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Civil WarCivil War by Mark Millar

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m amazed by how Millar keeps coming up with these new slants on the Marvel universe. It must require a lot of creative thinking and collaboration with the ‘right’ kind of people. This time Millar explores what would happen if the superheroes that we all loved and trusted got out of hand and began fighting amongst themselves. The reality of that would be (as the title suggests) complete civil war. The story opens on a quiet American suburb in what looks like a ‘reality tv’ raid on a house full of rogue superheroes on the FBI wanted list for illegal activities. What ensues is a pre-emptive fight that gets out of hand – extremely out of hand. Cornered, confused and enraged, Nitro unleashes an explosive attack near a school which turns into a small-scale atomic blast. The result: an entire neighbourhood burnt to a crisp with a death toll of 900.

In the face of this catastrophe, the American public bay for blood, that results in a merciless witch-hunt for all superheroes. Torn between grief, shame and anger for the careless behaviour of their junior peers, established superheroes like the Avengers begin to suffer the wrath of people. There is soon talk of registering, legalising and uncovering the identities of those with powers to make them more accountable for their actions. This soon divides the superheroes into two camps; those who decide to yield to the public demands and those who resist.

There is more to this story than meets the eye: Nitro’s suicidal attack and its’ devastating effects mirrors the 9/11 attack on America’s twin towers. It is a commentary on fanaticism and the way the Western media have turned the conflict in the East (be it Afghanistan or Iraq) into ‘big brother’ style entertainment.

However having said that, I’m not that happy with the WAY it was told. The graphics were beautiful as always, yet there were some plot-holes that made it a little too unbelievable. There were fights a-plenty, in fact too much violence. I felt the frequency of the brawls eclipsed the storyline too much. Every other page was a fight or a tussle. It was interesting to see who would side with whom and in this version of events Tony Stark (Ironman) takes precedence as he tries to ‘do the right thing’. There are a few shocking events such as some heroes get killed, while others relinquish their well-guarded identities.

As a comic book fan I would like to have seen more of the Punisher and I feel he wasn’t given the credit he deserved. After a brief stint working for the rebelling superheroes, he is quickly cast aside as ‘insane’ and never heard of again. The very thing that makes the story weak is probably the fact that there are too many superheroes. There is an impressive cast, but I felt it truly overwhelmed me. Less could have been more. This felt like Millar was trying to find ways to include as many of his creations as possible.

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