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Civil War #4 – Tumbling House of Cards

For the first three issues of Civil War, there was an interesting foundation established, which was about as shaky as a house of cards, and that foundation was, “Iron Man and company are just doing what they think is right.” It was a shaky foundation because throughout the books, they were portrayed as being creepy and just plain ol’ harder to understand where they were coming from. In #4, however, that house of cards came tumbling to the floor, leaving Tony Stark and Reed Richards about as close to being villains as they are heroes.

First off, I know this has been repeated a lot, but it is a very important point, so it must be said – it is not the responsibility of a comic writer to have both sides of an issue be treated fairly and/or evenly. None whatsoever. The comic writer should feel free to take a side and portray that side more favorably – or not. It’s totally in their hands. The criticism that Marvel was being untruthful when they said this event would be even-handed should be directed at editorial, not Millar himself, who I do not think owes any duty to back up the public statements of editorial (I dunno if he, himself, said he would be even-handed – if he did, well, then that’s a whole other thing). However, what I think he does have a duty to achieve is to write characters so that their actions make sense, and with Reed Richards and Tony Stark, I think he fails in that regard.

To recap Reed and Tony’s plan – they made a clone of Thor, then sent this clone to attack Captain America’s Secret Avengers (they should be called the Secret Defenders – just so that, after Civil War, they can relaunch a Secret Defenders book, just to laugh as it sells now), where the clone goes a little nuts and kill Goliath (in one of the most hilarious examples of a sixth-string character suddenly getting exposure in a big crossover just in time to die – it was so obvious that I thought he was pretty safe, if only because I didn’t think Millar would go so cliched).

To recap that, only in smaller, punchy sentences –

1. Reed and Tony cloned themselves a slave

and

2. They screwed it up.

Marvel’s greatest geniuses (working alongside Hank Pym, but sadly missing T’Challa, who is the best at everything) made a clone of Thor to fight with them and then they can’t even get THAT right?

That’s so absurd. And the idea itself is “twisting a handlebar mustache” bad, really. Thor’s their friend, and yet they’re sitting aorund making a fake Mjolnir to go with the clone they’re making of their old friend?!? What is even the POINT of that plan?!?

But what’s even worse than the plan is the fact that they couldn’t even DO it right!

So not only are they fascists, they’re incompetent fascists!

The cliffhanger ending was kinda blase, considering that they already established the idea in #2, but it was nice to see.

Steve McNiven continues to knock the ball out of the park with the art for this series, as it is excellent.

The action scenes were good, and I was impressed to see Yellowjacket, at least, come off as a somewhat sympathetic character. The funeral of Goliath is handled quite hokily, especially when the mother whose kid was killed in #1 comes to Iron Man AT the funeral? What the hell!?!? Millar will just always have those couple of “What was he thinking?” scenes, it is just a hazard of him writing a book, but so far, having him write this series has been a good move.

I wouldn’t recommend this issue, as I liked at least having the house of cards. It was better than nothing, and certainly a lot better than Tony and Reed acting like incompetent villains, a move I just can’t grasp the reasoning behind. However, I think the overall mini-series it still worth reading.

44 Comments

Got to agree. Great art from McNiven, as usual, but Millar screwed the pooch on this one. This was a painful read, and not at all for the reasons I think Millar was shooting for.

I didn’t even like the writing of Sue’s letter.

Considering how many people are through-the-roof incensed that Reed and Tony (dummies that they are) could even BEGIN to make a Thor clone, the fact that they screwed up is almost a saving grace.

SEAN

” (in one of the most hilarious examples of a sixth-string character suddenly getting exposure in a big crossover just in time to die…)”

Well thank god you said it because for a while I honestly thought I was the only one who saw how utterly ridiculous and blatantly obvious that was…

I’m pretty sure Millar has also said he’d be “even-handed” with the writing. Which, as I’ve said before, is absurd (in that it’s both obvious that the pro-registration people are coming off as increasingly vile, and that there’s no point in setting out to make a political point without taking a position).

Between the gaping plot holes, heroes fighting each other every month and acting like bigger villains than the villains (like the JLA mindwipes and Batman’s role in the OMACS) and just plain awful writing, it seems obvious that Marvel seems to be trying to emulate Didio’s new DC. It’s a shame, it’s just turned into a horrible series. I really didn’t care about the obvious bias and lack of neutrality if it at least ended up in a good story, but this is ridiculous. So poorly thought out, like if Bush is the President in this story as we’ve been shown I believe, wouldn’t he be AGAINST cloning? Why would ANY of the pro-reg side be down to clone Thor?

Right now on Newsarama Millar pretty much says he’s portraying them evenly.
You have to remember, he is incredibly naive, politically. (See Wanted, Superman Red Son) To him the fact that Reed and Stark have the law on their side actually confers sufficient moral legitimacy.

That makes my head hurt because DC took the darkness from Marvel from the first place.

I’d at least argue that there was organic precedent for most of what DC did. Everything but the mindwiping of Batman was sort of reasonable (most especially Diana killing Max Lord, if only because it was so well done with so much thought put into it).

I think here, Millar just wants to make a political point, and he’s going to bend characters however he wants to do it, which is no surprise considering he’s been bending and twisting characters forever. That’s what he does.

I’ve been saying for months that the last thing I wanted was to have there be a reveal of some secret mind controlling villain behind the scenes, because that would water down the story so very much (I dreaded that scene in Infinite Crisis when they thought for a moment that it was all Pscyho Pirate’s fault).

But now, forget it. The story can barely be salvaged. Make it be Psycho-Man in some sort of crazy Microverse/Negative Zone alliance, where he’s weakening the heroes of Earth for Annhilus so that the Wave can sweep over Earth more easily.

I disagree to an extent because if this is reall a “war” than both sides are going to do things that seem unreasonable and “villainous” but to the ones doing it seem to be for the greater good.

We are less than a week removed from our own President making the case that we can not fight the war on terror if we don’t allow the CIA to go apeshit on torturing prisoners. Sounds pretty villainous to me.

Do Palestinians think suicide bombers are “villians” or “evil” or just doing whatever it takes?

Hiroshima was a pretty shitty thing to do but at the time, all it did was end World War II so we celebrated.

War is about horrible compromises sides make to win.

I’m pretty sure Cap’s side is going to make a compromise now that the stakes have been increased.

On a side note, did the obscure black guy HAVE to die? I was really pushing for it to be Hercules. Maybe it’s not too late.

SanctumSanctorumComix

September 21, 2006 at 7:03 am

I haven’t read THIS issue yet, but haven’t we ALREADY seen the PUPPET MASTER and MAD THINKER behind the scenes?

One guy who can factor in ALL the variables, and another guy who can “alter” any variables to fit their wishes.

Seems like that could be the “re-do” button right there.

“Oh, the PUPPET MASTER and THINKER were behind all this? Well… you were a dick, but you were a MIND-CONTROLLED and MANIPULATED dick, so I’ll be mad at you for a few months and then we can be friends again.”

Paste this “paraphrased” bit into any word balloon spoken by an “anti-registration” character in the last issue and we’re good to go.

Heck, I could be wrong, but it seems like a mighty plausable excape route for editorial should they feel the need.

~P~
P-TOR

SanctumSanctorumComix

September 21, 2006 at 7:12 am

Oh… and just to top it off, neither of those two should be “the big man”.

The guy that THEY work for…the head of all the paranoia, the main villain, should be “W”.

That would REALLY make Marvel Universe fit into the “real world”.

;-)

~P~
P-TOR

SanctumSanctorumComix

September 21, 2006 at 7:13 am

OK…LAST thing that’s been bugging me:

Maybe it’s COMPLETELY out of left field, but wasn’t the name of the child (you know… the one out of hundreds who were killed who seems to be the “poster child” of Superheroes are bad) :
DAMIEN?

There’s GOT to be something weird about THAT!

No?

Of ALL the little boy names to choose from, Millar chooses DAMIEN?

What? Little TIMMY not good enough?

Anyway, DAMIAN (and/or his mom) could be pulling a “Glorious Godfrey” ala’ DC’s LEGENDS miniseries.

Riling up public sentiment against the heroes in order to destroy them all.

Yes? No?

Discuss.

~P~
P-TOR

We are less than a week removed from our own President making the case that we can not fight the war on terror if we don’t allow the CIA to go apeshit on torturing prisoners. Sounds pretty villainous to me.

Can we just strike a deal to leave petty little comments like this out? Please. Because then I’ll feel obligated to respond to it and then one of those crapstorms will ignite and then we’ll get people like moose taking cheap shots about my “weird oddball hyperconservative rants.” Let’s stick to the comic.

I’d at least argue that there was organic precedent for most of what DC did. Everything but the mindwiping of Batman was sort of reasonable (most especially Diana killing Max Lord, if only because it was so well done with so much thought put into it).

I wouldn’t go that far. Infinite Crisis was still worse, the Max Lord thing didn’t really strike me as an organic moment but rather a forced plot device to cause conflict between the three principals. Notice how quickly it was brushed aside after IC was over. Even worse was Wonder Woman becoming Rambo out of the blue and trying to kill at the drop of a hat afterwards (Infinite Crisis #1, Mongul), it was all so laughable. So yeah, Civil War is horrible, but it at least had a decent start. I don’t really see any redeeming features in the whole IC fiasco.

@T
Are you objecting to the wording in particular (I agree it’s petty) or the unpleasant truth behind it? Because, the latter ought to be acceptable in polite society even if it lacks the virtue of balance.

I wouldn’t say what Diana did was brushed aside at all. Diana steps down as Wonder Woman throughout all of 52.

Manhunter 26 looks like it’s going to have Kate going after Diana on the idea that the justice system didn’t take care of her.

I admit I’m biased on this a bit, because I sat through a Rucka panel where he explained it in heavy detail, and the thought behind it, and sometimes, because of that, I read in more than what’s actually on the page. Which is bad on my part, but I can’t help it.

Are you objecting to the wording in particular (I agree it’s petty) or the unpleasant truth behind it? Because, the latter ought to be acceptable in polite society even if it lacks the virtue of balance.

The wording I dislike, but also the notion that it’s “the undeniable truth.” But to go into why I think it isn’t the truth would just derail the comments further, which I already do too much on Brian’s blog. I posted on “torture” already on my blog, I’d be happy to debate about it more there. I’d rather stick to discussing the comic here.

MattD – fair enough, I didn’t see that panel so I didn’t get the same gist. To me, I just saw Diana murder someone than act callous about it. Batman and Superman turned on her in a heartbeat and cut her no slack in a way I found really unbelievable. Does that mean that cops that Bats and Supes hate cops that kill in the line of duty to protect innocents when no other choice exists? Did Supes or Bats ever offer one alternative solution before judging her? Of course not, because there WAS no alternate solution. To me that was the sloppy part of it, they covered every base and made it so clear that killing Max Lord was the only way out, Bats and Supes just look like jerks for being so unforgiving about it. Then the rift is healed out of the blue in ID Crisis #7, the atonement takes place off-panel during the missing year and Heinberg explains it all away in 3 panels of exposition in Wonder Woman #2.

I’m going to be the last person to argue that IC was well-written, T. (I especially agree with you about that Mongul scene.) But the folks in charge of Wonder Woman since then (although they can barely to get an issue of her comic out) have NOT brushed aside the Diana-killing-Max issue. To comment about HOW they’re handling it, of course, would require actually seeing more of their work, which is an increasing problem. (How many Superman and Batman comics have come out since IC ended? Yet we’ve only lhad, what, two WW comics? Sheesh, she’s getting more exposure in Meltzer’s JLA just sitting in a cave talking with Kal and Bruce for two issues. THey shoulda left Rucka on the title; he was doing an excellent job.)

geez.. I had so many problems with the comic. Here are my Top 5

1) The cloning of a FRIEND, who also happened to be a GOD. Cloning a friend is just rude, and cloning a God? Well it’s those little things that can lead to smiting, if not the anhillation of the entire race.

2) The killing of Golliath. Hello? Sure, Golliath isn’t a character who can hold his own title. But you know what? As an educated & positive Black superhero the Marvel Universe was a richer place to be in. I was hoping to see more of him in The Thing, but oh… hey! Cancelled.

3)Sue left her kids behind instead of sending them off to be babysat by, oh.. Crystal & the Inhumans or whomever.

4) The implied cloaning of supers for the 50 state initiative. I’m assuming 1 per state.

5) Hiring rapists & murderers to hunt down former friends & respected heroes because they’re not following the law.

Good points Rebis. And man did my last post have some major types!

See, they missed a perfectly great setup for the next tentpole event. Clor kills Hercules, then when the “real” Thor shows up, it starts a war of the gods, between the Norse and Roman gods, with humanity stuck in the middle.

On a side note, is there anyone who isn’t caucasian on the Pro-Reg side?

Mark: Bishop is on the Pro-Reg side from what I’ve heard.

Argh! I meant “typos” not “types.” I can’t type today.

I haven’t read the issue. Or any of the series, for that matter. I’ve been following what’s been happening, though, and may buy the trade if it winds up being worthwhile.

Just one thought, regarding the cloning of Thor: I don’t think it necessarily speaks ill of Reed and Tony’s intelligence that it’s not working out as planned. I would imagine that cloning a god is a great deal more complicated than cloning a human, at least as far as controlling the experiment. The idea of a brainwashed Thor clone still seems a bit goofy to me, but as always I’ll wait until the story’s done before I pass judgment.

However, if this all leads to the return of Ben Reilly somehow, the whole storyline will get a big fat A+ in my books.

Have to agree – this was a MAJOR downward turn for the series. Couldn’t be more disappointed. Well, I’m sure I could, but I had no idea Thor’s return would be something so lame as cloning, or that the overall issue would read so poorly.

“Did Supes or Bats ever offer one alternative solution before judging her? Of course not, because there WAS no alternate solution.”

Sure there was. Knock him out.

Max made the threat that, “If you knock me out, I’ll someday wake up and take control again,” but that doesn’t actually mean that it’s not a viable solution. Knock him out, sedate him heavily, and then use the window of time that gives you to find a more permanent solution (which could involve stripping Max of his metahuman abilities, surgically or genetically, or undoing the control effect itself–the Martian Manhunter didn’t say it was undoable, he said it would take a long time, and that under the circumstances, that was time they didn’t have.) Wonder Woman had tons of options, but to put it bluntly, she panicked and killed a man.

Then again, Batman had a paranoid-psychotic break and killed tens of thousands of people (through Brother Eye), so I don’t really see how he can sit in judgement on WW.

R. Nav-

Thanks for reminding me! This is becomin a long, drawn-out storyline, now even more so, with the, “Oh, we can’t finish the story on time, so we’ll pump out more oneshots to pad the story!”

Bah. Enough blabbering about crap nobody (by which I mean “me”) cares about.

The people (Me again) want to know:

How was Krypto # 1?

Honestly?

I was underwhelmed.

A LOT of set-up, and the second story wasn’t that interesting to me.

However, I understand that the Krypto writer is under a lot of constraints for the first issue (a lot of info needed to be dumped), so I have hope for future issues.

The art was nice.

As someone who’s a pretty big fan of the Tony Stark character, I have to say I don’t really have a problem with him cloning Thor to serve his agenda. He and Reed have always demonstrated a cold and almost calculated arrogance. Why shouldn’t they clone a god if it will end the conflict?

I also don’t really see how Thor being a friend would have any bearing on their decision. As scientists, Reed and Tony understand that an organism created from the DNA of another only shares very cosmetic similarities. If one is inclined to theological arguments (and we are talking about a god, here), “Clor” would have the physical characteristics of Thor, but not his soul. I don’t think they’d consider it a violation of their friendship to create a being that, while genetically similar to their dead friend, would really be a very separate person.

In general, though, Millar has definately demonized the pro-reg side. And what was up with the Clor shutdown code? I love his music, but many people consider Wagner to be just a few steps from being a Nazi himself. It makes sense in the context of Wagner’s music, but not in a grander cultural sense. That just seemed like a gratuitous throw-in that may inadvertently serve to demonize the pro-regs.

You have to remember, he is incredibly naive, politically

if by that you mean he has working class communist extra-american leanings and projects his politics on to the widely american superhero comic books that he writes, well then, yeah.

and FYI, i personally lean towards the left myself, but here in the philippines, that’s pretty much more than half the population.

Can we just strike a deal to leave petty little comments like this out?

but what if that’s exactly the point that CIVIL WAR is trying to make? should we still choose to not talk about world politics when discussing a comic book that (all evidence seems to indicate) is being written precisely to question mainstream politics?

“Honestly?

I was underwhelmed.

A LOT of set-up, and the second story wasn’t that interesting to me.

The art was nice.”

Aw. If the art was cool at least it’s HALF good, right? I was really pretty psyched about this; Poor Krypto’s never had his own book.

By logical extension, Reed and Stark should create numerous copies of Thor – arming each with a faux Mjolnir. Then they’d have a Thor Corps as their foot soldiers…

Why stop at just one?!

I am, as usual, completely dumbfounded. Every time a great comic comes out, all my friends and all the sites I look at spend paragraphs going on and on about how bad the comic was.

I loved Civil War #4. Not only was it the first thing I read out of the stack, it was entirely worth the wait. We knew there was no way that was the real Thor who showed up at the end of 3, so why is a clone so bad? Clone, robot, shape-shifter… it was going to be something, so does it really matter which? No, of course not. It’s still exactly the kind of thing Stark would do: Thor disappears, he’d have some contingency plan in place to replace him. I have more of a problem with Cable wandering off than with the clone of Thor…

Hey what have Black Bolt and the Inhumans been doing this whole time? Didn’t he declare war at the end of Son of M?
He’s miffed at Tony, Reed, and the US Government, why hasn’t he done anything?

Didn’t he declare war at the end of Son of M?

Yes, but it is currently more of a Cold War thing.

SanctumSanctorumComix said “Maybe it’s COMPLETELY out of left field, but wasn’t the name of the child (you know… the one out of hundreds who were killed who seems to be the “poster child” of Superheroes are bad) :
DAMIEN? There’s GOT to be something weird about THAT! No? Of ALL the little boy names to choose from, Millar chooses DAMIEN? What? Little TIMMY not good enough? Anyway, DAMIAN (and/or his mom) could be pulling a “Glorious Godfrey” ala’ DC’s LEGENDS miniseries. Riling up public sentiment against the heroes in order to destroy them all. Yes? No? Discuss.”

Wow. Very nice thought. I, myself, have really been wondering about Reed Richards’ seemingly fanatical change of character in this… but I found it very ‘neat’ how quickly everything cane about after Stamford. I think that line of thinking is a good one there. There is obviously someone behind this that we do not know about (see the Wolverine storyline right now)… why not that sort of thing?

– Rocket

T. Said: “To me that was the sloppy part of it, they covered every base and made it so clear that killing Max Lord was the only way out, Bats and Supes just look like jerks for being so unforgiving about it. Then the rift is healed out of the blue in ID Crisis #7, the atonement takes place off-panel during the missing year and Heinberg explains it all away in 3 panels of exposition in Wonder Woman #2.”

I didn’t think it came out of the blue. Batman almost was driven to kill Alex Luthor (in a moment I agree was out of character for him seeing that he was holding a gun… something Bats hates more than anything in the world) due to the death of Superboy (although we now know it was supposed to be Nightwing – an event that would make much more sense in pushing batman to almost kill). Batman seemed to realize that perhaps Wonder Woman wasn’t as callous in her decision to kill Lord after all, since he was almost driven to do the same in a less dire situation (ie: Luthor was already defeated). As for Superman, he was shown the error of his attitude by the E-2 Superman and realized he needed to be a little more open to understanding why Diana did what she did. Diana, on the other hand, tried to show (when she stopped Batman from killed Alex L.) that she realizes that the extreme measure of her decision was possibially the inncorrect one, and that she needed to pay a penace for it (thus what happens to her giving up being Wonder Woman and the legal things that happen in upcoming issues of 52). All three had their eyes “opened” a little (Supes by the E-2 Superman, Diana by the E-2 Wonder Woman, Batman by the situation and his rage) and that all contributed with the knowledge that the Crisis was seriously helped along due to their own attitudes was a huge part in their healing the rift between the three of them.

It’s not perfect.. and I had some serious problems with Infinite Crisis, but that part I was ok with.

– Rocket

Civil War is my nicotine.

Some people are addicted to cigarettes. They know the cigs are killing them, but they can’t stop buying the damn things.

I took a big puff on Civil War #4.

I have to make it to Civil War #7, but I can’t believe one of my favorite characters, Reed Richards, is acting so cold and manipulative that he would casually brush off the loving letter his wife wrote with, “Their gaining numbers.” Um. Reed. One of those numbers is YOUR WIFE.
It’s a ridiculous protrayal of the loving husband and father I have come to love since the…um…late seventies.

When did fun loving fashion designer Janet Van Dyne, the winsome Wasp, turn so cold and cruel? I can’t believe she would idly stand by while Tony beat the crap out of Steve.

It’s one thing to have your friends, people with whom you’ve loved, turn against the law, but their compasion is completely gone.

I think Iron Man has been kinder to Whiplash than he has been to Captain America.

Civil War is an intriguing concept, but Mark Millar is using a hatchet and not a scapel on the Marvel Universe.

Show Reed in anguish over his actions. Show the Wasp shed a tear for her friend Bill Foster. Show someone have some remorse for attacking their friends.

If you go to a party and a friend lights up a joint, you don’t jump on him, wrestle him to the ground, tie him up and call 911. The world doesn’t work that way. Some of the hereos on the Pro-Reg side should not want to be involved in the torture and capture of their life-long friends. Is Ben the only one that’s bowing out? And didn’t he already? Why’s he hanging out beating up children(Young Avengers) when he decided NOT to take a side?

Where are the ex-New Warriors? Vance, Rage, Angel?
I’d love to see some of them take Iron-Man’s side out of sheer guilt of watching their friends die on television.
It would have made a much more gripping story than the one we’re getting.

I’m with this till the bitter end, but it’s killing me a little inside.

“Clor”

Please, do not call it “Clor.” “Clor” is the name of a pretty decent band.

I’ll read all the way up to Civil War 7, and then cancel all my Marvel Pulls entirely probably.

Because this whole storyline is gonna clusterfrick the whole Marvel universe for good.

They’ll never be able to make an ending that makes it so Iron Man isn’t a nazi dick anymore, or Reed Richards isn’t Stretch Mengele.

If they do an ending that puts everything back all happy, it’ll be a stupid Wizard Did It ending that cheapens Marvel even more than I thought possible.

The only good way to end it is to implode the whole 616 universe and cancel it. Make the Ultimate universe the main one from now on.

i’m actually rather enjoying the whole enchilada, myself. as someone who dips in and out of the marvel/dc universes when something piques my interest, the whole civil war arc and the lead up to it got me interested again at a time when i was almost exclusively walking dead/strangers in paradise/100 bullets mode. the goliath death did annoy me, i figure if you’re going to off someone, make it count (hercules would really have been a great death, especially after hitting iron man with that tower). but the clone thor and other potential long-term ramifications will hold my interest for awhile i think, as long as a deus ex copout isn’t pulled. I had pretty much given up on the spidey books, and the unmasking pulled me into those. i figure i’ll wait til the finally before i completely pass judgment…

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