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Along with Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar has been one of the key writers for Marvel Comics in the 21st century. After proving himself in the '90s as a talent to watch while writing for DC Comics and the UK comic 2000AD, his arrival to Marvel came at a time when Ultimate Spider-Man had just shot up the sales charts. It was in this environment that Millar made his first major contribution to Marvel with Ultimate X-Men, as Millar integrated forty years' worth of X-Men history, characters and lore into a solid two-year run, making the companion title to Ultimate Spider-Man every bit the creative and commercial success. Next up was The Ultimates, a new rendering of the Avengers that was to continue building on the success of the Ultimate line. He and artist Bryan Hitch pulled it all off in spades: The Ultimates and its sequel, Ultimates 2, were ensconced at the top of the sales charts every month; what's more, they were critical successes, as well. Meanwhile, Millar was invited to enter the regular Marvel Universe to take a stab at two of its most iconic characters: Spider-Man and Wolverine. Paired with industry heavyweights to draw his stories -- Terry Dodson on Marvel Knights Spider-Man and John Romita Jr. on Wolverine -- Millar brought the same fast-paced and cleverly constructed plots with which his Ultimate fans were already familiar. Amid building a small library of Millarworld indie comic books -- including the titles Chosen and Wanted, the latter of which was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Angelina Jolie -- he managed to write Civil War, the epic seven-issue miniseries that definitively reshaped the landscape of Marvel's heroes. Kick-A**, a Marvel Icon project done in tandem with John Romita Jr., made an impressive impact on the sales chart before also being adapted for a major motion picture. In addition, Millar has reunited with Civil War artist Steve McNiven in both the pages of Wolverine and their creator-owned book Nemesis.
Since the "Civil War" crossover event has been handled by others with varying opinions, probably far more effectively than I could ever do, and since, if you're reading this review, you are most likely already familiar with the concept behind the crossover, I'm just going to throw a few observations I had while reading this book [there will be some spoilers below].
The gist of the story is that a third-tier superhero team attempts to apprehend a team of super-villains, with disastrous results: one of the villains uses his explosive powers, leveling, among other things, an elementary school and causing the deaths of 600 civilians, 60 children among them. The government quickly pushes through legislation in the form of a Superhuman Registration Act, which would require superhumans to reveal their identities and register with the government, in essence becoming government employees, complete with proper training, government funding and benefits if they decide to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. The fallout occurs when the one side in favor of the SRA, led by Iron Man, clashes with a second side opposed to the SRA, led by Captain America.
The first issue I had, and one that was harped on by many, was the characterization of many of the major players, for example, Captain America, Iron Man, and Reed Richards. Instead of merely rehashing the "well, they did away with 40 years of characterization" argument, I offer a possible solution: The story might have been better served by having Captain America be in charge of the pro-registration side and Iron Man be against it.Read more ›
I ordered Marvel Comics Civil War in a hardcover edition. It included all seven issues of the series. What I wasn't expecting was the bonus Spider Man comic "Parker You're Fired" issue which is laid out like an issue of the Daily Bugle. Also another treat was the interviews with the authors and the behind the scenes of how the script was written. All in all it is the best purchase I have ever invested in. I hope this helps people when they don't know if they want to buy this item...
So what does it take to break up two of the greatest superteams of all time, make Iron Man and Captain America mortal enemies, and many other old friends pound each other into the ground in the Marvel Universe? How about reality television? After a young 3rd-tier superteam causes supervillain Nitro to explode (his power) and wipe out a school full of children while filming their "Cops"-style show, public opinion forces the passage of a bill in Congress. The bill is one that would force all superpowered beings to register with and work for the government. Naturally, this is a terribly unconstitutional move that eliminates the most American of all values, freedom, from every superbeings' life. Thus the Marvel Universe is split in two with Captain America siding against his own namesake and forming the Underground Avengers (featuring Dardevil, Luke Cage, and Spiderwoman among others) and Iron Man leading the pro-registration forces along with Mr. Fantastic in rounding up all of the heroes who resist, imprisoning them indefinitely. It's a great concept that brings to light many fascinating debates and ideas on the limitations of government among other things. The problems with the story are in the execution. Many of the great heroes with 40+ years of history and character development behind them do things that are way out of character and others, bizarrely, do nothing at all. As much effort as Marvel has expended in various side-issues trying to justify the actions of Tony Stark and Reed Richards, the fact remains that they behave more like megalomaniacal supervillains than the epitome of heroism that they've embodied for so long. That's not to say that there aren't consequences for both, what with the FF and Avengers essentially dissolved because of feuding members.Read more ›
I posted this as a response to the review by Art, but I thought it worth pegging it up on it's own, with edits:
There are a lot of mixed and negative reviews of this book. My review bounces off those, rather than the book itself, which I'll just say I thoroughly enjoyed.
If you are going to enjoy this book, first of all, don't take superhero comics too seriously. This isn't supposed to be "Palestine" or "American Splendor", this is the Fantastic Four we're talking about. It is goofy entertainment. If you are going to criticize fundamental genre conventions, do if from further back. That is, criticize fundamental genre conventions, don't roast this one particular manifestation of them as if it exists in a vacuum.
That being said, I think some reviewers are a bit off on some specific points. One major complaint some reviewers make is that this story doesn't fit into the relationships/characterizations/stories they have come to expect from these Marvel superheroes. That is only the case though if you haven't been keeping up with Marvel comics over the past few years.
Starting from "Avengers Disassembled/House of M", this story has been building in all the Marvel books for years. The tension between some heroes/groups over the registration issue, and over the nature of the heroes' relationships with conventional law enforcement/military, has been cleverly woven into many Marvel books. So to see it all finally come to a boil here is satisfying to those that have been following things. For those that haven't, you'll just have to fill in that gap with your imagination--that's the price of enjoying serialized entertainment.
The same must be said for the tensions between certain heroes/groups of heroes.Read more ›