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CIVIL WAR – Looking back at Mark Millar’s Infamous Event

CIVIL WAR - Looking back at  Mark Millar's Infamous Event 1

A Universe Full of Crossovers

Since 1982, Marvel Comics has had numerous crossover events, which change everything. Such events in Marvel’s publication include Secret Wars from the early 1980s, 1991s The Infinity Gauntlet, World War Hulk in 2007, and the currently running War of the Realms. Of course, not all of these big stories all end up turning out as amazing as the companies wanted and the consequences of them may lead to unpopular repercussions that last for a long time. Thus, we got Civil War, running from 2006 to 2007.

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The Registration Act that’s just as Relevant Today

The story starts with the New Warriors, a team of young superheroes, battling a team of villains as they film a reality show. During the fight, one of the villains causes an explosion that not only kills most of the heroes and villains, but also over six hundred civilians that included school children. This, in turn, causes the public to fear anyone with superhuman powers and thus lead Congress to pass a registration that requires anyone with special abilities to report to the government. Tony Stark, feeling guilty after confronting a grieving mother, leads the registration.

Before the act is even passed, Captain America is attacked by a special S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team after he admitted his opposition for it. Steve Rogers escapes, and after labelled a fugitive starts an underground resistance movement that includes Luke Cage, Falcon, and the Young Avengers. Other than Stark, supporters include Reed Richards, She-Hulk, and eventually Spider-Man who reveals his identity as Peter Parker on live television and is given an Iron Spider suit.

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Captain America Versus Iron Man

Throughout the story, the two sides would often get into small battles wherein Stark’s team would try to capture Rogers’s allies. During one of these battles, Iron Man reveals that he created a cyborg clone of Thor, who ends up killing Goliath. Sue Storm, opposing her husband after learning he sends fugitives to the Negative Zone, helps Cap’s team escape. Goliath’s death shakes up both sides that more of Stark’s allies start to oppose the registration.

Upon learning of the Negative Zone and how much control Tony has over his new suit, Spider-Man defects and ends up battling villains that the government registered. Badly beaten, Punisher saves Parker and brings him to Captain America’s safe-house. Castle sides with the anti-registration due to his disgust of the government allowing murderers to be enforcers.

Despite his methods, Punisher is accepted in and manages to get into the Baxter Building to gain information on the Negative Zone. However, when two villains join Cap’s side, Castle kills them prompting Rogers to fight him. Surprisingly, the violent vigilante never tries to fight back due to his respect for Captain America but is still kicked out.

The story ends in New York City, wherein Steve and Tony’s teams end up in a destructive battle with each other. Captain America nearly wins his fight against Iron Man, until a group of first responders restrain him before he kills Tony. It’s then that Steve notices the damage that the conflict has caused not only among the heroes but the very people he wanted to protect.

Ordering his team to stand down, the anti-registration heroes all agree, thus ending the long conflict. Civil War ends with Captain America arrested, the President offering amnesty to those that register, Tony becoming the new head of S.H.I.E.L.D., and some heroes like Spider-Man and Luke Cage remaining underground.

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Over-Aggressive Character Traits

The main storyline from this event is very interesting in bringing up certain questions, but it doesn’t always do it justice. If you take into account that Mark Millar originally thought up the storyline for the Ultimate universe, a lot of things in Civil War do end up making some sense but they don’t fit with the 616. Captain America, for example, acts more aggressively than usual due to Millar writing him like the Ultimate version.

As the story involving a Superhero Registration Act is supposed to be a metaphor for a post-9/11 America, Civil War is not very subtle in its political messages. Though one problem with that is that the comic never makes it clear who’s supposed to be right as many who worked on it had different political views, affecting the flow and message of the story.

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Mark Millar struggles with Logical Character Development

While there are characters whose reasons for choosing sides are justified, some of their actions come out of nowhere. Maria Hill immediately asks for Rogers to be arrested before the Registration is signed, Mister Fantastic willingly creates a prison in the Negative Zone knowing that the place causes great emotional distress, and Stark agrees to form a team of villains to go after his friends. Even the final fight when Captain America gives up doesn’t make any sense since he states that he protested for the people despite the fact the Registration only affected those with powers and that he didn’t notice the destruction the fighting was causing.

Steve McNiven’s artwork is very detailed and for the most part is good, though sometimes it’s way too detailed. There are a lot of extreme closeups of people’s faces, particularly with Captain America, wherein the artwork is too good at capturing every pore and wrinkle which is just odd. Plus, because of how the comic is written and the coloring being a darker shade, this version of Steve Rogers is once again too much like his Ultimate counterpart.

There are some well done moments, like Punisher not fighting back when Captain America beats him up or the final fight between Stark and Rogers knowing they both don’t want to. But even with these, Civil War was an event that didn’t live up entirely to its interesting premise, just relying on its hero fights hero gimmick. Plus, it did lead to infamous decisions such as Spider-Man’s One More Day or for about four years of many heroes not working together and several hiding.

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You can pick up your copy of Civil War through ComixologyMarvel Unlimited or from your local comic book store.

How did we rate the Civil War event? 4 Sodas.
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