Civil War # 1

 

Opening arguments

 

JASON: This is going to be long enough as it is, so I’m keeping this short. I’m walking into this book loving the concept. There are so many ways this could turn out beautifully. There are also so many ways this could…not. My biggest worries right now are that I don’t trust the writer; Millar’s got a lot of ground to make up for to make me a believer in him. I also don’t trust Quesada. It’s my personal opinion, that on a creative standpoint, he’s the worst thing to happen to Marvel. (If you disagree, go for it. That’s why it’s called a ‘personal opinion.’) That being said, this is high profile enough that I’m thinking they covered their bases and we’ll get a great story outta this (I’m not sure if it could get worse than the Illuminati special).

MICHAEL: I’m very ambivalent going into this (if only I could be ambidextrous … dear God I’ve been single for too long). On one hand,  the Illuminati special has me really hyped about this issue and really excited about how this will all play out. On the other hand, however, Millar writing this does fill me with a bit of trepidation. Why? I loved his Swamp Thing, honestly thought Wanted was the next generation’s Watchmen, dug Aztek, The Unfunnies, and other stuff of his. But what haven’t I liked? Ultimates, Ultimate X-Men, and that godawful Spidey run he did (the first four issues were totally fine, but after that it slowly but surely devolved into a cesspool of unreadability). So essentially I’ve liked everything from Millar except that which deals with mainstream heroes. But this is such an amazing concept, there’s no way he could screw this up, right?      Right?

JASON: Hm. I thought Morrison wrote Aztek, oh well.

MICHAEL: It was co-written by the two of them.

 

Cover.

MICHAEL: Okay, so right off the bat Marvel drops the ball here. WTF were they thinking? What I don’t understand is that all the previews for the CW covers were so beautiful. They had the widescreen shot in the middle of the page, black above and below, so that it was reminiscent of watching a letterbox film. Just a beautifully simplistic design that underscores the idea of there being ‘two sides’ to the argument (a top and a bottom). Instead we get this overly foofy white and red design that—while it doesn’t look horrible, certainly could be better and was better in the solicits! I’m not past the cover and this is already not living up to what they promised; this seems a bad omen.

JASON: While the cover doesn’t ruin anything for me, I do understand what you’re saying. I think it would have been better if, using the letterbox format they didn’t in the previews, the top was black and the bottom was white. Kinda of tie it all together thematically.

 

Page One

JASON: Because when I think “gripping Super-Hero drama” I think “Stamford. Connecticut”

MICHAEL: Oh, and “Control Room, WTNH-Channel 8” was any better?

JASON: Wait. These guys are on the FBI Most Wanted List? For what, exactly? Has Speedfreek been selling ripped copies of The Da Vinci Code or something? Cobalt Man tear the tag off his mattress? At least Coldheart makes sense, I mean she's fought Spidey... once.

MICHAEL: You can tell they’re hardcore ‘cause they’re taking out their trash. So they’re smart villains. Dumb villains would just let it pile up.

Also, wow. I’m assuming the point here is to show how non-threatening the NW think these guys are, since they escaped Ryker’s—not even the cool Raft prison thing from over in Navengers.

 

Page Two

JASON: Ah, the New Warriors. Well, except they're not really “new.” They've been around for a while. Heck, their second public appearance they took on Terrax, a former Herald of Galactus, in the middle of a very crowded Central Park. Our resident futurist Tony Stark couldn't have been talking about these guys.

MICHAEL: Dude, I remember them. I loved their series. 1990 or so, right? So, yeah, not that new, and not really children. Nicieza at his best, though, I thought. And though I normally love Jay Faerber, I totally couldn’t get into his relaunch. I’m sure he had good intentions, though. So Speedball’s here with Night Thrasher & Rage and all them? I didn’t know they were still around.

Man, I don’t recognize any of these characters. Ah, well. Teams change.

I guess they’re a reality TV show group now? That seems like it could be an interesting concept.

Six months going around the Midwest and the best they found was a bum with a  spray can? Dude, I’m from the Midwest. Let me tell you: you can find lots and lots more fights with drunk hicks than you could imagine. And while they might become repetitive, they’re certainly more interesting than a bum with a spray can. Have you not seen Heathers, Millar?

Also, maybe the understanding is that they’ve now left the Midwest, but it doesn’t really read that way. I know Millar’s Scottish, but you’d think he’d know that Connecticut isn’t in the Midwest. Or really near there.

Nova! I remember her. And Justice, right? Back when he was known as … crap. Something else. Don’t remember his name back then. Remember when he went on trial for manslaughter? Pretty sure he got convicted. And then he joined the Avengers. Hm. Again, another much better time for people to be anti-superheroes. Ah well.

Hey, nice detail work on the art actually including the zit Speedball mentions there. Dude, I’m two pages in and I’m digging this book. I feel good.

JASON: Um. Nova’s a he. And Justice was formally known as Astro Boy. Justice is a much better name.

 

 

Page Three

MICHAEL: Why does Coldheart yell, before anything else, “get in costumes!” If she and her gang are hiding out in an unknown junky house in rural Connecticut, doesn’t it seem they’d maybe want to get away before anything else?

JASON: Maybe she saw the camera and figured she’d look better in spandex.

 

Page Four

JASON: Ironically, according to a FBI report  in 2005, Stamford was considered the safest city with a population over 100,000 to live in.

MICHAEL: Dude. I’m digging this fight. At first I thought Speedball’s line was just stupid, but then I realized he’s doing it to show off for the camera. This is surreal and fun.

JASON: Eh. I suppose it is in it’s own way. I just think the Warriors being in it only for a paycheck is just too far removed from their original concept.

MICHAEL: True, dat, but since I barely recognize them as the original team, I’ll run with it.

 

Page Five, Panel 1

JASON: Hm, maybe Coldfire is on the most wanted list because of her stinging wit?

MICHAEL: Maybe these guys like stole some laptop with a bunch of people’s social security numbers on it or something; that’s happening a lot lately, and that’d probably get you bumped pretty quickly. Also, and this is probably a bit of a stretch, but I’ve heard a lot of rumors about how the FBI will sometimes bump people onto their Ten Most Wanted List if they’re about to bust them. If they have a sting setup for persons X, Y, & Z, they’ll put them on the list on Tuesday, then carry out the sting on Friday. That way the three they bumped go right back on the list very quickly, so no real harm there, and they look like heroes. Knowing Millar’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist enthusiast, maybe he’s slyly referencing this.

 

Page Five, Panel 2

JASON: Ich, Goldfish Girl's response was pretty weak.

MICHAEL: Yeah, she could’ve been all like, ‘I think you’re the one whose memory’s gonna be cut real short here, babe.’ Or maybe, ‘No, you’re the one who needs to get used to life in a tiny little cage.’ Or, ‘and in your case it’s totally true, Chuckles!’

 

 Page Five, Panel 4

JASON: Night Trasher or Bondage Queen—whose side are you on?

 

Page Six, Panel 3

JASON: Ouch. Bet that hurt. Lucky for all of those schoolchildren that Nitro doesn't have super strength; a blow like that should put him out for hours…

MICHAEL: Whew! That’s comforting. We could’ve been in trouble there!

 

Page Six, Panel 4

JASON: ... or not.

MICHAEL: Though, if you look closely, he doesn’t really move between now and the explosion. Maybe she broke his neck and he’s only able to talk and go blooey. Maybe that’s half the reason he does it—to reconstitute himself in a non-neck-broken sort of way.

JASON: Benefit of the doubt? I think I can give that to them.

 

Page 7

JASON: I can buy that Nitro's power is to blow himself up. I'm fine with that, but are you trying to tell me that when he fought Iron Man and Daredevil and who have you that he never even tried to make an explosion of that size before? “Gee Daredevil, you're right next to me hitting me in the head.. I guess I could just take the whole block down and you with it, but man... I'm not in the mood.”

MICHAEL: Yeah, that’s pretty ridiculous. Secondary mutation? Also, dude. Panel 3 is totally a Robotech homage.

So right now I’m thinking, ‘this sucks, but it’s not like the MU hasn’t seen worse.’ Seriously, if this is the whole reasoning behind CW happening, that’s pretty f#*!ing weak. I mean, okay, some kids were killed and I guess that ups the stakes, but I still don’t think it’s enough to totally change the opinion of every single human being in the MU.

 

Page Eight-Nine

JASON: The Marvel heroes gaze upon the wreckage that has been Joe Quesada's tenure as EIC. Within the last few years, Marvel's had chunks of Manhattan blow up. Twice.

MICHAEL: Twice? Off the top of my head, I can think of three (Thor early in the Jurgens run; FF during—I think—Waid’s run, with the green stuff; and Avengers during the Kang stuff—that is where his big swordship hit, isn’t it? Maybe it hit DC).

Then again, Manhattan is a big island. I guess.

JASON: A couple of blocks of Philly exploded. I'm sure if I thought about it I'd be able to name few more instances of Marvel cities touching the sky. My point is this: what makes Stamford so special that The Avengers, the FF, and the X-Men all pitch in to clean up? I can't believe that no children were killed in any of those other incidents. So why this one? Slow super-villain day? Speaking of slow, I love how Iron Man and Cap are just kinda standing there. “Man, I want to clean... but I'm just so bummed.”

MICHAEL: They’re just there for the photo-op. Beautiful splash, even if all your reasoning here is totally spot on. I guess the difference is ‘kids dying in the midst of a tragedy’ vs. an explosion at a school. But I admit, pretty weak, and yeah. Why in God’s name the heroes are all out cleaning up I have no clue. The last time I can remember heroes showing up like this during a clean-up was for 9/11, and that killed around 2400 people—a hell of a lot more than the number who got blasted here.

JASON: I guess having Damage Control out there with shovels doesn’t make for a stirring splash page.

MICHAEL: Damage Control was a Marvel thing? I totally thought was a DC thing. Dude, I would’ve been making tons of snarky Damage Control comments by now had I realized.

And what I really want to see:

 

Page Ten, Panel 1.

MICHAEL: A pickup truck? Ummm. Right. Cause that worked so well for, say, Timothy McVeigh. Getting a little more gaytarded, Millar. Let’s snap it back into shape here.

Oh, also, why isn’t anyone mentioning Speedball? He’d still be alive; his power is he stores up kinetic energy and can use it to bounce. Hence … Speedball. So, like, he might be in friggin’ Kentucky by now or something, but you’d think someone would have noticed the blond kid shooting through the air and landing reallllllly hard.

Oooh, Cap and IM already disagreeing! This is totally set-up!

 

Page Ten, Panel 2

JASON: Ok, now I have to ask, why the New Warriors? Regardless of the name, the Warriors have been around for nearly 15 years, real time. I know I harp on it, but they've fought a Herald of Galactus. Ok, ok, sure. Silver Surfer showed up and helped them out, but still. They're not wet behind the ears by any account. I think this would have been better served by having the Young Avengers, or similar team do this. I think it would have been more believable to veteran readers.

MICHAEL: Definitely. I just read the first YA trade, and honestly, considering both Tony and Cap voice those exact suspicions (you guys are out of your league, something terrible is going to happen) in there, it seems like that would’ve fit a hell of a lot better. Of course, I guess they needed a group they could pretty much kill off, and Heinberg probably wouldn’t’ve been too keen on them wiping out his team. Still, though, there have to be some other teams out there that would’ve worked better, right? I mean, maybe the idea is that most of the NW now are newbies? Are they? I know Speedy’s been around forever, and Namorita I’ve at least seen before (granted, it was in Exiles, so I doubt it was even MU 666 Namorita, but she’s at least been established), and Nova, yeah. These other guys I’ve never heard of. (Unless Night Thrasher is the old Night Thrasher, but that chick called it Bondage Queen, so I assumed this was a chick Night Thrasher—unless, wait. Did she take over at the end of the NW run? Crap, it’s been forever since I’ve read that. Hey, remember who else was on the NW for a while? Ben Reilly! Have I mentioned I have a way to bring him back?)

JASON: Night Thrasher is the original, which means he’s a he. Hence the joke of calling him a queen.  As for YA, I almost thought that they were being set up for this, Marvel got cold feet when they saw the sales figures, but then I remember how well written it is and couldn’t believe that Heinberg would put that much effort into a team that would end up being ionized.

MICHAEL: Wait, wait, Night Thrasher is the original from the NW comic by Nicieza? Then this concept for them is totally crazy. I guess I need to read the NW issues to see how it was handled, but considering the whole character concept for NT seemed to kind of fly in the face of someone who’d do something like this, now I’m much more with you when you say this is far removed from their original concept.

JASON: I could be wrong, I thought the concept sounded bad from the beginning, so I never read the mini.

 

Page Ten, Panel 3

JASON: Notice Iron Man and Cap, still just standing around back there?

MICHAEL: They’re supervising. They’re like the middle management of superheroes. They’re like Gary Cole in Office Space. They’re above all that menial bulls#!%.

 

Page Ten, Panel 4

JASON: Thank you, camera man #4.

MICHAEL: God, yes. Wolverine’s not the only one with a redhead fetish.

 

Page Eleven, Panel 3.

MICHAEL: This panel is for all of you asking, ‘But what about the children?!?’

JASON: Wait, there were children there?

 

Page Eleven, Panel 4

JASON: The Sentinels, who are now piloted and work for the government, are just standing around rassin' the X-Man. It's like, if Captain Friggin' America's not gonna look for survivors, then why the hell should they?

MICHAEL: Yeah, what the hell is up with the Sentinels here? My X-knowledge is like … ‘Grant Morrison left, then there was the House of M business, and then Decimation.’ But I have no clue why Sentinels are hanging out with Wolverine.

JASON: They hang out at the Mansion to “protect” the last remaining powered mutants.

 

Page Eleven, Panel 5

JASON: I really liked this. Sure, watching the Sentinels in action is about like watching vaudeville, so why would this woman think that they could protect anything? But still, in the middle of everything—mutants are hated and feared. Nice touch.

MICHAEL: ‘Mommy, isn’t this stretching credibility a little thin? I mean, this whole business is hanging on a tenuous thread already, but to have the f#*$ing X-Men and Avengers out here moving rubble rather than going after the villains that caused it, isn’t that a bit contrived if not downright implausible?’

 

Page Twelve, Panel 2

JASON: “Besides, it's a union break... 'Bub'.”

MICHAEL: This panel is not suggestive at all. ‘You can’t see me as I caress my joystick … now bend over and pick up some more rubble, Wolverine. Awwww, yeah.’

 

Page Twelve, Panel 4

JASON: You know, I can't help but think if this were written in the 80's I'd actually believe that these events led up to Civil War. Instead this just feels like they’ve picked three random events that recently happened, and felt like that was good enough.

MICHAEL: Yeah, um, is this seriously meant to be our logical reasoning behind why the registration bill gets introduced? I mean, I’m totally fine with them throwing in three random recent disasters, but not as the setup to the f*#&ing book! That’s just totally unacceptable. Seriously. Please tell me you have more than this.

 

Page Twelve, Panel 5.

MICHAEL: Who can justify this? Joe Quesada, I guess.

 

Page Thirteen, Panel 1

JASON: I’m with She-Hulk, that does sound like a good idea. Does anybody remember when the Avengers were funded by the UN, and did practically everything the government is asking the ProReg group to do? I suppose Marvel doesn’t…

MICHAEL: They were disassembled! So anything that happened before that didn’t happen. Because those stories were all probably very, very stupid. Except the Kree-Skrull War.

JASON: Thank you, Bendis.

 

Page Thirteen, Panel 2:

jf; Holy crap! Look down in the lower right of the panel! The Stamford tragedy was so distressing that Gwen Stacy came back from the dead to cry about it! I wonder if she’s going to pay Norman Osborn a conjugal visit after this?

MICHAEL: Okay, it doesn’t even look like Gwen. Besides, you know Marvel’s policy: not another Gwen!

So how dumb is it that the preacher/reverend/minister says that about the superheroes? I could maybe buy him calling them ‘misguided,’ but saying their “carelessness caused this tragedy”???? WTF? Is he being mind-controlled?

JASON: That is soooo Gwen.

MICHAEL: *Weeps silently*.

 

Page Thirteen, Panel 3.

MICHAEL: Wow, 600 dead and they only got a two-hour memorial service? I think weekly Catholic Mass lasts longer than this. Must be an Episcopal church.

 

Page Fourteen, Panel 1

JASON: Sweet merciful heavens! Tony looks horrified by that spittle. Maybe it’s not horror, maybe he’s just in awe at how long and perfect that wad of spit is. Really, she must have been saving that during the whole ceremony. Just swishing it back in forth in her mouth, waiting until she could get past Tony’s utterly useless bodyguard and jettison that gob in his face.

MICHAEL: Speaking of that bodyguard, it looks like his face might be in the process of exploding.

 

Page Fourteen, Panel 3

JASON: Sissist. Bodyguard. Ever.

MICHAEL: Yeah! Drag him away for … being civic-minded. ‘You good-hearted sonofabitch! I read your booook!’

 

Page Fourteen, Panel 4.

JASON: Yeah, Tony! You and and your stinking money has prevented North America from being vaporized, conquered, or nuked back to the stone age 47 times. You bastard!

MICHAEL: Check out the pictures of those kids over at the sides of the panels. They were all geeks, anyway. Nobody’s going to miss them.

JASON: Except for their guildmates on World of Warcraft.

 

Page Fifteen, Panel 1.

JASON: Ok, honestly. Her son was killed, and I understand that. She needs to vent. I understand that. She needs someone she can confront, someone she can get angry at because the universe can be a cold and cruel place. And since she can’t yell at God, she yells at someone who plays God. I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that is truly the worst bodyguard in existence.

MICHAEL:  It’s true! His line? “Somebody get her outta here…” Yeah. Like a bodyguard!

And dear God, look at that! Tony is still wiping the spit off his face! That really was a hell of a loogie. Tony’s like, ‘is this corn?

 

Page Fifteen, Panel 3.

MICHAEL: Nope, not buying it. Her rage would’ve burned out by now … unless she runs on rage! Look at her motivations—to cause a rift in the human/hero relations of the world! She’s totally the Hatemonger! OMG!

JASON: I can buy her still being angry; her son died. Grief really sucks. I still think she’s the Hate-Monger though.

 

Page Fifteen, Panel 4

JASON: I so hope Parker is thinking about getting a restraining order right about now.

MICHAEL: Bad touch, Jonah. Bad touch.

 

Page Fifteen, Panel 5

JASON: Speedball couldn’t name the president of the United States? Somebody better get him off the streets before he kills someone! Oh. Oh, yeah. Right. Sorry.

MICHAEL: I think that just makes him a great example of American perseverance. Here was a kid who was apparently functionally retarded and he made himself into a hero and television star!

Also, I know this is just bitching now, but honestly, considering the loving detail I thought was put into the first couple of pages … that text scrawl is far too long. It should say just, “Superhero Registration?” A catchy phrase followed by the question mark so it’s not spawning any litigation.

 

Page Sixteen, Panel 1

JASON: “Wee, I’m a stealth bomber!”

MICHAEL: Where is “Things Turn Ugly”? Is that in upstate New York? Seems like everything is in upstate New York in the MU. I think f#*$ing Chicago is up there.

JASON:  “Turn right at Things Turn Ugly, go about seven blocks until you hit Hollywood- if you hit Minneapolis, you’ve gone too far. Then make another right, and you should be able to see Mexico.”

 

Page Sixteen, Panel 3

JASON: Sweet! Millar actually nailed Johnny’s attitude with that line! It gives me hope for this scene.

MICHAEL: Johnny? I thought that was that dude from FFX.

 

Page Sixteen, Panel 4

JASON:  Paris and Lindsay? Is this comic big enough for the both of them? Which side are you on? (And yes, I plan on forcing that joke as often as I can. Best prepare yourself for it now).

MICHAEL: Right here I would really like to make the joke, ‘on that issue, I’m right in the middle,’ but Paris scares the hell out of me.

That chick’s pissed that Johnny Storm’s getting in before her. I could honestly almost accept that as reasoning behind half the country turning on superheroes more than the weak-ass explanation we’ve gotten so far.

JASON:  Do not piss off yuppie club-hoppers, they make the Hulk look like Nancy Regan.

 

Page Sixteen, Panel 5:

JASON: Nice, Johnny, you got her on that one.

Or maybe not.  I gotta admit, that was a nice comeback. She really should be doing standup.

MICHAEL: Or heckling others doing standup. But yeah, definitely a nice comeback.

 

Page Sixteen, Panel 6

JASON: But that was just plan rude. Jerk.

MICHAEL: But don’t you get it? It’s a Vietnam reference; this book has layers, man!

 

Page Seventeen, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: So there’s a large black dude dissing on Johnny Storm, saying he should be ashamed of other members of the type of people he runs with? This is brilliant reasoning here.

“I was you, I’d be ashamed to go outside.” Why? Because Johnny is also a ‘superhero’? Totally tracks. It’s like saying that since a black man has, in the history of the world, killed another man, this guy should be ashamed about being black. Or who knows, maybe his job is steering an oil tanker. Whoops, got him there, too. Or maybe he’s a prison guard. D’oh! Postal worker? No … damn. There’s got to be a profession and race that’ll make this guy totally independent and not affiliated with any sort of group that has at one time, intentionally or unintentionally, caused property damage and/or physical harm.

Give me a minute.

 

Page Seventeen, Panel 3

JASON: John Storm, back alley baby killer- coming to you this fall on the Sci Fi Channel.

MICHAEL:Tubby’’s friend there has on … visors? He needs to giggle and lick his lips a lot, then he’d be a perfect 80s bully. Wasn’t he in Back to the Future II?

JASON: No way! That dude is so scene!

 

Page Seventeen, Panel 5

JASON: Ok. So, Nitro--who has no super strength--is thrown into a bus hard enough to make a dent the size of Galatcus’ butt crack, but he just smirks it off and kills a bunch of people. Meanwhile, Johnny “Flame On” Storm gets a bottle to the noggin and he’s down faster then a prom date? What the hell did they do? Aim for his ego?

MICHAEL: Also, and I hate to get into discussions like this because it seems a little too fanboyish for my tastes, but wouldn’t his ‘flame abilities’ spark into existence if he sensed a physical threat? Maybe not, I don’t know that much about Johnny, but it seems like if this kind of ‘hypersensitivity’ can save the Hulk from a bullet, the same would apply to Johnny.

JASON:  No, part of Hulk power-set is survivability- he’ll find a way to live through damn near anything. I’m more just annoyed because Johnny’s taken far worse hits then this during spats with the Thing. Normally that would just be a minor quibble point for me, but this book has so many of them they’re starting to stack up.

MICHAEL: Yeah, hey, didn’t Johnny and Ben fight for like an entire issue, both staying conscious, in the background during that MK Spidey run written by none other than Mark Millar?

 

Page Seventeen, Panel 7

MICHAEL: So apparently hero Johnny Storm is held down and sodomized by a gang of angry multicultural people? This seems ludicrous. Even if they’d knocked him out, I think the more realistic reaction would have been shock and a sense of ‘holy s#!^, what did we just do?’ rather than a very Ghostbusters-esque ‘get him!’

And I think we’re all missing the real victims here: Paris and Lindsay. They were promised Johnny Storm, and now they’ll have to make do with the drugs and the empty sex with hot Latinos. Why, God, why am I not a hot Latino from New York? Sigh.

 

Page Eighteen, Panel 2

JASON: To butcher a MST3K line: This issue’s bring you more “…the hell?” moments per page then any book this year. In this case, most of them center around Dr. Strange. Let’s start with the most obvious one first. Didn’t he say, and I quote, “Never call upon me again.” What in the blue hell is he doing here?

MICHAEL: I assumed he was talking to the Illuminati when he said that, not the superhero community at large.

JASON:  “Doc, this is Tony. No! Don’t hang up again-. Damn. *dialing phone* Doc, I really need to talk to-. Damn. *dialing phone* Wong. This is Tony. Yeah, I know the Doc doesn’t want to talk to me. Could you please tell… well could you tell him I’m sorry. I was kinda a jerk, and well I just want to see him again. Please Wong, tell him I just want another chance.”

JASON: And why doesn’t he seemed pissed about any of this? Why isn’t he giving Tony a mystical wedgie and screaming “I told you so!” at him?

MICHAEL: Um. That would be wrong?

JASON: No, Wong is Dr. Strange’s manservant.

JASON:  Here’s the most important question, though: the government is willing to seek a compromise with some heroes? Doesn’t that completely negate the entire point of Civil War? “You’re all guns, and guns need to be registered. Except for the guns that really scare us, you guys--you’re doing great! Keep it up.” Wouldn’t those that are the most powerful be the ones they want registered the most? If I wasn’t so interested in what everyone here is drinking, I’d probably of just skipped past this scene in frustration.

MICHAEL: I just have a problem with the whole idea of a bunch of superheroes—most of whom have no affiliations that I know of, kicking it in the Baxter Building reception area. Like, what the hell? This is suddenly a social soiree? If you go to floor seven, are there sex parties (or, as I like to call them, ‘post-talking parties’)?

JASON: Oh, and “Post-Humans”? I can take that phrase in two ways. First is that the current regime at Marvel hates superheroes so much that they don’t even want to call them that anymore. As fun as this theory is, I don’t really believe it. The second, and more likely, is that means the government plans on compromising with some supervillains as well as the good guys. Wonderful. This right here folks, take a good hard look at it, this is where they start to vilify the Pro-Reggers, thereby making one side right and one side wrong.

MICHAEL: Also just the undertone to what he’s saying. What he’s meaning is, ‘you don’t have to worry, Stephen.’ Because registering is something to worry about (i.e., it’s bad). It’s not even so much that they’re vilifying those who choose to sign-up, they’re just presenting the act itself as something born totally out of mob hysteria and lunacy (and that Hatemonger—though maybe we should call her Spithawker now or something--chick).

Oh, and I’m pretty sure ‘post-human’ is just a big Millar/Ellis catchword. I doubt he even noticed he used it here. Though I don’t think it really applies to Strange, does it? I mean … he’s a sorcerer, that doesn’t really make him someone imbued with special powers or whatever, does it? I know that sounds bit retarded, but if magic is just like ley lines, natural forces, other s#!^ like that, then isn’t he just like a geomancer rather than a guy who can fly?

Man, Tony looks despondent here. I guess he’s sad because he can’t drink. You’d think the Richardses would’ve realized this and stocked some raspberry lemonade or something. And check out Wolverine. He’s totally listening in on the conversation. ‘And then what’d you say, Strange? Huh? Oh, yeah? That sounds cool. And Reed? You were there, too. Hahahah. You guys are so cool.’

 

Page Nineteen, Panel 1

JASON: To parrot my esteemed colleague…

MICHAEL: I like to think of myself as the Distinguished Competition.

JASON: …isn’t that what the Avengers are for? Or any of the other superhero, I mean post human, teams funded by the government? You know, like the old X-Factor, or Freedom Force were, or Sentinel Squadron ONE could be if they wished it?

MICHAEL: Which obliquely brings up an interesting question: Spidey was an Avenger for a while, wasn’t he? And when they were government-funded? So how the hell was he an Avenger and they allowed him to keep his secret identity?

JASON: Back in the late 80’s Spidey went into space and helped the Avengers bust Nebula- a chick that clamed to be Thanos’s daughter. After Cap realized that Spidey’s quips are a real morale boost, Spider-Man was offered membership. Spidey declined on the grounds that that space stuff wasn’t really for him, so Cap asked if he would mind being put on a reserve status in cause of a global emergency. Spider-Man accepted. I would assume that due to the informal nature of his reserve membership, no secret id’s were exchanged. Of course Spidey is currently a member of the Avengers, by they’re not affiliated with any government right now.

 

Page Nineteen, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: Wow, look at that smug look on Reed’s face. Reed Richards, bigot (he even calls him “son”!).

 

Page Nineteen, Panel 3.

MICHAEL: The “general consensus,” Cyke? Take off that goddamned 1974-inspired costume. Please.

JASON: Scott has no idea what anyone is even talking about. He’s been over at the bean dip for the last hour.

 

Page Nineteen, Panel 4

JASON: Tony’s moment of clarity was when he was so drunk that he thought the Wendigo was just a hippy chick and they almost went back to the penthouse.

MICHAEL: Is this some sort of backhanded attack against Sasquatch? She’s quite beautiful in her own way, you know.

JASON: He, Michael. Sasquatch is a He. I hoping that you’re just thinking of the time Snowbird (who’s a She) took the form of Sasquatch for a while.

MICHAEL: Am I thinking of Tanarak or something like that? The big hairy chick in Exiles for a while? Thought that was Sasquatch.

JASON: I get cha now. You were thinking Exiles Sasquatch, and I was thinking Alpha Flight  Sasquatch.

 

Page Nineteen, Panel 5

JASON: “The masks are a tradition”? Thanks Sam, for providing absolutely nothing constructive to this debate. I know this is early in the issue, but I have a feeling this is going to be the beginning of a trend. The Anti-Reg side is so much more difficult to portray, so they’re going to resort to things like the above statement to try to make a point. Instead, it’s going to make them sound like petulant five year olds.

MICHAEL: Also, why the hell didn’t someone reply with, ‘yeah, well, “whites only” was a strong tradition, too, son’?

 

Page Nineteen, Panel 6

JASON: Did the Thing just make a dig toward mutants? By the rims of Stan Lee’s glasses! I am almost to Illuminati levels of frustration here!

MICHAEL: Maybe wealth has changed Thing, man. It always changes you and makes you, like, totally unhip.

 

Page Twenty, Panel 1.

MICHAEL: I am seriously worried that they feel this is an example of good ‘characterization’ (the idea that Spidey is on the ceiling). ‘Cause he’d totally do that!’ I’m not saying he wouldn’t, I’m just saying I fear this is as far into the whole ‘defining a character’ thing they’re going to do from here on out.

Also, why is Black Cat so surprised that he’s there? If everyone else is there, and he’s a Navenger now … did she not hear that he’s not dead any more?

JASON: Maybe he pays her twenty bucks to shout his name every time she see him.

MICHAEL: MJ: Peter, why does the checking account have 37 checks written out to Felicia Hardy and every time the memo is ‘not for sex’??

 

Page Twenty, Panel 2

 

JASON: Ok humble readers, let’s all jump into the way back machine, and go to that strange and foreign time known as January 2006. The subplot in Fantastic Four #533-535 (Jan-April ’06- I know, they missed a month), was child protection services wanting to take Reed and Sue’s children away from an unsafe environment. The culmination of the storyline consisted of the Richards’ proving that, no matter how secret the government things the information is, their children are not safe anywhere else but with them. So, coming off the high of telling Ol’ Uncle Sam where to shove it, Reed decides that it’s ok for the government to keep a couple of thousand superher  Post-Human id’s secret. And Sue agrees? …The hell? A quick glance at the credits of this book list of one writer, two assistant editors, an associate editor, an editor, and an editor in chief. Do any of them read a single damn book that they produce? FF # 535 firmly puts Reed and Sue in the ConReg camp, and yet this little nugget slips past FIVE f’n editors?

MICHAEL: But they don’t wear masks, see. If they don’t wear masks, I find it ridiculous that they would have felt that way. Therefore, let’s ignore that story.

Sigh. But seriously.

See, here’s my problem: my assumption is that Mark Millar has not read that storyline—which is fine. But this is what editors are for. And from many of the comments I’ve read from Quesada, Millar, & others, it seems like Mark has been totally willing to change things around and reorganize shit to fit other people’s plans better (the ‘big reveal’ in issue two wasn’t originally part of his story, for one shining example). Also, didn’t you read somewhere that the panel way back on like page ten or so was like, ‘Black Goliath mentions some recent disasters in the MU’? So, obviously, Mark’s more interested in the overall story here than getting little things like this right. But that’s a huge problem when we consider that the whole point of the ‘debate’ over the bill is, where does everyone stand ideologically? I mean, Tony thinks it’s a bad idea, but thinks not going along with it is worse. I can totally buy, from that logic, that he’s ProReg. Spidey’s Tony’s bitch, so I’m all for his stance (he doesn’t want it, but he’ll do it if need be). But seriously, so much of this just seems to be random sides chosen for really shallow reasons. Like, okay, Mark hadn’t read the Acts of Vengeance crossover or the recent Straczynski story; understandable. But you’re absolutely right, an editor should’ve caught that.

But from everything I’ve seen, Marvel’s new policy on what an editor should be is ‘someone who copies pages and pimps this s#!t out on Newsarama.’ Which is really what an assistant editor is for. I have no clue what those poor bastards are relegated to doing if the editor is essentially doing their job. And we know the whole EiC position is pretty much worthless anymore. Sigh.

Also, remember wayyyy back in Illuminati, when Reed was like, “time for me to go fight with my wife for the rest of my life over this” because he was Pro-Reg? I mean, hell, I can even buy that IM’s arguments swayed him at some point, but jeez. Apparently he doesn’t know his wife very well if she’s all hunky dory with the idea, huh?

 

Page Twenty, Panel 3

JASON: Daredevil. I’m sure the five eagle eyed editors noticed that he’s currently in jail, so I’m assuming that’s not Matt Murdock. So, that means it’s either- Hawkeye, Bullseye, or Two Face.

MICHAEL: He’s got a quarter ready to flip; my money’s on Bullseye.

Also, from page ten or so, the Black Goliath quote I just mentioned:

“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back, you mark my words.”

From this panel (Daredevil):

“Stamford’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Apparently Mark Millar hates camels?

Also, I think Nighthawk makes a damn good point here, if only this were the real world. I mean, seriously, look at the immigration situation right now. Everyone seems to agree that we should do something, but all the resolutions before the Senate keep getting voted down because no one can be made happy on such a huge issue. Now, on one hand, I understand that they want to jump into the storyline, so as I said earlier, I’m totally fine with them blurring the line about what’s necessary for a bill to be passed by both houses of Congress. On the other hand, I think a damn good idea would’ve been to, essentially, do a “Civil War: Prelude” issue (kind of like the Illuminati issue) that covered the ground about up to here plot-wise, then have this brew in the background of the MU for maybe six months or so before you jumped into the actual ‘civil war’ that tears people apart. (To keep interest alive, you have a few storylines that come out of the Stamford massacre—like the Wolverine storyline—keep building up, as well as some other stuff that I’ll come back to later.)

JASON: You mean do something that makes is look like they really have a story here and not just a sound bite? Wow, that would have been cool.

 

Page Twenty, Panel 4

JASON:  Or Gambit, but I’m sure it’s not Matt Murdock. Because he’s in jail.

 

Page Twenty-One, Panel 1

JASON: Thank Kirby! A scene change.

 

Page Twenty-One, Panel 2

JASON: “Bobby. Sarah. Donny.”

MICHAEL:  “Chief.”

JASON: “MacLeod!”

 

Page Twenty-One, Panel 3

JASON: Hill? Nope. She’s not evil, she normally looks Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle.

MICHAEL: ‘You think they’re going to go for it? Because those twenty-three are really all we care about in the grand scheme of things. Not like there aren’t hundreds of other post-humans out there.’

 

Page Twenty-One, Panel 4.

MICHAEL: Why in god’s name are they already at loggerheads here? As far as I know, Cap’s been totally fine with the new SHIELD post-Fury, hasn’t he? I mean, Fury going undercover didn’t make Cap jump out of the damn helicarrier and start a revolution, so I doubt he would be in a pissing contest with Hill right off the bat here.

And see, hearkening back to my comments about needing this superhero registration bill issue kind of swirling around the MU for a while (like that loogie Hatemonger lunged at IM—hey, does Hatemonger spread hate through DNA? That spit would work well for doing that…) and doing some more lead-ins, this would be a perfect opportunity right here. This whole scene plays out as if Cap and Hill are enemies from the get-go. Are they? Why would they be? And even if they are, Cap isn’t technically a member of SHIELD (right?), so why should he care? Can’t he just go over Hill’s head and talk to the damn president?

JASON: Cap and Hill really don’t like either, but this escalation feels way too fast. I’m pretty sure that Cap is a SHIELD agent,  but hell, these days, who isn’t? And yes, yes, he could just go to the president.

 

Page Twenty-Two, Panel 1

JASON:  See, Cap knows this because he hangs out with a futurist. Ain’t Post-Humans neat?

MICHAEL: Honestly, though, at this point, I think it makes sense for him to think this. And I think giving an honest sitrep is totally Cap “respecting the” f#$*ing “badge,” Ho. Sorry, Hill.

 

Page Twenty-Two, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: On one hand, I want to call the SHIELD guy here (the one asking, “how can anyone argue with superheroes being properly trained and paid for a living?”) a retard because—though I agree with the basic thought process behind what he’s saying—it’s obvious how you could argue the other side. But on the other hand, he might just not be the brightest, because seriously, from his perspective, he’s a guy who takes down bad guys (assumedly) and only the government knows his name (I doubt these SHIELD guys wear public badge numbers or whatever if they’re essentially a spy division) and it’s probably never been leaked.

JASON: I’d love the Con-Reggers to bring that up. “We’ll join when you release the names of all SHEILD operatives.” I know it’s a flawed logic, but it’d be funny.

 

Page Twenty-Two, Panel 3.

MICHAEL: “Like Daredevil and Luke Cage.”

‘Don’t worry, Daredevil’s in jail.’

Hey, also, right here Cap’s assessed that Ca> Hahahaha. If I’m reading the previous page’s worth of art correctly, Cap has just taken down about eight SHIELD operatives without breaking a sweat. We can see six in this panel, yelling “Take him down!” I think it more likely he would be yelling, “Oh, s#!*--run! I forgot, this is f#*!ing Captain America here!” at this point.

 

Page Twenty-Seven, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: Man, is Hill useless. As a character and as a commander.

JASON: But she’s edgy.

MICHAEL: Is she EXTREME!!!!!? I hear the kids like those characters, oh my, yes.

SURRRRRRRRGE!

 

Page Twenty-Nine, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: So here Cap upbraids a soldier for using the word “Jeezus” (I’m assuming ‘Jesus’ is too controversial for Marvel to use), which a) is like prime-time-TV level of accepted “potty mouth”ity, and b) is a little silly coming a few pages after Cap said, “damn you to hell” to Hill. This again seems like a moment where Millar or someone was like, ‘hm. Kind of a quiet page here, better put something in. What would Cap do? I know, it’d be totally Cap-like to reprimand someone for having a potty mouth, cause he’s totally a boy scout,’ forgetting that he just swore two pages ago and forgetting that he has—whether I buy the reasoning or not, it’s now in there—just turned his back on his entire support network and gone AWOL from the government. His chances of patching up his ties to the government are probably, right now, slim to none. So his entire life has pretty much just been tossed behind him, so I highly doubt he’s going to be kvetching about someone saying “Jesus” to him. Also, seriously, wasn’t he a military man? He should really be used to swearing by now.

 

Page Thirty, Panel 1.

JASON: Can the Silver Surfer sue over this?

MICHAEL: ‘Uh, Cap, you know there’s a copilot’s seat.’

‘Shush.’

‘I mean, it’s seriously much safer than just riding up there; we’re going like 30,000 miles per hour or something here.’

‘I mean it, son. Shush that potty mouth. Daddy’s got a tailwind to ride here.’

 

Page Thirty-One, Panel 1

JASON: Pop quiz time, kids! When did Captain America hit Agent Hill? Maybe one of our five editors can tell us?

MICHAEL: She looked like she’d been hit back on page 27, as well, which was even more bizarre considering Cap was far in the background fighting people. I guess we’re to assume that a bit of shrapnel or glass caught her? No, no, Cap hadn’t jumped out yet, so no glass. He broke that dude’s gun in half with the shield; maybe that hit her. OMG. I just realized. It’s Cap’s shield vs. SHIELD. SHIELD VS. SHIELD. How funny is that?

Also, wow. Her saying ‘you idiot. We were trying to save lives’ is, I suppose, an attempt to make her ProReg side seem a little more human, but instead it makes her look retarded, evil, and useless. If she were a character of any moral fiber whatsoever, she would right now be in the corner, crying, repeating the phrase, ‘oh, man, I really messed up’ until they shot her in the worthless face.

JASON: That would have been worth the $3.99

 

Page Thirty-One, Panel 3

JASON: “His name is the Watcher, Spider-Woman…”

“But I’m sure you already knew that, Jessica, seeing as how you’ve been in the business for a long time now. I just like to hear myself talk.”

By the way, what the hell is the Watcher here for? Nachos? It couldn’t be because this is an event on a cosmic scale or anything. I mean, he didn’t show up for House of M, or Decimation, or Maximum Security, or Annihilation, so he must be here for the nachos.

MICHAEL: He also didn’t show up for the mutant registration act, either, which seems much more comparable in scale. Hell, did he even show up when Thanos gained all six chaos orbs or whatever? Seriously, I think he took a wrong turn at Albequerque or something. Obviously this is meant to be a frightening harbinger of extreme proportions, but instead it’s laughably random.

Watcher thought bubble: ‘The USA is thinking of changing a law? Wow, I better get down and check that out. That’s totally the most important thing going on in the whole universe.’

Maybe it was the universal equivalent of a slow news day?

 

Page Thirty-One, Panel 4

MICHAEL: “His presence here does not bode well.”

‘Seriously. Open a window.’

JASON: “Now, do not call upon me again. This time I mean it.”

 

Page Thirty-Two, Panel 1

JASON:  And here’s another comic fun-time activity everyone! It’s called “Where’s Hate-Monger?” Seriously, I haven’t seen such an anger-filled crowd since Catwoman’s opening night.

MICHAEL:  No, no, it totally tracks. It’s just like when World War II happened, angry mobs were lined up outside the White House yelling for Japanese people to be thrown into internment camps. And after 9/11? Definitely thousands of people camped out there angrily demanding we lock up every brown person in the nation. F#&* holding vigils or remembering the fallen, this totally makes sense.

Also, seriously, like 20 signs on-panel here and they could only come up with four slogans?

JASON: The Hate-Monger’s not good at campaign slogans. Normally it’s just stuff like “I hate you.” “Full of Hate” and “Watch Lost

 

Page Thirty-Two, Panel 2

JASON:  “…a discomfort that’s been brewing for at least five days. What was that? Oh, I’m sorry. I meant to say ‘Post-Human misbehavior’. Anyway, as I was saying. This quiet discomfort makes me proud. Proud that a whole country that has apparently never had a causality since Post-Human fights started  back in 1964, except the Hulk of course, could turn so quickly on the heroes who’ve saved them from being from being vaporized, conquered, or nuked back to the stone age 47 times.”

MICHAEL: Miriam Sharpe is an “effective political operator,” all right. AND Hatemonger. No, actually, I think it might be too cheesy even for them to say it’s Hatemonger. What if the big twist at the end is we find out she’s actually an empath and never realized it, so all this anger she’s foisting off on others was totally unintentional. And then, in a tear-jerking climax, she apologizes to Cap and IM for being so wrong?

No, no. Hatemonger is better.

 

Page Thirty-Two, Panel 3.

MICHAEL: There she is! I win this quiz! Booya!

Though, inside, I feel like I’ve won the battle but lost the war.

JASON: In this war, we all lose, son.

 

Page Thirty-Two, Panel 4

JASON: Oh, that Cap! He should have his own sitcom. I feel like having a big ol’ slice of apple pie now.

MICHAEL: “making sure a two-billion-dollar warplane don’t get damaged”? Except for the fact that he tore open the windshield thingy. Though Jason and I both agree, I think, that this is the best moment of characterization for Cap in the whole friggin book.

Also, is that supposed to be Bush at the head of the panel? If so, bad for two reasons:

1. McNiven can’t draw Bush. Good try, though.

2. It totally takes away from the ‘timeless’ aspect I’ve talked about over in Spidey. The only way the government’s reaction is even slightly believable here is if we’re viewing it through this ‘timeless, iconic’ filter. Doing it this way just loses some of the oomph.

 

Page Thirty-Three, Panel 2

 

JASON: Because this so doesn’t make the ProReggers look like villains. Really.

MICHAEL: Yeah. Ouch. Seriously. I mean, if this isn’t leading up to IM meeting up with Cap and being like, ‘I found him, Control! Wait for my signal!’ then talking to Steve like a rational human being—in other words, if this is just a setup for a slugfest, then seriously, how stupid does Marvel think we are? This is painful.

Argh. I have all these arguments I want to make, but they just seem so damned obvious that I won’t even bother. I’ll just use terse versions of the arguments for why Cap and IM actually being enemies at this point doesn’t make sense:

Avengers

NAvengers

Buddies

IM’s speech to Congress

Every other piece of rationality and story logic one could think of. Gah! GAHHHHH! By the hoary armhairs of Steve Ditko, how the hell did this happen?

 

Page Thirty-Four and Thirty-Five

MICHAEL: Oh, shut up, you worthless sack of meat and advertising. You’ve brought nothing to this company but corporate c0(#sucking and a couple of good posters. Most of these trades have nothing to do with CW, and only barely relate to the characters presented in this Elseworlds mishmash.

JASON: I thought that putting a quick editorial back there, along with trades relating to the issue was really a good idea. Too bad that A- None of these trades have anything to do with this story, because they did nothing to lead into this story. And B- They should have gotten someone that actually likes comics and reads them to write this . 

 

 

Closing Arguments

 

 

JASON: I came into this book believing that Civil War is one of the best concepts Marvel has thought up in five years. Good news is that I still do believe that. Bad news is that I have this sinking feeling that they may fail at it on every level that counts. I’m trying to be optimistic; this is only the first issue, after all. I’m really hoping that next issue they show the ProReggers in a better light. The main point that Marvel had been harping on during interviews was that this is supposed to be a battle of philosophies, that both sides are equally correct. The only way that can succeed is if both sides are presented as intelligent people. So far, neither side has. SHIELD’s aggressiveness, Iron Man’s aggressiveness, and the government’s ease at allowing compromise makes the ProReg side seem not evil, but misguided at the least.

MICHAEL: No. Evil. At the least, I would say belligerent and reactionary.

JASON: Meanwhile, the “My grandpappy wore a mask” logic the AntiReg side throws around makes them seem, how do I put this delicately… like they eat glue. 

MICHAEL: That’s pretty harsh. How about, ‘like they sniff glue’?

JASON: I guess one could argue that there is no right answer if both sides suck equally, but that’s really not what I was hoping for.

Still, it’s not too late to pull up from this first issue tailspin, and I am crossing my fingers for issue two.

If I had to sum up this issue in ten words I’d say: Frustrating.

MICHAEL: Tailspin? Was that a Cap-on-a-plane pun?

JASON: Yeah, I felt like going out on a joke.

MICHAEL: Whereas I just feel like going out. Period. With a whimper or with a bang, I don’t care. I just want to give up. But I keep telling myself, ‘hey, it’s just a first issue. There were a lot of bumps, but this had to be a fairly massive project; it’s bound to have some problems. It could still get really good.’

But it’s like, I just feel so despondent now. Like, the biggest example: Cap’s defection. We can all agree this scene was s#!t on a stick and made no sense and felt like it was written by an epileptic retarded monkey. If you disagree, you’re probably the mother of an epileptic retarded monkey. But my biggest problem is that it, like so much of this book, was just an ‘event’ for ‘event’s sake.’ There was no buildup, no reasoning, just pure blind chance leading moments of ‘huh?’s strewn together like a ragdoll of incompetence.

Here’s what would’ve made the Hill/Cap scene work: buildup. As I suggested, a Cap one-shot or mini that built up to this confrontation, that really made us believe Cap had no other option but to jump out of the SHIELD helicarrier and defect. I mean, yes, it’s a big moment, and yes, the idea is cool, but you can’t just write a story with no point of reference. Like, it might be cool if Tony were able to shoot laser beams out of his eyes. But if you just have him show up shooting laser beams out of his eyes, it’s a gyp and nothing more. It’s not a story.

It seems like Marvel’s got this great idea, they’ve got this huge, amazing story they want to tell, but they’re all too damned giddy (except JMS) and are jumping the gun. Having fights and stuff like that at this point, when the only ‘lead-in’ we’ve had is Illuminati and the Spidey three-parter, is just meaningless. I could draw IM hitting Cap on a piece of paper and it would have the same emotional impact.

And no, I’m not calling for a more decompressed storytelling style. I’m talking about time passing. As I’d said, you could’ve put out a one-shot with about the first 70% of this comic then worked up to events like Johnny getting attacked on the street and Cap defecting when you started Civil War later. And seriously, all you’d have to do in the individual titles not directly affected by CW is just drop a line here and there. ‘I’m getting nervous about this bill in Congress’ or something like that. It’s seriously not that hard. Considering all the work I’m sure had to be done just to arrange this, how difficult would it have been to hold your damn load for another three months or so and built into it?

Jumping past the hard parts in your story to get to the ‘meat’ is all fine and good; I wouldn’t begrudge it if it weren’t for the fact that the story, in this case, is the ideological differences between the ProReggers and the AntiReggers. The story is not ‘Cap fights Iron Man.’ That’s a tragic side effect of what should be the main story here.

And, yes, we do get a lot of time with people in the Baxter Building discussing the politics, I’ll give Mark that. But most of their arguments are simplistic and inane. There are a few good arguments here and there, but for the most part it’s just fifth-grade rhetoric and meaningless grudges.

I’m not giving up hope yet, because I do seriously believe in this idea, and I’m really hopeful that Mark can sway me over to his side of things before this is done. But if we don’t get at least one good moment before issue four, I’m really really going to worry.