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And So It Begins: Tom Brevoort talks “Civil War”

by  in Comic News Comment
And So It Begins: Tom Brevoort talks “Civil War”

Marvel Comics‘ superhero universe sure isn’t a fun place to be these days. Mutants are losing their powers, the Avengers’ old allies might be their enemies and outer space is undergoing “Annihilation,” which doesn’t sound like a good experience for anyone out there. So when Marvel announced that 2006 would see an ominously named event entitled “Civil War,” CBR News had to speak with editor Tom Brevoort about what nasty surprises await our heroes and more.

“‘Civil War’ is Marvel’s major publishing event of 2006, a super-series that’ll run for seven issues starting in May, and that’ll impact on virtually every character and title in the line in some way before it’s done,” explained Brevoort. “Story-wise, the genesis of the tale has its roots in what we’ve been doing for the last year or two: ‘Avengers: Disassembled,’ ‘House of M,’ ‘Decimation,’ ‘Enemy Of The State,’ and so forth. But that actual idea of ‘Civil War,’ the core concept that got everybody excited and involved at our last creator meeting, came from Mark Millar. It’s a story that has a huge relevance for people living in this country at this point in time, as its central theme boils down to ‘How much freedom is it necessary to give up to have security?’ This is the central question that all of the Marvel characters are going to be grappling with in ‘Civil War’, and the answers will run the gamut.

“The main ‘Civil War’ seven-issue series is being produced by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, with Dexter Vines inking and Morry Holliwell providing his succulent colors. But it’s a storyline that will spill out into other books, both issues of ongoing titles such as ‘Fantastic Four,’ ‘Amazing Spider-Man,’ ‘Captain America’ and ‘She-Hulk,’ as well as in assorted limited series and specials directly connected to the event itself. Virtually everybody who’s a creative force at Marvel these days will have an opportunity to play, if they so choose.”

With an event this big, Marvel isn’t letting any corner of their superhero universe go untouched, as Brevoort explained when asked which characters would be involved. “The short answer is ‘everyone!’ This is a story of the Marvel Universe as a whole, and while there are six or seven characters who’ll be most at the forefront, just about everybody is going to be impacted by it in some way, on some level.”

When fans talk about these events, the focus is often on the heroes, but when Brevoort says “Civil War” will impact everyone, he even means the villains. “Some pretty significant changes to the villains will be seen in ‘Civil War,’ especially once we hit around issue #4 or so. In some ways, we’re going to be redefining what it means to be a hero or a villain in the Marvel Universe, so some characters you’d think of as heroes will be branded villains, and some villains may wind up appearing to be heroes.”

It’s hard not to think of “Secret Wars” when you think of Marvel Comics and crossovers, since the SW events are still quite popular with fans to this day, and Brevoort says “Civil War” will be in that vein. “At its heart, Mark is trying to do the sort of big, crowd-pleasing colorful super hero celebration that was ‘Secret Wars,’ but at the same time, he’s got a very substantive theme at the heart of the thing, one that should make this whole storyline more relatable to the common man than the typical ‘worlds will live and die’ sort of major event. But as witnessed in ‘Ultimates,’ Mark never loses sight of the excitement and spectacle that readers expect to encounter when they crack open a Marvel comic, so this isn’t going to be a slow-paced, introspective piece with pages of soul-searching. Every issue will have at least one spectacular set-piece, and as many jaw-dropping surprises as we can cram in.”

With “Civil War” positioned as Marvel’s big event for 2006 and the promise of major repercussions, in the vein of “Decimation” following “House Of M,” some have asked how fans will be able to keep up with all the “big” things in the Marvel Universe. “Personal choice is the only answer to this question,” says Brevoort. “It’s the job of everybody at Marvel, everybody in the industry, to tell stories that the readership will be interested in, and want to read. So I’m not doing my job if I take the stance that there are too many good stories being told right now, and instead choose to stick to non-controversial, non-compelling storylines for the duration. Personal choice–everybody gets to exercise it, everybody gets to decide what they’re most interested in, and where they want to spend their hard-earned money. We think we’ve got something very special here, and we’re figuring that those who sample ‘Civil War’ will agree, and want to come along for the ride. And sure, we know that there are a lot of options out there competing for a fan’s dollar, many of them at Marvel. But isn’t that the way it should be? I’d rather face a landscape where several compelling projects are competing for reader attention than a world in which nothing exciting seems to be going on outside of maybe one or two hot spots. Wouldn’t you?”

“New Avengers: Illuminati” Cover

Brevoort also feels that “Civil War” is the kind of book that will appeal to new readers and will endear itself to anyone who picks it up, due to the universal themes and creative approach by all involved. “I think ‘Civil War’ has a good chance of bringing in new readers and lapsed readers, in that it’s got a story hook that’s instantly understandable and interesting to the layman, while it’s effects on the classic Marvel characters will be of interest to the already-committed readers of today. The core story is only seven issues in length, so the buy-in for a newbie is pretty minimal–just one comic book each month. If they choose to spread out from that point and sample the effects on their favorite Marvel characters and titles, they can at their discretion.”

The Marvel Comics events have been less dark than their “counterparts” at rival DC Comics, but the hints and title of “Civil War” seem to suggest that Marvel will be going down a darker road, which Brevoort is happy to comment on, saying, “It’s a serious storyline, with a serious question at its core. But it’s a super hero storyline as well, so there’ll be plenty of wall-to-wall action to provide a balance to the deeper stuff, and a sense of adventure to propel the whole event along. I guess it depends on how you define ‘dark.’ I think it’s a meaningful storyline that raises interesting questions about the nature of heroism, about the public good, and about the responsibility one has to others and to himself and his ideals. So yeah, probably most people will consider it ‘dark.'”

So if you’re one of those skeptical readers or just not sure about whether your wallet can handle a “Civil War,” BBrevoort smiles and offers his trademark sage advice. “Everybody’s going to be talking about it, like it or not–do you really want to be the one guy left out in the cold?”

And now you can talk about “Civil War” on the CBR Marvel Universe Forum.

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