Looking back at the rack #2 – Civil War

'Our fiction writing' / CC
Photograph: 'Our fiction writing' / CC

So last month, we talked about Planet Hulk, in all its green-rage, monster-fuelled (and sword and planet styled) glory! This month, we’re going to look a little closer to home.

When people ask me, “I’m looking to get into comic books, what do you recommend?” I almost never suggest Marvel’s cross-title Civil War. It’s not because it’s bad (far from it!), but because you need to know a little bit about the Marvel universe beforehand so you can truly understand the grand scale of this all-out Marvel event.

Firstly, when Marvel decides it’s going to do a universal event, taking place in all of its issues and titles at the same time, you should know it’s supposed to be a big deal. And, to be fair, the majority of the time it is. After the events of House of M (which we’ll cover next month), Civil War focuses on the Superhero Registration Act, which essentially splits our favourite spandex and leather clad heroes down the middle.

Some characters are in favour of having any costumed or super-powered do-gooder registered with the government, their privacy stripped away. Others oppose it, rather strongly. One of the opposition is Captain America, which is a cause for conflict as the man whose name was given to him for serving his country, blatantly turns against his government because he disagrees with their view on ‘freedom’ (yet still, he continues to fight the good fight!). As the poster boy for the act, Iron Man spearheads the campaign, thus causing much cataclysmic action scenes along the way.

So that’s just a taster for Civil War, but some of my favourite parts of the Civil War event stem from the fact that it crosses into every facet of the Marvel universe. Once I read Civil War, I wanted to see how the politics affected each of the different heroes. And I have to say, Marvel really does deliver. In Punisher, we see Stilt-Man’s funeral, which is as eye opening as it is touching (as well as highly amusing), bringing all the villains and henchmen together and seeing things from their perspective. In Frontlines (a particular favourite of mine), we see not only heroes and villains going at it, but the daily lives of everyday people who just live in the world that’s affected by this super powered political threat.

It’s not just about the heroes or the villains though. Nor is it about the camaraderie or the justice. It focuses on the brother versus brother, friend versus friend dynamic that makes it quite powerful to read, as the characters you were led to believe were good and first-rate actually have another side to them. Not just that, but the political atmosphere of the whole Marvel universe becomes ripe with readers asking the question “so, who is the bad guy?” as lines are blurred and the politics of the real world blend into the bureaucratic grey areas of the page.

As a Scotsman who just went through the referendum who grew up in Hong Kong (where there are currently riots over democracy), the political nature of the real world makes Civil War a much more relatable and powerful piece, especially if you read more titles across the Marvel universe to get differing perspectives. The sides in Civil War become so distorted that you’re not even sure what they’re fighting over or who the bad guy is, which used to be a fundamental given in comics. So really, who is the bad guy?

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Ross Graham 5 Articles
Ross Graham's hometown is a tie between the cultural city of Edinburgh, the rural county of Shropshire and the vibrant Hong Kong. He graduated from Queen Margaret University in Film & Media. He fights crime by day at the office and is an avid watcher of science fiction.

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