Monday, September 25, 2006

Civil War Shenannigans

Civil War # 4
I believe this is my first word on Marvel's uber-event, Civil War, to this point. So some quick summarization if you have in fact been living with a small family of badgers under a rock. Civil War starts off with a 9/11-like catastrophe, where hundreds of people, mostly children are killed in an accident involving the New Warriors(who have their own reality TV show ala Mike Allred's X-Factor) and there's a big outcry against superheros(this catastrophe coming on the heals of several other major disasters which have caused people to distrust heroes). As usual, politicans come in to save the day with laws, laws, and more laws. Working in conjunction with Tony Starks(Iron Man) the government has drawn up a superhero registration act, wherein all superpowered folk who intend to use their powers to fight crime, must register and recieve training like any police person might. This way there is accountability and oversight, and hopefully less a chance for a disaster. This is a very idealistic plan built out of a desire for security.

But like all security based ideas, the question of how much liberty should be given up comes into play. The other side of the coin, led suprisingly by Captain America, is that the registration act is a bad idea, and could lead to a terrible orwellian police state.

A deadline is set for all heroes to register, anyone who doesn't register is considered a criminal and sent to a secret prison built by Reed Richards(secret prisons, where have we heard that before? I'm sure nothing bad will ever happen there). Captain America takes a small group of heroes underground with him to continue to fight crime and fight against Tony Stars pro-registration group, which includes a now-unmasked Spiderman/Peter Parker.

That's the gist of the setup. It's a brilliant idea, which brings in many of the key debtates going on in this country right now over security vs. liberty, and just how much you can trust the government with your lives. I love that Millar is taking this book and making it politically relevant. I think comics, especially Marvel comics, since they are situated in the real world, owe us as the reader to engage the realities of the day. I'm not saying we need polemics from Peter Parker on every political issue, but I think it's wrong to ignore in art, what's going on in the world. The trick is to engage the ideas more than per se the specifics, so that you have something that is kind of timeless. And Millar is doing this brilliantly.

Civil War is an excellent book to read and then take with your friends and discuss and debate about. I don't know how it will work as a trade(probably still be good) but it has a wonderful power as a monthly. There's an audience aspect to the monthly comic that really enriches the experience when everyone is literally on the same page. You can kind of get the same thing with television. But I like that we've got something literary to discuss like this going around.

As far as Millar's execution of the event, he has a lot to cover. It's a huge undertaking, and I just wonder if in the end it won't end up feeling rushed. I just wish the main book could slow down in a few more places and kind of ruminate on things. Where Civil War is at it's most powerful is when Cap or Tony are engaged in the debate of the ideas. There's a part in issue four, that I don't want to spoil, but issue four is the first time I've ever started to question what Cap is doing. Cap right now is slipping dangerously into a kind of Osama-like mindset...It makes me cringe, because I want to support Cap, and I want to think Tony is evil...but I'm having questions. And that's the work of a great artist.

The artwork by Mcniven is great, I think he's doing a good job of showing doubt in some of the main players. Their words may say one thing, but their faces say another. And that's really using the medium to it's fullest. I feel like Millar and Mcniven are working in concert on this book wonderfully.

To call this a must-buy would be a huge understatement. This may end up being Marvel's Watchmen. This could be one of those books that ushers in a new era for the funny pages. Don't wait for the trade to come out. Pick up the monthly and then go find a friend and make them pick up the monthly, then start talking about the book.

Cable/Deadpool #31 (Civil War Tie-In)
This is Fabian Nicienza's book. It's been awhile since I've checked in on everyone's favorite merc with a mouth, and mutant with a messiah complex, and honestly not a lot has changed. Deadpool is still a goofball who is constantly attacking the fourth wall. Cable is still annoying. the art doesn't seem as bombastic as I remember in the first trade.

But yeah. It's a decent book. I always enjoy a little deadpool. It also has a confrontation between Bush and Cable/Deadpool that should be seen.

What's weird is that Fabian's Deadpool is really the kind of character that Warren Ellis wants for his Nextwave book. I don't think there's anyone in Nextwave who is as bonkers as Deadpool...blah blah blah. I should get off Nextwave's butt. But it's such a popular book, that it boggles my mind. Deadpool is a hundred times funnier than anything in Nextwave--and it's the same type of humor. I don't know. Deadpool's humor has that extra kick because he talks to the reader more and since he's also in the book, maybe I connect more with what he says, than anything in Nextwave.

Cable/Deadpool is kind of a middle of the road book though. I'd pick it up for a laugh every now and again. Everyone needs their Deadpool fix. Which by the way, a Ryan Reynolds led Deadpool a FANTASTIC IDEA. Make it happen marvel.

Moon Knight #5
This is a book I really like. Or want to like. The artwork is gritty. The characters are all drug-maniacs in deep deep mental traumas. It's sort of got that Dark Knight Returns vibe to it. And Huston does this really cool trick constantly where similar to the Pirate Boat comic chapter in Watchmen, he'll have the dialouge bleeding over captions, and other dialouge from diffrent times and places in the story, and he'll have other characters dialouge fit for--well the example in this book is the Taskmaster is beating the crap out of Marc Spector(Moon Knight), giving a lengthy speech complaining about his problems while doing so. Meanwhile over the top of this is this group that's been watching Spector for the last 5 issues, talking about Spector and what they're going to do to him and his family. And the whole thing for the most part fits. You can read the Taskmaster's speech as responses to the committee video tape that is playing in the background, and those responses seem to fit what Spector would say, or you can read it as two diffrent things going on at the same time--it's just this very cool comic book trick playing with context. And Huston does it every book. I don't know when I'll get tired of the trick, maybe never. But it gives every page a denseness that it wouldn't otherwise have. It's like getting twice the book.

That said, Huston needs to hustle it up. It's issue 5 and Marc Spector is still in full wallow. I'm questioning whether Huston has enough plot lined up once the inevitable happens and Moon Knight is back and kicking.

Also as a side note...when Moon Knight says "Vegengence" in full page so so corny. Don't do that again. A book like this that is written by such a talented guy, should come up with better things to say. This is not that kind of book.

Right now Moon Knight is in that top bracket of books I look for every month. But if Huston doesn't pick it up, I could quickly get tired of the whole thing. Right now this book is being carried by the strength of Huston's writing and the artwork. But the plot is about as interesting a wake for that relative you only sort of know, with a family you would rather not. PICK UP THE PACE WRITER GUY!

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