This year time ran out for the Marvel Multiverse.
An all encompassing crossover storyline was brought to fruition in May and Marvel’s Secret Wars was born. Re-calling the original, similarly named 1984-85 miniseries, Marvel’s Secret Wars saw all our heroes from various universes (Earth 2099, Earth 1610, Earth 616 etc) slammed together into one world. As the multiverse died and collapsed from the horrific incursions, Doctor Doom declared himself God and saved them all, combining them into his own world, BATTLEWORLD. A massive patchwork planet composed of the fragments of worlds that no longer exist, maintained by the iron will of its God and Master, Victor Von Doom. Each region is domain unto itself!
This absolutely huge idea has been a fantastic success for Marvel. The ideas, twists and turns of the main storylines, along with the great stories within the mini-series have been nothing short of an awesome read for comic book fans. To slowly watch this world unravel from so many sides, to watch this rise and fall of Victor Von Doom and of all our heroes dealing with the reality of their situations. As this series comes to an end and we move into the ‘All New, All Different’ Marvel age, I have decided to review each of the series of books that came out during this epic run and hopefully give a great insight into this vast tale. The idea being that by the end of each one, there is a better understanding of this run and of the Secret Wars as a whole. Akin to that of a detailed study of this mad, mad world that Marvel just cooly threw together for us all this year.
This week, given that the trailer for the Major Motion Picture just dropped, I’m focusing on CIVIL WAR (Warning: Some spoilers for Marvel’s original CIVIL WAR run).
Now this is a story that is based on the large crossover storyline in 2006-2007 that saw all the heroes of the Marvel Universe taking sides. How come you ask? Well…
A bunch of small time wannabe heroes accidentally kill 600 people, 60 were children, and the government decide that the vigilante-ism is enough. That all these heroes have to register their identity, along with their powers/abilities and also go through government approved training to become heroes. Kind of like the steps that need to be taken before you can be seen legally to drive a car, on a much greater scale of course. Iron Man spearheads the whole campaign as he agrees with the order and the safety. This is a man who privatised peace after all. Captain America sees it as conscription and having seen the horrors of this sort of behavior in war before, he deplores it. And so the battle began. And those battles got bigger and bigger in the main story until…well, I’ll let you read that yourself.
However, in this universe the battles carried on. To a point of no return, where all the morals and ideals of each others arguments became just specks of dust. Many heroes are now dead and an entire land in ruins. Who is truly to blame? Whose side are you on? That all depends how you look at it. This is a deep political thriller of a storyline. One which originally caused many a debate back then and, through this, may continue to cause many more.
We get all this information told to us via Miriam Sharpe. The lady who single handedly changed Tony Stark’s mind and pushed the registration act upon the heroes of this world. We see that their part of the world is divided in two. The Blue and the Iron. The Blue, ran by Captain America, has 2 rules: Hurt no one and help when you can. Abide by these laws and you will live in peace and happiness. The Iron is ruled by Iron Man and is a land of law and order, schools for the gifted etc. Miriam is telling us this because today a treaty is going to be attempted to be formed, by both sides. What could possibly go wrong?
What I really liked about this run was how bold it was. Throwing you deep into this world and how much has changed. Like in Back to the Future 2 when you see how badly Marty’s timeline has changed. You see all these characters and can see where they are now, you aren’t exactly sure how they got to this point but you have a pretty good idea. The only thing you know for sure is it is too late to go back and fix them. All your favourite heroes, in these pages, are broken. Broken people who are clinging on for their way of life at any cost which, is a bold juxtaposition from from how these people are portrayed in their own comics. I’m not saying all comic books are pages of super-fun-happy-time, but here are all your heroes and they have the same lust for life as Jessica Jones does when she sits in a bar.
Their part of the universe is laid out beautifully for us to see. I love the idea that Steve Rogers has a team of Punishers policing his side of the land. I love that Tony (often viewed as the bad guy as he agreed with the registration act) has much purer motives in this. He wants to end the war and is looking for a genuine way out, whereas Steve is weaponising and looking at a much more militaristic route to end it. I also love how on every page you see someone e.g. Beast from X-Men, deep into his role and trying to help his side. It makes you look at every character a lot deeper. I sat here trying to figure out what were their reasons for picking Steve/Tony. Was it personal? Was it political? To be able to make you wonder about what a fictional character is thinking and their philosophical points of view on their decisions is a fantastic accomplishment.
If I had to be critical about it I would actually argue it was too short. I think this needed 6 if not 7 issues as there are events in the 1st and 3rd act that seem rushed and it would have been nicer to see them panned out and thickened. Other than that I cannot complain. The twists and turns in this were as unpredictable as Deadpool’s mind patterns. I thought the talks would break down because Tony and Steve would be petty and argue like children. I was wrong. I thought that I knew who was the bad guy. I was wrong. Leinil Francis Yu does some fantastic artwork in these pages, truly capturing the intensity and darkness of all their lives. These are people who can fly, lift mountains and shoot lasers from their eyes, yet when I look at them here, they are tired and burdened. Steve and his team are fantastic at showing what can happen when you push people to desperation, whereas Tony and his team have a riveting espionage story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I know I said it was a political thriller but the more I think about it, it isn’t. When you see these 2 stories combined, this gives you a very real feel to an old time war story. Powers put aside, this is a doctrine of hostility and, unlike most of these tales, has a fitting ending. One that doesn’t lie deep in tragedy or in an unrealistic resolution. But in that of humanity prevailing. Something that, as I write this, we all seem to be looking for at the moment.