“Captain America: Civil War” finally opens stateside this week. It has so far received near-unanimous acclaim, which is good to hear. Especially since the comic book that inspired it is so, so, god-awful.
I can’t say that “Civil War” is the worst comic that Marvel ever published. No, the lovely Steve McNiven art alone keeps it from earning that low honor. But lordy, is it a terrible story.
But, but, it’s one of Marvel’s most successful comics!
Now, now. You know better than to equate success with quality. Just look at the “Transformers” movies, or the state of country music since 1980. Yes, “Civil War” has its share of shocking moments, and ‘kewl’ moments, but it’s all flash and “LOOK AT ME!” attention-getting over, you know, telling a decent story with characters who are acting like they’ve always acted.
Published in 2006-7, “Civil War” was a 7-issue mini-series written by Mark Millar. Millar is no hack, he wrote a series of “Ultimates” books that were some of my favorite comics. But this was not his finest hour. The art is by Steve McNiven and, as mentioned earlier, is the book’s one saving grace.
Before We Begin…
What with the recent release of “Batman v Superman” and now “Civil War” you may be asking, “Why do superheroes fight each other all the time? Shouldn’t they be out fighting villains?”
Good question. I think the answer comes down to boredom to a large degree, and the natural inclination of fans to think “my hero is better than yours.” I mean, we all know that in a Captain America vs. Red Skull fight that the Skull is going down. Dr. Doom may be a genius megalomaniac, but we all know that he’s always going to lose to that cursed Reed Richards.
But put Captain America against Iron Man? Now, we’ve got drama. Plus, we’ve got two separate fan bases who will support their guy no matter what. It leads to excitement, it leads to attention from mainstream media, it leads to arguments on the Internet, it leads to big sales. These are the things that comic book companies crave.
In fact, the Marvel Cinematic Universe loves hero-v-hero fights so much that their heroes really do seem to spend more time fighting each other than the bad guys. We haven’t even got to Civil War yet but we’ve already seen: Iron Man v War Machine; Iron Man v. Thor; Iron Man v. HULK (Iron Man really has issues); Thor v. HULK, Hawkeye v Black Widow; Captain America v Winter Soldier; Winter Soldier v Black Widow; Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch v The Avengers, and, of course, Ant-Man v Falcon.
The only Avenger who hasn’t got in a fight with any of his comrades is The Vision, and I’m pretty sure I saw a Thor v Vision scene that got cut from “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” It was on YouTube.
It would be nice if the brain-trust behind the movies would spend a little more time developing bad guys rather than have our heroes constantly in-fighting. But back to our main story.
Of Course You Know, This Means Civil War
The comic version opens with a team of teen superheroes, The Young Warriors, running around making a reality TV show. They encounter some bad guys, there’s a big explosion, and lots of innocent people are killed.
As a result, the government passes the Superhero Registration Act, which requires all superheroes to register with the government and become government soldiers if they want to use their powers in public. Steve Rogers, beacon of freedom and liberty, opposes the law and goes underground along with those superheros who support him. Tony Stark, beacon of big business and government oppression, leads the charge to stop the rebel alliance.
Sounds exciting, no?
Tomorrow: Top (I haven’t decided how many yet) Reasons “Civil War: The Comic” Is So Terrible