portrayed with general action was easy to follow, which isn’t always easy for comic books.

Book information

Original publication date: July 2006 (Civil War #1)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer(s): Mark Millar
Penciller(s): Steven McNiven
Review edition: Marvel’s The Ultimate Graphic Novels Collection, Vol. 50 – Civil War
ISBN: 9772049086024

Verdict: While I did enjoy the Civil War storyline, I felt it was rushed and could have been so much better. Perhaps the additional books really do add to the story, but as a stand-alone it stumbles and falls under its own premise. Civil War is still worth a read through.

Score: 7/10



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