I read a lot about the Civil War series before I decided to pick 'em up and read them for myself. The biggest news was that Spiderman unmasked himself as Peter Parker on live TV and that Captain America was leading the anti-registration forces.
Dude. What has happened to character motivation in the Marvel universe since I've been away? And, this question is not just rhetorical, when the fuck did Peter David start trying to write like Alan Moore? It's not much fun, Peter; please start writing coherently again.
Characterization is important. We expect Peter Parker to fight the good fight, making smart ass comments all the while. We expect Captain America to stand up for America. So when Spiderman unmasked and Captain America jumped ship, I was immediately skeptical. Spiderman long being a proponent of privacy and Capt. A always fighting for America.
I guess I can kind of understand Spiderman. Apparently, he's been working with Tony Stark (Iron Man) and has had a lot of things happen to him recently that precipitated this decision. Still, I was shocked that he would make his alignment so publicly known. Seems like half the Spiderman books I grew up with involved him whining about how dangerous it would be for his family if anyone found out he was Spiderman.
Those Marvel guys are out to make some bucks off this series though. This was a big way to help accomplish that feat.
Captain America's supporting the anti-registration is a bigger shock to me. In my last installment, I talked about how corrupt and evil the U.S. government is supposed to be in the Marvel universe. But the ol' Cap has stood by them all along. They have left him hanging, several times, but he always comes back. He knows what they're all about, but damn it, he was working for SHEILD (a government, super-soldier organization). But when told he'd have to enforce the Superhero Registration Act you'd think he was a 17-year-old emo kid. "You can't make me support your cause! I'm gonna listen to Weezer and I'll cut myself! Then you'll see! Not that you care. God there's too much color on my uniform." I just don't get it. He stomped Nazi's in WWII and they had Japanese internment camps. You never hear him complain about that crap.
But, you see, Captain American is the "symbol of all that is good and right" in the Marvel universe. He fits that archetype and regardless of whether or not his actions don't seem logical given what his character is supposed to be like, if the writers have him do something, then the fans are supposed to immediately align with him. 'Cause Cap' can't be wrong … can he?
While there are a lot of mischaracterization issues in Civil War, most are due to the fact that there are a lot of characters, a lot of story and little space to do it all in. So character depth gets replaced with expediency for the sake of plot development. However, one character I probably have had the hardest time with in this series has been Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic. Yes, they portray him as the aloof scientist, but he's always been more than that. When he and Sue Storm married and had a son, he was always a good dad. He was always worried about them regardless of what he was doing. But this series is portraying him as not having any thoughts about them at all. Early in the series, Fantastic Four's Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) gets Hector Stomped by a crowd. He winds up in the hospital, in a coma, for weeks. And every time we see Richards, he's just so aloof, like he doesn't have a care in the world about Johnny.
That really bothers me because Richards has never been portrayed this emotionless before. And he shouldn't be. I'm no big fan of the FF, but I don't like folks fucking around with canon.
It seems to me that by messing around with characterization and bringing the Marvel universe to a head, the writers have been able to pull off a little criticism of the current administration within the confines of a well-selling series of comic books. They probably feel very good about it.
Personally, I'm kind of fond of the upheaval. Every time I pick up a Marvel book these days, there just seems to be too much going on. Hopefully this will streamline the universe a bit. Even if it's not in a way I would have liked.
But, in the end, there is only one thing that really matters in Marvel Comics – is Thor going to smash heads? Oh yes, brother, oh effin' yes.