Well, it’s finally all said and done. All 7 issues of the main event, and all 104 issues of crossover events have now been published. This was the first time I picked up an entire event, and I’m doing it again for World War Hulk. Will I do it a third time? Probably not. I’ve uncovered a few gems I wouldn’t have otherwise tried (Cable/Deadpool, the revamped Thunderbolts) but the dreck outweighs the hidden treasure. After World War Hulk, it’s back to just getting the pieces that interest me the most. Read on for a review of issues 1-7 as a whole, and for a rundown of everything involved in the entire event, and my recommendations for which trades to pick up.
Title: Civil War #1-7
Author: Mark Millar
Illustrator(s): Steve McNiven (pencils), Dexter Vines (inks) and Morry Hollowell (colours)
Original Publication Date: These issues cover dated from July 2006 to January 2007.
The New Warriors pick a fight they can’t win, and hundreds of innocent people (including children) die as a result of the fight. The public cries for superhero training and registration, which Iron Man supports and promotes, but which Captain America stands against. Lines are drawn, the law is passed, and the heroes of the Marvel Universe go to war against each other.
Captain America leaves the helicarrier.
Reed’s characterization throughout, and his letter to Sue in particular. Those who write him as smart but passionless need to go back and reread the Lee/Kirby run, paying particular attention to any situation which put Sue in danger.
The concept still feels original, with a justifiable reason for the inclusion of every character on the planet at the time of the story. I give it 5 out of 6.
The artwork is fantastic. While the scripting and publication schedules leave some things to gripe about, the art is hard to criticize. McNiven nailed the emotions very effectively, and still managed to deliver action that can (and is) described as both amazing and spectacular. I give it 6 out of 6.
The story works very well for at least six and a half issues. The more I think about the end of the conflict, though, the more it irritates me. I can’t think of a more natural and plausible way to end it without killing off half of the Marvel Universe, but it still doesn’t sit quite right. I give it 4 out of 6.
The characterization works well for most. The moment that bugs me described in the “story” section is a character moment, and pretty much every appearance of Reed Richards but the one involving Taskmaster seems terribly out of character. (I really don’t think Mark Millar likes scientists, actually, given their depiction in pretty much everything he writes.) It’s only two characters in a huge cast, but they’re involved in some pretty important moments. I give it 4 out of 6.
The emotional response is still strong as I reread the series today. There are moments that irk, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a really fun ride. I give it 5 out of 6.
The flow is great. As a marathon read, it plays out very nicely. I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, it’s an imperfect but fun read that actually did have long-term implications for pretty much the entire Marvel Universe. In fact, I’d say that it’s required reading for those reading Marvel for the next few years. I give it 5 out of 6.
In total, Civil War receives 34 out of 42.
Civil War Checklist
Here it is: a catalog of all Civil War crossovers and tie-ins, with links to the collected editions at Amazon.com, and my own retrospective opinions and evaluations about how worthwhile each segment is.
|Crossover (with review link)||Retrospective||Amazon.com link|
|New Avengers: Illuminati Special||Sets the stage for the whole deal, in terms of the future planning from Tony and Reed. Apart from that, which the reader can easily fill in on their own, it does more to get us ready for Planet Hulk than for Civil War. Not a critical piece.||The Road To Civil War|
|Amazing Spider-Man #529-531||Drives home the relationship between Tony and Peter, and provides some of the rare laughs to be had in the entire thing. It also reveals the lengths Tony is willing to go to. Recommended.|
|Fantastic Four #536-537||Sets up a little bit of the story, but it mostly covers stuff for Planet Hulk and this week’s Thor revival. Good, but not a critical piece.|
|Civil War 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, complete||I don’t know what to say that wasn’t said above. Obviously, if you’re going to read anything on this list, you need to read this.||Civil War has all of the issues, and Civil War Script Book has the scripts, complete with deleted scenes.|
|Amazing Spider-Man #532-538||One of the better, and more important crossovers. This reveals the logic behind Peter’s decisions, which can be confusing to one just reading the main title itself. More importantly, it’s a good story on its own. Recommended.||Civil War: Amazing Spider-Man|
|Black Panther #18, 22-25||This is one of the more lackluster pieces. Not bad, but not particularly good. It lets us know how the rebels identified their traitor, but that’s not a big missing piece of the larger puzzle. Not recommended.||Black Panther: Civil War actually collects issues 19-25.|
|Blade #5||Easy to miss, which is my recommendation anyway.||Blade Vol. 1: Undead Again actually collects issues 1-6.|
|Cable/Deadpool #30-32||The only crossover I’d recommend getting even if you don’t read the rest of the Civil War. Great fun, and incredibly funny, which is rare in this mix. These three issues inspired me to get the trade paperbacks that fill in the rest of the series, and I don’t regret it for a second. The title consistently ships on time, and it’s at the top of my reading pile every time. In fact, there’s a one-shot coming this week which may refer to this crossover, in the form of the “Deadpool GLI Summer Fun Spectacular.” Give that a shot if you haven’t already. Highly, highly recommended. READ THESE ISSUES.||Civil War: X-Men Universe includes the Cable / Deadpool and X-Factor issues in one collection.|
|X-Factor #8-9||Another piece that has little or no impact on the rest of the series. It’s not bad, but not great. Get the collection for “Cable/Deadpool,” and treat this like a bonus feature.|
|Captain America #22-24, 25||Issues 22-24 were pretty good. Issue 25 was, on the other hand, fantastic, and possibly the single most significant issue of the whole deal.||Civil War: Captain America includes issues 22-24 and the Winter Soldier special, but not issue 25. In fact, it’s a completely redundant collection, as everything in it can be found in the Iron Man and Marvel Universe collections mentioned below. Captain America: The Complete Collection (Silver Age to Present) does not include the Winter Soldier Special, but it does include everything from “Tales of Suspense #59” up to and including issue 25, which essentially covers every solo issue of all of Captain America’s stories since he reappeared in “Avengers #4” back in the 1960s. I highly recommend all of GIT Corp’s DVD-ROM collections.|
|Winter Soldier: Winter Kills||This is an interesting set, worth looking at if you’re a fan of Bucky Barnes in his Winter Soldier persona.|
|Iron Man #13-14||These are good issues, and though not critical for the Civil War itself, they do hold a lot of importance for the Iron Man title now, and his fans from the past.||Civil War: Iron Man includes Iron Man #13-14, Captain America #22-24 and the Iron Man/Captain America special.|
|Iron Man / Captain America Special: Casualties of War||This isn’t bad. It shows that Gage has a great grasp of the characters, but there are no real consequences for either character. It’s basically a recap of their relationship. Recommended only to those who aren’t already familiar with the history these two characters have.|
|Civil War: Choosing Sides||This includes details of the sides taken by a bunch of characters who either don’t matter, or take really, really predictable sides. Not recommended.||Civil War: Marvel Universe includes the Choosing Sides, Return, Winter Soldier, and She-Hulk issues.|
|Civil War: The Return||This includes an alternate version of the Sentry’s decision (which was better handled in “New Avengers” anyway) and the return of Captain Marvel. Neither was handled that well, and I’m betting Marvel’s return will be recapped or expanded on in much more detail when his own series launches this fall. Not recommended.|
|She-Hulk #8||This barely touches the Civil War, and seems designed to simply attract more attention to the title. Pick it up in a She-Hulk collection if you’re getting that title anyway. Not recommended.|
|Civil War: The Confession||Iron Man laments his role in all of this. Fits between “Civil War #7” and “Captain America #25”. Not recommended.||Not in any collection I can find.|
|Daily Bugle: Civil War Edition||This is what a newspaper in the Marvel Universe would look like had it been published between issues 2 and 3.||Civil War Companion includes Civil War Files, Civil War: Battle Damage Report, the Daily Bugle Civil War edition, and the behind the scenes Marvel Spotlight specials. None are really in a reviewable format. If you like the “Official Handbook” type items, pick this up. Otherwise, ignore it.|
|Civil War: Battle Damage Report||A catalog of where every character and team is when the dust has settled.|
|Civil War Files||The S.H.I.E.L.D. files on the major characters in the conflict.|
|Civil War: Fallen Son – Wolverine, Avengers, Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man||The fourth issue was great. The others leave something to be desired. Mildly recommended.||Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America|
|Civil War: Frontline #1-11||This is a good companion piece, particularly if you’ve been following the new (and really, really, really good) Thunderbolts.||Civil War: Front Line, Book 1 and Civil War: Front Line, Book 2 are needed for the whole set.|
|Civil War: The Initiative||Sets up the new Initiative, which is a big part of Marvel’s current landscape. Recommended, but not strongly.||Not in any collection I can find.|
|Civil War: War Crimes||Tony Stark and Wilson Fisk have a battle of wits. Not great, and not recommended.||Civil War: War Crimes includes this one shot and the five issue “Underworld” miniseries that’s a few years older than the Civil War, and really has no bearing on the Civil War itself. I don’t even know why they were combined here instead of just putting the one shot in the “Marvel Universe” collection instead.|
|Civil War: X-Men #1-4||A lackluster mini that explains why the Sentinels are suddenly leaving the X-Men alone in their own title. Recommended only to those who read the X-titles and don’t know why that change took place.||Civil War: X-Men|
|Civil War: Young Avengers and Runaways #1-4||An interesting series about two fun teenage teams. Check it out if you like either group, as it changes the status quo for both titles.||Civil War: Young Avengers and Runaways|
|Fantastic Four #538-543||This is another great set, and a nice companion to both the Spider-Man volume and the main title. If you have to choose, choose the Spider-Man set instead, but this is definitely one of the most worthwhile crossovers.||Civil War: Fantastic Four|
|Ghost Rider #8-11||This has no implications for the Civil War at all. Not recommended.||Ghost Rider Vol. 2: The Life and Death of Johnny Blaze includes issues 6 and 7 as well.|
|Heroes for Hire #1-3||A moderate quality crossover that establishes the new series. When I start cutting titles out of my pull list, this will be one of the first to go. It’s just not that great. The new Tarantula was callous and mysterious enough to keep me around past issue 3, but her “mystery” was cleared up in issues 4 and 5, and her attitude has toned down a lot since. I also really liked the fact that she was clearly a rare brilliant female scientist in the Marvel Universe, but that has barely come up since. Pick it up only if you’re into cheesecake.||Heroes For Hire, Vol. 1: Civil War includes issues 1-5 of the title.|
|Moon Knight #7-9||These are really good issues, but have little or nothing to do with the Civil War. Get them anyway, but don’t expect the Civil War to play a large role.||The collection hasn’t been announced yet, but it should include issues 7-12 at least.|
|Ms. Marvel #6-8||This covers the fates of the other Spider-Ladies in the Marvel Universe. Pick it up if you’re interested in them.||Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Civil War includes issues 6-10 and a one shot special|
|New Avengers #21-25||Five disparite issues detailing how some characters choose their sides. Each issue has a different artist, and not all of them are good. Not recommended.||New Avengers Vol. 5: Civil War|
|Punisher: War Journal #1-3||Not a great collection. This reveals why Frank Castle chose the side he did, and includes a lot of additional and possibly contradictory “between the panels” material from his involvement in the main miniseries.||Punisher War Journal Vol. 1: Civil War includes these three, issue four, and the black and white variant of issue one.|
|Thunderbolts #103-105||This could have had implications for the Civil War, but didn’t. Still, it isn’t a bad collection. Weakly recommended.||The collection doesn’t seem to be a part of Amazon.com’s listings anymore.|
|Wolverine #42-48||This reveals the ultimate fate of Nitro, the villain who actually did the exploding that caused all of those deaths. Recommended.||Civil War: Wolverine|