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. It would also allow superheroes to be paid for their services and give them accountability for the damage caused by the means of which they use to stop the super villains and if there are any civilian casualties.
Of course, with two of the Marvel Universe's most politically minded characters, Captain America and Tony Stark disagreeing there were bound to be massive fireworks. The fireworks are not just sparklers that you wave in your friends face and accidentally stab them in the eye with it, landing them in hospital and blind in one eye; these are nuclear bombs of a superhero breed. Featuring some of the biggest superheroes in the Marvel Universe as a part of the front line army, you really get to feel the epic nature of the situation being depicted in the story.
Mark Millar of Wanted movie and comic book fame pens the storyline for this one and from what I knew about the main characters before going into the story, his writing style really manages to emphasise the individuals core personality and allows you to truly understand their motivation. Tony Stark being a government weaponry guy, would naturally be in agreement with this act as it would allow for S.H.I.E.L.D. to gain a more prominent role in U.S. civilian protection, and Captain America feels that it would be unconstitutional to force superheroes to register against their will and fights in favour of an Americans basic freedoms.
The illustrations by Steve McNivern and colouring by Morry Hollowell is really well done and again presents the epic nature of the story and the settings brilliantly. Supremely artistic allows it to become all the more appealing to the reader, as it's not only exciting and enjoyable to read, but really beautiful to look at and enjoy visually. After reading this, I really want to get into graphic novels and see some more work by Mark Millar meaning my next read may be "Red Son" the Superman story set in an alternative universe where he lands in Cold War Russia rather than America. Maybe I'll just join the hysteria and buy Watchmen, but overall I loved this book and for anyone else looking at getting into graphic novels I would say this would be a great starting point.