AUTHOR: Mark Millar
PENCILS: Steven McNiven
INKS: Dexter Vines
COLORES: Morry Hollowell
LETTERING: Chris Eliopoulos
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
FORMAT: Monthly comics
PAGES (#1): 48 pages
PAGES (#2-#7): 32
COLOR: Full color
Superheroes are great, saving the world and whatnot, but sometimes their techniques tend to leave the city in shambles, people hurt or even dead. Something must be done, so the government passes the Superhuman Registration Act, which requires all persons with super abilities to register with the government and reveal their secret identities. Those superheroes that comply will be trained as agents of the government. Those that refuse will be hunted, captured and permanently detained.
The super community is split on the issue. Captain America and others reject the law, claiming it infringes upon their civil rights. Spider-Man becomes the front man for the pro-registration movement, unmasking himself on national television.
Battles ensue, superheroes switch sides, unsavory super villains are recruited, and destruction runs rampant.
Here is an issue-by-issue breakdown from the Marvel website:
The landscape of the Marvel Universe is changing and it’s time to decide: Whose side are you on? A conflict has been brewing in the Marvel Universe for over a year, threatening to pit friend against friend, brother against brother – and all it will take is a single misstep to cost thousands their lives and ignite the fuse! As the war claims its first victims, no one is safe as teams, friendships, and families begin to fall apart. Civil War, a Marvel Comics event in seven parts, stars Spider-Man, the New Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the entirety of the Marvel pantheon! Civil War – the crossover that rewrites the rules – begins here in this double-sized first issue!
The super-heroes split as the CIVIL WAR heats up! Registration has become law, household names have gone rogue and a Marvel legend makes a decision that will change a life forever. Featuring the New Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Young Avengers and pretty much everybody else! And – no fooling, true believer – this issue features one of the most shocking climaxes in Marvel Comics history. Miss this one and you might just regret it for the rest of your life!
The battle lines are drawn as the conflict between the Super Hero Registration Initiative and the Underground Resistance fighters explodes in a live firefight as the future of the Marvel Universe is decided! But before the dust settles, a familiar figure will emerge from a strike of lightning to change the odds – and the sides! Witness teams and families torn apart as the Civil War touches all and the momentous events of last issue changes the world, as our heroes understand it!
A death! A funeral! A betrayal! And a team reborn as the war takes a deadly turn!
Featuring villains, villains, villains! Sides change and chaos reigns as the evildoers of the Marvel Universe make their presence felt in a new and shocking way! But when the underworld gets involved, can the Punisher be far behind?
Captain America’s depleted forces have determined the secret of File 42, setting them on a last-ditch collision course with Iron Man and the Pro-Registration heroes! It’s the beginning of the battle of the century – a conflict in which virtually every superhuman on Earth will be forced to choose a side to fight on!
It all ends here! The startling battle that will determine the future of the Marvel Universe!
To the writer’s credit, CIVIL WAR does not take a stand on the controversy. The characters do, and then they change their minds, but the story moves in an ebb and flow that makes it hard for the reader to make up his or her mind. As it happens, both sides have strong, valid and appropriate arguments.
CIVIL WAR, for all its inventiveness and possible social commentary, has trouble meeting its own lofty goals. The writing is weak – rushed – and the motivations behind the pro- and anti-registration choice is muted at best. In the end, Captain America, abruptly switches sides without so much as a single inkling. It occurred in issue seven and certainly left many fans discombobulated, as if the series had to be published in only seven issues and once the publishers got to issue seven, they just wrapped it up with a mottled brown bow.
I thought the art was worthy of the subject and was expertly rendered. The line art, the inking, and the coloring are powerful.
My Rating: Ages 13 and older
Publisher’s Recommended Age: T+ (Ages 13 and older)
It is unfortunate that this book was written as a T+ because it could be and should be enjoyed and explored by kids younger than 13. Aside from the cursing, which also shows up in HARRY POTTER and other works of literature, there is really no reason for it to have such a rating. If an upper elementary aged child followed the Marvel universe, then I would let him or her read it. Using it in a classroom is a bit trickier.
I am not offended by cursing, even in children’s literature. However, this mini-series is full of blue words. One could argue that the characters, feeling as passionately as they do, are possibly experiencing the greatest challenge of their lives and that we are seeing the stress from that, so they curse. It’s really a fair argument. If I were in that position I would probably be cursing a lot too. Interestingly enough the powers that be choose to use symbols in one frame in issue #1: “Holy $@%&.” The rest of the time the real words are displayed. There is also some blood, but I did not find it gratuitous.
IN THE CLASSROOM
CIVIL WAR is about civil rights and could easily be compared to movements past and present. Kids will have no trouble linking this story with real events and making deep connections about the importance of our civil rights. Most governments, maybe all of them, have had instances where they discriminated or violated the civil rights of a particular group. The United States has battled with such an issue in contemporary society with September 11 and the Patriot Act. This list is extensive and many parallels could be drawn if one were so inclined to do so.
I believe this title has literary merit to be used in the classroom, even with children who are younger than 13, but it would be a tricky endeavor. I doubt there would be much trouble if it were used in a high school history or social studies classroom. If a classroom is studying the constitution or civil rights then that teacher has a good case to use this in the classroom. It boils down to understanding the community in which one teaches. CIVIL WAR would not be the first piece of controversial literature used in a classroom.
Also available as a trade paperback and hard bound. The CIVIL WAR event extends beyond these seven issues. Other titles and spin-off stories include:
CIVIL WAR: FRONT LINE
CIVIL WAR: X-MEN
CIVIL WAR: YOUNG AVENGERS/RUNAWAYS
CIVIL WAR: THE INITIATIVE
AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE
Recommended with Reservations
This title has merit and could be powerful. It also could be controversial, so care should be taken before introducing it to a classroom. Use caution and good common sense.