Monday, 11 January 2016

Civil War #1 - Marvel Comics

CIVIL WAR No. 1, September 2015
Based upon the premise that “the events of the 2006-2007 Civil War series never ended” this rather perplexing ‘alternate-universe’ portrayal of a “Marvel Universe” firmly divided between supporters of Captain America and Iron Man makes for a tense if not entirely enthralling read, and somewhat justifies its 'shifting' of 170,546 copies in order to become the third best-selling comic book of July 2015. Indeed, for all its absurdities, such as the United States of America being “shattered… down the middle” into the territories of Steve Rogers’ The Blue and Tony Stark’s The Iron, Charles Soule’s narrative swiftly acquires a tense edginess to it as the plot moves towards the two former Avengers meeting one another to ‘talk’ after years of hostility and “bloody conflict”.

Admittedly the Brooklyn-born writer’s attempt to make neither side the ‘baddie’ of this book isn’t particularly successful, nor does such a concept willingly lend itself to the New Yorker plotting a credible chronicle of events which caused a need for the heroes' ‘historic gathering’ in the first place. It’s certainly hard to believe that “Iron Man rigged the entire [Project 42] prison with a self-destruct” and then activated it so as to destroy “Cap and the rest”. Especially when during the fighting a battered Commander Hill informs Stark that T’Challa had actually “hacked into the prison’s security systems” and “activated the self-destruct… on Captain America’s orders.” Why would the Sentinel of Liberty, billionaire inventor or Black Panther willingly consign “fifteen million other people” to so ghastly a fate..?

Perhaps inevitably Soule’s writing does ultimately lean towards favouring one side of the dispute with his depiction of life within The Iron appearing far more militaristic, unforgiving and aggressive than Shield-slinger’s more compassionate Western America, where “most lived in peace and happiness.” In fact the “shock and awe” approach of Stark’s “asserted order” agents when they discover “a kid” flying for the first time, coupled with the playboy’s antagonistic demands for a portion of The Blue’s land because “The Iron’s population is growing...” and Miriam Sharpe's assassin actually having been aiming at Steve Rogers, makes it very hard to sympathise with Shellhead's side.

Sadly Leinil Francis Yu’s artwork for so serious a mini-series’ script is something of a major disappointment. The Filipino comic book artist, “who began working for the American market through Wildstorm Productions”, clearly has a very distinctive style which can imbue his figures with impressive life and vitality. But whilst such an ability arguably works on the full-page illustration of Captain America, Spider-Man, Storm and Daredevil battling Iron Man, Doc Samson and others, the technique's evident sketchiness regrettably makes the pencilling appear rushed and hurried when used to depict the story’s more sedentary panels. An arguable flaw which is particularly pronounced and noticeable when the characters are drawn against a blank one-dimensional background.
The regular cover art of "CIVIL WAR" No. 1 by Lenil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho

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