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Friday, August 04, 2006

Marvel's "Civil War"

Marvels Comics' Civil War crossover arc is a big thing.

I've been reading the two core series, Civil War and Civil War: Frontline, and a select few tie-ins (Captain America (natch), New Avengers, and others that catch my eye).

The overly simplified premise is there was a fight between bad guys and good guys, one of the bad guys is really bad, and wiped out a chunk of a town -- including an elementary school and all of its kids.

In response, the government signs into law the Superhero Registration Act, which requires all costumed and powered entities to register with the government, reveal their identities to the government, and fight for the government. Half the men and women in tights comply (ostensibly led by Iron Man, who, also interestingly, does not wear tights), and half become resistance fighters (led by Captain America). Yeah. Interesting...

The difference between the core two series at a high level is Civil War is the superhero struggle, and Civil War: Frontline is the civilian view. The first series is written by Mark Millar, and is good. The second is written by Paul Jenkins, and is not.

Now, that's a bit of an unfair generalization, but hear me out (and hear me contradict myself).

Civil War is more even-handed. It shows the complexity of letting people with so much power loose in the world, and it shows the slippery slope of civil rights violation. At least it was good until #3, where Millar -- who knows Spider-Man -- has a bunch of interactions between him and Captain America, Daredevil, and others that do not fit in to the character, and do not fit into the history and relationship he has with those two guys. Weird, and what it showed was not authentic to the characters for the sake of creating drama in that issue. I'm hoping #4 resets a bit.

Civil War: Frontline is a showcase for Paul Jenkins' agenda, which is a bummer, because I like Jenkins as a writer. But he's got an axe to grind with the current administration, and it shows in his work. The book is clever in that it has multiple mini stories continuing in each issue (though the final poetry/lyric juxtaposition at the end of each issue is coming off convoluted and flat to me), but I feel like the integrity of the work is off because of the personal biases. Think a lesser evil than what Chuck Austen did with Nightcrawler or Captain America. But Issue #4 was better -- much better -- and seemed to start a correction in the diatribe. We'll see.

Now, New Avengers #22, by Brian Michael Bendis got my attention. I mean, Brian Michael Bendis is amazing, but this issue showcases that. It's all about Luke Cage (Power Man), and what he's going to do at midnight, when the bill becomes law. And very little is about fighting. It is about sacrificing (Cage is married and has a newborn daughter). It is about standing up for what is right, and defending your home. Bendis does a really good job with dialog (his forte), including some direct references to slavery, and some heart-hurting moments between Cage, his wife, and their newborn ("She won't look at me ... Hey baby ... look at me"). I was affected.

But I'm exhausted and taking Meisner classes so I'm prone to be misty eyed anyway.

The artist-of-the-month thing is irritating me, but I liked Leinil Yu's artwork -- Bill Sienkiewicz plus Trevor Hersine. Ish.

Oh, and what I predicted last time about this issue being out of whack with the Civil War continuity? It happened (I'm good):

"But where does [New Avengers #21] fit in the Civil War? It's almost like it's supposed to come out before Civil War #2 (and maybe even #1), but shipped after both. And the tease for New Avengers #22 sounds like it's supposed to happen before Civil War #2, also, but will probably ship after #4 [it actually shipped at the same time]."
(Where did I miss Cap's shield getting a chip in it?)

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