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It’s not that bad: Hibbs on CIVIL WAR #7

Brian Hibbs

Unlike Grimmy over there, I’m not going to go all the way to “ASS” on CIVIL WAR #7 — mostly because I think “ASS” needs to be saved for very very special occasions, and probably should only be trotted out once or twice a year, if that.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t like CIVIL WAR #7, but it is far more from execution rather than concept

See, and this is the thing you HAVE to give them, here we have a universe-spanning intercompany crossover that does, in fact, “change everything”. Some of it may change back, sure, given enough time, but there wasn’t any reset button being hit, and the status quo of the Marvel universe is CLEARLY very very different than it was before CIVIL WAR #1.

Now, this puts aside the questions of whether these are GOOD changes, or LOGICAL ones; nor are these changes simply cosmetic ones — the basic dramatic under-pinning of the Marvel U are now very different, and it certainly will provide a reasonable amount of fodder for stories, depending on how they handle things.

Let’s also put aside the question of whether you LIKE these changes. I mean, *I* don’t want to read about the Adventures of Super-fascist, the friend-killing, villain-working, two-faced lying liar, but like it or not, “Civil War” fundamentally changed the very idiom of the super-hero in the Marvel Universe. And, really, that’s kind of exciting.

No, what’s really wrong with CIVIL WAR #7, and, for that matter, #2-6, is that it doesn’t actually tell a story. In a story, or at least in a good story, there’s forward movement in both event and character. And with the possible single exception of Spider-Man’s arc, that simply doesn’t exist throughout the bulk of CW

Think about it this way: in CW #1, Stamford blows up, and the Superhero Registration Act is rammed through. But (basically) nothing that happens afterwards changes anything from that premise. Further, nothing COULD change that premise — Cap and IM can punch each other all they like, but the laws been made, and unless Marvel starts publishing MIGHTY PARLIMENTARY ADVENTURES #1, there’s nothing about that that will change.

I think “Civil War”, as an idea, was probably a great one, really — by all means, let’s mix things up; let’s have characters who believe they’re doing absolutely the right thing, but who are wrong; Let’s deal with fairly complex issues of freedom and identity. C’mon, admit it, even if you didn’t like it’s execution “Civil War” was an EXCITING concept. That’s also why it sold so well. ANd why people are talking about it.

The problem is that CIVIL WAR, as a series, bobbled the execution by putting the focus on an “event in seven parts”; and COMPOUNDED that problem by HOLDING UP the actual story from unfolding in the monthly line of comics in order to wait for the “event” to get produced!

Even the “big events” of the CIVIL WAR mini-series (Spidey unmasks, Reed & Sue break up, the punisher returns, and so on) were pretty much uniformly handled much better in the individual bits of the titles then they were in CIVIL WAR itself.

One of the crossover’s most dismissive memes is the “red sky” crossover. This dates from the original crossover, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, which had issues cover-billed as COIE crossovers, where the extent of it was someone pointing upwards and saying “Look, the sky’s gone red”. And here’s the thing, CIVIL WAR #2-7 were basically ALL “red sky” books. I haven’t learned anything new OR RELEVENT from them. The things I *did* get that I could ONLY get in CW — and is there really much more than Reed and Hank building a Clone…er robot thor which kills Bill Foster? — are kind of logically objectionable.

Its really really easy to MOnday Morning Quarterback these things, but I had me a Time Machine, I’d probably have structured this more as a stand-alone special that kicks the whole thing off, and sets up all of the threads. I would have made sure that the KEY books (IRON MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA) were in-synch and contemperous with the launch date for the story, and were diriving the individual battles of the war. I would have probably doubled the frequency of FF, and put the “mystery” of 42, the clobothor, and Sue begging Namor all in there. I would have also done the IM/Cap conversation, and the “Criminals react” specials much as they did, and FRONTLINE becomes the spine that moves the backstory of the story, rather than being perceived as the spin-off of the main book, it would have BEEN the “main book”. But issues #2-7 wouldn’t have been published, nor would I have stated an “end” to the “story”, because that creates a false expectation in the audience.

Because, in point of fact, the story DID NOT “end” in CW #7. And the ways that it did felt both forced and commercialized.

(parenthetically, because I’m flashing on it now, and will forget later, Breevort’s interview says Sue is returning to Reed in that scene, and I TOTALLY read it as “Sue came back to get her things to go for good”)

What’s funny is the Joe Quesada text piece I liked so very much in CW #1 (“new Marvel reader? Dude, you totally need to read such AND such, they rock!”), just gave me the raging skeevies as the “last pages” of CW #7 (“We like money, please buy these other 47 things!!!!”)

So, look, really, for the IDEA of “Civil War”, and for the storytelling possibilities (if not actualities!!), I kind of have to give “Civil War” AT LEAST an OK, and maybe possibly even a GOOD. There’s not a person amongst you who reads regular mainstream interconnected comics who doesn’t really wish for change and forward movement in in the “universe”. That’s precisely why we love those universes, after all!

Even us black-hearted grinches here at the SAVAGE CRITIC have to admit that the Possibilities of a “Civil War” is, in fact, exactly and precisely what we want. OF COURSE it is.

And we cry because the execution lets us down.

Before I get into CW #7 specifically, let me do some of my purported “retail intelligence”, and let me try to explain my big fear in the next six months.

I have this really deep fear that “post-CW” Marvel is going to pan out to be “One Year Later”, where there’s an initial burst of sampling, but then the audience wanders away if its not WOWED. The good thing is that, unlike OYL, we have FOC on Marvel books, so exposure is really only limited to 1, maybe 2 issues max. But I have to tell you (after reading CW #7) feeling the let-down (as a reader) that there’s no there, there, I’m inclined (as a retailer) to assume the worst. My initials are, I think, leaning high, but this is mostly still from fear over Marvel’s (former) no re-order policy.

They’ve never stated it out loud, but, yeah, Marvel DOES overprint these days — you can reorder CW #3-6 from them, even today. But because they’re far from the “open taps” of DC (Dig it, EACH AND EVERY [42 right now] issue of 52 is inprint and in-stock from DC right now), we’ve still got the Battered Wife thing going on where we’ve been trained to order on the side of caution. Like, how, say, I can’t reorder NEW AVENGERS ILLUMINATI #1 because Marvel has none. Despite #2 coming out on Wednesday.

So, CW #7 itself.

Obviously, it lets us down with a conclusion that’s not a conclusion. “Cap gives up, and here’s the trailers for our next year” isn’t an ending. But here’s some specific questions:

Am I supposed to believe that the Super Soldier of WW2 doesn’t know what Acceptable Losses are?

Who is Peter Parker actually on the run from? He’s a fully Registered super-hero, right? How can he possibly be with the (expressly) anti-registration (new) Avengers.

With all 50 states covered by super-teams, what possible mission can the (mighty) Avengers have? Global operations? Atlantis, Wakanda, Latveria, almost certainly umpty umpty others are against America’s reaction.

Honestly, where’s the American dissent to civil liberty abrogations? I kinda feel like “Civil War” is Fox, and we never get to see what CNN, let alone an actual liberal perspective. The series portrays the general populace as lock-step with fascism.

Right, so, 50 teams for 50 states. What are 32 of them going to be doing day-to-day? Most of the major villains are now Thunderbolts. Almost, how can there be crime? Is thre anyone left in the MU TO strive against?

Ugh, it’s 11:30, I need to end this, but sure, CW #7 was bad, probably up (well, down) to AWFUL; but the concept was good, damn it.

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