Comic Book Review: Civil War #6

Civil War continues to amaze me in how much it has just completely missed the mark. Marvel had a chance to deliver one incredibly complex and engaging story. Instead, Marvel has passed off a shallow poorly developed storyline laced with flashy brawls between big name heroes designed to titillate every fanboy’s fantasies. Millar has done the best with what Marvel has given him. McNiven, even though his inability to maintain a deadline has really de-railed any and all momentum this mini-series had, still has provided some wonderful artwork. Let’s go ahead and hit the review for Civil War #6.

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Millar
Penciler: Steve McNiven
Inker: Dexter Vines

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Dr. Henry Pym overseeing the training of young super heroes at a S.H.I.E.L.D. training facility in Arizona. We see a female Hawkeye. We also see a strong man named Hercules. Maria Hill tells Pym that they have the Avengers in New York and these heroes they are watching called the Champions in California. They have Mormon heroes in Utah, the Spaceknights in Chicago and Force Works in Iowa. Pym says that Americans deserve super humans they can count on.

We cut to the Baxter Building where Reed is in surgery inserting a blocker in the mind of the Thor cyborg to prevent him from killing anyone. Iron Man calls up Reed and asks him how the surgery is going. Iron Man tells Reed that the crime figures are as low as they have been since Eisenhower was President.

Reed tells Iron Man that Reed talked with the President of the United States about granting immunity to Sue and Johnny or Reed would pull out his support for the pro-registration side. The President promised a total of twelve immunities that he would be willing to grant. Iron Man tells Reed that he will talk to the President about that.

We cut to the Punisher in a hi-tech dampener outfit that enables him to breach any security system sneaking into the Baxter Building. The Punisher finds Reed’s blueprints for the prison in the Negative Zone.

We shift to Sue Richards visiting Namor in Atlantis. Sue asks Namor to please lend his support to the anti-registration side. That Captain America is an old friend of Namor. Namor responds that Sue can tell her new master (Captain America) that he does not wish to help a man who would take advantage of his and Sue’s unique relationship. Sue retorts that she and Namor don’t have a “relationship.” Namor responds that he can feel Sue’s heartbeat through the water and it tells a very different story than her lips.

We cut to the “Secret Avengers” headquarters. (I guess that is the new codename for the anti-registration side.) They all welcome Spider-Man to their ranks. They are thrilled that he is joining their side. Captain America then holds a meeting with the Secret Avengers and briefs them on the blue prints for the Negative Zone meeting that the Punisher successfully stole from the Baxter Building.

Captain America announces that they have obtained codes for the doorway at Ryker’s Island that leads to the Negative Zone prison. Diamondback (Captain America’s old ho) then tells Cap that she has two new recruits: Plunderer and Goldbug. They are both super villains. The two villains enter the room and Goldbug says that the super criminal community is very concerned about Tony Stark’s registration plans. Plunderer says that if the pro-registration side have super villains on their side then so should the anti-registration side.

Suddenly, the Punisher whips out two machine guns and blows away both the Plunderer and Goldbug. (Damn! You gotta like Castle’s style!) Captain America immediately attacks Punisher. Captain America calls the Punisher a murderous piece of trash and proceeds to beat the hell out of him. Captain America tells the Punisher to fight back. The Punisher says that he won’t fight Captain America.

Captain America tells his followers to throw the Punisher out of their headquarters. Captain America says that he should have never allowed the Punisher on their team in the first place. Patriot asks Spider-Man why the Punisher wouldn’t hit Captain America. Spider-Man responds that Captain America is probably the reason the Punisher went to Vietnam. Same guy, different war. Captain America gets a crazy angry look on his face and snaps that Spider-Man is wrong. That the Punisher is insane.

We shift to Stamford, Connecticut where Tony Stark is meeting with Miriam at a monument built in the children’s honor. Miriam thanks Tony for all his support even with all that it has cost him. Tony responds that there is no shame in making enemies if it means making people safer.

We cut to Dr. Strange’s sanctuary in the North Pole. Dr. Strange is talking with the Wanderer. The Wanderer tells Dr. Strange that Strange could use his powers to end this entire conflict with just a whisper or gesture. Dr. Strange responds that that is the very reason why he must not get involved. It is not his place to influence the evolution of the superhuman role. Dr.Strange says he just hopes for whichever victory is best for mankind and involves the least amount of blood.

We shift to Ryker’s Island where the Secret Avengers take out the guards outside the portal to the Negative Zone prison. The Secret Avengers go through the portal and end up inside the Negative Zone prison. There they come face to face with Iron Man and the pro –registration side. Iron Man tells Captain America that this was just a trap. That they have had a mole in the anti-registration side for over a week and now Captain America’s team is outnumbered. Iron Man tells him to surrender.

Captain America responds that he already knew about Tigra being a spy for Tony. Tony says that is impossible. That only he, Pym and Reed knew about Tigra. Suddenly, Henry Pym transforms into the Hulkling. The Hulkling tells Tony that the real Dr. Pym was drugged and unconscious since he knocked Pym out and replaced him back in Arizona this morning. Because Hulking can mimic Pym’s voice, he was able to free all the prisoners from their cells.

All the freed prisoners arrive at Captain America’s side. Captain America tells Iron Man that this evens the odds between the two sides. Captain America tells the pro-registration side to close their eyes, because this might hurt. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: I’m not too sure where I want to go with Civil War #6. I’m torn between wanting to compliment Millar for his writing style and wanting to rip it for being one pedestrian issue. There is no doubt that Millar is talented and can crank out some fantastic dialogue. Millar also creates excellent chemistry in just a few panels between the various characters.

Some good examples would be the brotherly love between Luke Cage and Spider-Man. In just one page, Millar manages to show to the reader the close bond and mutual respect between these two old friends. Millar also creates some serious sexual tension between Sue Richards and Namor in their quick scene. Both scenes show how easily Millar is able to create great chemistry between these characters.

Millar also has a great feel for each character. Every character has the proper external voice. Millar absolutely nails Namor’s haughty attitude in his scene with Sue. I love how Millar writes Namor. The supreme arrogance that Namor has demanding that Sue address him as “your majesty” and then totally hitting on her by telling her that he knows deep inside her heart that she wants him. Only Namor could pull off being an arrogant S.O.B. who insults a married woman and then makes a pass at her by telling her that she wants him. Millar’s Namor is perfect.

Honestly, the most interesting part of this issue was the character study contrasting and comparing Captain America with the Punisher. Spider-Man was completely correct. Captain America and the Punisher are the same man, different war. Captain America even proves Spider-Man’s point with his actions and words. Captain America’s immediate reaction to the Punisher killing the two villains was to brutally attack him. Captain America believes that anyone who violated Captain America’s own personal code of morals deserves to be whipped like a rented mule. Also, Captain America’s wild-eyed angry look that he gives Spider-Man betrays Captain America’s protests that he and Punisher are not the same man; different war.

Millar writes Captain America as a man who believes his way is the only way. That his was is the correct way. And that Captain America refuses to bend to anyone else’s view and will brutally fight to his last breath trying to impose his own personal set of morals on everyone else. Millar’s Captain America is very much a zealot.

Sounds like the Punisher. The Punisher has his own set of morals and he enforces them by killing criminals. Punisher could care less about the laws against killing or the American justice system. The Punisher is going to follow his own code and do what he thinks is right. Just like Captain America is doing in the Civil War by ignoring the laws of America and doing what he thinks is right.

Both Captain America and the Punisher are soldiers. They are both men who are totally obsessed with their own personal crusade. Both men are so committed to their own crusade that it makes them completely blind to any other viewpoint that other people may have. In both men’s’ minds they feel they are completely correct in their mission and all their actions are totally justified.

Now, there are differences in their tactics. And that difference represents the different wars. Captain America is a part of America’s “Greatest Generation” and fought in America’s most glorious war against a clear and present evil in Hitler. Life was simpler and clear cut. Good and evil were black and white. You knew who the enemy was and you met him on the battlefield. Captain America was treated like a hero by the America population. During the 1940’s America was approaching the pinnacle of its power.

On the other hand, The Punisher was a part of the “Lost Generation” and fought in America’s most bitterly debated war in Vietnam for vague reasons. Vietnam veterans were not welcomed as war heroes like WW II veterans. Protestors in America called Vietnam veterans baby killers and spit in their faces when they returned home. Vietnam veterans suffered massive mental problems and many turned to drugs to cope with their horrible emotional scarring. At the end of Vietnam, America began its decline in power. Life was complex and nothing was black and white; instead it was just various shades of grey. Also, in Vietnam you didn’t know who the enemy was. The V.C. used women and children as weapons against American soldiers. There were no traditional battlefields. Just jungle warfare.

Oh yeah, there is one other difference. Captain America feels totally justified in brutally attacking fellow super heroes who have different moral codes and tactics that his own. The Punisher doesn’t since he refuses to fight Captain America because he is a super hero and not a villain.

Captain America and the Punisher are the same man. However, the differences in the two wars are what dictate the differences in their styles and approach on how to fight crime. And honestly, the Punisher is correct. Captain America is a relic. He is outdated. The Punisher is more of the answer for modern day crime than Captain America.

Millar continues to chip away at Captain America’s image of perfection that other writers like JMS and Bendis have built up in the various tie-in issues. The readers have been conditioned to associate Captain America with all that is good, right and honorable. That Captain America most represents the Spirit of America. However, Millar shows Captain America as a bit of a zealot who is obsessed with his own cause and not the will of the American people.

I thought it was a cool touch by Millar to have Namor refuse to help his old friend Captain America who he fought alongside with during World War II. Namor rightfully points out that he has no desire to help a man who would use his relationship with Sue in order to get Namor’s support. Millar shows that Captain America isn’t perfect. That Captain America doesn’t embody integrity and honor. That Captain America, just like Tony Stark, is willing to do anything to win.

That Captain America will take on a known killer like Punisher if he thinks it can help him in his crusade. That Captain America will allow two known criminals like Goldbug and Plunderer onto his team if he thinks it can help his crusade. That Captain America will attempt to use Namor’s relationship with Sue by sending Sue to beg for Namor’s help. All of these actions show that despite how Bendis and JMS portray Captain America as perfect, Millar is heading in a totally different direction. And Millar’s direction is much more complex and intriguing.

McNiven’s artwork is just gorgeous. McNiven delivers wonderfully detailed art that is rather emotionally charged. McNiven also draws wonderful facial expressions that boosts the intensity of Millar’s story.

The Bad: Civil War #6 read like filler. It was well written, but filler none the less. In this penultimate issue, Millar slammed this story into neutral. Even the “surprises” in this issue weren’t surprises. We all knew that Tigra was a spy for the pro-registration side, so that was no surprise when we saw the pro-registration side waiting for the anti-registration side to arrive at the Negative Zone prison.

And the revelation that Hulkling knocked out Pym earlier that morning at the Arizona base and has impersonated Pym and freed all the prisoners wasn’t much of a shocking twist. It was more of a convenient plot tool in order to free the prisoners in order to even up the two sides. I think it was pretty obvious that Millar was going to have to get the prisoners free in order to give the anti-registration side more numbers in order to make the final battle more even.

Pretty much nothing happened in this issue. Civil War #6 was all set up for the final issue. I would have preferred that Millar didn’t use all of Civil War #6 as nothing more than an issue to lay the foundation for Civil War #7. It makes this mini-series feel like it is moving at a snail’s pace. And that is compounded by the fact that these issues are shipping so late to make it feel like this seven issue mini-series has taken almost an entire calendar year to come to a conclusion.

I don’t mind some set up for a grand finale. But, it is inexcusable on a seven issue mini-series to have the penultimate issue nothing more than pure foundation for the final issue. Civil War #7 had better be absolutely incredible, because for the most part, not much has happened over the course of this mini-series other than a couple of mindless brawls.

What really gets me is that if you read Punisher: War Journal #2, you pretty much get the same story that Millar tells in Civil War #6 except with more detail concerning Captain America and the Punisher’s relationship. Marvel should never have allowed Civil War #6 to almost completely re-tell the same story as a Civil War tie-in issue. The Captain America/Punisher plotline could have been saved for Punisher: War Journal #2 while Millar could have spent more time on other plotlines to the Civil War storyline in Civil War #6.

I’ll give Millar credit for at least making some passing attempt to try and make the Civil War conflict superficially complex and engaging. Millar at least gives some lip service to the pre-registration side. Millar certainly does more than the other writers like Bendis, Jenkins and JMS. However, it still isn’t much and Millar still guides the reader into viewing the anti-registration side as good and the pro-registration side as evil. There still isn’t much of a choice. At no point has Millar made it difficult for the reader to decide which side is wrong and which side is right.

The one character that is supposed to give the subconscious cue to the reader on which side to root for is not Captain America or Tony Stark. It is Spider-Man. We, the reader, aren’t the perfect soldier, the ultimate patriot and iconic hero like Captain America. We also aren’t an insanely rich genius who gets all the ladies. Nope. We are Spider-Man. Peter Parker is the common man. Peter Parker has always represented the average Joe. That’s us. Where Peter Parker goes, so is the reader supposed to follow.

Overall: I found Civil War #6 to be massively anti-climactic. I was expecting a lot more than what we got. This issue was nothing more than a teaser for the final issue. Civil War really needs to end with an incredibly strong finish in order to live up to the massive hype preceding this mini-series.

1 Comments

  1. I enjoyed this issue.
    But it didn’t pack the same punch as other issues of the series.
    Did you get the IRON MAN/CAPTAIN AMERICA: CASUALTIES OF WAR issue?
    Its turned out to be one of the best stories from Civil War yet.

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