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What Happened? — Civil War (2006)

Civil War (2006)

Civil War is possibly the most important Marvel Comics crossover event in the past 20 years. It is vastly different than the MCU adaption. You can take a quick glance and pick a side based on who you think is cooler — Captain America or Iron Man — or, you could let me tell you what happened in the story here and make your decision based on that. You won’t have to read it yourself and I will remain unbiased. I’m fully kidding — I hate Iron Man. Here we go!

What Caused the Rift?

Superheroes had gone a long time without being properly regulated by law or any governing body other than themselves. So, when a group of young superheroes named the New Warriors decide to make a reality TV show out of their exploits — everything went great! Not really, they decided to attack a bunch of supervillains who were laying low in a shared-housing sort of arrangement. Long story short: one of these villains was Nitro. Nitro has the ability to explode at great magnitudes and reform himself. When cornered by the New Warrior Namorita, he explodes, killing just about everyone. More importantly, he ends up killing a bunch of school children. This generates the understandable outrage that follows towards the unregulated antics of superheroes and the government putting forward the Superhuman Registration Act.

The Superhuman Registration Act and What it Means

The legislation required superheroes to be registered in a government database and if they use their powers to fight crime — it’s on the government’s order. Think of the Act as making heroes into super-police that have their identities publicly known. Now, while there’s nothing wrong about wanting heroes to be held accountable for their actions, the Act brings big problems for certain kinds of heroes. Superheroes have spent their careers stopping bad guys — bad guys who would now know their identity. Their families, friends and other dependents could theoretically be targeted by villains with vendettas now. Additionally, as pointed out by Captain America: government controlled heroes may be pointed at who the government perceives to be villains rather than actual villains. This means the government could use heroes under the Act as their own personal super-army — if America wanted oil from somewhere, they’d point their superheroes at it and tell them that that’s today’s villain.

Pro-Registration

Civil War: Iron Man Vol.1

As I’ve said previously, nothing is wrong with the idea of accountability and personally I wasn’t against the Act entirely. The main supporters of the Act were: Tony Stark/Iron Man, Hank Pym/Yellowjacket and Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic. Straight away — these guys do not speak for the every-day person let alone the every-day hero. Often a bit full of themselves and believing themselves to be intellectually superior to most, they take the Act as law (no pun intended) and don’t see or care about the problems the Act causes for street-level heroes or the general public. They also build a superhuman prison in the Negative Zone to house heroes who will not cooperate once the Act goes live. Very sketchy. It’s also important to note that Tony Stark only really got on board after he was spat at by the mother of one of the victims of the events that sparked the debate. As he was likely only at the funeral for publicity, I doubt he’d have cared if he wasn’t confronted so publicly. So although there are merits to the pro-registration camp, it all felt less than genuine from the off. Oh and also: They recruit supervillains to work for them and use nanobots to control them so they don’t go too far when in the field. As you can imagine, this turns out to be a bad idea.

Anti-Registration

Civil War: Casualties of War #1 (Cap Variant)

Captain America is Anti-American government?! You bet he is. Cap’s been around the block and he is well aware of the nonsense the US government likes to get up to. He sides with the street-level heroes and refuses to help S.H.I.E.L.D/the government round up these heroes. They immediately attack him once he makes his stance known. Luckily, Steve Rogers is the John Cena of the Marvel Universe so he jumps out of a window onto a jet and flies to safety. Typical Monday for Steve. The Anti-Registration heroes operate illegally after the act goes live — making a point to round up more villains than registered heroes to show they need to be above the law to excel in fighting crime. If captured, they’re sent off to the Negative Zone prison. The main supporters of the Anti-Registration movement are: Steve Rogers/Captain America, Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Luke Cage and Nathaniel Summers/Cable. While I am more sympathetic to this cause, they’re still endangering people with their cavalier approach to crime-fighting.

Neutral Parties

The X-men, for the most part, stay out of Civil War. They’ve recently gone through a genocide and are recovering as best they can. Emma Frost is approached by Tony Stark to join the Pro-Reg side but Frost rebukes him for being insensitive and never really being an ally to mutants when they needed it.

Civil War #5

Spider-man is initially pinned as Pro-Reg. Tony Stark attempts to make him his poster boy and convinces him to reveal his identity on live television. He does so and everything appears to be going well until Peter sees the increasingly villainous things Tony is doing to stop Cap’s vigilantes. When he tries to back out of Tony’s cabal the two actually have a fight (Stark gets washed, obviously) and Peter escapes. Tony then sends government-controlled supervillains after Spider-man to capture him but they end up almost killing him. Peter is saved at the last minute by The Punisher. Spider-man then joins the Anti-Reg forces, more out of necessity rather than conviction.

The Punisher is an odd one. He could be Anti-Reg but after murdering some villains who try to join Cap, he’s beaten up by the Star Spangled Avenger and cast out. He retreats into the shadows from there and doesn’t pop back up til after Civil War. Other notable mentions are Dr. Strange who just meditates for the majority of the conflict and The Thing who thinks everyone is being stupid and refuses to get into a fight with his friends regardless of their political views.

Death and Creation

Civil War #7

Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic and Hank Pym do a lot of shady stuff during Civil War. These things include stealing Spider-man’s DNA with the Iron Spider suit, imprisoning their friends, setting supervillain attack dogs on their friends and many more. Perhaps the most disgusting thing was the murder of Goliath and the circumstances surrounding it. In order to try and tip the balance in their favour, they make a robot clone of Thor called Ragnarok. That’s right, they really think that no one will notice or question Thor just turning up and joining them. As there’s no real way to control the moral compass of this thing, it sort of goes full murder-mode and kills fellow Avenger Goliath in one of the several battles during the Civil War. Disgusted by this, Sue Storm and the Human Torch help the Anti-Reg heroes escape and denounce Reed Richards and his supposedly genius pals for their part in this murder. This is also the final straw for Peter Parker, as I mentioned previously.

After something like this you’d expect things to stop for a while and people to examine their actions, yes? I’m afraid not. The Pro-Reg team have one conversation about it and patch the robot up for the next battle. Don’t worry, though. Hercules defeats Ragnarok later on and it’s brutal as all hell. Gnarly.

Who Wins?

Civil War #7

The Fight? — Captain America. He manages to beat up Iron Man so much that he has to stop and ask to be arrested. He sees that the conflict has shifted his focus away from helping people and has gone fully towards defeating his former friend.

The War? — Pro-Reg. Following Cap’s surrender, some follow this surrender and other Anti-Reg heroes retreat, diminished in number, to continue their illegal work. The government re-establishes order. Sort of.

In Reality? — No one wins. The events of Civil War cause the following things, among others, to happen:

The Assassination of Captain America — Cap is shot on the court steps following his trial for his actions during the Civil War.

Secret Invasion — Using the information registered/gathered by the Act, an alien race of shapeshifters known as the Skrull are able to infiltrate every superhero team on the planet and invade earth.

The Annihilation Wave — A big wave of space bugs decimates a large portion of the universe. Nova had approached Earth to warn the Avengers but when Tony Stark tried to get him to join the Civil War he left seeing that he’d not be able to make them see the bigger picture. Luckily a collection of Marvel’s cosmic heroes including The Guardians of the Galaxy and Quasar repel the Annihilation Wave, but there are heavy casualties.

Obviously, there’s more to it all and I encourage you to read it if you can. So remember: Don’t murder your friends and absolutely do not trust Tony Stark!

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Gary Walker

Gary Walker

24 Followers

My specialist subject is Marvel Comics. Usually found on social media getting excited about things no one else gives a hoot about.