Thursday, September 21, 2006


SPOILERS for CIVIL WAR #4 lurk below...

I was so pissed off at Civil War #4 yesterday; I probably shouldn’t have been driving. Goliath, Bill Foster was killed in action by a Thor clone. I’ve always liked Goliath, but C-list characters don’t show up after a decade’s absence without my “cannon fodder” bells going off, so as soon as I saw him in CW #1, I knew he was probably doomed. So yeah, this story upset me, and had me fuming for some time after. I was especially angry at Tony Stark and Reed Richards for their arrogance in trying to recreate Thor, their friend and comrade.

Then I realized something: I’m reading a big Marvel inter-company crossover that actually has me emotionally invested. I'm angry at the characters, not the cheapness of the stunt. Even if I don’t like what’s happening, I actually care, and that’s a great thing.

As far as I can tell, this is only the second crossover out of Marvel or DC that deals with a moral and ethical crisis for the heroes involved, the first being Identity Crisis. From Contest of Champions to Infinite Crisis, previous events have mostly been based on external threats. Invading aliens, cosmic gods, armies of villains, and threats to reality itself have come and gone, but in all cases, whatever the scale, it’s usually “All of the superheroes vs. menace TBD”. Civil War is pitting friend against friend over a traumatic, divisive issue, and the rifts that result won’t be easily healed.

It does have the side effect of making me dislike some characters that I’ve always liked before. Despite this, I don’t feel anyone is acting especially out of character. I’m wary of the term “out of character” when applied to corporate icons that’ve had literally hundreds of writers each. By now, Marvel’s published THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of Spider-Man stories, so how can anyone say for sure what he would or wouldn’t do? Acting irresponsible would be out of character for Spider-Man. Punching Aunt May would be out of character for Spider-Man. Beyond that, it’s pretty much up to the writer.

For example, I’m not happy with Reed, but he does have a history of overlooking the human aspect of a problem on his way to the solution. I think Stark is a manipulative jerk in here, but this is a guy used to dealing with assets and liabilities, profit and loss. Does he have any friends that don’t work for him? I can understand why Hank Pym would want to rehabilitate his image by cooperating. The Wasp is just going along, but she’s always been very rich, very public, and can’t relate to the problems of someone with a secret.

Captain America been at odds with the government before, and always remains true to the spirit of America. He’s never been about unquestioning obedience, at least not since the Golden Age. I can see Sue doing what she did, and I can see Johnny following her (though I did predict he’d stay with Reed, if only to keep his creature comforts and celebrity). Ben is torn, and it looks like he’ll bow out entirely. He was a friend to everyone involved, so I’m sure he’s heartbroken.

I’ve been watching Spider-Man's evolution from loner to respected Avenger with great interest. He’s got a sleek new costume, a new Dad, a cool job, and a great apartment. I never would have thought he would take the side he did, but he’s always been about responsibility and for now, Stark has convinced him that this is the responsible thing to do. He now has so much more to lose when and if he defects, and if he does defect, it won’t even do him any good personally, because he already revealed his secret! The poor bastard can’t win. As usual.

I’m not claiming this is a flawless storyline. There’s been iffy dialogue and scenes that don’t make much sense (I have a hard time buying that the pro-reg heroes would continue to mass-produce super clones after “Thor” killed a man, or that the government would support said cloning, OR that these geniuses would recruit such especially violent and unpredictable villains...) but overall, the story really has me hooked.

I think Marvel’s goal with Civil War is to shake up the "clubhouse" that the Marvel Universe has become and return some of that uneasy distrust that the marvel superheroes had in early days. If that’s the case, mission accomplished, and then some!


grifter said...

agreed. the shock of reading something out of the blue like that kind of jolted me to look into what others might say. nice blog, Mr. Hughes. consider yourself linked to mine (with your permission).

i dont agree with the voices some of the characters are being given, especially Tony (Shellhead fan forever), who now seems much darker than Bruce Wayne. this is what a summer crossover should be, in light of the political reality juxtaposed in our fantasy world, not just a senseless brawl between costumes. the status quo has been shaken, the fans are buzzing (we hate it! we love it! we hate it even more!), the cash registers are chiming, and ultimately, the only thing that drives fans nuts, other than iffy characterizations, is the fact that the book is starting to come out late, a perpetual malaise.

Brian Hughes said...

Feel free to link. I appreciate it. I like Iron Man, too. He has one of the best costumes in comics, and a great rogues gallery. Tony Stark has always been a little hard to relate to, but I think he means well. Check out the Civil War Files for a Starks-eye view of the war and it's participants. Ostensibly written by Tony Stark, it's a pretty dense read, and the Iron Man entry is...enlightening.

Spencer Carnage said...

Considering Warren Ellis's recent changes that he's implemented to Iron man(making him syncing up with machines and what not) it makes sense that Tony is becoming a bit more cold and calculating. I can see the archtypes that characters Reed and Tony represent making these choices, but it is hard to see REED and TONY making those choices. Regardless, I'm liking it, too. And yes, Goliath got sold out. I was geniunely interested in seeing what they were going to do to him after Civil War, but...

R.Nav said...

For me it's a matter of suspension of disbelief. I have several problems with the issue as a whole, and I could squint and wriggle my way around most of them individually, but adding them all together makes me just want to toss the issue and forget the series as a whole. By the time I got to the final page reveal I was insulted, rather than shocked.