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Author Topic: Marvel's Civil War  (Read 4777 times)

sinkie

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2011, 08:56:20 PM »

(I think some of us need to put a SPOILER ALERT - before some of our posts...I'm looking at you Napseeker!)

Beyond whether the writing is "ok" or not, and now I want to go back and read it to form a better opinion because a lot of it is hazy now, though I do remember enjoying it well enough as a story, some of the criticisms levelled against it here are interesting to the medium overall. I mean, should comic book characters stay "faithful" to a fixed identity? Should they only deviate slightly, with the times maybe? Or can they be reimagined from time to time too? Personally, I love the variety of incarnations that the eras and creative talents have given us using the same characters. Obviously, many want the continuity even if that is very difficult to pull off realistically in the medium given that many of these characters should be dead or very old by now. If not, then it would seem each one has a "non-aging" super power alongside their spider powers, super intelligence, super strength, etc! And that's not true because Wolverine has the entire regeneration thing as a power in and of itself. So the medium always has to work with the constraint, in a sense, of repetition with variation.

As someone who went in and out of collecting, in and out following certain teams and characters, I am totally fine to jump in again with something like Civil War and find some big time Marvel heroes acting differently, though honestly, I never found any behaving so differently that it threw me out of the story. I do admit that Bendis has a tendency to write as if all his characters thought and spoke somewhat similarly, but again, it worked for me so I've grown to like his style and to notice the subtler differences he gives to different personalities. I think I like that his writing can get convoluted but he is still able to tell a solid, fun story. I used to be a huge Grant Morrison fan but find his stuff so hit and miss lately, mostly miss since he tends to get weird for no apparent reason now, Seven Soldiers was almost unreadable though his All Star Superman was pretty fun.
In many ways it will always end "well" because 99 percent of those characters are needed to continue to sell comic books...but they did off Captain America...temporarily.

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napseeker

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2011, 09:26:36 PM »

Well first off, no spoiler alert was really needed in regards to stating who I felt were turned into villains in this series. One could argue that Iron Man and Reed are the ones on the "good side" too, and are the heroes (depending on your point of view).

There's good writing and there's bad writing.  In good writing, characters do change over time, they evolve and act in accordance to things that they have learned/experienced that may have  justifiably altered their viewpoints. Civil War is not an example of this. It is, as many people have stated, purely about abrupt change in characterization for the sake of making sure there are two sides in the coming civil war and that they are uncompromising about it (because otherwise how can you justify the requisite big superpowered confrontations and deaths).  It is fake, false, and not based on things that a reader who at least reads semi-regularly the comics belonging to those characters would see coming.  This isn't an issue at all about fixed identities, it's about writers (or a writer) with the "high concept idea" and a need to see it come about one way or another.  What you get are many characters, including Peter Parker, who I can never see doing the crazy things they end up doing.  

Without getting into a real spoiler, Peter would NEVER do what he does in the series - NEVER.  We have hundreds of issues of SpiderMan where he even verbalizes the reason why he would never do what he does over and over again and he is correct in that line of reasoning.  Yet in Civil War, he does it almost out of nowhere and seemingly without any prior thought to the consequences of that action.  It makes NO SENSE. The only reason he would do it is because the writer needs him to do it. Because there has to be some kind of consequence to at least some of the participating civil war participants and in this case, Spidey is one of the chosen.  I'll say this: it's fun to see how he deals with it, because you always wonder what would happen and how he'd deal with it beyond just the kind of speculation you'd get in a "What If?" story.   But in the long run, as any Spidey fan has now seen, it was totally meaningless to the canon.  It might as well have been a What If tale.

Another part of the problem with graphic novels, which often are used to collect together events like this into a digestable fix for comic book readers who only periodically jump in to read and don't keep up with regular continuity, is that the kind of character butchering in these events that rile the regular readers are often forgivable by the less regular readers because they can't tell that these are 90 or 180-degree shifts in the personalities of the heroes. In the event graphic novel, the overall plot and story are the primary focus, while I'd argue that for a regular running series, it is the evolution and ongoing consistent characterization of the hero (and supporting cast) that matter.  Event comics will do that - this was even a problem going as far back to the very first event comic (Secret Wars) which I re-read recently and noticed how inconsistent the X-Men were when written by Shooter vs the way they were at the same point in time in their own regular comic (as written by Claremont of course).   The event comic tends to be about the high concept and will sacrifice faithful characterization in service to that; the regular comic can only live so long on an initial high concept but in the long run needs fans to care about the characters to keep them coming back.

I'd also add a recommendation to read "Invincible" by Robert Kirkman, who does a way better job at doing the classic Peter Parker type character than anything seen at Marvel lately.  It may be the only comic written in the silver age style pre-influences of Frank Miller and Alan Moore (although it does have some brutal violence in later points).

Edit: added "event" above to state I am referring to "event graphic novel" when implying that those types of graphic novels tend to focus more on plot than faithful characterization.  Obviously there are indie graphic novels like Blankets or Chunky Rice where characterization is the main driver.

« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 09:37:41 PM by napseeker »
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sinkie

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2011, 10:07:20 PM »

Very good points, but ultimately series and even overall "continuity" survive event comics. Secret Wars did not destroy anyone, it kind of happens and then future writers can use it (or not) for fodder. I don't mind the abrupt changes really, I guess sometimes they are clunky but once they get going and if I'm into it I could almost care less. I'm saying something like Civil War could be fun for occasional or "different" kinds of readers even if, overall, it does not totally jive with longer term continuity. I won't even argue if it was good writing, that will come down to a matter of taste for some, but I can totally see why if one wants to read faithfully, hope for a kind of continuity, then this could be very un-fun to say the least. So criticism well-leveled.

But overall, I find it more fun to not hold them to too much continuity, especially the way I read them lately, at least not over the long term (between events let's say, or at least between events that are so far apart you can almost forget they happened). I find it more enjoyable to see familiar characters doing unfamiliar things in (somewhat) original scenarios even if off the top I sense a "high concept" event being put into play. I think maybe sometimes the people behind the scenes want to shake things up and don't necessarily want to wait forever to do so. Call it inspiration, call it that mixed with perhaps a title or two not selling as well as they used to and in need of some octane. I don't know. All I know is that I don't necessarily judge the writing based on whether or not it had a slow build or just burst onto the scene and blew me away (or tickled me enough to entertain). That kind of writing can still be good IMO, just based on a different starting point, different expectation, different criterion (of course as someone who hates the PT for many similar reasons I feel somewhat hypocritical, but those were far from the ONLY reasons I hate the PT, I also think it is a terribly told story as well).

And yes, better stuff is being written, I love Invincible, I love Walking Dead (though I hope it ends soon!), I'm starting into Incognito and will probably move onto Criminal after that. I've recently discovered Darwyn Cooke and more of Warren Ellis. So yeah, I know Bendis/Civil War is not the high point of comicdom, but it's fun enough for those of us not seeking a certain mode of comic book engagement, or rather, those of us I guess who come to comics for slightly different reasons. Hard to say, just going on what you articulated above.

And, yeah, though you didn't give away the whole show, I just felt saying someone normally a hero is kind of a villain (even if that is debatable) might be spoiler-ish to some but I was mostly joking. :P

jjreason

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2011, 10:21:04 PM »

I forgot to add this: Civil War had some outstanding art by Steve McNiven if I recall correctly. At the very least you'll have some pretty pictures. :)

The other aspect of the major events these days is that they're expected now. Secret Wars knocked my socks off (still does, even though there's NO WAY IN HELL Spidey could take apart the X-Men like he did in the one issue - that was pure Shooter playing favorites in response to the insane X-sales that were taking place back then), and I would say broadened my Marvel horizons immensely during it's year long run. I went into it reading X-Men & Daredevil and came out reading about 3 times that many Marvel comics. I feel in love with Thor & the FF based on their roles in that event.

It also worked because of the way the regular books had been set up - it was obviously very contrived, but it was contrived in such a fashion that "what happened on Battleworld stays on Battleworld" worked, at least for me.

These days, seeing the adds in winter comics for "World War Hulk" or the like just makes me roll my eyes. This year it's FEAR ITSELF, which I'm 3/7 issues done already & still not sure what the heck is going on. It will all work out I guess, and the crisis of Sin & her worthy will be abated in time for the kids to go back to school.  :rollfloorlaffsmiley:
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napseeker

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2011, 10:33:05 PM »

I do agree with you on that point about wanting to see my favorite heroes break out of the mold periodically and surprise me.  I think little things like (and these are from the old, old era of comics which I read I think 2 decades ago so hopefully this won't be considered spoilerish)  Steve Rogers being forced out of his role as Captain America and becoming an alternate "Captain America"-ish type hero, or Tony Stark's alcholism finally winning and Rhodey stepping in to take up the armor, or even Storm shaving off her long hair and sporting a mohawk (man, did fans not react well to that change, though ultimately thanks to Claremont's good writing, folks seemed to accept it as a part of her growth).

I'd forgotten that it was Bendis who wrote the series (I tend to try and ignore the writer's identity lest I might approach a new story arc with a bias, whether that be positive or negative).  I tend not to like his Marvel work precisely because he often steamrolls ahead with his plans and ignore character continuity. Then you have other (better IMO) writers like Waid, Miller (well before he started doing drugs and booze), and especially Alan Moore who are really loyal to the characters they write and often drop little bits of dialogue from past stories that only the longterm fans would recognize - these writers KNOW the backstory of the characters.  Bendis OTOH, seems to create new backstory for long-established characters in order to justify their atypical behavior.  I vaguely recall (and I don't this will spoil anything) that during Civil War, Reed makes some kind of big decision and to justify it, he cites some event that happened to his father/grandfather/great-grandfather/uncle, someone from his family as having encountered an event that affected them because they made the wrong choice and Reed didn't want to make that same mistake.  When I read that, I just groaned, because it's just included there to say to readers that Reed isn't making that big decision out of thin air (but Reed's tale doesn't come from anything real, it's just a writer's excuse).

I think Civil War could've been an amazing mini-series if someone else wrote it; if maybe Jim Shooter wrote it, or the 1980s Claremont (but not the modern Claremont, who judging by his X-Men Forever writing, has simply gone insane... :) ).  It could've been a nice prelude to a future scenario like a "Days of Future Past" nightmarish timeline which has been hinted at for ages but obviously will never come about in any kind of long-lasting manner. 

The DC reboot and the current Marvel "Heroic Age" kind of suggests to me that even the higher-ups at the big two realize that the kind of writing that permeates both universes has lost a lot of its magic; Alan Moore once noted that the reason why we as kids got into comics is because of the sense of wonder that these comics created for its readers (rather than civil wars or mutant registration acts, think back to phantom zone projectors or a giant sentient planet, time machines bigger on the inside than outside, etc).  There's almost too much reality and not enough fantasy (or reality in an exaggerated fantastical sense) - that can partially be blamed for the average age of comic book readers now being over 35 and the demand for more realistic storytelling in order to keep readers engaged (more realistic, more intellectual, more high concept, whatever you want to call it - some may also say "dark and gritty").  No wonder kids are turning more to manga than north american comic books; manga still manages to capture a lot of that magic and escapism that kids are yearning for.


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sinkie

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2011, 10:49:29 PM »

Love that last point. And it is probably true. But without it I wonder what would happen to comic books (in competition with video games etc). Would they even survive? If not, then in any case they could be seen as dying off, just in a different manner now that the decision seems to have been made to cater to the over 30s who may loose interest at 67 and there may be no nostalgic audience to take their place. Who knows! Like I said, I don't mind it, I don't think I could stay into straight up kids comics (rereading some of the older stuff is fun but it doesn't necessarily work on me the way it did) and trying to write it for kids might fail anyway, probably needs to happen somewhat more organically. There are a few more innocent titles out there, but even they are often "tainted" by a sense of the current audiences expectations and needs, Invincible is a good example that you already brought up. And isn't some of the rebooting going on about this? I thought the Heroic Age was a subtle Disney-fying of Marvel? Maybe I'm wrong, I'm a bit behind on my trades!

Alan Moore is still one of my favorite writers even if some of his ABC stuff didn't grab me fully but he also seems somewhat now bent on being right about how comics suck or something. I fear it may be preventing him from writing good stories again (like Miracleman or Swamp Thing...those are still great works!) Besides, isn't he a full time magician (and not rabbit-out-of-the-hat type either) now? :)


Oh and I recently met a guy at work who's WAY more into comics and continuity than I am but he's "teaching" me and is a fount of knowledge (I saw X-men First Class and GL with him and it was handy to be able to use him as a living breathing comic-wikipedia immediately after the credits started to roll!). Man, dude's got about 6 Ikea type books shelves full of Omnibuses and Ultimate Collections, actually probably more than that! Anyway, he gave me a bunch of trades he no longer wanted because of said collection and one of them was Squadron Supreme. It was a real eye opener, something I had missed back in the day. The differences were somewhat startling, but not all of them expected. First, it took so long to read! So many words and dialogue and thought bubbles rather than sparse witty banter and splash pages of action. There's something of educational value in that I think. Also, thematically, it felt like it was for kids and yet not, or kids with a brain and kids who knew the world wasn't only make believe and bed time stories, kids who had figured stuff out to a point from what they heard their parents discussing or what was on the news all around them. Anyway, it wasn't as heavy as Watchmen but it had it's own darkness (not to mention much more sexual innuendo than I recall comics of the day having...besides female (lack of) costumes that is). Anyway, it was good, not necessarily suturing me into its world the way some comics do for me today (always some sort of nostalgic or ironic distance going on when I read a lot of the older stuff), and really good to "refresh" my vision on comics today.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2011, 10:39:11 AM by sinkie »
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jjreason

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2011, 10:02:09 AM »

Way off topic, but if you liked Squadron Supreme, I HIGHLY recommend the updated take on it which I believe was written by J Michael Stracynski a few years ago. It was called Supreme Power and it was under the Marvel MAX imprint - amazing book (and don't miss the accompanying 4 issue Nighthawk limited series by Daniel Way, who at one point I would have called the most underrated writer in comics - but not after he completely baffled me on Wolverine: Origins).

Make sure you're getting the JMS stories though, because they've dabbled back into these characters since, but not with the same results I don't think.

I'd also recommend the Warren Ellis issues of Stormwatch, which led into the Authority if you develop a taste for unconventional super hero team books - for the duration of Ellis' run the action is non-stop, and the characters are anything but ordinary. Well worth a look.





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napseeker

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #22 on: July 18, 2011, 08:32:20 PM »

I was lucky enough to read Squadron Supreme as a kid and loved it.  That was a good precursor to Watchmen in a way, but while still keeping within the comics code authority. It's always good when you can have heroic characters who are "disposable" and not cashcows like SpiderMan or Batman who can never be drastically changed forever.  The deaths were often quite shocking for someone used to seeing the heroes always making it out alive. Great series.

JMS has done an excellent job on writing for comics (I'm not much of a fan of his TV work as his dialogue is terrible there, perhaps George Lucas studied under him?). I do recall reading Rising Stars and being blown away at how riveting the writing was.  And yes, Warren Ellis writing Stormwatch was fantastic... Image needed good writers and Ellis definitely brought a lot of improvements to an otherwise forgettable comic book. The ALIENS crossover is something I periodically re-read just because it was so remarkably horrific - although I've read online that some fans did not take too kindly to what happened to some of the heroes in that story.

Regarding sinkie's point...  I think when kids reach our age, they'll be nostalgic about the mangas they read as a kid, not comics like Spidey or Fantastic Four or even X-Men.  I can't believe the number of times I'd go to Chapters and see teen boys AND girls just sitting on the carpet there in the manga aisle, reading away.  They could care less about the regular comics or the graphic novels (that section is populated usually by old geezers like myself looking for the latest from Daniel Clowes). 

Shame though to hear that Moore may be getting more vocal about criticisms of the industry. I hope he doesn't turn into Frank Miller. Miller was at the peak of his success and then kind of spent more and more of his time ranting on how badly past creators had been screwed over and how terrible modern comics were ...and then he went and wrote/drew The Dark Knight Strikes Back, which was the epitome of exactly the same thing he was accusing the rest of the industry of being.  DKSB is to The Dark Knight Returns  as Infinite Crisis was to Crisis on Infinite Earths... basically spitting into the open mouth of its classic, much loved predecessor (sorry for anyone eating dinner about putting that image into your heads :) )  Still can't believe Geoff Johns wrote that monstrosity.

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Mit_Othy

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2011, 10:34:39 AM »

I guess from my point of view, with me being somewhat of a 'new reader' to most of these stories. It is based on how much I am willing to pay for them. I ordered House of M, which should come sometime this week. And I have heard that it some major changes take place in the universe and is kind of an important to read. And then I'll probably move onto the Civil War, starting with the first, and then deciding if I want to go into each seperate section of the war. Just from reading the write ups on Chapters.ca some sound rather interesting and some sound rather dull to me. So we will see how it all goes. Thanks so much guys for all your advice and help. You have given me a lot to mull over.
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sinkie

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2011, 11:16:50 AM »

Now Napseeker....try to resist telling him what the major event of House of M is please!!!!!  :winking0071: :winking0071: :winking0071: :winking0071: :rollfloorlaffsmiley:

Mit_Othy

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2011, 12:17:35 PM »

Now Napseeker....try to resist telling him what the major event of House of M is please!!!!!  :winking0071: :winking0071: :winking0071: :winking0071: :rollfloorlaffsmiley:

I actually laughed out loud at that. I have no idea what the event is, all I do know is that it is pretty huge. Hopefully I get it in the mail soon.
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napseeker

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #26 on: July 20, 2011, 12:34:30 PM »

Now Napseeker....try to resist telling him what the major event of House of M is please!!!!!  :winking0071: :winking0071: :winking0071: :winking0071: :rollfloorlaffsmiley:

Ha, I'm happy to report that there will be no spoilers from me about House of M as I totally skipped it :)  Once Scott Lobdell took over writing duties for X-Men, the writing nosedived so rapidly that I did the unthinkable and stopped reading the X-titles for a long, long time... only Grant Morrison's run (and the brief Alan Davis as writer/artist arc) got me back reading again.  Of course from there we got some spurts of good writing again with Joss Whedon... the X-verse has been so hit-and-miss sadly.
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sinkie

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #27 on: July 20, 2011, 05:20:20 PM »

I feel a bit stupid but just wanted to clarify that Civil War was not Bendis's baby" as I think I put it above. He obviously wrote a lot of the story while it was going on but it was ultimately Mark Millar's offspring since he wrote the series I suppose. But what do I know?! It's not like I'm a fly on the wall at Marvel or anything.

jjreason

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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #28 on: July 20, 2011, 09:06:53 PM »

Bendis chairs the creative committee meetings & is editor in chief a-la Stan Lee of the 60s. Whoever came up with the idea, it was certainly approved and likely fine-tuned by the Bald-headed One himself.
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Re: Marvel's Civil War
« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2011, 01:49:08 PM »

The only thing I can say about the Civil War is that playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 made me interested in reading it.  When I went out to buy the HC of it (since I'm a snob I only buy HC versions) there were too many different graphic novels and I couldn't find the "central" story one so I've kinda put Civil War on the back burner.  After reading some of the comments here I probably won't bother with it anymore.

I've been on a graphic novel kick lately and over the past few months I've read Y The Last Man, Old Man Logan, and Hush.  All three are now in my top 10 and I highly recommend anyone that hasn't read them to pick them up. 

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