Around three months ago I wrote one of my favourite articles on this blog, entitled ‘Why was Marvel’s Civil War so successful?’ (Which you can view here). Shortly after that article I promised that if it ever got to 1,000 views I would write a follow up piece. Yesterday the article hit 1,000 views. So the question remains, with so much going on with both the plot and the historical context of the piece, why wasn’t Marvel’s Civil War more successful? The series did have some weak points and there was backlash from critics at the time branding the entire event as a publicity stunt. Please bare in mind that as a strong fan and staunch defender of the storyline I am going to have to really nit-pick and even look at how some of the strengths of the series I identified could be viewed as weaknesses.
Also, just a quick spoiler warning, if you haven’t read Civil War there may be some small spoilers in the text and the images I have used.
Picture Source: http://popdose.com/wp-content/uploads/marvel-civil-war.jpg [Accessed: 16/09/2015]
The Run Up To Civil War was pretty weak…
Picture Source: http://www.arca-lab.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Road-to-Civil-War.jpg [Accessed: 16/09/2015]
The plot of Civil War spins out from a series of events in the Marvel Universe, including Wolverine threatening the president on live television, Hulk smashing up a city so bad he is exiled to another planet and the entire New Avengers series which consisted of a growing rift between the super heroes and S.H.I.E.L.D. I feel that to gain the full appreciation for the events of Civil War the readers needed to have a least an awareness of these events, as well as the House of M story arc, and some of these pieces dramatically varied in quality.
Picture Source: http://mimg.ugo.com/201009/61368/wolverine-enemy-of-the-state-cover.jpg [Accessed: 16/09/2015]
The New Avengers series was strong but again required a certain amount of prior knowledge. The Wolverine ‘Enemy Of The State’ arc is very action heavy and feels less like a well written piece of graphic fiction and instead a lengthy ‘What If…‘ storyline in the vein of the ‘Deadpool vs The Marvel Universe’ run. Finally, the Fantastic Four arc, ‘The Life Fantastic’, featuring the destruction of Las Vegas by the Hulk among other stories is incredibly weak. That being said, the arcs included in the ‘Road To Civil War’ trade paperback are pretty good, although the Spiderman plot seems to discredit Tony Stark’s side of the debate. Stark is seen paying the Crimson Dynamo to attack Washington D.C. in order to provoke Peter into joining his side of the war which, for me at least, harms the strength of the debate.
For an unbiased debate, Civil War gets pretty biased in parts.
Picture Source: http://images-cdn.moviepilot.com/images/c_fill,h_627,w_800/t_mp_quality/tizfkadlmrmujbdyrikx/exclusive-captain-america-civil-war-filming-funeral-scene-this-week-399636.jpg [Accessed: 16/09/2015]
I know I defended this in my original article, but if Marvel had wanted to push the Civil War saga to a point that would really rock the world of comic books they could of at least tried to make Tony Stark less of a super villain. With the Thunderbolt’s aspect of the plot, the Thor Clone and the fight between Tony and Peter, Civil War begins to weigh in heavily on Captain America’s side of he debate whilst demonising Tony. It would have been nice to see Captain America’s people getting a little more dirty in their tactics, Punisher starts to go down this route but is stopped by Steve. It would have been more unsettling to see Steve breaking so of his morals in order to protect other heroes identities. The debate becomes more balanced once you read the tie-ins but there’s a bit of a problem there.
Civil War got a little over ambitious.
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There had never been as many tie-in issues to a Marvel Comic book arc as there were with the Civil War series, since then Marvel have attempted it multiple times with varying degrees of success. This was a great strength of the series as it allowed readers to view the argument from many different angles but it also created a problem. If you wanted to read about every aspect of the Civil War debate, you had to buy every single issue of Civil War and for a lot of people this became unaffordable. On top of that, as great writers moved to the most important storylines many other tie-ins were left with weaker writers working with characters they knew little about. This lead to some pretty shameful storylines, particularly for the Ms. Marvel and Heroes for Hire tie-ins. That being said, this experimentation with artists and writers did also lead to some amazing tie-ins, but that is another story for another time.
All the heavy hitters left or got nerfed.
Picture Source: http://media.comicbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/the-sentry.jpg [Accessed: 16/09/2015]
Marvel worked pretty hard to take Thor and Hulk right out of the fight sharply before the Civil War arc commenced. This feels a little sloppy, even if it lead to some great stories for both heroes. Other powerhouses like the Sentry and Iron Man both seemed to get heavily depowered whilst heroes like Black Panther and Spider-Man were increased in power to reflected their status in the story. I realise why this had to happen but more of an explanation or a greater balance of power would have dealt with the problem better.
Picture Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/–otX0-OtMAM/TeF7yOvIKZI/AAAAAAAAAlY/qVWDktcu0k4/s1600/Marvel_Civil_War.jpg [Accessed: 16/09/2015]
All in all, Marvel’s Civil War is a fantastic series with some minor to middle-level flaws that, if fixed, could have created a piece that the comic book community would still be debating over, even now. This will be good to remember when considering the upcoming Captain America: Civil War as it will be interesting to see how the film’s writers attempt to deal with these plot holes and weaknesses. I think that even with such flaws the series still holds up and surpasses many other, more stable, series. But this is just my opinion, hit me up in the comments section or across social media with your own opinion on the series, I’ve had my say now it’s time for you to have yours!
…and that’s this week’s BearSleuth opinion! Please like, subscribe, comment and get tattoos of the URL if you enjoy the piece enough. Check back on Friday for this week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!