Now I've been looking at getting into graphic novels for a long time and I have always been very interested in the Marvel Universe and the prospect of a civil war as depicted in this book. Although I've never read a single comic book in my life, I've always been aware of the great superheroes and their particular backgrounds. Apart from the odd one or two however, seriously, who the hell are Goliath and Wasp? This being my first graphic novel and with me generally being a comic book snob and turning my nose up at any comic book or graphic novel, I was genuinely surprised by how much I was taken in by the story and enjoyed the artwork.
The story starts off with young aspiring superheroes doing a bit of crime fighting for a reality TV show, but something goes wrong and one of the villains attacked is a living bomb and explodes killing a lot of civilians and destroying a hell of a lot of land and homes. This is the fuse that sets off the bomb (metaphorically speaking) which is the mass appeal for a Superhero Registration Act. This ensures that all those who are born with or gain super powers are to register to and work for the government as a superhero police force, or risk being locked away for vigilantism or being a danger to the public if they refuse to register.
Reed Richards and Iron Man are in favour of the act and lead their army in finding and capturing the opposition which is led by Captain America, who simply wants to retain his freedom. The side of Iron man argues that working for the government as part of a policing force would place superhero teams distributed across all states, creating a balanced super protection force.Read more ›
Marvel Comics' seven-issue Civil War mini-series from 2006/7 is collected as Civil War. This volume is the central spine of this Marvel-wide crossover event. It begins on location with the reality-TV show featuring the New Warriors being filmed in Stamford, Connecticut, where they discover four supervillains in hiding. They jump straight in and start a fight that ends with an explosion that kills hundreds of civilians. This in due course leads to a popular movement that calls for the registration and licensing of super-powered individuals, which in turn leads to a split among the superheroes that, come the enactment of the law, criminalises a number of the heroes who are not prepared to register (and a large number of villains also). Captain America ends up leading the "Secret Avengers", as the criminal element are labelled, and Tony Stark, Reed Richards and Hank Pym are the unofficial leaders of the "good guys".
The story sees a number of long-established relationships put under a strain, and ends with Captain America being arrested, which in turn leads to another big event over in his own title, while the mainstream of Marvel then went on to the Secret Invasion, Dark Reign and eventually Siege. This volume, however, was the first step on that long road.
It is well-scripted and illustrated, as befits a major event title - though until this book, that was the exception rather than the rule. The story can be followed here without reference to any of the crossover titles, and is very entertaining, with a good mix of action and skulking around in secret hideouts. The chain of events makes sense, and the characters chose sides according to their established characters, and not according to plot requirements.
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So, as someone who has moved from teen fiction to comic books, this was one of the graphic novels that everyone was telling me to read, and that it was the best story that comics had ever written. I bought this along with another recommended read that a lot of people were telling me to read, DC's Kingdom Come.
Now, everyone who is reading this and hasn't read Kingdom Come, read it, its great, but back to Civil War, as I said in the title, this is a very good book, and I can see why it is the recommended read, but I would say if you're a new comer to comics in general, get some other Marvel reading in first, because you will need it. There are things in here when I was reading it (remember, this was the third graphic novel I ever read) that I didn't really understand, like there is something about Daredevil that I only found out about a couple of days ago and that there is a lot of build up to this prior to where the book starts.
The writing as well is something to look out for, the entire book there is this massive battle on the horizon, the battle that the entire book is building up to, but warning, when it comes, it is very short lived with a fairly ante-climactic end. The writing, although good, feels pretentious, like this is the best story that has ever been told in the history of the world, letting the reader know just how clever the author is whilst doing it all. With some very obvious foreshadowing and a slightly predictable plot at times, you can get bored with some of the scenes.
But, it is very good, and most of the tension in the book works, so please, buy it and read it, although there are some short falls, is is worth the read.
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