GM Recommended Reading: Civil War

What begins as a high-spirited adventure with the superheroes kicking supervillain butt quickly turns into a tragic reality check where “Marvel heroes are forced to grow up,” face the consequences of their actions and start answering to those who they have sworn to protect. Civil War, written by Mark Miller and drawn by Steve McNiven, became the arc that set the current Marvel Comic Universe into motion.

“When it first came out, Steve and I were just too knee-deep in issues three and four to notice that this had been the industry’s best-selling series in over a decade…” Mark Miller

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The Story

Civil War isn’t your typical good-guy-vs-bad-guy type story, it’s about the struggle between two ideals—freedom vs. security—and the good guys and gals that want what’s best without compromising what they believe. Although the focus may be on the American government and the polarizing perspectives on how it should be run, it is not a US history lesson—it’s a lesson on fear, pride, and justice. Should heroes come over to the side of law and order? Is the protection of the American people greater than the rights of the individuals who risk their lives for their country? You might not find the ultimate answers but you’ll understand why they’re such controversial questions in this captivating story between good vs good.

“I think it’s a mistake to write a book as an analogue of a real world situation. It works well with a singular piece of work like Orwell’s Animal Farm, but could be tiresome if Marvel based their entire publishing plan around it for a couple of years…I just write what’s relevant to the world I live in and this is why, I think, the book resonates with the mainstream audiences.” Mark Miller

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The Writing

Mark Miller tears the Avengers apart in the best way possible. He keeps the characters true to their classic iterations and is careful to flesh out the story focusing on pivotal plot points wasting no time in getting to the gritty details. He also brings out both ideals of those in favor of having superhumans registered and regulated by the government, headed by Iron Man, and those in favor of preserving superhumans’ individual rights, headed by Captain America, fairly and equally. So the question “who’s side are you on?” becomes harder to answer with every page. Whether you’ve seen the cinematic adaptation or not, you still haven’t seen the iconic characters pinned against each other like this.

“What makes Civil War truly unique and like no other big event in the history of comics is that there is no real villain. Like sometimes happens in real life, the villain is sometimes the person who has the opposite belief to yours” Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Civil War

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The Art

Steve McNiven was still considered a “newbie” when he began drawing Civil War since he had done only a handful of projects in the comic scene, however, his great talent and risk-taking attitude brought him to get the assignment that shook the Marvel world. It’s no wonder, once you take a look at the carefully crafted panels, why he was chosen for this job. One panel in particular (in issue 1, page 6) shows how the safety of civilians can become quickly compromised when superheroes are just doing their job.

“What’s interesting to me is how you very rarely really see the collateral damage in comics. That’s part of what makes Civil War special, it’s because of the collateral damage that the Marvel U finds itself where it is now. Steve’s art illustrates this point beautifully on that page…” Joe Quesada

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Work Cited

Millar, Mark, et al. Civil War: a Marvel Comics Event. Marvel Worldwide, Inc., a Subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, LLC, 2016.