Marvel tends to have a lot of ‘event’ stories. It’s true. It’s a thing.
These stories are typically team-up or vs books, and often take place in their own mini-series with tie-ins occurring in the regular monthly books (and often additional mini-series, as well). Often big, status quo changing stories that feature some of the top writers and artists in the industry, some people are sick to death of them, and others can’t get enough of them. Personally, I tend to fall towards the latter, but I think even the most jaded fan would agree that, as far as Marvel event stories go, Civil War is the big daddy of them all (the only other argument I will listen to is 2015’s Secret Wars).
Written by Mark Millar with art by Steve McNiven (huge shout out to Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell for their inking and coloring) this story is chock full of crazy. There are 7 issues and each one is packed full of big moments and jaw-dropping action. These event books are often marketed as ‘nothing will ever be the same!’, and for a while, at least, that was certainly the case here.
Picking only 5 moments of awesome from Civil War is really, really hard. So, because I’m a total fraud, I decided to split this list into 2 parts and do 5 moments in each part. Here are the first 5 coolest moments from Marvel’s Civil War.
School’s Out for… well, forever
The story opens with a particularly crappy lineup of the New Warriors filming a reality TV show. In an attempt to boost ratings they have decided to raid a residential supervillain hideout on camera. They didn’t plan things through enough and one of the villains, Nitro, makes them pay for it. Nitro is the one that caused the death of the original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell, and it’s ‘nice’ to see him get a boost here, but he didn’t have to go full raging asshole right off the bat. Nitro’s power is to cause explosions, and that he does, in the middle of a Connecticut suburb, right near an elementary school. Hundreds die, included every child and teacher at said school.
This inciting incident is the straw that broke the camel’s back. In the months leading up to this story there were a lot of very public, disastrous events in some of the monthly titles, setting a public mood that they were getting sick of these super humans screwing everything up. The government uses Nitro’s attack as the impetus for the Superhuman Registration Act, which would require all super humans register their powers and identities with SHIELD, and essentially become members of SHIELD, or be imprisoned.
This causes a rift in the superhero community: Iron Man on one side, believing this compromise may suck but it is far better than the alternatives, and Captain America on the other side, unwilling to bend his principles to appease fear mongering.
Thanks to a few idiots playing like big-time superheroes a town is destroyed, as is the public confidence in superheroes. The fuse is list, and war is coming.
Cap escapes the helicarrier
In what is still to this day one of the cooler Captain America moments, while on the helicarrier Cap is confronted by SHIELD commander Maria Hill, who informs him that because of the New Warriors incident congress is going to pass the act and she wants to make sure Cap is going to be leading the team taking down the heroes that don’t register. Cap is disgusted by the notion, and quickly realizes that this was not a request when he is confronted with a ‘capekiller’ squad (a team of agents trained to fight superhumans). Things escalate quickly and Cap is forced to take action.
He beats the crap out of these guys that were specifically trained to take him down, then proceeds to jump out of a FREAKING HELICARRIER WHILE IT’S IN THE AIR, dodges and blocks gunfire WHILE FALLING TO HIS DOOM, aims for a fighter jet and lands on top of it, then RIDES ON TOP OF IT while holding the cockpit like ‘oh, ho hum, just another day’.
My name is Peter Parker
In a series full of crazy plot twists and jaw dropping reveals, this is by far the craziest.
Spider-Man, who at this point was a member of the New Avengers and had really been taken under Tony Stark’s wing, is convinced to show support for the Registration Act by unmasking next to Tony on live TV. Incredibly, Peter agrees to this, which will have some really, truly awful ramifications for him down the line. Tony figures that by flipping the poster boy for secret identities it will make some other heroes come around to registration, and it does, but it does nothing to sway Cap’s growing team of Secret Avengers who go about their hero business and try to ignore the SHIELD agents hunting them.
But the real craziness of this move is not just with regards to the context of this particular story. No, this was the new status quo for Spider-Man. No more secret identity, every joe on the street calls him Peter when he’s in costume, and many of his friends won’t even talk to him because they feel betrayed by this revelation. Really, all this does (besides lead to the aforementioned awful ramifications) is isolate Peter further from his support system and make it so that all he has is Tony Stark and the Avengers. Pretty shitty move by Stark, and pretty stupid move by Peter, but holy SHIT was this a crazy reveal.
Jonah didn’t take it so well.
Team Cap vs Team Iron Man, round 1
Here’s where things go from uncomfortable to ugly.
Captain America’s team goes to an oil field they believe is under attack, but it’s a trap set by Stark and SHIELD, and instead of finding people in trouble they find Iron Man’s team waiting for them. Tony says he just wants to talk, but Cap hears that while seeing an army, multiple helicarriers, and SHIELD agents everywhere, and these are the same people he had to jump out of a flying aircraft carrier to get away from, so techincally he throws the first punch, but what the hell was he supposed to do?
Unfortunately for Cap, super soldier or no, it’s hard to fight against the Iron Man suit when the AI has been studying you for years and has a perfect fight plan against you. Also, it really goes to show what Stark’s armor can do to a human body. While the two sides wage war against each other, Iron Man beats the living hell out of Cap (who is saved by an enraged Hercules, thankfully). This image kind of says it all, and if you’re a long-time Avengers fan is kind of heartbreaking.
Jeez, you can practically hear that one.
The fight seems to be turning Team Cap’s way after Hercules rips through the place, but then suddenly a bolt of lightning hits him, then starts hitting everyone, and Cap’s team messes their collective pants, because holy shit is that Thor…?
For some context, at this point in the Marvel continuity Thor was dead and had been for a couple of years. So, him suddenly showing up and attacking other heroes, much less Captain America’s team of heroes, was completely nuts. Of course, the image of Thor standing in the middle of a storm, lighting pouring out of Mjolnir is the final page of the third issue, and it took forever for issue 4 to come out, but for a good while it seemed like Thor was back!
…but, of course, he wasn’t.
In one of the most reckless moves ever made, Tony Stark cloned Thor (with the help of Reed Richards and Hank Pym- well, a Skrull posing as Hank Pym, but we didn’t know that yet). He cloned Thor! He cloned a freaking GOD, and decided the best use of this thing would be to kick the living shit out of some of his friends. Of course, this would go on to have terrible consequences (sensing a theme?).
Clone a God? Sure, what’s the worst that could happen?
That’s it for part 1, be sure to come back for part 2 where we will take a look at 5 MORE of the coolest moments from Marvel’s Civil War!