Review: Civil War #1 (A second take)

Civil War #1“The more corrupt a state, the more numerous the laws” – Tacitus

Civil war stands as one of my favourite Marvel events, and in my opinion, one of the most consequential.

On Marvel’s Franchise itself.  I was very happy to revisit that territory through the multidimensional lens of Secret Wars. Civil War presented a fantastic conflict that sent shockwaves through subsequent stories for years to come.  Despite the reverberations that the event sparked in its aftermath the conflict itself (the 616 variant) ended very quickly. Any “war” in the traditional sense can be expecting to have uncalculated unknowns, and longterm effects that draw out the conflict into unforeseen territory and status quo.  Secret Wars’ rendition of Civil War offers us an exploration of some of these longer term effects, and I must say they are very interesting.

Essentially we see an entire country divided by both the pro and anti super-human registration act (SHRA) factions.  Tony Stark heads up “The Iron” in the West. And Steven Rogers has dominion of “The Blue” in the East. How each territory responds to the uninitiated use of power is elegantly shown in a number of panels involving Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel) on the Pro-Reg/ Iron side, and Cassie Lang (Stature) on the Anti-Reg / The Blue side.  The panel with Ms. Marvel, emphasizes  a case for personal safety that was not as salient I find in the original Civil War event.  Despite this there are some interesting parallels between “the blue” and “the Iron”. Although Steve Roger’s anti-registration faction’s laws are more parsimonious (1. Don’t hurt others, 2. do some good) Both factions have their idiosyncratic means of dealing with an unchecked / problematic use of power. Cassie’s obscure reference to the “Punishers” was very interesting reveal and may show that both factions are more similar beyond the surface.

The designation of both “The Iron” and “The Blue” reminded me of how important both real and imagined groups notions are to intractable conflicts like the one presented in Civil War. The group classifications here carry as much gravitas as the terms “the 99%” and “the 1%” in the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon we all know too well.  Such concepts work to both temper and define their respective conflicts. The mere conception of nominal groups are powerful drivers when elevated to the level of symbolic effigy.  It will be very interesting to see how the classical Pro and Anti-registration dichotomy gets extended towards the general populace in this regard. Accountability aside, the SHRA in the original Civil featured the super human community more prominently than everyone else.  This brings me to Miriam Sharpe.  There was no character (aside from Tony Stark during CW) who I loved to hate more than Mrs. Sharpe. To me she was both a protagonist and antagonist in the event. A driving catalyst behind conflict in the original iteration of Civil War, we see Sharpe here as an advocate for peace, a very interesting reversal.  I love that a non-powered character had so much impact and impetus driving the Civil War, I would easily put her in the ranks of Maria Hill, or even J Jonah Jameson.  I’m happy to see her again.

The art speaks just as much as the dialogue in Civil War.  I was really impressed with how much the landscape conveyed the story. We see the physical scars of the Civil War event in the purest way with a location that literally divides the nation. “The Divide” as it is called is the site of one of the Civil War’s battles and is marked with a bridge over a long pronounced fissure, a symbolic and apt location that is chosen for the peace talks between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. Leinil Francis Yu’s work on this title is one of the best that I have seen from the Artist.   I was introduced to  Yu’s work first during the Secret Invasion event.  His work here appears very polished and the facial expressions he depicts reflect emotional responses very well.  The panels were a complete delight, I felt as though I was reading and episode of 24. There’s a grown up seriousness in Yu’s work that really complements the thematic and epic tone of Civil War perfectly.

There were some elements of story that left me scratching my head. At the beginning we were told that the events sparking this dimensional iteration of the Civil War Began six years ago. It’s a bit confusing to place this within the timeline of Battleworld’s inception. Was this six years prior to the formation of Battleworld? Or after? This was not entirely clear Additionally it is mentioned that Tony Stark’s “Iron” half of the country is a recognized State entity whereas Rogers’ Blue half is not. Issues of trade were brought up in the peace talks, where The Iron receives vital trade from other states but the Blue does not due to its lack of recognition. Again, are these other countries the neighbouring warzones of Battleworld?  Or the countries that existed in this world prior to the final incursion? I am tempted to assume it is the former, however considering the draconian regulation of cross border flows of Battleworld by Master of the Universe Doom. I am not so certain. A minor gripe that barely detracted from my enjoyment of the story and I am sure will be cleared up in future issues.

Story: Charles Soule Art:  Leinil Francis Yu

Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall 9.5 Recommendation: Buy!