15 Things Wrong With Marvel's Civil War
July 4, 2016
15 things wrong with Marvel's event comic where heroes fight heroes! ...well, one of them, anyway...
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn! And while today, we're talking about a bad comic, we're not exactly doing a full-on review.
(Cut to shots of the DC comic "Identity Crisis" and Linkara's review of it)
Linkara (v/o): A few years ago, I did "15 Things Wrong With 'Identity Crisis'", which, amusingly enough, had a clickbait-y title before clickbait-y titles were a thing. I just didn't consider a Top 15 since there was no particular order to it. The reason I did it like that was because "Identity Crisis" was a book that many people really, really liked, and I could spell out a lot of positives to it.
Linkara: "Civil War" does not have that benefit. Even those who did like it admit to things involved in it that were stupid and made no sense. So, why not a full review?
(Shots of Marvel's comic "Civil War" are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Because honestly, the book is really politically charged. It had only been a few years after 9/11, and it did raise up the question of personal liberty vs. security that was explored in various books and took its concepts seriously. It didn't try to weasel out of it and say it was all a plot of supervillains or something. It didn't examine those questions very well, I will admit. The Captain America movie, AKA Avengers 3, actually handled those questions a hell of a lot better than this thing. But it did raise them. While I do get serious on this show on occasion, the reason people are here is to be entertained and have fun. Sometimes you get that through my verbal assassination of a crappy comic, but less so if I'm trying to examine complex moral questions where there are no easy answers. And if there is one bit of praise I can give "Civil War" the comic, it's that it didn't chicken out of its conclusion. It's often a thing where creators will say an event comic "changes things forever" or something like that, but "Civil War" at least meant it. While its effects were eventually reversed, the Superhuman Registration Act lasted three years of real time. It was the status quo of the Marvel Universe from 2007 to 2010. So while "Civil War" is crap, it also deals with serious subject matters and complex issues that I'd rather not try to get into due to the potential for being bogged down in political discussions or the like.
Linkara: That being said, I do think it's crap, so we've got plenty of stuff I can nitpick or scratch my head wondering what the hell they were thinking. So, for those of you at home not familiar with it, what was the plot of "Civil War"?
Linkara (v/o): A superhero reality show consisting of the team "The New Warriors" went after a group of supervillains in Stamford, Connecticut. While three of the villains were taken out, the last, Nitro, had an explosive power that he unleashed. Aaaand it was pretty big, killing not only most of the New Warriors, but a considerable amount of civilians, including children. In the wake of this and other similar, then-recent tragedies in the Marvel Universe, a Superhuman Registration Act is quickly made law, classifying superheroes as "living weapons of mass destruction".
Linkara: A true statement, if ever I've heard it. After all, how else can you describe Squirrel Girl?
Linkara (v/o): This act required all superpowered individuals to reveal their identities to the government and receive training for their powers, with the option to join S.H.I.E.L.D. and basically act as a civil servant. And by the way, this was even if they didn't want to be a superhero. If they just wanted to, you know, use their flight powers... you know, to fly, if that was it... Thanks, Congress!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, showing Mike Nelson dressed like Uncle Sam, with the American flag in the background)
Mike: (singing) I'm the government / I'm the government / I'm the reason nothing works!
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Tony Stark, after having been confronted by the mother of one of the child victims of this tragedy, named Miriam Sharpe, decides that the act is for the best, while Captain America refuses to hunt down people who risk their lives trying to save people, or for the fear that the government will tell him who is a supervillain, something that Cap himself has had history with. The two sides go to war, with Cap's group always on the run and Iron Man's side continually working to hunt them down. Eventually, the two sides fight in the middle of New York, with Cap finally surrendering when he sees the damage their fight is having on the city.
Linkara: There's plenty here that was just fine... and a whole lot that was not. These are my "15 Things Wrong With (holds up today's comic) Marvel's 'Civil War' Comic".
(Title sequence plays; title card has the MST3K gang's song "Government Gridlock" playing in the background; cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): This is not a Top 15 list. They are being presented in no particular order and range from mundane criticisms that people are probably gonna roll their eyes at to things that people will probably disagree with me on. But before we get started, let's get something out of the way first.
Linkara: Three things you will not be seeing on this list: (holds up index finger) one, Iron Man, war profiteer; (holds up two fingers) two, Sally Floyd saying Captain America "doesn't reflect America because he doesn't watch NASCAR or use MySpace"; (holds up three fingers) three, the death of Captain America. All of these things are stupid and awful, and none of them happened in "Civil War" itself.
Linkara (v/o): This is not a review of the entirety of the event, just the original miniseries. The firs two occurred in "Civil War: Front Line", an eleven-issue miniseries...
Linkara: And by the way, why does a tie-in have more issues than the main miniseries?! What is wrong with you?!
Linkara (v/o): ...while the last happens in "Captain America #25", in the aftermath of "Civil War". And really, killing off Cap wasn't actually the problem. I may not like killing off characters, but this was an opportunity for them to tell a cool story, and they always planned to bring him back, much like when Superman died. It's just the timing of it was bad: right after the controversial ending to "Civil War", which is something else we will be talking about today. With the way "Civil War" ended, coupled with that, it felt like... well, America itself was dying. Good work there. "Civil War: Front Line" is garbage and probably deserves an actual review at some point, but no, we're focusing on the event miniseries today. And there's plenty of dumb to go around on that alone. Let's get started.
Linkara (v/o): Number 1: The Covers.
(Cut to a shot of the cover for this comic – the first of several to be shown here, actually)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, let's ease in with the mundane and something that bugged the crap out of me about this series. Comic book covers are important, although it feels like, as the years go by, DC and Marvel care less and less about them. What was even the point? You've got this nice, big area to tell a story in itself, something that captures the mood of the comic... and you've cut off half of it for a big, blank, white space? Yeah, let's just jam everything into the top half! Or maybe have a wraparound so it's like in "widescreen" – even though most people won't even be paying attention to the back because that's not how comics are put on the racks in stores! Were they hoping to save money by not printing anything on the lower half? Or hell, maybe it was supposed to say, "Your ad here". Why not? Worked for those stupid Nick Lachey Twix ads DC ran in 2015.
(Cut to a shot of a cover for an installment of "Countdown")
Linkara (v/o): While the two series weren't happening at the same time, it says something when "Countdown" came right after this at DC and had better covers across the board.
Linkara: (smiling) And hey, I just said something nice about "Countdown"! And only three blood vessels burst this time inside of me! So maybe I'm getting more positive and... (starts reeling like he's dizzy) Ooh, the room is spinning... (falls over with a thud)
Linkara (v/o): Number 2: Spider-Man's Unmasking.
(Events leading up to said unmasking in the comic is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Peter Parker, the guy who worked to protect his secret identity from the public more than anybody else, who actually has lost people because of his secret identity, within the first issue says how dangerous it is to make your secret identity public when Sue Storm says a public identity is not so bad... publicly unmasks so that he can support the Registration Act and thus put a target on himself and his loved ones.
Linkara: And I... (hesitates slightly) really liked this. (beat) No, really, the unmasking itself is not my problem, frankly. Out of character? Eh, a bit, yes, but I still like it, because it's a story that had never been explored before.
Linkara (v/o): Sure, there have been incidents where Peter had been unmasked by people, but they were usually able to write it off as a shapeshifter, or Peter trying to be a hero, or something like that. But a full-on admission and exploring the very real consequences of such an action for him? That's the kind of character development and plot point that opens up a ton of possibilities. And to be fair, this wasn't something he just chose to do out of the blue; they built it up, with Peter struggling with the question, consulting Mary Jane and Aunt May about it. Tony Stark had become something of a father figure for Peter, having taken him and his family into Avengers Tower, helping him out, providing him with a new, technologically-advanced suit, and basically just acting as the kind of guy Peter could trust above all others. So him convincing Peter to unmask is believable. So then, why am I listing this as a problem? Well, for two reasons. One, we don't see any of that in the main "Civil War" series, so Peter's big character moments are relegated to tie-ins.
Linkara: But more importantly, HE HAD NO REASON TO REVEAL HIS IDENTITY TO THE PUBLIC!!! The Registration Act requires identities revealed to the government, and in the end, it's revealed, not even that, but S.H.I.E.L.D.! So Peter's unmasking in the story, quite literally, in the real world and the comic universe, was a PUBLICITY STUNT!
Linkara (v/o): They altered Peter's life and his relationship to everyone around him for a friggin' publicity stunt to sell the damn crossover in a plot point that is completely unnecessary other than for political reasons! Here's a tip: when you're trying to make your big crossover event seem like it's more nuanced and sophisticated than the normal brawl, don't make such a massive change to the status quo because you want characters to win points in fictional opinion polls. Again, it's not the idea of him unmasking; it led to several awesome moments and stories that could be told before it was undone.
Linkara: And no friggin' duh it was going to be undone! This is a superhero universe where the space-time continuum falls apart because some creepy guy wanted Ms. Marvel to give birth to himself, and that's forgotten the next week! PEOPLE ARE NOT VERY OBSERVANT IN THESE THINGS!!
Linkara: So, yeah, cool idea, bad execution. The tagline for this miniseries, come to think of it.
Linkara (v/o): Number 3: The Negative Zone Prison.
(Cut to events leading up to the Negative Zone Prison)
Linkara (v/o): So, this being a story from 2006, with Americans still struggling with moral questions concerning a post-9/11, naturally, parallels to real-world things are gonna crop up. The Registration Act's quick passing and implementation was considered similar to the Patriot Act. The character Miriam Sharpe was inspired by Cindy Sheehan. So, in turn, there was a prison set up in an other-dimensional realm called the Negative Zone that served as a parallel to the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Linkara: Because nothing says (makes "finger quotes") "parallel to real-world events" more than having entirely different contexts to the situations that kinda make you look like morons.
Linkara (v/o): The Negative Zone is a long-running thing in the Marvel Universe, with various parts to how it works, what it does to people, who lives there, etc. One of the things about it: it can induce despair and trauma when you go into or stay in it for a long period of time. Let me repeat that: this place can cause emotional trauma to the people inside of it just by being there, and they set up a prison there. A prison for superheroes! You know, superheroes? Those guys who once stopped Thanos from destroying the universe because he wanted to date Death itself?!
Linkara: And the best part about this place? It was NOT an example of the Marvel Universe's government overstepping its bounds! This was an idea by Tony Stark, Hank Pym and Reed Richards! Just another in our continuing series of "Scientists Are Evil"!
Linkara (v/o): The prison was named "42", based on the three of them getting together after the Stamford disaster and thinking up one hundred different ways they could improve the world.
Linkara: (as a scientist) Hey, should we get together and find a cure for cancer? (as another scientist) Nah, let's just think up some more ideas to make our friends and colleagues miserable! (as the first scientist) Okay, for my next idea, we sneak into the X-Men mansion and fill up Professor Xavier's drawers with wigs and toupees!
Linkara (v/o): To be fair, it was claimed they were only being held there temporarily to await trial, and that there were supervillains being held there, too, but why the hell would you have any prison in a place like this? And it's not like the Marvel Universe was born yesterday! Are you telling me that during the in-universe ten years or whatever they've all been operating, with multiple superhero teams and continually advancing technologies and emerging threats to the world, the S.H.I.E.L.D heli-carrier, Rom's war with the Dire Wraiths, the Sentinels, that nobody came up with a prison for superpowered individuals before this?! Oh, and speaking of how long the Marvel Universe has existed...
Linkara (v/o): Number 4: The Impetus.
(Shots of said impetus on the comic are shown)
Linkara (v/o): I freely admit I'm more familiar with the DC Universe than Marvel, so when it comes to characters like the New Warriors, I know basically nothing about them, or Speedball in particular. But it makes me tilt my head that this is the thing that got the Superhero [sic] Registration Act on the floor. It's a tragic, horrible thing, to be certain: Speedball chasing after the villain Nitro; he creates an explosion so powerful that it kills several hundred people. But is this really the first time this had happened? Nitro's deal is that he blows himself up, becomes a gaseous form, and then reforms his body afterwards. As I said, I'm not as familiar with Marvel characters as DC, but is he really that powerful? Everything I quickly read up suggested he wasn't, so maybe he hit a gas line or something and caused a chain reaction, but what gets me is that all the blame is laid on Speedball, the only survivor of this encounter, and all other superheroes for being "irresponsible" and "causing the disaster"... when it was Nitro who pushed his own self-destruct button!
Linkara: I mean, we do remember that supervillains are a thing, right? I feel like, in the Marvel Universe, they saw the Nazis bombing London during the Blitz and said it was the British's fault for putting up those explodable buildings!
Linkara (v/o): Were the New Warriors out of their league? Eh, probably, but we've seen heroes take on and defeat villains of a bigger scale before, and nothing I've read about Nitro suggests that this was something he was capable of. And yet superheroes are blamed for this, when I don't see how any of this would've gone differently even if Iron Man or Captain America had been there. Hell, according to my brief research on Nitro – and by that, I mean, I checked Wikipedia – when Iron Man fought Nitro once, his solution to defeating him was to make him EXPLODE over and over again so he'd get tired!
Linkara: (as Iron Man, wearing an Iron Man mask, with his own mouth exposed) Don't worry, everyone! I'll stop him from exploding and killing you all... by making him explode and kill you all! (beat) Man, can you believe that I'm not drunk right now? (pushes a button on the mask bringing it down fully)
Linkara (v/o): I dunno, it just feels like, with as many supervillains as there are in the Marvel Universe, how many times aliens invaded or attacked Earth, cosmic-level stuff affecting thousands, if not millions, of people happening all the time... that this sole incident would finally be the straw that broke the camel's back – it just seems off to me, especially when it's not the heroes' fault that it happened! Were they acting irresponsibly? Oh, certainly, yes, but it was still Nitro's fault!
Linkara (v/o): Number 5: Maria Hill is an Idiot.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of another Marvel comic called "Secret War")
Linkara (v/o): In the wake of a previous miniseries called "Secret War"–
(Cut abruptly to another Marvel comic by that title: "Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars", showing a black-covered Spider-Man)
Linkara (v/o): No, not that one.
(Back to the earlier "Secret War" comic)
Linkara (v/o): ...a story where Nick Fury sent a covert group of superheroes into Latveria because the Latverian Prime Minister was arming supervillains with high-tech weapons. Doctor Doom was not involved in this because he was in Hell at the time.
Linkara: Oh, yes, need I remind you that Hell is a real place in the Marvel Universe. So, in the Marvel Universe, if a villain dies and comes back, does that technically count as fleeing the country to avoid legal punishment?
(Cut back to the current "Civil War" comic)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, in the wake of that fiasco, Nick Fury went into hiding and Maria Hill was put in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. She did not make friends fast, nor did she make any fans with this series because of her absolutely bone-headed nonsense she pulls. In the first issue, while a group of heroes are discussing what to do if the Registration Act passes, Maria Hill and a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents ask Cap what he thinks the heroes will do if it passes, how many will support the action, and whatnot. He gives his honest opinion, and Maria understandably assumes that Cap will be leading the charge in hunting down any heroes who refuse to obey the law. Cap, however, says he's unwilling to hunt down the other heroes. He doesn't make any aggressive act about this, simply saying that he'll refuse to do so, probably saying this now so that it won't come as any surprise if he resigns or something... and then a bunch of soldiers pull guns on Cap. I'd like to remind you all that at this point, the Act hadn't passed yet. It was not the law! Yet, obviously Maria Hill set up a bunch of armed men to gun down Cap if he refused to play ball. Captain... friggin'... America! And Cap even tries to point out that they can put their weapons down, but Maria Hill tells them to keep them, and to tranquilize Cap!
Linkara: The only explanation that would've made any sense in regards to this is that she was actually a Skrull impostor for the event that happened later, "Secret Invasion". (throws out arms) But NOPE! She was just a complete and utter moron!
Linkara (v/o): So yeah, they open fire on him, and he flees and starts the whole rebellion thing! There probably wouldn't have been a civil war if not for this, since Cap wouldn't have organized because some idiot thought shooting him before he had done anything was the right move to make! What the hell?!? Maria Hill's character would get salvaged later, but the damage was done right away. Is it any wonder why so many heroes didn't wanna sign on when they would've had to take orders from someone like this?
Linkara: (as Maria) Excuse me, could you get me a cup of coffee? (as a hero) Um, sorry, ma'am, but I'm actually heading in (points behind him with his thumb) the opposite direction of the coffee machine. (as Maria, pointing) Soldiers, shoot to kill!
Linkara (v/o): Number 6: The Death of Goliath.
Linkara: Because what would a massive crossover be without killing off characters, am I right? Oh, wait, I know what it is: GOOD.
Linkara (v/o): In Issue 4, Iron Man and the pro-Registration side set a trap for the anti-Registration side, faking a fire at a petrochemical plant to force as many of them as possible to one location. We'll get to some more things about that encounter in a moment, but as far as I can tell, there was only one actual casualty of "Civil War" for the heroes – at least in the main series; there may have been more deaths in the tie-ins. Sure, lots of people were maimed or injured, but deaths? Just one: a guy named Goliath who could, well, grow to immense size. And in a book called "Civil War", the only heroic casualty is a black guy, killed by a blond-haired white guy who is themed around Norse mythology. A black hero, killed in an event called "Civil War" by a blond-haired, blue-eyed white guy linked to Norse mythology... whose body they wrap up – in chains.
(Cut to a brief clip of Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, showing everyone facepalming themselves; cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): On an unrelated note, they did this because they couldn't figure out a way to shrink him for a proper burial. Really! When they've got Hank friggin' Pym on their side! When you've got Hank frickin' Pym on your side... you couldn't figure out a way to shrink him. THAT IS A NEW LEVEL OF DUMB.
Linkara (v/o): Number 7: Clor.
(Cut to a shot of Thor in the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and speaking of the death of Goliath, the dude who killed him: Thor! Or rather, a clone of Thor. You see, Thor was dead...
Linkara: ...because of course he was...
Linkara (v/o): ...and the bright idea of Tony Stark was to clone him and make that clone completely subservient to his side; AKA a slave. AGAIN, IN A STORY CALLED "CIVIL WAR"!
Linkara: Okay, okay, that one's probably reading too much into it, I admit. But you've gotta wonder: cloning your dead friend and making the clone a cyborg who obeys your every command. Which number do you think that was on their list of (makes "finger quotes") "one hundred things to improve the world", eh? One of the first? Upper thirties? (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): They even retconned it so that apparently the DNA to do this was obtained via a hair strand that Tony had apparently kept since the day the Avengers friggin' formed.
Linkara: Not for making a clone, mind you. He was hoping to assemble a wig of that (pretends to run fingers through long hair) luxurious mane for cosplay purposes.
Linkara (v/o): The clone of Thor was killed by Hercules in the final issue, and Thor himself got some vengeance for it when he came back to life...
Linkara: ...because of course he did.
Linkara (v/o): But yeah, a murderous clone of Thor.
Spider-Man: Do you ever wonder if we've picked the right side here, Hank?
Linkara: (sarcastically) Why, Spider-Man, I can't imagine why you would think a clone would be a bad idea!
Linkara (v/o): Number 8: Iron Man is a douchebag.
(Shots of Iron Man in the comic are shown)
Linkara (v/o): So, this is technically touching on what I've already talked about so far, but I think you've seen from both the Negative Zone prison and the clone of Thor thing that Tony Stark is not presented in this comic very well. Oh, but it goes so much more than that! They try their best to humanize him, making him try to offer peace with Cap first, showing regrets for his actions, but he's still an asshole through and through. When Spidey finally decides to turn on the pro-Registration side, he points out Tony's douchebaggery with the prison and the clone... and Tony is an ass about it.
Iron Man: What are you talking about? Even though Thor reacted like a police officer would...
(Linkara stares in horror, his eyes shifting back and forth briefly)
Linkara: YOU SEE WHY I DON'T WANT TO REVIEW THIS?!?
Linkara (v/o): Also, bullcrap, Tony! Superheroes are not police officers! They're never meant to be! If they were, they would be given authorization to kill! BUT THEY'RE NOT, because they're empowered to handle things differently. But that's an argument for another time. But even if that was true, further bullcrap, because he was trying to kill all the other anti-Registration people who weren't actively attacking him! The only reason they survived was because the Invisible Woman put a force field around them. And in the end, when Tony is put in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., he orders Maria Hill to get him some coffee, despite being the deputy director. Even if Hill had been an asshole earlier, Tony was just being a gigantic douchebag.
Linkara: However, that does not mean that Captain America's side was in the right. For you see...
Linkara (v/o): Number 9: Captain America is a douchebag.
(A shot of Captain America in this comic is shown)
Linkara (v/o): The big criticism leveled against Captain America in this book is that he's being written as if he was Ultimate Captain America.
(Cut to shots of Cap in an issue of "The Ultimates")
Linkara (v/o): This isn't helped by the writer, Mark Millar, also being the writer of "Ultimates I" and "II". Frankly, it's not an unjustified criticism. The "Ultimates" version of Cap did have his noble points, but he was also more than a little bit of a jackass, as that was part of the whole idea of the Ultimate Universe being "more realistic", which apparently meant more cannibalism, more people being jerks to each other, and I mentioned the cannibalism, right? Seriously, like, everybody is a cannibal in the Ultimate Universe!
(Cut back to Cap in "Civil War")
Linkara (v/o): He's fine enough in the first issue. As I said, he was polite enough to Maria Hill during that whole thing, and she was the one who escalated things out of nowhere; even the third issue, where he's on the run and admits how frustrated he feels about being unable to visit a little kid for the Make-A-Wish Foundation that he'd been scheduled to do. It's good stuff. Aaaand then we get to the end of the third issue. As I said before, the pro-Registration side set a trap for the anti side. But while of course they're surrounded and under threat, Tony wants to settle this without a fight. Even Maria Hill points out to the S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers that they're only there in a support capacity; they want to end this peacefully. Tony just wants to talk to Steve, just five minutes to talk, offering amnesty for all his side, and desperately trying to just keep this thing from escalating. Aaand Cap lies to him about giving him those five minutes, uses a device to disable Tony's armor, and punches him repeatedly. Not only is it fighting dirty, but he's not giving Tony the chance to do anything else. Sure, he's devoted to his cause, but five minutes are also a way to buy some time for you to get ready to escape quickly. But nope! Lie, hope your forces can get away while surrounded, and then just hit your friend for a bit! Hell, he even calls Tony a "pampered punk" when he's just trying to, again, STOP THE FIGHTING! After Goliath is killed, some of the heroes, including the Young Avenger Cassie Lang, daughter of other Ant-Man Scott Lang, decide that this fight just isn't worth it, that they're not interested in fighting other heroes, they're scared for their lives, and they leave. Cap's reaction?
Captain America: Let them go if their freedom means so little to them.
Linkara: (as Cap, holding up his shield) I didn't fight the Asthma Monster for this, ya damn Commies!
Linkara (v/o): Add on the fact that he decides to include the Punisher to his side, who has been secretly aiding the team behind the scenes and was something even he admits was a mistake later when he kills two supervillains who wanted to help the anti-Registration side, and it gets worse. Oh, but that's not enough! After that murder of those villains, Cap beats up the Punisher and demands that he fight back...
(Cut to a panel of a similar scene in "Ultimates I")
Linkara (v/o): ...a scene that's lifted almost entirely out of "Ultimates I"...
(Back to "Civil War" again)
Linkara (v/o): ...except here, the Punisher doesn't fight back, because he respects Cap too much. It shows something wrong when the guy who openly murders several people acts with more respect that CAPTAIN FRIGGIN' AMERICA!!
Linkara: The operating theory of a book like this should be "both sides are right, and both sides are wrong". Mark Millar settled for "both sides are wrong, and I hate them".
Linkara (v/o): Number 10: The Artwork.
(Shots of this comic's artwork are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Okay, another minor quibble, especially since, for the most part, the art is fine. The problem is that there are various artistic choices that are just... baffling. The artist here is Steve McNiven, who definitely knows how to draw, quote-unquote, "realistic-looking people" without devolving into the tracing of Greg Land. It's just, some moments are... bizarre. See a comic panel is really a photograph of a particular moment, a singular point in time that can be made to look like it's giving off motion or just capturing the look or mood of something happening. So, going by that photograph idea, why the hell do we have this shot of Cap like it was from some in-between frame?
Linkara: (as Captain America, imitating the expression in question) This looks natural, right?
Linkara (v/o): And there are moments where he captures a mood perfectly, like the sadness and heartbreak Cassie Lang has when she expresses how she just wants to fight villains and not other heroes. Buuut then you have really awful scenes like the aforementioned encounter between Cap and Maria Hill. Maria is asking Cap an understandable question about what the superheroes are gonna decide to do about the Registration Act... and she looks like she's gonna start insanely cackling about her evil plan. Then she suddenly stops smiling and gets all serious and superior, while Cap looks like he has barely-restrained contempt and anger at everything around him.
Linkara: Admittedly, consistent characterization with how he's acted in this book, but still...
Linkara (v/o): Bear in mind, none of their dialogue reflects these attitudes, and it ends up painting the scene in a very poor light. The book is littered with moments like that: just the wrong facial expression that completely ruins the mood of the scene. Or at least what I think the mood is supposed to be. Oh, but of course, that's just faces. Lest we forget that comic book artists do have a choice in how they frame their panels, (shows a shot of...) here's She-Hulk's ass for no reason! Enjoy masturbating over this serious book that raises deep philosophical questions, everybody!
Linkara (v/o): Number 11: The Thunderbolts.
Linkara: Hey, I've got an idea! Let's grab a bunch of murderous supervillains and make them work for the pro-Registration side and have them hunt down the anti-Registration side! That was number 27 on the list.
Linkara (v/o): No, seriously, this was a plan supported by Hank Pym and Mr. Fantastic: take villains like Bullseye, Venom, friggin' Lady Deathstrike – a woman who literally has "death" in her name, and several others, and having them hunt down the anti-Registration side! Hell, not only do they almost kill Spider-Man when he flees Avengers Tower, but Taskmaster almost murders the Invisible Woman during the final fight, while the others gang up on Cap and, given the amount of stabbing and slashing, were probably going to kill him! They try to justify it in-story by claiming they have restraints on them that'll stop them if they step out of line, but the very fact that this was an actual plan they thought of is ludicrous and further paints Iron Man's side as being fascistic and wrong and just plain douchey!
Linkara: The best part about this is how Miriam Sharpe keeps praising Iron Man for pushing the pro-Registration stuff and how he's clearly working so hard to make things work. You know, while he's authorizing actual murderers to hunt down a guy who punched Hitler?
Linkara (v/o): Number 12: Why is Spider-Man Under Arrest?
(Shots of the comic are shown, leading up to Spider-Man's role)
Linkara (v/o): So, one of the problems with a book like this is that, like other events before it, a single narrative is thrown out because it's such a big event that affects so many people that they don't really have time for character development. I mentioned them trying to pay lip some service to characters feeling things about all this, but honestly, most of it is the heroes punching each other or complaining about having to punch each other. As I have pointed out before, Spider-Man leaves the pro-Registration side in issue 5. Why is he doing so? Well, they kind of hint at it earlier in "Civil War" itself, but the actual reasoning for why he finally decides to leave happens in his own damn series. So, suddenly, Iron Man and Spider-Man are facing off against each other, with some damage done to the Tower as if they were just fighting. It's just there. And then he's suddenly being hunted down for no reason. There really isn't any reason, because he hasn't actually broken the law. Oh, sure, you could probably say him assaulting Iron Man is like that, except I doubt Tony would be pressing charges. The thing is... Peter registered! He followed the law! He even admits he has no problem working for S.H.I.E.L.D. It's the same thing with Maria Hill and Cap. He has no problem with the Registration in and of itself, just that he'd really like to not hunt down people who risk their lives being superheroes, and shove them in the Negative Zone! But this is just more and more frustrating, because I'm not sure why he would even have to, because nobody has told us what the damn Registration Act SAYS!!
Linkara: But hey, now we have Peter Parker as a fugitive, with all the interesting story possibilities that come from that–
(A shot of the cover of "One More Day" pops up)
Linkara: Oh, right, that happened.
Linkara (v/o): What's worse is that Peter made Aunt May and Mary Jane into fugitives when there was no reason they couldn't stay in the Tower and be safe. Sure, in the tie-ins, they try to explain it better. But they didn't! In fact, they just contradicted the main series. In the main "Civil War" series, they said the Negative Zone prison was just a temporary thing until trial, while in the tie-ins, Tony flat-out told Peter they were gonna be imprisoned there without trial for-friggin'-ever until they registered, even threatening Peter with the same if he stepped out of line!
Linkara: This is another reason why I'm not talking about the tie-ins and just the main series. Because if I did, I'd quickly use up my yearly allotted amount of Phelous proclaiming, (gives a double thumbs-up) "GREAT CONTINUITY!" (smiles sarcastically) But don't worry, I'm sure this whole story totally makes sense. The full narrative is written out in the Registration Act, so just read that if you're confused.
Linkara (v/o): Number 13: Mr. Fantastic is a Creepy Idiot.
(Cut to a shot of Mr. Fantastic in the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Okay, I've joked about Mr. Fantastic being the most useless, inhuman idiot of the Marvel Universe before, but that's mostly just exaggeration.
(Cut to a shot of Batman in "Batman: Fortunate Son")
Linkara (v/o): It's like when I have Batman being a giant man-child against rock 'n' roll...
(Cut to a shot of a Spider-Man comic showing Spidey lying in a pile of broken wood)
Linkara (v/o): ...or Spidey's never-ending misery and pain to everyone and everything around him.
Linkara: (looking like he's pondering something) Although, that one is probably close to the truth, frankly.
Linkara (v/o): But man, oh, man, does "Civil War" just flat-out turn Mr. Fantastic into some kind of alien desperately trying to "relate to the hyooman". Every scene he's in just warps him into a bigger asshole than even Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. In his first major scene with Sue, he's brushing off her concerns about jailing their friends by telling her to look at a whiteboard explaining predictions about "social dangers" of not registering with the government.
Linkara: (as Mr. Fantastic) I know the math is a little sketchy, but trust me on this: all paths without registering mean that Soggies may rule. That's why we needed Spider-Man in on this.
Linkara (v/o): And by the way, this is also when the Human Torch was attacked by civilians over this whole thing and put in critical condition at a hospital. Reed doesn't seem to give a crap that one of his friends and teammates is in this state! He talks to Black Panther about scientific crap instead of what's actually happening around him. He was instrumental in building the Thor clone. He's the one who pushes for the Thunderbolts! And after the final battle, he writes this awful love letter to Sue Storm, as if he was a frickin' robot.
Mr. Fantastic: (narrating) I saw you during the cleanup, but felt it was inappropriate to discuss our future while our adrenal glands might still impair our judgment in romantic matters.
(Cut to a clip of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra)
Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire): As a scientist, I just wish I could appreciate more things like cabins, bicycles...
Linkara: And just as a reminder of how it could get even worse in the tie-ins, in an issue of "Amazing Spider-Man", Reed told Peter a story about his uncle who spoke up against Joe McCarthy during the House Un-American Activities Committee... and Reed said he should have gone along with McCarthy! WHAT! THE! HELL?!
Linkara (v/o): Number 14: Cap's Surrender.
(Shots showing the events leading up to Captain America's surrender is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Unlike the movie, where there weren't any easy answers, and not really any winners in all of this, there was a winner in this. During the final battle, Cap manages to defeat Tony in battle. It's so badly presented that it makes it look like he's about to have no hesitation in murdering one of his closest friends. But then a bunch of civilians – first responders, really – tackle Cap. He says he doesn't want to hurt them, but they say he already has, allowing him to see a bunch of buildings on fire and realize, "ZOMG! There's collateral damage in superhero fights!"
Captain America: They're right. We're not fighting for the people anymore, Falcon... Look at us. We're just fighting.
Linkara: Uh, technically, you were never fighting ("finger quotes") "for the people", Cap. You said it yourself: it was about your freedom, since the Registration Act seems to be conscripting people against their will!
Linkara (v/o): Although, you are correct; you are just fighting. There's no meat to any of this, no reasoning or advancement of your argument or position, but that doesn't mean you should surrender, dude! The biggest problem here is that this wouldn't be happening anyway. Registration does not actually change the nature of superhero vs. supervillain fights. Nitro would still have caused that massive explosion if it had been Iron Man sent in instead of a superhero reality show. The damage the two groups are causing is a problem, but even Iron Man's side and the first responders were getting civilians away from danger. But yeah, Cap just decides, "Screw this entire thing, people might get hurt, so we suck, and our entire side should just stop fighting and accept our fate!"
Linkara: Although, I think this proves that this is not Ultimate Captain America in this story, since he doesn't scream at those people about how (points to his forehead) the A on his face doesn't stand for "France".
(Cut to a shot of such from "The Ultimates")
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, that was a thing. Why did people like "The Ultimates" again?
Linkara (v/o): And finally, Number 15: The Pro-Registration Side Was Right All Along.
Linkara: Unfortunately, this one is... a bit tricky. See, I tried my damnedest to hunt this down, but the webpage for the interview is dead, and I couldn't get it, even with the Wayback Machine. Essentially, it's where Mark Millar said the pro-Registration side was right. No debate, no argument; they were right. End of story. In this comic about a philosophical debate between two equally valid positions. Yyyyeah.
Linkara (v/o): I mean, it's certainly possible I'm misremembering; it was almost ten years ago at the time of this video's release, but I remember a lot of people being pissed off about the interview, and the one article that I found that had some quotes to it, seemed to point in that direction, indicating that Captain America was essentially an Old West cowboy when all of his friends had become sheriffs; a relic that needed to get with the times. And frankly, with that ending I just described, it's not hard to see it as both Mark Millar and Marvel saying, "Yeah, the pro-Registration side was the correct one." You know, the side that convinced people into revealing their secret identities to the public, violated the memory and DNA of their friend to create a murderous clone who killed another friend of theirs, recruited psychopaths to hunt down their friends, and then wrongfully imprisoned their friends in an other-dimensional realm where they were subjected to misery and depression. No, no, they were the good guys and the ones we should be rooting for. This is especially in light of the book ending, with Tony flirting with Miriam Sharpe and talking about how those one hundred ideas will lead to a bright new dawn for the Marvel Universe.
Linkara: You know, once they figure out how to weaponize the sun as a gigantic death ray – for peaceful purposes against the anti-Registration rebels, of course, nothing else. That was idea number 76.
Linkara (v/o): So, to conclude all of this, let's talk about where I stand about the pro- or anti-Registration thing. I'm... mostly anti-Registration, but completely open to voluntary registration. Not necessarily of secret identities, but at least with the government knowing that you're out there and who to contact about you. Some bureaucracy, but sure as hell not what we get in this event. One of the things that came out of this was the Fifty-State Initiative: each American state having at least one superhero team of their own. The thing is, though, as we ended up seeing, ideas like the Fifty-State Initiative, at their core, were not about training and accountability, but conscription and militarization. If you have superpowers, you will follow this mandate, even if you don't actually want to use them as a superhero. It's the next-of-kin to the dreaded Mutant Registration Act that always hung over the X-Men. Ironically, the X-Men were mostly neutral in this conflict, because of crap going on in their own books. Don't get me wrong – collateral damage, both in buildings and human casualties, is a problem. There should be accountability when things go wrong. And hell, there should be formal training in people's powers. Despite what Vision claimed in the movie version of the comic, the rise of superpowered beings did not mean an escalation of damage. The Chitauri were going to invade whether there were superhumans or not, Hydra would still have been a thing, etc. People like the Avengers are not trying to cause problems; their presence does not automatically mean there will be collateral damage. They're a response to the rising threats. These are the people who have been granted incredible gifts and use them to help people to the best of their abilities, oftentimes at a sacrifice that others are not willing to make. Because the thing is, we already have a term for beings with incredible powers, beyond the average person, that use their power without regard for life, property and the well-being of others: supervillains. Superheroes, on the other hand, do care about collateral damage. They do feel guilty and traumatized and remorseful for what has happened. But they're not the ones who started it.
Linkara: Disregarding anything your parents might've ever said about ("finger quotes") "it not mattering who started it". If that was true, no one would be allowed to defend themselves or others.
Linkara (v/o): Superheroes exist for a reason within these universes: because we don't live in the stupid world of The Purge, where people just wanna be assholes all the time, and hurt others, or crap like that. For the most part, people want to help each other, to do good and make the world better. That's what superheroes wanna do. But there are some people who are selfish, greedy, misguided, criminally insane, or just sadistic enough and wield power that can't be stopped by ordinary humans. If they could, there wouldn't be a need for superheroes.
(Cut to a clip of Ghostbusters 2)
Peter Venkman (Bill Murray): Sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (vo): The Registration Act turns these very people who have risked life and limb to save people, over and over, into criminals. You are punishing people for trying to do the right thing. Forget about all the stupid, immoral jackassery on display in this event. The real thing that unites these two sides is that they want to be superheroes. They want to help people and stop the bad guys. But the only thing that the creators did with this comic was turn the good guys into the bad guys.
Linkara: (holding up comic) For the American viewers out there, Happy Independence Day. Next time, back to Star Trek, as we explore strange new comics from a series I haven't actually covered before, with the first "Deep Space Nine" comic. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
It turns out the meaning to life, the universe, and everything... is a prison for superheroes.
Tony Stark's reputation got so bad in the Marvel Universe amongst fans and creators that they had to wipe his memory of everything past Civil War in order to fix him. Bet that made Miriam Sharpe happy.
(Stinger: The panel from the comic "The Ultimates #12" is shown again, depicting Captain America fighting with Herr Kleiser)
Captain America: Surrender? SURRENDER??!! Do you think this letter on my head stands for France?
(Cut to the panel showing Captain America getting arrested, with the Price Is Right "losing horn" sound playing in the background)