Sunday, July 23, 2006

Civil War #3

Now that I have my comments working (that sound you hear is me, repeatedly slapping myself in the forehead), I can see that Jenn of Reappropriate asked for my further thoughts on Civil War.

And the review remains pretty much the same. The art and plot are still fantastic. The photo-referenced pencils and inks give a realistic, weighty feel to the action. Just look at the panel of Iron Man punching Captain America in the face (no scanner, can someone help a brother out?). [Thank you, Lady That's My Skull.]



I've seen more violent, gory punches before, in the Authority or Ultimates, and I just assume that the Hulk has hit Cap in the face harder, but that certainly seems like the most brutal punch I've ever seen. Maybe it's the way Cap's mask is tearing off, or the slanted bloodstains across Iron Man's yellow happy face mask (no, I don't think it's just a coincidence), but the shear amount of detail and "realism" in the image make the whole panel more beautiful and the whole action more ugly.

And again, plotwise, it's really strong. Once the characters have taken their places (and I'll get to characters in a second), the scenes flow into each other with a nice sense of inevitability. You never get a scene which makes you think, "am I reading the same book?" which plagues most massive crossover events. And the question "who shot first" is going to plague Marvel for years (that's a good thing). Was it Iron Man, for setting up a trap in the first place? Or Captain America, who, under the guise of compromise rejected out of hand Iron Man's attempt at negotiation and reconciliation? And then there's that gorgeous last page, implying that the shit REALLY about to hit the fan, which will only be topped when a certain Green Goliath is done playing Spartacus.

But then there's the characterization and dialogue. On the anti-registration side, there is still ZERO doubt that they are in the right, despite the fact that there are STRONG arguments to be made against just letting Hercules beat the crap out of everybody he thinks is a bad guy! But the pro-registration side is worse. Tony I've written off as an asshole, and could deal with that (amazing how much that one moment of self doubt in issue two did for me). And Reed Richards has issues, but he's never been this cold to his wife and brother-in-law before. But the real problem is Spider-Man. Spider-Man is supposed to be the anti-asshole, bantering with his enemies even as he lays the smackdown on them. But here he's calling Daredevil and the Vision "schmucks," being patronizing to the Young Avengers (who are, what, 6, 7 years younger than him at most?). Even if it wasn't "out-of-character," it's still tipping your hand to put all the assholes on one side, and all the guys who just want to help people and play basketball with kids with cancer on the other.

So pretty much same as before. I'll enjoy reading the series through, and since I'm NOT a regular Marvel reader, I don't have to worry about "the long term" effects and just enjoy the story as is. But so far it's just good, and all it would take for it to be great is if the characters and dialogue were as nuanced, detailed, and real as the art.

7 comments:

Matthew Craig said...

The pornographic violence* in this scene would be bad enough if it weren't for Spider-Man acting like it's just another day blapping The Shocker. I am given to understand that he's also seen to order soldiers to shoot teenage boys (albeit with tranqs, albeit legally, albeit superpowered lads).+

Seriously. I can't see how anyone who's ever...SEEN Spider-Man can stand this half-aborted shit.

Honestly: what will it take to make you (all, in general) stop buying into this degradation?

//\Oo/\\
* - please note that I have nothing against gratuitous, gruesome, slobberknocker violence in any forum other than real life. This scene, however, is designed to tickle the fanboy prostate in the most obvious, shallow way. These characters - Spider-Man most of all - should not be doing this to each other with such gay abandon.

+ - full disclosure: I haven't bought a twenty-something Spider-Man comic (other than Unlimited, Dan Slott) since Avengers Disassembled, Sins Past, etc.. It's hard to ignore the message board/blogosphere, though. I saw this particular scene, as I have a number of others, on the livejournal scans_daily.

Matthew Craig said...

Furthermore: is this now the complete set? Has CIVIL WAR now "homaged" every classic post-Crisis "epic" superhero story, from WATCHMEN to KINGDOM COME and (with this scene) DARK KNIGHT RETURNS?

//\Oo/\\

Steven said...

Sigh, Matthew, you're going to make me regret figuring out how comments work on this thing.

Fine, I'll make this short.

Who the fuck are you to tell me not to buy a comic I'm enjoying in foul and grotesque language on my blog based on your own (wrong) assumptions about a book you refuse to read?

Had you bothered to read either the comic in question or my review, you'd know that the violence isn't gruesome: Iron Man hit Captain America hard enough to knock out a tooth. Batman does that to the Joker EVERY TIME THEY FIGHT! That it doesn't pander to the fanboys, rather it shows the ugly consequences of the "gratuitous, gruesome, slobberknocker violence" you have nothing against. That the characters don't act with "gay abandon," but rather grimly set about their work.

But all of that is besides the point. You don't like the idea of a comic, fine. Don't buy it. You disagree with my review of comic (you have actually READ) and want to tell me why, fine, that's why the comments are here.

But the moment, the second, you TELL me what to buy, what to enjoy, tell me that what I like is a "degradation" and "half-aborted shit," imply that I'm a dupe for "buying into" some kind of scheme, that's the second you're asked to leave.

So here's the deal. I'll leave your posts up, as examples. But if you don't show a modicum more respect here, on my blog, your posts get deleted.

That goes for everyone. I don't mind dissension. I don't mind foul language and off color jokes. But you will not treat me, or anyone else posting here, with anything but the greatest respect.

Got it?

Anonymous said...

Steven,

I apologise if I have upset you in any way, shape or form.

That was most certainly not my intent.

I'm just a big ol' Spider-Man fan who gets a little bit sadder every time he reads a blog, a news item or a series of scans and sees Spider-Man moving further and further away from being Spider-Man. I've had two (three?) years of frustratingly awful comics to wind me up to this level.

You're right, of course: I could have couched my first post in a somewhat more measured tone, and I would respectfully ask you to delete it - if not this whole thread - when you've read this message.

This is what it's come to, though: I can't even talk about my favourite character without getting upset. I think it's justified - but then I would! - but maybe it's best for all concerned if I stick with Ultimate Spider-Man and a much-needed sabbatical from the Blogosphere.

Matt

Brett said...

I am enjoying Civil War so far much more then the Recent Infinite Crisis from DC, but I think it is just down to its being a comprehensible story, not because it is a brilliant story.

Many characters are behaving in ways that seem to out of alignment with their history in the story, Spiderman, Ironman, and even Captain America are all behaving in odd ways to fit the overall story they are telling. We have seen this many times before, usually when a hero does a guest spot in another comic and it is annoying, but it isn't new.

Overall I admire Marvel's ability to hold together all the treads of the story so far across multiple books. I agree the 'bad guys' are being painted very black and the 'good guys' are being painted very white, I literally laughed out loud at Cap's playing basketball line, but so far I am enjoying the ride and looking forward to seeing how the whole series turns out.

Randy said...

Yeah, they seem to be trying different things with Spiderman, and they just ain't working. Can't we just go back to the good ol' fun Spidey, bantering, not wimpy and just wanting to do good?
Ever since JMS took over Spidey a long ways back, its just not been the same.
Civil War- love it. Much faster pace than Infinite and House o' M, and when I'm done with each issue, I'm like "wow, that was all. shouldn't there be like..more?" And, I get to actually see the Civil War hype ads in the book, like seeing Stark and Cap go at it.

Jenn said...

Thanks for the review, Steven! I'm WAY too broke to consider Civil War, and I don't frequent message boards so it's nice to read someone with a respectable opinion and a good head on their shoulders give me the what's what.

I'm definitely going to have to follow this thing when it hits trades.

I think it's interesting though that this comments thread is picking up not on the glaring one-sidedness of the Civil War debate (which is, imo, a big problem with the story) but on Spidey acting "out of character". Talk about fanboys being resistant to change -- isn't it possible that the very fact that the entire Marvel Universe is pitted against one another would threaten Spidey's personality or make Reed Richards resentful/cranky towards his wife?

The point is we've really never seen these characters in this situation or anything very much like it (hence why Civil War has been so hyped), so how are we to know what's in character or out of character? Switching to the DCU, what makes Bats great isn't one guy fighting the same tired cadre of superheroes with the same tired arsenal of tricks, but different writers offering different takes on who he is, what exactly makes him done the Bat-suit and different ways he might react under differing situations, all leading to a more multi-layered interpretation of his character.

If you wanted the same ol' Spidey from years ago, then I suggest buying back-issues. Writers and artists aren't Xerox machines -- if they were, I sure as hell wouldn't shell out as much as I do on comics every week.

[Oh, and steven, thanks for fixing the comments. I was getting so bummed that none of my comments were showing up!]