Look at this curious creation. It is a big event tie in issue that centers on another big event. Interesting. Civil War was Marvel’s big event of 2006. Civil War sold between 252,000 units to 290,000 units during the course of the big event. Up until Secret Wars, no big event since Civil War could match or exceed the sales success of Civil War.
While I enjoyed the main Civil War title I hated most of all of the Civil War tie-in issues. You can check out my take on Civil War and all the various tie-in issues. I disliked the tie-in issues mainly due to the poorly constructed post 9/11 commentary and the utter confusion over our legislative and judicial systems. So, I was hesitant to pick up a copy of Secret Wars Civil War #1.
However, the fact that Charles Soule was the writer helped to allay some of my fears. Soule is both an attorney and a talented writer so I figured he would be much more intelligent and better equipped to handle the subtext of Civil War in a far superior fashion than the vast majority of comic book writers. All right, let’s hit this review!
Words: Charles Soule
Pencils: Lienle Yu
Colors: Sunny Gho
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin six years ago at Project 42. Steve Roger’s heroes are battling Tony’s heroes. We get three pages of fighting with the narration retelling the general story of Civil War.
We cut to Steve’s headquarters, where Black Panther is trying to hack into Tony’s computers at the prison. Black Panther tells Dagger that Tony has rigged the entire prison with a self destruct device and the whole place is going to blow up with Steve and their teammates in the prison. Black Panther tells Dagger to get Cloak and have him teleport as many people as possible out of the prison.
We then cut back to the prison. Mariah Hill radios Tony and tells him that Black Panther hacked into his system and activated the self-destruct system. Hill said that Black Panther said he did so on Steve Rogers’ orders.
Tony looks at Steve from across the brawl and calls Steve a bastard. Cloak transported as many people as he could but around 15 million people died in the massive explosion. The world went dark at the fighting between Steve and Tony’s people got worse.
Then the Skulls tried to take advantage of the turmoil on Earth and attacked. Then Norman Osborn attempted to take over the United States, but he failed.
The United States then split in half. Tony Stark ruled everything in the East. It was called The Iron. Steve Rogers ruled the West and it was called The Blue.
We cut to a young mutant suddenly getting the power of flight. She is flying in the air when she is met by Carol Danvers and two armored soldiers. Carol tells the girl who now that she has powers that she has to become registered.
The girl says she was not going to hurt anyone. Carol says that she knows that but Carol then points to a nearby airplane. Carol says that the girl was about to fly into the plane’s flight path. That there are many unintended consequences to untrained people just flying around.
We shift to The Blue. A boy there just got the power to create small explosions. He is approached by Cassie Lang. (Huh. I guess both The Iron and The Blue are policed by butch blonde women. Curious similarity.) Cassie asks the boy if he just got his powers. The boy asks if he is in trouble. Cassie says that the boy is not in trouble and can do what he wants. Cassie does suggest that the boy use his power for good so that ‘The Punishers” do not come after him.
Cassie says that Captain America only has two laws. Hurt no one and help people when you can. (Wait. A country that honestly has only TWO laws?! No other laws? No building codes? No traffic laws? No contract laws? No environmental regulations? No corporate regulations?)
We cut to The Divide. It is a large canyon that is the dividing line between the order between The Blue and The Iron. There is a bridge that crosses the divide and in the middle of the bride is a complex. This is where Miriam Sharpe lives. She is the one who started the entire Super Hero Registration push once her son was killed.
Miriam is being interviewed by a reporter. Miriam talks about how she has invited Tony and Steve to meet at The Divide in hopes to finally end the cold war between the two countries. Miriam talks about how hope and peace must be given a chance. That the United States needs to be unified once again.
The reporter says that Miriam is a polarizing figure and that many see her in the same light as the Bullseye Boys and other terrorist groups. The reporter says that there have been numerous death threats on Miriam’s life.
We shift to Tony and Steve arriving at The Divide. Steve arrives with Peter Parker by his side. Peter just wants to kill Tony and he cautions Steve to be careful. Tony is accompanied by a white woman. Tony and the woman play tonsil hockey with each other. Tony says that it was probably time for the woman to change. The woman then transforms into She-Hulk.
Steve, Peter, Tony and She-Hulk then all meet up with Miriam. Peter trash talks Tony. Tony says he has gesture of good faith. Tony points over to Mary Jane and Peter’s daughter. Peter asks if Steve wanted him to stay with him. Steve tells Peter to go be with his family. Steve and Tony then walk into the negotiation room with Miriam.
Miriam says that they need to talk about reunification. Tony says that he will put his cards on the table. That The Iron need more land. That The Iron’s population is growing. Steve say that The Blue has twice the land of The Iron and half of the population of The Iron.
Steve says that Tony wants land. That Tony has been starving The Blue by cutting off the flow of all the resources in order to force The Blue to give up some land in exchange for resources.
Tony says The Iron is recognized internationally and is a legitimate trading partner so of course they get all of the resources. That The Blue is recognized internationally as a rogue state. Steve says The Blue is a freedom state. Tony says what freedom? That freedom is not being able to have to worry about the country full of gun-nuts maniacs right on your border.
Tony proposes that The Blue ceded some land to The Iron and in return The Iron will give The Blue access to resources from The Iron’s trading partners. Steve gets pissed over the idea of people from The Iron living in The Blue. Steve and Tony both stand up and get ready to leave. Miriam stands up and begs both men to sit back down.
We hear a gun shot and we see that Miriam has been shot in the chest by a sniper. Steve radios Peter and tells him to go after the sniper. Tony points out that the sniper bullet came from The Blue. Peter finds the sniper rifle but there is no sniper in sight anywhere.
We cut to She-Hulk, Tony and Steve by Miriam’s side. Miriam dies. Steve says that the sniper shot came from 2 1/2 miles away. Steve says he only knows one person who can make that shot. Tony responds that Bullseye does not work for him. Steve says the shot hit Miriam but it was aimed at Steve.
Steve then walks out saying that the next time they talk will be when Steve is accepting Tony’s surrender. Tony yells that he had nothing to do with this. Steve answers “Does it matter?”
Steve walks out to Peter and tells him that Tony will never let this war end so they will have to end it for Tony. End of issue.
The Good: Secret Wars Civil War #1 was certainly crammed full of content! This was not a shallow and decompressed read at all. Soule gives the reader tons of content for their money. This is a thick read that takes a while to chew through and digest. I appreciate that Soule delivers a substantive issue that makes the reader feel that they got more than their money’s worth. I also appreciate the depth of this issue as well as the incredible attention to detail.
Soule does an impressive job world building in this issue. The reader gets treated to an incredibly well-developed setting and a wonderfully detailed history of this world. Soule pulls off more world building in this single issue than I think I have ever seen before. It really is an impressive feat. The reader gets such an incredible sense for this setting post Civil War. Such a well-developed world helps to pull the reader into the issue and delivers a truly immersive reading experience.
Soule fleshes out every single small aspect of this setting from The Iron to The Blue. I love that Soule even touches on some of the fringe groups like The Punishers and the Bullseye Boys. The concept of the Punishers is spot on and it makes sense that such a group would exist in The Blue in order to enforce their brand of justice. And the Bullseye Boys? Yeah, Bullseye as a leader of a terrorist group is fitting for this character.
What was also impressive was how Soule was able to really nail the philosophical differences between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. Soule was able to take those differences and extrapolate them into the future when asking what if Civil War had never ended. The end result was a logical evolution of both Tony and Steve.
Basically, Soule writes The Iron like the present day Northeastern states of New England, New York and New Jersey. Like America’s Northeast, The Iron is liberal in that it favors heavy gun control and heavy government regulation. On the other hand, Soule writes The Blue like present day Southwestern states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Like the Southwestern states, The Blue is conservative and favors a more Libertarian view of life with little government regulation, lots of guns and wide open land.
I found Soule’s interpretation of what Tony’s vision of America and Steve’s vision of America to be logical and well-developed. What is interesting is that in 2006, many comic writers cast Tony Stark as the villain in their haste of deliver their post 9/11 critique of the Bush Administration. However, the rush to do so was based upon a lack of intelligence about how our legislature and judicial systems operate. I always found Tony to actually be the Democrat and Captain America to be the Republican. Soule clearly tapped into that same view.
In this issue, Tony comes across far more reasonable and rational about how a modern civilized society should be run. On the other hand, Steve comes across as a bit fanatical and anachronistic. Soule clearly writes Tony with a desire to promote peace and to move past the war. Could Soule be doing this with a swerve in mind at some later point? Possibly.
Steve, seems more stubborn and narrow-minded as if he simply wants to keep the war for the sake of fighting. Soule even has Steve say at the end of the issue that it no longer even matters why he and Tony are fighting. Steve has become so fanatical that the war is all that defines him and his existence. Without the war, Steve loses his purpose in the world. It is quite a fascinating take on the conflict from Civil War.
I have to admit that even though I am a massive Peter Parker fan, Pete came across incredibly annoying in this issue. But, that was perfect! It worked well with Peter’s character spinning out of Civil War. Also, Peter as the hot-tempered loyal soldier was the perfect complement to Steve’s character.
I adored She-Hulk in this issue. Soule’s pairing of She-Hulk and Tony was perfect. And it was logical, too. She-Hulk being an attorney understands how the legislative and judicial systems work and she would understand Tony’s motivations. Also, being an attorney, She-Hulk is going to understand that the only way to deal with problems is through the proper channels of the American judicial system. Also, it just works that Tony would be attracted to a smoking hot giant green woman!
Soule certainly ended Secret Wars Civil War #1 with a huge hook ending in the surprising assassination of Miriam Sharpe. This was compounded with the fact that bullet was aimed for Steve and may have been commissioned by Tony. This is a big enough of a “surprise” ending that most readers will probably want to come back for more with the next issue. I know that it worked with me!
The Bad: Secret Wars Civil War #1 was a dry read. There was nothing technically wrong with how this issue was constructed. Soule is a fine writer from a technical standpoint. But, this issue read like it was written by an attorney, which is Soule’s occupation. Yes, Soule delivers a logical, well plotted and detailed issue. Those are all strengths that talented legal writers bring to the table. However, Soule also brings the downside of many legal writers. The issue comes across as dry and a bit dull.
Secret Wars Civil War #1 reads a bit like a history book. The reader certainly gets tons of information in this issue. Secret Wars Civil War #1 is most definitely a substantial read chock full of content. However, the reader’s eyes begin to glaze over halfway through the issue much like when slogging through a history book. I certainly appreciate Soule’s attention to detail but a bit more passion and soul would have made this issue a more enjoyable read.
Lienle Yu and Gerry Alanguilan combine to deliver serviceable artwork. Personally, I have never been a fan of Yu’s art at all. It is too rough and sketchy for me. All of the people have hideous looking faces. The colors are drab. All in all, this is a dull looking issue. And that compounds the problem of this issue being so dry since Soule delivers a mostly talking head styled issue.
Overall: Secret Wars Civil War #1 was a solid debut issue. If Soule can crank up the emotional side of his story then we could end up getting a real treat of a story. Soule certainly gave me enough in this issue to get me to come back for more. This is quality writing and I think that anyone who enjoyed the Civil War big event will also enjoy Secret Wars Civil War #1.