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February Book Club – Civil War mini-series

stephengervais's picture
Welcome to the CTG February edition of our monthly book club! This month we’ll be reading or in some cases re-reading the big Marvel event known as Civil War. This 7 issue event was written by Mark Millar and drawn by Steve McNiven. The huge crossover had many tie-in issues but for the purpose of our book club we’ll just be discussing the main 7 issue storyline.
 
After a tragic event in issue one the US government wants all Superheroes to register and be regulated under a Superhero Registration Act. The tag line for the series was, “It’s time to choose: whose side are you on?”. I remember this being a great read and I can’t wait to see if my memories stand the test of time.
 
For this month I’ll post the same questions as last month to think about and answer as you are reading. As a way to increase discussion I also encourage everyone to take a moment after reading each chapter/issue to make a brief comment on what you just read. It can be anything from a panel that particularly struck you to an interpretation on what you just read.
 
Everyone is welcome to join in so please help promote our book club with your friends, family and through social media.
 
Questions to think about and answer as you’re reading Civil War:
What do you think of the book’s title?
How deep into the book did you get before you understood the relevance of the title?
Did the title reflect the main themes of the book?
Who is the protagonist of the story?
How did the personality and experiences of the protagonist shape the direction of the book?
Are the characters actions justified?
Did reading the book invoke any strong emotions in you? Did you cry? Did you laugh? Why?
Was there one event in the book that resonated with you deeply?
What themes does the author explore?
What sequences strike you as profound or insightful?
Why did the creators tell the story in this format? Was what was told suited for a comic book format?
Would you have rather read this story in prose? Or watched the movie?
 
Alright let’s get reading and sharing!

Comments

stephengervais's picture
Right off the bat I do have to say how underwhelming I find the cover! For such a major event I really do find the cover rather boring and if I was one to judge a book by it's cover I'd probably pass on this one.
Kalem Lalonde's picture
Yeah definitely, they only use up half the space.
RobertJCross's picture
I assume they want it to look bleak.
Tori B.'s picture
Okay, so initial thoughts before I even attempt a re-read of this.

Civil War is easily one of my least favourite events that occured in the Marvel Universe. The title, while grabbing, I mean something called 'Civil War' is meant to be big right, doesn't live up to its hype. Sure there's a lot of fighting, but for the most part it feels like pointless, fighting. I remember not really caring for the art at all either-- also as mentioned, really boring cover wow.

What I do remember though are the better stories to come from this were the tie-ins. I do have the Civil War: X-Men omnibus which is a little better read.

That being said, it has been years since I've looked at it, and I'm hoping to gain new perspective this time around. But maybe not.



 
Kalem Lalonde's picture
I read it about 2 months ago and I would tend to agree with you. 
Everyone seems to really appreciate this event but it fell flat to me. I felt like the concept was extraordinary but they didn't play on it enough. Instead of being an awesome political story it just ended up being a lot of fighting with a storyline that didn't have time to breathe. 

I haven't read any of the tie-ins but I heard that they were good. Any you can suggest besides X-Men?
louis whiteford's picture
On the subject of the cover, I guess I never really noticed how bad it looked because I was caught up in the high concept half-a-picture format. The Ultimate comics and their vertical colored bars were out for a few years at that point, so Marvel had had some success with shrunken images. I kinda appreciate the audacity of the Civil War covers, if nothing else. They're quite the advertisement. This particular one, not so great. Two Captain Americas, Spider-Man, a jet, fantastic four logo, a funeral wih The Fantastic Four, Luke Cage and Dr Strange. A Marvel Comics Event. 
stephengervais's picture
I finished an initial read-through this week. I'm going to re-read it a little more carefully this weekend and start giving my thoughts on an issue by issue basis. For those of you that have read this, how do you think the film adaptation will hold up? I get the impression Millar wrote it thinking it would get adapted into film. To me they could actually use this script as a storyboard for an action film. It doesn't have all that much character development and could easily be absorbed by someone new to the Marvel universe.
Kalem Lalonde's picture
I'm really excited for the film. Mainly because I don't think this comic lived up to the premise and the film could. However, I do think the film will stray quite far from the source material. They can't get all of these characters together, they probably can't even get all the characters of the MCU together. They can't make Captain America an Avengers movie right? So I honestly think that Civil War won't end up being a superhero registration act. It wouldn't make sense to have a bill pass that involves ALL superheros and only a few appear. 

If this is the case, I think the writers will find another way to implement the government because that's such a crucial element to this comic. Captain America going rogue and rebelling against America is such a fantastic idea. That same sort of concept was incorporated into Winter Soldier and that movie was a huge success so there's no way they would break the formula. 

I want to see the political aspect of this story explored much more this time around. And I have faith that it will be, because Winter Soldier did such a good job with that aspect of its story. I don't want them to follow this comic's route and turn an amazing idea for a deep story into a crazy action flick (not that I have a problem with action movies). 

I'm really excited for this movie, but I personally think they should go with the Civil War concept, not the story. 
RobertJCross's picture
What do you think of the book’s title?

Well since it's about two factions of superheroes going at it over political stuff, the title fits perfectly. 


How deep into the book did you get before you understood the relevance of the title?

I think the cover explains the title perfectly. Captain America vs. Iron Man in a battle with heroes on either side. Good vs. Good, a "Civil War".


Did the title reflect the main themes of the book?

Yes, to a point. The one thing that misfired was when they introduce the villains to start taking out the heroes. It's no longer a "Civil War" if there is a common enemy fighting. Whether or not that enemy is subdued by either side is besides the point.


Who is the protagonist of the story?

I'd say Goliath. He dies half way through and gives a lot of the characters incentive to either jump ship or fight. His death is the catalyst for most of the action. Between the Cap and Stark though, anybody in their right mind would say Cap. Stark is an obvious representation of the government and Cap is the representation of the free people of the United States. Cap wins.
 

How did the personality and experiences of the protagonist shape the direction of the book?

Captain America got his ass handed to him when Goliath died, but that death was really all that his side and Stark's side needed to figure out what was really going on. After that, Cap was merely on recruitment duty until the final showdown and then he martyrs his freedom to stop the fighting.


Are the characters actions justified?

Yes, without him standing up for what is essentially a metaphor for personal freedom, there isn't anything purer to strive for than that.


Did reading the book invoke any strong emotions in you? Did you cry? Did you laugh? Why?

I laughed at a couple of Spidey's one-liners and at Punisher taking out those recruits, but otherwise the book is very somber. As it should be, it's a war.


Was there one event in the book that resonated with you deeply?

Stark turning his back on most of his superhero buddies in order to appease some woman who lost her kids. How many people have lost kids and parents in the almost 100 years that Marvel has been making comics?! Hell, Spidey has lost Gwen Stacy 5,000 times in 5,000 different variations, but nobody fought about that...hmmmm


What themes does the author explore?

Mostly privacy and freedom. It was obviously written with an American audience in mind, though Britain could also be targeted.


What sequences strike you as profound or insightful?

Goliath's death at the hands of the Thor clone was really well done and impactful. Beyond that, nothing really stood out.


Why did the creators tell the story in this format? Was what was told suited for a comic book format?

Well, it was suited for comics, but it's going to be a movie here pretty soon with about 80% of the lineup missing because of FOX/Sony/Marvel rights wars. Seems like life imitating art.


Would you have rather read this story in prose? Or watched the movie?

Prose would be good. But I'm sure the movie will be pretty solid if it's being done by the same team as Winter Solider. That movie was the business.
louis whiteford's picture
I'm not crazy about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the further they distance themselves from the source material, the better. As Kalem stated, Civil War works perfectly fine as a concept, but the characerization in the comics is so weak and pulls inorganically on too many areas of the Marvel Universe. The central Iron Man/Captain America clash has to compete with The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Punisher, etc, it's way too much. 
louis whiteford's picture
Ah man, the dream is over. Last night I was saying that Civil War might be okay if it wasn't for the shoehorning of Spider-Man into the story. In the span of me sleeping, Marvel and Sony have worked out a deal to have Spider-Man in all of their movies, so now we can get the all-encompassing Civil War nerds are clamoring for.
Kalem Lalonde's picture
So what do we all think of Cap 3 now that Spider-Man will (most likely) be in it?

I'm honestly hopping it's a small part because I loved the idea of Black Panther having an integral role to the story and I wouldn't want him to be replaced by Spidey (especially since the latter caused the former's movie to be delayed). Spider-Man is definitely the heart and soul of this comic but I liked the idea of making Black Panther the character the 2 factions fight over. BP is a king with an army and would certainly bring a more interesting angle to this story than Spider-Man, I think. 

I would like to see Spider-Man in the movie but maybe just for a cameo rather than a starring role. The film could get a little jammed up with all these characters playing such big roles. We've got Winter Soldier (thank god), Black Widow, Iron Man, Cap, Black Panther and now Spider-Man. That's a pretty huge roaster for a movie that isn't title "The Avengers". 

So as long as the spotlight remains on Captain America and Black Panther plays a big role in this movie, I'm fine with Spidey being in it. But otherwise, I'd rather see him debut in a netflix series.