Marvel's "Civil War" Comes to Surprisingly Logical Conclusion
This is a column by the guy who usually writes the DC columns that clutter up the place. I'm mostly hoping to start a discussion. We've provided a comment section. Please, discuss.
Warning: This review is riddled with spoilers. Management assumes that, if you're reading this, you were one of the 200,000 people who bought issue #7 and read it cover to cover. I absolve myself of any spoilerage.
How else could it have ended?
Did readers honestly believe that the protection of MJ and Aunt May from the villainous hordes would really, in any way, convince the government to let masked yahoo's in tights continue to cause huge bodycounts and massive property damage with no oversight? Or that they'd have much remorse about throwing people in a containable prison? Or, if recent history is much of an indicator, any problem refusing the right to trial?
Civil War #7 may, or may not, have ushered in Marvel's next generation of "realism" or, as I like to think of it, "thinking like a grown-up". The events which led to Civil War were, given the parameters of the Marvel U, an entirely likely event. Given that the Marvel U's United States is overrun with mutants, The Hulk, various evil and armored crooks, monsters, evil deities and God-knows-what... It's probably safe to assume that the casualties in the Marvel U are a lot higher than anyone cares to think about. Why, just pondering the people who have died (both named and random by-standers) as various villains have tried to get to Spidey... the number is probably well into the triple digits.
There's a reason the idea behind the Ultimates feels.... right. As does the current portrayal of the Ultimate FF and Spidey. They're takes of original ideas with a less myopic, DC Comics understanding of how superheroes could work.
Millar either did something very smart or something very dumb by leading readers to Cap and Spidey's point of view. From a narrative stand point, Cap's revelation that the Superhuman Community's Family Squabbles are doing nothing but proving Iron Man's team absolutely right is a fine bit of writing, and a bit of a twist to decades of reader expectations. After all, how often do we find out Cap's gut feeling is wrong? Perhaps individually the heroes/superhumans of the Marvel Universe are containable, but a serious brawl like the one provoked in issue #6 and spilling into issue #7 would be a stern reminder to Cap that heroes don't go to daggers-drawn just to fight amongst themselves. Heroes are supposed to exist to serve the populace, not terrorize it.
This conundrum puts a lot of fanboys in a spot (this is where one might suggest Millar and Marvel made a boo-boo). After all, comic book readers can be a conservative, unbending lot. Some readers still long for the days when MJ and Peter weren't married (20 years ago, people...). The fury at Morrison's take on New X-Men and Marvel's shameful erasing of his series should be an indicator that change, even when entirely logical, is not always welcome.
Things get out of hand when there's only one slice of pie left
But here's the deal: As much as one will see the phrase "readers hate change" coming from some in the industry, that doesn't seem to be the case. After all, readers pick up comics every month based on the soliciation's promise of a change in the status quo, but a change is rarely actually delivered. Instead, a series of red herrings and false promises are usually delivered, and the heroes return to the status quo, not because readers aren't onboard the change, but the self-fulfilling prophecy of the belief that you can't fundamentally change things.
If editors provide a good framework, and provide decent stories, readers will accept whatever is thrown at them. Throw something that doesn't sit true to what's come before, and, no... they won't provide their sheckles for your glossy colored pages. But the willingness of readers to buy things like Civil War in huge numbers should tell the market that readers are looking for change. They're looking for their stories to progress.
With Cap & Co.'s surrender, Marvel has, in a way, put a big 'ol matzah ball out there that they've got to take care of. They finally found an event which may be the demarcating device of the Marvel U as "Pre" and "Post-Crisis" refers to the watershed events of 20-odd years ago for DC. Marvel's announcement of "The Initiative" seems like a pretty good idea for keeping the ball rolling and maintaining interest. A super-police force is also something we've never seen before, but we sort of think would happen if superheroes showed up tomorrow in New York. And, if it doesn't work, Wanda can always have another breakdown.
Readers can also complain about the spin-off's, etc... but by following Civil War, Civil War: Front Line, Amazing Spider-Man, Black Panther, and possibly one or two other tie-in's, I never felt left behind. (Again, I'm the DCU guy... just be glad I'm reading Marvel at all.) Good for Marvel's sales. Good for me, because that is NOT how DC managed Infinite Crisis.
One minor complaint:
I'm from Texas, a fact of which I am not embarassed (though my fellow Texans go to no small efforts to try to reverse this sentiment). Is that really the line-up we get? They look like a crew getting ready to hit the stage at Six Flags circa 1986 in "A Tribute to the Lone Star State". That's like insisting that Florida's team is composed of gigantic mutant mice and superheroes riding Rascal scooters. I guess I should just be glad that there are Texas-centric heroes, but... I mean, I wouldn't assume all New York heroes were armed with Taxi cabs, Pizza carts and dressed like the Statue of Liberty. (I should have kept that to myself. I've probably just given some enterprising youth an idea for his first black and white indie.)
That's it. That's what I had to say. I'll leave an actual review of Civil War to someone who knows better.
Now, please, discuss. Tell me I'm an idiot, but tell me why. Put on your critical thinking caps and take me to the mat for Cap and Spidey. Come on, I can take it.