REVIEW: "Civil War" #1

"This is the end of the way we do business."

A surprisingly un-incarcerated Daredevil offered this telling quote, and that's pretty much the thesis of the issue.

By now you've probably seen the preview pages or even checked the Opening Shot QuickTime movie, so the details are probably not new to you. The New Warriors, desperate to save their flagging reality show, take on a quartet of escaped convicts. Problem is, one of them is the villain Nitro, who (as you may recall) ultimately caused the death of Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell, not that Shazam guy) and who -- just for fun -- blows up like crazy. This time within feet of a crowded elementary school.

That tragic turn of events causes all kinds of Bendis-esque dialogue (which is always entertaining if often long in the tooth) as the heroes discuss rumors of legislative action forcing them to register or face prosecution (JSA? What? Never heard of it). It's not all talk with action including some really great art around a sequence with Captain America in the middle section, and honestly the New Warriors have never looked better (before they, you know get blown up).

There's some interesting character points -- Reed's decision (therefore the FF's decision) after a telling family crisis, Tony Stark having "what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity" after an emotional encounter in public. The work takes an interesting slant on the current mediacentric culture of fear and applies the logic of the Marvel universe to it quite nicely. The usual suspects are all on the "what the hell?" side of the coin (with one surprising adherent to that perspective) and many of the classic characters on the side of the "register your powers or get shut down" side. The perfect setting for a Heroclix-worthy battle between everybody's favorites.

The bulk of the world-changing events happens in the second two thirds of the issue, and seeing Captain America surfing on top of a fighter plane is almost worth the price of admission. But at four bucks ... eh. The questioning of heroes wasn't new when "Legends" did it at the behest of Glorious Godfrey back in the halcyon days of the 80s. What was interesting in the central argument was the idea of creating a wholly new infrastructure in US government with no explanation of how it would be administered or from whence the money would come. Perhaps fodder for later issues.

This particular issue is an essential must-buy for the same sort of people who bought "Identity Crisis" -- fans who enjoy emotional conflict between the characters they've always loved. However, for passing interest or niche fans who can find all they want in one slanted side ("X-Statix" fans for example, or people who just follow one team or character), all of this material will be recapped and reviewed ad infinitum, so you could possibly do without the hand wringing, chest thumping and posturing. A slow start given the overwhelming hype that Marvel likes to load their work with, but an adequate one.

Hannibal Tabu reviews comics each and every Thursday here on CBR in his weekly column THE BUY PILE.

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