To Better Know an Event: Civil War

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Civil_War_Vol_1_1_VariantWhat is it?

Civil War is a 7 part major cross-over event and tie-in series that was first published in 2006 and written by Mark Millar with Steve McNiven on pencils.

One Sentence Description:

Iron Man wants order and Captain America wants freedom, but what they both get is a fist fight.

What’s it all about?

A group of B-level superheroes dubbed the New Warriors are filming a reality show. In an attempt to gain ratings and seem super cool in the eyes of their peers, the team goes out of their league and approaches a group of supervillains (no one you’ve probably ever heard of). The outmatched team corner villain Nitro, who then uses his power to cause an explosion that kills 600 people. Coupled with the fallout from previous events, House of M and Secret War, the general population demands superheroes to come clean and register their powers with the government. Bickering ensues.

Iron Man feels registration is a great idea and has apparently never once seen a Sentinel in his life. Captain America feels that registration is bogus and un-American. The two then divide the superhero community that forever (not really) changes the landscape of the Marvel Universe.

Who are the not-ready-for-prime-time players?

Captain America: Anti-registration. All heroes have the right to protect their identity and secure a normal life outside of superherodom/vigilantism.

Iron-Man: Pro-registration. He’s already been outted as a hero and dates heaps of women. Also, heroes need training which can prevent further loss of life.

Reed Richards: Pro-registration and a bit of a know it all. Never listens to his wife.

Sue Storm: Anti-registration and pissed at her husband Reed for never listening to her.

Spider-Man: Pro-registration, basically manipulated by Iron Man to unveil his identity. A bad idea, soon retconned, though the Iron-Spider suit is pretty awesome.

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Fallout (here be spoilers):

C’mon, hover over this text with your cursor… you know you wanna.

Memorable Moment:

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Essential reading:

Civil War #1-7 (Main Storyline)

Civil War: Front Line #1-11 (the story is told from the perspective of two reporters embedded in the opposite camps of the war.)

Civil War: Captain America (Issues 22-24)

Civil War: Iron Man (Issues 13-14)

Punisher: War Journal (Issues 1-3)

Epilogue: Captain America #25

All available for purchase HERE

Appearances in Other Media:

The video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 covers Secret War and Civil War. It is also still really expensive. If anyone would like to sell me their PS3 version for less than $10 please let me know.

Rumour has it that the third Captain America film will adapt the Civil War storyline.

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Real Life Inspirations:

The series draws its inspiration from the wake of 9/11 and the Patriot Act. Interestingly enough, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven are not American, but Scottish and Canadian respectively. The two offer a unique perspective on the views of American politics.

Fun Fact:

The series was delayed because Steve McNiven is a really really really really slow artist. But man, is his work gorgeous.

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Sean’s Analysis:

When I first went to university back in 2006, I often found myself feeling homesick. When I was younger, my mother would take me to the comic book store every Sunday, something that we still do together whenever we see each other. Feeling homesick, I went for a walk in my new neighbourhood. Lo and behold, I stumbled across a local comic book shop. I walked in and was instantly consumed with nostalgia. I felt like I was home.

I began to thumb the old books, glance at the new, and marvel at the action figures strewn about. Then something caught my eye. A poster for a new event called Civil War. Captain America vs. Iron Man? How could this be? I knew right then that I had to be a part of it.

Civil War was the first time I ever set up ‘grabs’, which is essentially placing books on hold specifically for you. I also credit it with my shift from passing comic fan to my chosen profession. For me, Civil War was something new. Something I had never experienced in comics before. It indicated a specific shift in my life and still holds a special place in my heart.

While Civil War may have its detractors, the event on the whole serves as an amazing allegory for modern day politics. The battle of freedom and security sprung from the events of 9/11 is something that hits home for this humble Canadian. The actions of the United States government from an outside country’s perspective is at times bewildering and frightening. Canadian television and news sources are very much saturated by outlets based in the United States. Witnessing American politicians and media instill a climate of fear; one can’t help but feel for Captain America’s plight as well as the plight of the average America. The Brooklyn boy standing up against the bully, here represented by a heartless CEO named Tony Stark, hits very close to home this side of the border. While the series itself tries to paint an even keel picture on both sides of the fence, it is clear who exactly is the enemy of this book.

Even after 8 years, the story line’s moral complexities of freedom versus security can still be felt in aspects of the Marvel Universe both onscreen and off. After the events of the film Captain America: Winter Soldier, many people got to see the true side of Captain America, something that only we comic fans have known about. The man isn’t a pawn of the government, but a man of the people, someone who will stand up against the bullies of the world. And that is what Captain America will always do; stand up.

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-Sean

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