Comics on the Can – Marvel’s Civil War GN

Civil WarCOMICS ON THE CAN

CIVIL WAR GN
Writer – Mark Millar
Penciler – Steve McNiven

The (possibly) last installment in my editor unaware multi-column crossover theme tableau “Vs” which includes:
Adult Continuity – BATMAN V SUPERMAN XXX and CAPTAIN AMERICA XXX
Cultural Junkdrawer – THE V DECADE
Comics on the Can – SALVATION RUN

“… After the unfortunate events of the single bathroom fiasco of Jenny McQuaid’s 7th birthday party, the day after the season’s first corn on the cob consumption and the disastrous Denny’s of Newhall plumbing incident; the governments of the world can no longer afford to let you operate “Comics on the Can” without any type of oversight. That is why over a hundred and twelve members of the United Nations have come together to form The Potty Accords. Your days of wantonly reading a comic book while going to the bathroom with reckless abandon are over (I mean reading comics with reckless abandon, not going to the bathroom… one would hope you don’t do number two or one even with reckless abandon. That’d be messy.) We can no longer allow you to callously hurt the feelings of the likes of the Black Jack Comics people with your well thought out constructive criticism tempered with light humor, grace, and snarky dialogue. Even though you were justified with your spot-on breakdown of why the comics didn’t work and undeserving of the hefty cover price, such autonomous actions carry with it dangerous ideas and actions that need to be regulated for your safety, my safety, and the safety of the world at large.”

“No longer will you review the comics you’ve read while sitting upon the porcelain throne unless you have been authorized to by a governing body riddled with infighting, contrasting agendas, and a political paralysis so intense that everyone can’t even agree to condemn genocide little less do anything about it. The truth is they couldn’t even figure out what action to take against you until the ghastly images from that Denny’s incident hit the Yahoo front page.

“If you refuse to sign The Potty Accords those of your profession that have signed; such as Dave Barry, Will Durst, that one fucking prick on Gawker… no, the other fucking prick… sure that one too… and the entire staff of Reader’s Digest HUMOR IN UNIFORM will be forced to hound you into personal and professional destruction, removal from the esteemed comedy columnist annual fish fry and ultimate frisbee invite list, and forced retirement. You’ll be stuck doing short reviews of ‘Adult romance’ titles under a fake name for the AVN website at best.”

“The decision is yours.”

WARNING THERE MIGHT BE SPOILERS FOR A COMIC CROSSOVER THAT IS ALMOST A DECADE OLD AND POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE OF THE SAME NAME. OF COURSE, IF YOU ARE ON THIS SITE ODDS ARE YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE AT LEAST TWICE ALREADY AND IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT ONCE YOU MUST BE IN A COMA. IN WHICH CASE YOU WOULDN’T BE READING THIS COLUMN SO… FORGET I MENTIONED THE COMA… I FEEL AWKWARD NOW…

Civil War the graphic novel covering about 23.7% of one of the massive multi-title crossover events of the late summer 2006 to early to mid-spring of 2007 is not much like the box office record-shattering super hit from Marvel Studios and their corporate overlords and our eventual world conquering masters, Disney.

That’s a good thing.

Sure, both have Captain America and Iron Man deciding they were bored with punching the likes of Baron Zemo and M.O.D.O.K. through walls and wanted to see how much fun it would be to do it to each other. Both use the idea of Government oversight and super powered beings’ accountability. Both either kill or grievously injure black characters. Both have a seething homoerotic undercurrent (I might be reading too much into that one). Both have Spider-Man. But the comparisons pretty much taper out after that. Since I’m not gonna fall into the trap of comparing the two for the column (I’ll leave that to everyone else on the internet) there will just be a sum-up. Captain America: Civil War is a tight, focused story with more personal stakes because it has to be. Civil War: The comic is the exact opposite because it wants to be.

In fact to establish when I’m talking about the whole enchilada, the Civil War comic Crossover event, I’ll call it CWCE. When I’m just talking about the graphic novel I’ll call it CWGN. When I mention the Movie I’ll call it CWMCU and when I mention Batman V Superman: Dawn of Merchandising Profits I’ll call it YOURMOMISNAMEDMARTHATOO!

Now is the time for the caveat; Civil War the epic multi-title giganto let’s boost flagging sales crossover event (CWCE from here on in) generally works. The whole idea stirs up a hornet’s nest of debate far beyond “Oh yeah, well Captain America is cooler.” I remember reading several associated titles and enjoying the thornier sides of the spaghetti mess created from the ideas generated; Thunderbolts’ government sanctioned ruthlessness, Ben Urich calling Tony Stark on his bullshit, Howard the Duck stuck in a registration line that would make the DMV jealous. There were so many good ideas that the main story had a problem with being in its own way. That is to say, the main story almost seemed inconsequential by comparison. Primarily because it couldn’t be bothered with the issues it brought up.

This vibe was reinforced by re-reading CWGN; gaping plot holes were basically gleaned over by remembering events in other titles that I had read at the time and utilizing guesswork to fill other gaps.

Oh lawrd, are there gaps!

CWGN opens with the reality show “The New Warriors”. They’re clocking a menace of super powered villains “ham and egging” it together in a small town. Speedball and co. decide to take them on despite the fact they may be outgunned because it’ll give the show a ratings boost.

Things go horribly horribly wrong; an entire elementary school gets vaporized.

Public outcry over the tragedy spurs Stark to get out in front of an inevitable government clampdown with the registration act. Capitan America, reasonably fearing a police state, is reluctant to sign on. The ideological gap grows, talking heads talk talking points. The registration act speeds through congress. One can’t help but think of the days and weeks after 9/11. Which is exactly what the story should do; call to mind the headspace most of the country was in. Mobilized, decisive, ready to rush headfirst into danger to make things right. Never really considering the consequences or the repercussions of what we were doing. Or at least not listening to those who were warning us.

But it turns into a slugfest; by the end of issue one, Director of SHIELD Maria Hill has agents outright attack Cap. Which kinda reinforces Cap’s concern about a police state.

I am aware of a build-up in tensions between Tony and Steve but you’d have to have read both Captain America and Iron Man to get that, I suppose. Maria’s attack is a pretty abrupt flip just reading CWGN. Without much context, it would read as an attack from a mind-controlling villain and Cap’s response is within his experiences with such things.

Lack of context undermines just about every interesting idea generated by CWGN. CWCE mitigates this to a small degree but judging from just this CWGN read it looks like the US government has been infiltrated by a nefarious force and is subtly ripping the hero community apart. Hell, if I recall correctly Hank Pym is, in fact, a Skrull at this point in time!

Skrulls aside, the pro-registration forces pile one dick move upon another; a murderous Thor clone-borg, sending super villains after their former friends, and an interdimensional prison. It seems like they’re saving the good ass-kicking ideas for their former allies. With each bad decision making things worse! Tony Stark and Reed Richards never put this much thought into stopping the likes of Thanos or Doom and that might be a good thing because judging by their batting record here universe 616 would be a pile of ash. Meanwhile, from Captain America’s perspective, his former friends are acting like homicidal lunatics. Which forces Cap to escalate his dickish moves. After reading CWGN I had to check with Wikipedia to make sure I didn’t miss something in Civil War: Squirrel Girl that revealed that Tony Stark WAS under alien control or being manipulated but a Red Skull nefarious plan.

This is the context I’m talking about; if you just read CWGN you could get a whole different story than what was intended. Not that you can pin down exactly what CWCE knew what it intended, really. Which is kinda one of the cool things about CWCE that CWGN misses out on.

Metaphor!

Which is a disappointment because while it was going on CWCE felt like it was about something. It was no accident that Iron Man is predominantly red and Captain America is primarily blue here. You could hang issues like gun control, class warfare, the culture war, states rights, our involvement and/or culpability in the mid-east problems, exchanging liberty for safety, Pirates vs ninja, Republican vs Democrats, Christians vs civil rights, Liberal vs Conservative, faith vs Science, reactionary agendas, fear based decision making, and the general adversarial vibe our country was/is going through. The set-up opened the door for something rich, textured, and mature. Some of the writers involved tried to run through that door with varying degrees of success.

One of the metaphors you can toss at this story is the escalation in the war on terror and how we create the enemies we’re guarding against. CWCE predates Isis but it also (arguably) predicts them. Iron Man puts together The new Thunderbolts made up of super-powered murderers and psychos. Captain America starts making alliances with members of the super criminal community.

With Gulf War part deux barely in the rear view and the wreckage of it still littering the road some of the writers tackling the side titles saw the connection and expanded on it. Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts having toy commercials labeling the Captain America action figure as a terrorist springs immediately to mind.

Meanwhile CWGN barely has time to address its own sprawling plot little less the bigger issues and themes at play.

Of course I remember being disappointed that the whole thing degenerated into a massive brawl on the streets of New York. WIth Cap surrendering because he suddenly realizes the damage being done.

I expected something a bit more “out of the box” from Millar, like what he did with Ultimate X-Men. When Millar was doing The Authority he ended an outrageous and hysterical super conflict by the opponents talking for a minute and realizing they had the same goals. A lot of Millar’s work up to that point had big ideas. Different ways of solving problems and with an eye on who the real villains were. It led me to hope he had some interesting left field solution in the bag for CWGN. I didn’t expect a blinding revelation, I didn’t expect a solution to what ails the soul of this country, but I did expect some creative perspective on the problems. I had come to expect that from Millar.

Sadly CWGN (and Millar by association), beholden to the necessity of being all things to everyone, including a marketing hook and crossing over to every character in the Marvel universe, opted to build a foundation only to smash it down shortly after.

Stuff tangentially related to the main column that I couldn’t fit in organically…

I still feel awkward about the coma comment.

Hey, your mom is named Martha too? Shit, I had you all wrong Supes! Let’s be pals!

So this might feel like a condemnation of sprawling cross-over events but it’s not necessarily.

It’s a condemnation of the mercenary attitude that dictates these massive cross-over events.

A menace of super villains is like a murder of crows, school of fish, or a crash of rhinos. My call, there.

Speedball used to hang out with a different team of superheroes before New Warriors. Let’s see… there was Hip Flask, Chronic, Crackpipe, Eightball, and Rocket Racoon.

Or was it Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Xtc and Alcohol?

No, that was Queens Of The Stone Age – Feel Good Hit Of The Summer.

Ham and egging it means, I guess, being roommates. This weird old guy I worked with on a show used the term and I liked it.

The weird old guy not so much.

Especially when he threatened to jam a knife into my throat. Normally I don’t bring that out in people.

Even though I think Millar peaked with Wolverine: Enemy of the State/Agent of SHIELD he was still generating some interesting throwaway ideas. Like Reed designing the Baxter Building’s security that week like the human immune system. Tony Stark and Emma Frost were fuck buddies. Or the T-Rex bonded with a Venom symbiote in Old Man Logan.

I’d read the crap outta a comic entirely dedicated to a T-Rex bonded to a venom symbiote!

Is it any surprise that CWCE got so ugly so quick? The main architects of the registration act were an alcoholic, a wife beater, and a neglectful husband/father.

To further prove Steve’s misgivings; right after Secret Invasion the powers that be handed the keys to the kingdom over to Norman Osborn.

If you want metaphor try a Norman Osborn/Dick Cheney one on for size.

I guess you could view this whole era for Tony Stark as a proxy for the United States; overpowered, best-laid plans backfiring, well-meaning to a point but just can’t help but think his way is the best way even after shown copious amounts of evidence to the contrary. Discuss?

I loved CWMCU but I’m surprised that Cap didn’t at some point remind Tony that they spent the last two years trying to get HYDRA out of all the nooks and crannies of just about every government on earth. Why would the Avengers now hand over legal control to the same governments?

Yeah, and that Sokovia was Tony’s fault.

NEXT: I see Black Panther on top of the pile.

LATER: Who knows but hopefully you won’t have to wait as long. Sorry ‘bout that guys.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
New ‘Amityville: The Awakening’ Clip Takes us into the Basement

The original Amityville movie effectively terrified audiences forty years ago. The story...

Elizabeth Blue
‘Elizabeth Blue’ Examines Mental Illness in Powerful, Inventive Ways

People from all walks of life deal with mental illness. Despite...

Goodbye Christopher Robin
‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ is a Scatterbrained Biopic

A.A. Milne created something that has enchanted generations of children with...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Nights of Azure 2
Koei Tecmo America Details Demon-Slaying Action For Nights Of Azure 2: Bride Of The New Moon

Survive the environments of Nights Of Azure 2: Bride of the...

SteelSeries North
SteelSeries Announces Partnership with FC Copenhagen, Nordisk Film and Their Top-Ranked Counter-Strike Team, North

Three of the Most Successful Danish Brands Team up to Accomplish...

Warriors All-Stars Review
7.0/10
It’s a KOEI TECMO Party – Warriors All-Stars Review [PS4]

Why are games that bring together characters from numerous other titles...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
viz
VIZ Media Announces New Digital Manga Content For August Update

VIZ Media details digital manga updates for August highlighted by the...

viz
VIZ Media Announces New Manga and Literary Acquisitions At Anime Expo

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), a premier company in the fields of...

9.0/10
Supergirl Makes Contact in ‘Supergirl Being Super’

Title: Supergirl Being Super #4 Writer: Mariko Tamaki Artist: Joelle Jones...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Yu-Gi-Oh Code of the Duelist Special Edition Debuts 9/22/17

Yu-Gi-Oh Code of the Duelist Special Edition Releases Tomorrow 9/22/17 introduces brand-new...

Yugi's Collector Box Review
I Can’t Believe The Cards That Come In This – Yugi’s Collector Box Review

I have been out the duel monsters game for awhile, but...

atari
New Atari 2600/Sega Genesis Systems from AtGames Now Available

Classic Gaming Lives Again with Release of New Atari 2600/Sega Genesis...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Mayweather and McGregor Previous Fights Now On Demand on Cable, Plus Interviews, Workouts and More

From iN DEMAND – New York, Aug. 17 – Before the...

Rumble on the Water 2 Delivers Punching Power

July 29, 2017 – Long Beach, CA – The Queen Mary...

UFC Star Jon ‘Bones’ Jones Releases Emoji App – BonesMoji

From BonesMoji – Los Angeles, CA., July 27, 2017 – One...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
CULTURAL JUNK DRAWER SDCC 2017 86.3% TRUE RECAP!

A totally true recap of the most important geek cultural even...

Comics on the Can: Schick Hydrobot and the Transformers

Written by John Barber, Pencils by Steve Kurth, Inks by Juan...

Star Wars Themed Lands Will be the Perfect Safe House for the Rebellion and the First Order

Disney’s D23 Expo has revealed a lot of what is to...

Event News Event Reviews
The Third Annual ‘BeerX’ from 91X in San Diego Featured Sunburns and Beer Goggles

This past Saturday, I attended the 3rd annual BeerX, presented by...

anime film festival
LA-Anime Film Festival Kicks Off to Celebrate 100 Years of Anime Films

Los Angeles Anime Film Festival (LA-AFF), presented by international creative company...

stan lee
Extraordinary: Stan Lee at The Saban Theatre

Comedian, Nerdist CEO, and podcast extraordinaire Chris Hardwick will lead a roster of...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Lahna Turner’s ‘Limeade’ is a Hilariously Haunting Comedy Album

Many people are roll their eyes at the idea of musical...

Prince’s ‘Deliverance’ Reminds Us of Who We Lost

On Friday, April 21st, it will be one year since we...

Sabroso Fest, How can you go Wrong with Beer, Tacos and Lucha Libre!?!(Photo Gallery)

The Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco and Music Festival sponsored by 95.5...