Civil War Goes Off The Rails

By | Monday, July 16, 2007 Leave a Comment
Over at his blog, Tom Brevoort just posted Mark Millar's original pitch for Civil War. Since it was essentially that event/crossover that prompted me to drop just about all marvel titles from my pull list, I read through it with great interest, trying to discover where things went flying off the rails.

Certainly, one thing that is not touched on at all in Millar's piece is the treatment of Mr. Fantastic. One of the big problems I had with the series was the he underwent a serious character assassination to force fit an ideology into his actions. At least at the outset, it appears that he was given very little consideration one way or another.

Second, Millar's notes run through the first few issues in great detail, the next few in less detail, and the final ones almost glossed over. I think this is reflected all too readily in the series itself, as the final issues of the series seemed considerably less focused than earlier ones. Whatever emotional draw was there as the New Warriors were (largely) killed was almost totally evaporated by the time we got to issues five and six. Further, Millar's notes tend to play down emotional attachment and play up fanboy enthusiasm as the series progresses going so far as to say, "This should be shameless; every trick in the book. It should be a fan-boy orgasm and we should love every minute of it..." Which might be fine for desert, but certainly not as the main course. And certainly not for multiple issues.

Next, the counter-points that Millar notes in the finale -- a depowered Cap walking off into the sunset, the death of Speedball -- simply do not happen in Civil War. There's no circle of life ending, nor is there happy one. As I noted earlier, it's actually quite the opposite. The series ends with something that isn't quite an ending.

What I thought was an interesting side story -- the senator taking advantage of the situation for his own ends -- is completely omitted. Granted, Tom has a point that it should be a person more powerful than a single senator, but I believe that in the current political climate, we've got far too many candidates to choose from!

There were several other bits that fell to the wayside as well. Certainly, Millar's proposal seems far too grand for one series, but many of the character beats that would have given the story emotional resonance were dropped or glossed over in favor of the fanboy moments. And, while Tom omits Joe Quesada's notes concerning World War Hulk, I think it's telling that the EIC's biggest note otherwise is how the Punisher should look carrying the fallen hero in one scene. While the devil is indeed in the details, the underlying structure needs to be solid first, and there seems to be a lot of that missing by this point in the series.

I also find it interesting that Tom's final note about needing to kill someone more significant than Speedball strangely prophetic. Who ended up dying in Civil War? Some bottom-feeders that no one but Mark Gruenwald ever heard of and Black Goliath, who was, at his very best, a C-list character. The collateral damage that needed to be there for the story to carry any weight simply was not there! While marvel and their creators have clearly not opted to "pack it in" per Tom's suggestion, it certainly was enough for me to do just that.
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