Marvel: Civil War by Mark Millar – Comics Review [Bane of Kings]

marvel civil war

Bane of Kings reviews the Civil War graphic novel, which contains work  by Mark Millar, Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell. Published by Marvel comics, this is a 2006-2007 crossover that includes elements of the New Avengers, Spiderman, Fantastic Four and the X-Men.

Some great artwork and thrilling action scenes, Civil War is a great starting point for anyone who’s looking to read comics after seeing the Avengers movie despite a few flaws that it has.” ~The Founding Fields

Believe it or not, Civil War is my first graphic novel that I’ve read that is set in the Marvel Universe. I’ve read several DC comics, but I wanted to find out to see if Civil War was anywhere near as good as stuff like Batman Year One.  Unfortunately it isn’t, but that doesn’t make it not brilliant – in fact, Civil War is almost as good as Year One. There are a few things which I didn’t like about it, one of which I can’t go into because I want to keep this a spoiler-free review, but otherwise, Civil War was an entertaining read.

In this crossover tale that stars Spider-Man, the New Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men, the landscape of the Marvel Universe is changing, and it’s time to choose a side. A conflict has been brewing for more than a year, threatening to pit friend against friend and brother against brother.

My only knowledge of the Marvel Universe is pretty much limited to the Avengers Movie, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 1 + 2, Captain America, Thor, The Spiderman Trilogy, the X-Men Trilogy and X-Men First Class, so there were obviously a few characters that I didn’t understand a whole lot about as well as a few scenes which featured characters that I haven’t seen before. However, that didn’t stop me from understanding the overall plot line, which is quite simple: A group of young superheroes are engaged in an accident that ends up a whole lot worse than they anticipated, which leads to an act presented by the Government which will effectively make superheroes super-police. They will be paid, but will have to answer to the US Government and have to reveal their identities.

Of course, as expected, things aren’t going to be pretty. What I felt was unusual about the way the sides were lined up in Civil War was the fact that although Iron Man and Captain America were the leaders of both sides, it turns out that Captain America is the superhero that was anti the registration act, with Iron Man being the one to support it. You get to see a variety of superheroes in action and it provides a taste for what they can do. There are some massive fights, which boast some superb artwork. I think my favourite piece of artwork in the whole graphic novel is when Thor makes his appearance for the first time. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find an image of that on the internet, but those who have read the graphic novel will know what I mean.

Although the entire storyline isn’t exactly a smooth one, I found it to be well created and developed despite a few characters and elements that I felt could have been included (I know, there’s a lot already, but there wasn’t any Hulk (although, She-Hulk did appear), and Wolverine action in this graphic novel which disappointed me a bit as they’re a couple of my favourite superheroes from the movies.  I get the feeling that there is more to come in this particular story-arc, even though the graphic novel stands on its own, and I will be getting more individual Civil War graphic novels for sure, to see what happens next.

The characters are interesting to watch as you see what lengths both sides are willing to go to to beat the other one, and you will no doubt end up choosing which side you think should win. I went for Captain America’s side, for several reasons as it’ll become clear to you once you read the graphic novel.

The pace is fast, and the whole graphic novel is action packed, which will have you flicking through pages as you get closer and closer to the end. However, when the end does come, it’s abrupt, and happens quite quickly – which is disappointing as I was hoping that, after the excellent first three quarters of Civil War, Millar would be able to round the storyline off neatly.

The tension was never really as high as it could have been. Apart from one death of a character that I didn’t know all that much about in the first place, I never did feel that any of the superheroes were in danger of actual death at all, which was a shame especially given the scale of the fighting. However, regardless of that, I still found Civil War to be an enjoyable tale and I will be certainly reading more Marvel related stuff in the future if Civil War is anything to go by.

Verdict: 4/5

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and a prolific reviewer who can be found on many places on the internet usually under the same username – when he’s not trying to catch up on the many seasons of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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