The Civil War has officially begun. The review of the
first issue is below; I’m not planning to review the
main series again until I can review issues 1-7
together. If you’d prefer reviews of each individual
issue, speak up now. All related comics will be
reviewed at some point, though individual issues
likely won’t be reviewed unless they are issue #1 or
stand-alone (or, if they are requested.)

General Information

Title: Civil War #1

Author: Mark Millar

Illustrator(s): Steve McNiven (pencils), Dexter Vines
(inks), and
Morry Hollowell (colours)

Original Publication Date: May 3, 2006

Cover Price: $3.99US, $5.75Can for the double-sized
issue.

Past comic reviews can be found here.

Premise

The New Warriors do something really, really stupid
for a reality TV
show, and the fallout kills hundreds of children.
This triggers the
proposal of the Superhero Registration Act, which
would basically
require all superheroes to hand the government their
secret identities
and work for S.H.I.E.L.D. The heroes are divided on
whether or not
this idea is a good one.

High Point

“Keep flying, son — and watch that potty mouth!” was
my favourite
moment on the first read. The second time through I
noticed the coin
in Daredevil’s hand, and got hit by an idea that I
really, really
like. It’s entirely speculation, but I’ll
spoiler-guard it, anyway,
so you’ll need to highlight to read it: Daredevil
readers know that Matt is in jail, but some unknown
individual is
wearing his tights and doing his job well. This is
the Daredevil
that likely appears in Civil War. This
Daredevil must also
be convinced, or actually know, that Murdock is
Daredevil, or he
wouldn’t have appeared as soon as Matt was
imprisoned. Here’s the
thing that hit me on the second reading: rolling a
quarter over his
fingers is entirely out of character for Matt
Murdock, but it’s
completely consistent with the character of Bullseye.
I’ll have to
reread some of my Daredevil to figure out exactly
where Bullseye is
right now.

Low Point

The thing that bothers me most isn’t even a part of
this series. The
last time I read New Warriors, Night Trasher
was in charge,
and Speedball would turn off the goofiness when
needed, though he had
no control over the look of his “costume.” I
understand that this
view of the team is consistent with their most recent
appearances, but
I still don’t have to like it.

It says a lot about the quality of the issue being
reviewed that the
one and only thing that bothers me about it was that
it reminds me of
bad writing decisions made years ago. If I could
think of anything
really wrong with this issue itself, I’d have had this
review up
Thursday morning.

The Scores

On the surface, the legislation isn’t
original. It’s just
one step past the Mutant Registration Act that was
being discussed
about 25 years ago in Uncanny X-Men. The
set-up and reaction
is distinct though. This isn’t random paranoia; this
is a response to
an actual event, and some of the heroes think it’s a
good idea. This
feels more like Millar’s Ultimates than
anything I’ve read in
the regular Marvel Universe, with one significant
difference: there’s
a truly intruiging idea behind the great big battles
we know are
coming. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork is great. McNiven is really
turning in some
great work. We’ve got the emotion and the action both
well
displayed. I don’t usually notice colouring in a
comic, but this gives
the same colour-filtered feel as Soderberg’s
Traffic, with
distinct tones and impressions in different areas.
The entire team is
doing great work. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story starts out with one heck of a bang,
and keeps
going. Characters are picking sides that are logical
with their past
portrayals, and their reactions to each other are as
strained as we’d
expect. People can criticize Marvel and DC for having
cross-overs
that bleed out into all of the other titles, but
something like this
would be hard to ignore in the other titles. This one
is going to be
big. I give it 5 out of 6.



The characterization is what I love about
most of this. Yes,
there’s some good action, but it’s being propelled by
the
conversations and the characters. It bothers me to
see what the New
Warriors have been turned into, but that’s hardly
Millar’s fault. His
portrayal of the team is consistent with my
understanding of their
more recent appearances, so I can’t really hold it
against this comic.
I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is great, with a few
really powerful
moments mixed in with some high tension undercurrents.
I was
concerned that this wouldn’t deliver on what I’d
mentally built it up
to be, but it did. This is the best Marvel comic I’ve
read since
Supreme Power launched. I give it 6 out of
6.

The flow is smooth in most cases. The only
disruption to the
flow was a jarring moment that works best when it’s
designed as a
jarring moment. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is a great comic. I’d be
amazed if the rest of
the series can deliver what this began. I give it 6
out of 6.

In total, Civil War #1 receives 39 out of 42.

Civil War Review Checklist

  • New
    Avengers:
    Illuminati Special
  • Amazing
    Spider-Man
    #529-531
  • Fantastic
    Four
    #536-537
  • Civil War #1-7
  • Civil War: Frontline #1-10
  • Amazing Spider-Man #532-537
  • Black Panther #18
  • Cable/Deadpool #30-32
  • Captain America #22-24
  • Civil War: Young Avengers and Runaways #1-4
  • Civil War: X-Men #1-4
  • Daily Bugle: Civil War Edition
  • Fantastic Four #538-543
  • Heroes for Hire #1-3
  • Iron Man #13-14
  • Ms. Marvel #6-8
  • New Avengers #21-25
  • Punisher: War Journal #1-3
  • She-Hulk #8
  • Thunderbolts #103-105
  • Wolverine #42-47
  • X-Factor #8-9