The Great Stories Marvel: Civil War, face your own conscience

The Great Stories Marvel: Civil War, face your own conscience

The Great Stories Marvel

Secret identity is one of the most representative traits of comics superheroes. Since the Golden Age of comics, referring to the duality of the progenitor of modern superheroes, Doc Savage, the double life of costumed heroes has been their peculiarity, an intimate place in which to remain human in a life of epic clashes and incredible adventures . But what if one day you were forced to reveal your identity to the world? A question that no hero would like to address, but which in the Marvel Universe became in 2006 the starting point of one of the most revolutionary events in the Marvelian world: Civil War.

Coming to conceive such a maxi-event, which would have involved every hero and villain in the world of the House of Ideas, it was essentially an editorial necessity. The arrival of Brian Michael Bendis a few years earlier had brought within the publishing house a narrative revolution, with a return of the great sagas, or maxi-events, which tended to involve all the leading figures of the Marvel Universe in a cohesive way. . The focus, above all, was concentrated on the two most loved formations, Avengers and X-Men, which, thanks to their interconnection, had been the protagonists of the first two great cycles of the Bendis era, Split Avengers and House of M.

Civil War: which side are you on?

After two events of this magnitude, however, something equally astonishing was expected, but one of the two formations on which Bendis had based the his refoundation, the X-Men, was out of the game, forced to face his own battle for survival in the wake of the events of House of M, forcing the mutants to minimal participation. All that remained was the Avengers, who in their New Avengers series, under the leadership of Bendis, were already facing a rather hot team: secret identities. Without a legal figure, the heroes could not be held accountable before the law, unless their identities were somehow registered. An intriguing narrative cue, which touched one of the essential points of the superhero figure, which became the fulcrum of a narrative arc that Bendis and Mark Millar began to work on, initially comparing superheroes and the SHIELD, the spy agency par excellence of the Marvel world. But this idea was initially discarded, as Millar later explained:

“Bendis had initially thought about putting the S.H.I.E.L.D. against the Marvel Universe, and the idea seemed promising. Then, when we met with Jeph Loeb we realized that S.H.I.E.L.D. it was too exploited in that period, it would have been preferable to pit the heroes against each other ”

A courageous choice, even if not easy. Civil War already bears the narrative essence that characterizes it in the title, but finding a valid motivation to make sense of this internal war, but, as mentioned, the seeds of dissent were already present in New Avengers, it was enough to trigger the mechanism, and it was decided to aim for a catastrophic event: Stamford.

During a mission of the New Warriors, a young formation of reckless superheroes, the capture of the criminal Nitro, escaped from Ryker's during the first issue of New Avengers, ends with a terrible explosion in which a school is destroyed. A catastrophic event, beautifully portrayed by Steve McNiven with a table in which Captain America and Iron Man disconsolately observe the consequences of this massacre. But such a wound cannot heal without drama, and during the funeral of the little victims, a mother attacks Tony Stark, considering him the symbol of a system that does not present to superheroes the account of its actions. Situation that leads to the creation of the Registration Act, a law that forces superheroes to declare their identity secret, on pain of being considered criminals and being hunted down by their comrades.

A rift within the metahuman community. , which leads to the creation of two different fronts. Here is the core of Civil War, a division of superheroes between those who want to register and those who want to preserve their secret identity at all costs. As was the slogan of the saga 'Which side are you on? '. Two important names were needed to lead the ranks of the two factions, and the choice immediately fell on Cap and Tin Head, even if, as the editor Tom Breevort tells us, initially the sides were different:

“All ' to begin with, we thought we had Cap in favor of the registration deed, using his sense of duty to get him to hunt down his friends. Tony, on the other hand, would have sided with the anti-registration faction. But then we realized that the two positions would not be reconciled with the spirit of the two characters ”

In hindsight, Captain America is not new to taking sides against something, even legally valid, that he does not consider correct. The saga of the Secret Empire and his abandonment of the Shield are a demonstration of which for him the dream of the uniform counts more, while for Tony Stark, obsessed with control and spoiled by a form of presumed superiority that pushes him to arrogate the right to choose the best for others, the registration deed idea was more than valid. From this ideological contrast, Millar and Bendis develop an internal struggle against the Marvelian superhero community, in which old disagreements also emerge, in which families break up families, as happens with the Fantastic Four, and which gives rise to a feeling of social criticism addressed to a a certain American mentality, made up of liberalism on the use of weapons and irresponsibility of those who should protect citizens. Interestingly, the two top legal experts in the Marvel world, She-Hulk and Daredevil, are on opposite sides, with the Cornetto opposing the act of registration, as might have been expected, while the green heroine, who has always lacked a double life, takes sides in favor of the law.

A moral division in the Marvelian methuman community

In Civil War, the more dangerous sides of some of the central characters of the Marvel Universe emerge, such as Reed Richards and Tony Stark who do not hesitate to exile dissidents in the Negative Zone, a prison created especially for them. Slogans are repeated in favor of one or the other faction, everyone is sure of their own thinking, but soon the situation is lost sight of, to the point that the alleged 'good' do not hesitate to enlist historical villains like Bullseye, Taskmaster or Lady Deathstrike in their ranks, as Cap's rebels find themselves having to resort to guerrilla tactics. Above all, they too lose their objectivity, accepting a character of the caliber of the Punisher for their undercover missions, but being surprised when Castel lets out his streak of ruthless justicialism, giving rise to a fight with Cap that leads Rogers to understand the reasons. of his battle.

In the final clash, in fact, it is Rogers, now close to victory, who understands how his rebellion has demonstrated the legitimacy of the registration act, considered as the devastating battle between the two factions you're demolishing New York. An awareness that pushes him, in tears, to drop the Shield and surrender to the authorities:

“They are right. We are no longer fighting for the people, Falcon. Look at us. We are just fighting. Everything except the Cause. And they don't arrest Captain America… they arrest Steve Rogers. It's a very different thing "

Whether or not it is the Registration Act, for Cap everything must be traced back to the role of superheroes as protectors of ordinary people, which is why, in order to protect them, the hostility. McNiven condenses this dogma into a cartoon of incredible power, in which we see, from Cap's point of view, his hands reaching out to two agents, waiting to be arrested. It is the end of Civil War, or at least of its narrative core, because the consequences will be fundamental for the following years.

The legacy of Civil War

The events of Civil War, such as imaginable, they had an repercussion in the following years. First of all, the ideological contrast between Iron Man and Captain America has created a precedent that has radically changed the assets of the superhero community, leaving the theme of the registration and the secret identity of superheroes always topical, as demonstrated recently also in the run by Zdarsky about Daredevil. The true ending of Civil War, however, can be identified in two stories, Confession (by Bendis, with drawings by Alex Maleev) and The Death of the Dream (by Ed Brubaker, with drawings by Steve Epting), in which the comparison between Cap and Iron Man continues on a less warlike and more ideological level, showing the ethical and emotional roots of their respective choices. The defeat of Steve Rogers and his faction does not mean a morally just victory on the part of Stark, who indeed at the end of Civil War takes on a government role again by becoming director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and starting the Initiative, which will have severe repercussions on the future of the Marvel Universe.

With Civil War, therefore, Brubaker and Millar wanted to show the ethical and moral, or immoral, implications of the Marvel superhero community, also highlighting how crossing certain boundaries can betray the mission, or the Cause, as it would define it Cap. This is the legacy of Civil War, an ideological vision of the role of the superhero seen through the two pillars of Marvel's most symbolic formation, based on a sense of responsibility suffered more than accepted (Iron Man) and the desire to serve according to ethical principles not subservient to state logic (Captain America).

A dualism that also becomes the basis of the cinematographic transposition of this fratricidal struggle, seen in Captain America: Civil War. Inside the MCU, the unleashed element is changed, while maintaining a similarity in the mechanics, which helps to introduce other characters, such as Black Panther, but preserves the authentic spirit of the two contrasting positions of Iron Man and Captain America. Although it inevitably deviates in the narrative, Captain America: Civil War re-proposes the salient elements of the story of Bendis and Millar, also capturing the visual suggestions of McNiven, especially in the final battle between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, in which there are evident homages to the McNiven's visual talent.

Even today, fifteen years after its release, Civil War remains one of the most important modern Marvel sagas for the evolution of the Marvel Universe, whose ideas still influence recent events. A caliber that can be found by reading the main body of Civil War thanks to the volume of Panini Comcis inserted within the Must Have necklace or by choosing to indulge yourself by purchasing the Civil War collector's box containing all the tie-ins related to this maxi-event .

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