Wow, Civil War #1 came out back on May 3, 2006. Civil War #7 finally arrives to us on February 21, 2006. Well, at least Marvel managed to get Civil War #7 to us in under a year from when we got Civil War #1.
For the most part, Civil War has been a dud here at the Revolution. Marvel screwed up a concept that had immense potential. Instead of giving the readers a gripping and complex tale full of shades of grey, Marvel chose this as a platform to preach to the reader rather than to engage the reader. Jenkins, JMS and Bendis have all done their best to make this Civil War storyline as un-compelling and as simple and black and white as possible. They have given us one-sided and poorly developed Civil War tie-in issues.
Through all this, I do think that Millar has done his level best to try and make Civil War a complex storyline with more than one side to it. Can Millar pull of a successful ending to this massive storyline with Civil War #7? Let’s find out.
Words: Mark Millar
Pencils: Steve McNiven
Inks: Dexter Vines
Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with the anti-registration side and the pro-registration side brawling in the Negative Zone prison facility. We see Black Panther and Dagger hacking into the Negative Zone prison facility’s computer system. Black Panther gains access to the portal in the Baxter Building. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents rapidly shut down Black Panther’s attempts to keep the Baxter Building portal open. However, Black Panther got the coordinates for that portal. Dagger then sends the coordinates to Cloak and tells Cloak to transport everyone to that location.
We see Cloak expand and envelop all the combatants in this brawl. We shift to outside of the Baxter Building and see Cloak appearing in mid air and dropping all the heroes from the pro and anti sides from his cloak. Captain America orders all the flyers to grab a friend. We see massive collateral damage being done in the area and civilians fleeing for their lives.
The pro-registration and anti-registration sides begin brawling in the outside of the Baxter Building. The pro-registration side gets the upper hand as Captain America gets taken down by Venom, Lady Deathstrike, Taskmaster and Bullseye. Suddenly, Captain America starts smiling. Why? Because we see Namor and an army of Atlantean soldiers appear on the scene to help the anti-registration side.
Iron Man doesn’t panic, because his re-enforcements suddenly arrive on the scene. We see the Thor clone, Captain Marvel and a bunch of other heroes arrive and help the pro-registration side.
Iron Man and Captain America square off once again. Captain America tells Iron Man that this fight will be different from their earlier fight because Captain America is going to fight dirty. Vision then attacks Iron Man from behind and short circuits his armor. That allows Captain America to pound away with his shield at an immobilized Iron Man.
We shift to the Thing arriving at the battle scene in order to help try and protect and clear away the civilian bystanders. Sue Storm is glad to see the Thing back in the country. We then see Taskmaster about to shoot Sue in the back. Reed jumps in between and takes the shot meant for Sue. Sue, enraged, uses a massive force field to pound Taskmaster into the street.
We cut to Hercules brawling with the Thor clone. Hercules takes the Thor clone’s hammer from him. Hercules says that Thor was a friend of his and that this clone is not Thor. Hercules takes the hammer and smashes open the Thor clone’s head.
We shift back to Captain America pounding away at the immobilized Iron Man. Captain America hesitates for a brief moment. Iron Man asks Captain America what he is waiting for. Iron Man tells Captain America to finish it. Captain America is about to strike Iron man again when suddenly Captain America is rushed by seven bystanders. They are a collection of police officers, firemen and paramedics. The civilians tell Captain America to “Get the hell away from him.”
Captain America tells the civilians to let him go. That he doesn’t want to hurt them. The civilians laugh saying asking if Captain America is trying to be funny. That it is a little too late for that.
We then pan back and see the massive collateral damage that this brawl has inflicted on the two square blocks of New York City. Captain America drops his shield and stops fighting. Captain America begins to cry. Captain America says that the civilians are right. That the anti-registration side is not fighting for the people anymore. That they are just fighting. Spider-Man tells Cap that they were beating them. That they were winning. Captain America responds that they were winning everything except the argument.
Captain America pulls off his mask and says that Captain America isn’t getting arrested. That Steve Rogers is getting arrested. That is a very different thing. With that Steve surrenders into the custody of the police on the scene of the brawl. Captain America tells his followers to stand down.
We shift to the aftermath of the battle. We see the Punisher picking up Captain America’s mask from the rubble. We read Reed’s letter to Sue that he has written two weeks after the massive fight. Reed tells Susan that he misses her. That by now, Susan has seen the launch of The Initiative.
That there is now at least one super-team in every U.S. state. That they are creating new heroes and revamping old ones. That they are decentralizing this community from a single coast and building a super-power for the twenty-first century.
That when the controversial Negative Zone prison went public that the American people applauded it. The American people loved the idea of a prison was finally designed to actually contain super villains. That is mush have been frightening where vigilantes, amateurs and super villains brooded in cells that never seemed to hold them. Reed is only surprised by the fact that they were tolerated as long as they were.
Reed mentions that some heroes moved to Canada in the hope of a more old-school career. We see the formation of the Omega Flight. Reed mentions that a small band of Captain America’s followers remain radicalized in the Underground Movement. We see Spider-Man sporting his black outfit. We then see Captain America in a prison cell.
Reed says that this experiment has been an enormous success. That their darkest hour has been transformed into their greatest opportunity. That working with the government has moved them past just issues of law and order and have opened up to them taking issues like the environment and global poverty. We see a cover of Time magazine with Henry Pym shaking hands with Black Panther. Time magazine announces Henry Pym as Man of the Year for his work on his global revolution.
Reed says that Tony is now the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Reed then says that opinion polls and Utopian ideas mean nothing unless Sue is beside him. Reed promises no more traps or clones. None of the things he had to do on that path to respectability. That no matter what they are trying to achieve in this new America, that it can’t be heaven unless Sue is here, too. Reed begs Sue to re-join her family.
We then see Sue returning back home to Reed.
We cut to Tony Stark aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier above New York City. Tony has Mrs. Sharpe, the mother who started the grass roots campaign for the Registration Act, with him. Tony says since he has close links with both the government and the superhuman community that he made perfect sense for the job as Director. Tony then asks Deputy Director Maria Hill to go get him a couple of coffees.
Tony tells Mrs. Sharpe that now he has won the war that he wants to win the peace. That he wants people to get enthused about this new way of working. Ms. Sharpe mentions the fact that the new Thunderbolts has a couple of nutcases on the team. Tony counters that giving offenders a second chance is something that they have been trying to do since the original Avengers.
Tony tells Mrs. Sharpe that the Negative Zone prison was called “Number forty-two” because it was the 42nd idea of a hundred ideas Reed, Hank and Tony wrote down the night Mrs. Sharpe’s son was killed. Ideas for a safer world. That they aren’t even at number fifty yet. That cleaning up S.H.I.E.L.D. is number forty-three. That S.H.I.E.L.D> will be the greatest friend to the super hero community. That Tony wouldn’t have their secret identities guarded by anyone other than himself.
Ms. Sharpe tells Tony that he is a good man. That Tony risked everything to get them to this place they are now. That Mrs. Sharpe believes that Tony has given people heroes that they can believe in again. Tony responds that the best is yet to come. End of issue.
The Good: Hah! How do you like that? Admit it; Millar caught you with your mouth open. Just when everyone had been praising Captain America as the “People’s Champion,” Millar throws a big swerve at us. I certainly did not think that Civil War would end in this fashion.
Yes, I thought that the Pro-Registration side would win. Why? Because Marvel leaked covers of Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. all over the internet. I figured if Tony is the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. then it makes sense that his side won. Plus, I had a hard time believing that the Anti-Registration side could not only defeat Iron Man and his teammates, but also convince the U.S. government and the people of America that the Registration Act was wrong.
So, I’m not surprised at who won the Civil War, but I am definitely surprised at how the Pro-Registration side won. Bendis, JMS and Jenkins have been clubbing Tony Stark’s character to death in all the Civil War tie-in issues. Those three writers presented over the top one sided and rather uninteresting reads each and every month. There was no doubt that those three writers viewed Captain America as the undisputed good guy and who the reader should be rooting for.
Fortunately, Millar decided to go in a different direction and pull a huge swerve by taking the hero in Captain America and making him come across more like the villain. Millar shows the reader how Captain America had gone totally off the deep end. That Captain America had become completely blinded by his own personal crusade and his own sense of self-righteousness. Like a true zealot, Captain America displayed his willingness to ignore the will of the American people and engage in a brutal battle without any regard to the safety of the average American citizen.
In the end, Captain America morphed into the very thing that the American population feared and that lead to the Registration Act. Captain America became the super hero who viewed himself as above the laws that apply to you and me. That Captain America’s battle against the Pro-Registration side led to massive collateral damage and placed innocent citizens in danger.
Captain America unwittingly proved the American people correct in their fear that super heroes would view themselves as beyond reproach and that the laws don’t apply to them and then those super heroes will engage in destructive battles that lead to loss of property and life.
We see the Pro-Registration side recklessly transport all the combatants from the Negative Zone prison where a fight could be conducted with any risk to any citizens or their property right into the heart of New York City. This reckless action endangered the lives of many citizens and damaged tons of property.
Millar then show Captain America, with blood in his eyes, obsessed with his own personal crusade rather than the safety of the innocent bystanders. Millar does a great job by having Captain America fight dirty by having the Vision attack Iron Man from behind. I liked that. Captain America can never beat Iron Man in a straight up fight. This shows that Captain America is willing to do absolutely anything in order to win. Lie, steal, cheat, bite, claw and kick. Captain America will do it all if it means he wins.
Then Millar delivers the powerful climax as a rage fueled Captain America pounds away at Iron Man. Then it happens. The scene that made my arm hairs stand on end. Captain America is bum rushed by a bunch of regular humans just like you and me. And not only are these just average joes like you and me, they are also New York’s first responders. The police, firemen and paramedics. These are real heroes. They willingly risk their lives to save others. They don’t have super powers. They just have courage and heart.
This scene was so important because Millar showed the reader that the title of “People’s Champion” had been shifted. Captain America, as JMS and Bendis have clubbed us over the head with, is the will of America. That Captain America represents all Americans. That Captain America is the “People’s Champion.” That has been the long running view of Captain America.
Well, no more. The new “People’s Champion” is Iron Man. Captain America is now just a threat to your average citizen. Iron Man has sacrificed everything he has in order to try and create a better America where the people of this country don’t have to worry about a super powered vigilante dropping a Subaru on their head. Or mistakenly blasting a hole through their house. Or having their business destroyed in a mindless battle.
The people of America feel in danger and feel helpless with all these super powered individuals running amok in various American cities. Iron Man has done everything in his power to try and hold super heroes accountable to the same laws that we are held accountable. That Iron Man has done everything he can to try and save lives and property from any more mistakes by untrained super powered vigilantes.
This was a stunning scene and hit Captain America like a ton of bricks. This wounded Captain America more than any physical attack. And then Millar has Captain America finally realize the error of his actions. Captain America sees the damage and chaos that his personal crusade has caused. Captain America finally realizes that he has now violated the will of the American people. The very people who he has sworn to protect.
Seeing Captain America crying and completely breaking down was a shocking visual. This is a proud man who has had his pride broken. Captain America stands amid all the destruction in New York City and sees the terror in the eyes of the citizens as they look at him and his followers.
Then Millar delivers the crucial blow. Spider-Man urges Captain America to keep fighting that they were winning the battle. Captain America responds but not the argument. And they weren’t. The fact is that the people of America wanted the Registration Act. That the people of America felt that their life and property were in peril due to the reckless actions of super powered vigilantes.
Captain America may have been doing what he thought was right according to his own personal belief system. But, the problem is that the America people thought otherwise. And at no point did Captain America and his followers do anything to convince the American people that they were wrong. If anything, Captain America’s reckless action in this issue simply re-enforced the fears of the American people.
Millar then uses Reed’s letter to Sue as a literary tool to lay out the framework of the new Marvel Universe to the reader. And I have to say that this new Marvel Universe definitely looks interesting. We have one super team in every state. New heroes are created and old heroes are being re-vamped.
This is a great way to introduce a new generation of heroes and to freshen up some existing heroes who have gotten stale. Plus, this is great way to shift the entire super hero population from the New York City and spread it across the entire country. It has gotten a bit old that you only see super heroes in New York City and nowhere else.
We see the new Omega Flight who will be getting their own title. We also see the underground movement that we will see over in the New Avengers.
Millar also does a great job of rationally explaining the need for the Negative Zone prison and why the American population would praise it. It has been something of a joke how certain heroes routinely break out of prison. It seems that prisons in the Marvel Universe have revolving doors.
Finally, Tony has taken the logical step in how to properly jail super powered criminals in order to prevent them from escaping and causing more harm to the general public. It makes complete sense that the American public would support the Negative Zone prison. No other prison has worked so why not try this idea.
Millar shows how a unified and centralized super hero community under S.H.I.E.L.D.’s guidance is able to use their brains and powers for something more than just bashing villains in the head. Henry Pym appears on Time Magazine and Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for his work on eradicating global poverty and addressing environmental concerns.
We even see Pym shaking hands with Black Panther who used to support Captain America. Having Pym and the other super heroes focus on global issues makes perfect sense. I always found it ridiculous that all of these heroes with their super powers and genius level minds never tackled any serious issues that impact our world like poverty and the environment. I’m glad to see Marvel moving their heroes in this direction.
Tony Stark as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a logical choice. Tony has deep connections with both the super hero community and the government. Plus, Tony only trusts himself to guard the secret identities of his fellow super heroes. This shows that Tony doesn’t even trust the government with such sensitive information. That Tony willingly assumes this burden knowing that only he can do the job properly.
Seeing Tony with Mrs. Sharpe was the perfect way to put a bow on the mini-series. Tony truly has nothing by the best intentions to make the world a much better place to live in. Tony really took the Stamford tragedy to heart and has worked relentlessly to come up with plans to make our world a much better place to live in.
And having Mrs. Sharpe compliment Tony was a brilliant move by Millar. Mrs. Sharpe recognizes how Tony willingly risked everything he had. That Tony is a good man. That he is a hero that people can believe in again. Mrs. Sharpe represents you and me. She is the average person. The common man. The poor bystander who innocently gets caught up inside the whirlwind of violence that super powered vigilantes cause.
Millar chooses this ending to try and rehabilitate Tony’s character after it has been just brutally raped over and over again in the Civil War tie-in issues. And honestly, I fully expected this to happen. After all, the Iron Man movie comes out this summer and Marvel doesn’t want their big budget movie to tank in the theaters because they have made the general comic book populace absolutely hate Tony Stark.
I dig this preview of the new Marvel Universe that Millar gives the reader. The framework for the new Marvel Universe is overflowing with potential. Stark as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., super teams in every state, new heroes and freshened up old heroes, the remaining members of the resistance movement and the teaser of even more plans by Tony and Reed all pique my interest. I can’t wait to see what Marvel has in store for us next.
I’m impressed that unlike Bendis, JMS and Jenkins, that Millar is able to put aside his political beliefs and concentrate on writing a complex and compelling story rather than standing on his soapbox and preaching.
Millar does an incredible job delivering fantastic action scenes and also giving the reader touching emotional scenes like when Sue returns to Reed. Millar does an excellent job handling each character and giving them their own unique voices that are true to their characters.
And Millar even gives us a little humor in what is otherwise a very serious and somber issue. We got to see that bitch Maria Hill demoted to Deputy Director. Seeing Tony tell Maria to get him a coffee with plenty of cream and sugar was awesome. Maria Hill is a character that readers love to hate and it was great to see her finally get what was coming to her.
McNiven’s artwork was incredible. Absolutely gorgeous. McNiven draws some extremely expressive facial expressions that helped to convey the emotions of the various characters. McNiven art brought Millar’s dramatic story to life and made this issue a powerful read.
The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.
Overall: I really enjoyed Civil War #7. I’m actually quite surprised that I did. However, Millar constructed an ending that made both Iron Man and Captain America look all right. Iron Man was rehabilitated and heralded by the American people as their champion. Captain America stops fighting when he realizes that he is no longer serving the will of the people. This enables Captain America to surrender without having to admit that he was wrong. Carefully notice that at no point this Captain America say he was wrong. Just that his side was losing the argument.
This was a satisfying conclusion that sets both Iron Man and Captain America into rather interesting directions. Millar also sets the stage for a new Marvel Universe that is ripe with potential. I think that we are in store for some exiting times in the Marvel Universe.