Civil War No. 1

Marvel Comics debuted its summer event series a few weeks back. It’s called “Civil War” and its being touted as the comic book that will force heroes to choose sides against one another. On one side are those heroes who will submit to government requests to register their identity and abilities with a federal agency. The other side are those who seek to protect their identities from their enemies and the public.

The book opens up with the New Warriors, (seen in image) a group of teen-aged heroes who star on a reality TV show, as they raid a house full of supervillains.

As they round up the evildoers, Namorita and Nitro do battle. Nitro, a fellow who can generate concussive blasts, gets really mad and levels a whole town. The resulting blast apparently kills several of the New Warriors, most notably Speedball.

The story then turns to the clean-up effort after the blast and all the associated political fallout of the New Warriors’ careless use of their abilities.

All and all, it’s a pretty entertaining bit of comic-book writing, though I have to nit-pick about the nature of Speedball’s apparent death.

You see, it’s amazingly unlikely that an explosion (or the debris created by one) could hurt Speedball. If anything, I think it would launch him into orbit. Nitro’s concussive-blast power is almost the direct opposite power that speedball has.

But Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada said he’s most assuredly dead, in fact he gleefully stated earlier this year that he was thrilled to be rid of the character. Apparently, Joe Q. loathes Speedball, but I wonder: Is he bluffing? Or does the writer not understand Speedball’s powers? Sure Joe Q. is the boss, and whatever he says goes, but that’s just dreadfully inconsistent with what is canon.

Anyway, I did enjoy this book. I like the ideas being tossed around here.

Here’s what I hope “Civil War” will do to the Marvel Universe*:

In America, the only “Good Guys” are those registered with the goverment. The Bad Guys are all those who don’t, plain and simple. The government sets up the Good Guys with finances, supplies and support in return for “Mission Work.”

This Mission Work could be anything from cleaning up after a disaster, to assassinations to hunting down unregistered Bad Guys.

Things start to get confusing when a whole lot of villains actually do register, thereby becoming Good Guys. The villains are still villainous — they are mean, abusive, take advantage of their positions and even break the law when they think no one’s looking.

The nicer jobs are given to the heroic Good Guys, while the dirty work all goes to those with less than stellar morals, which would tend to be the villainous Good Guys.

The group labeled Bad Guys by the government would include heroes who won’t expose themselves, villains that are unwilling to “reform” and visiting aliens like the Silver Surfer.

Sure the heroic Bad Guys, still do good things, but they are hunted and persecuted for it. In particular, this means that a hero could be hunted by his archenemy, and the archenemy could be following orders from the feds.

Likewise, villainous Good Guys might bring the federal, legal and martial hammer down on heroic Bad Guys who attack them or interrupt their activities.

At the same time, a sort of underground rebellion begins, where the commonfolk pick sides too. There are some who go by who the federal goverment says are Good Guys. While others side with those who do heroic acts. This beliefs compels people (like Rick Jones & The Teen Brigade or even Robbie Robertson) to protect those they see doing good deeds by providing them with finances, supplies and support. This would effectively reboot several comic characters to their original premise — on the run and desperate to protect their identity.

This whole world view sets up a four-sided dynamic: Hero supporters for the by-the-books folks, Villain supporters for the inheritantly evil, heroic-deeds supporters who judge people on a case-by-case basis and those who support no superhuman activity at all.

Could be neat, I tell you.

(*Color coded for ease of understanding! — I hope! Gosh, I’m suuuuch a nerd.)


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