The new Marvel movie Captain America Civil War opens this weekend. The reviews are very good. I have been looking forward to it, but I still haven’t seen Winter Soldier or Age of Ultron. So I am probably not going to go see Civil War this weekend.
For the past two weeks I have been somewhat obsessively reading comic books, mostly the Marvel Civil War series. I started because the Ms Marvel books were on sale and I wanted to finish the series. Then I saw that the Civil War books were on sale, I picked those up. (I do want to note that if you are not interested in keeping them, Marvel Unlimited has a month free trial right now, so you can read all of these during a free trial and cancel.)
So on to the review of the comic books. I am not sure I read comic books correctly. I want a good story. And I want art that is interesting and enhances the story. These collections have different artists although mostly the art is somewhat similar in style.
The central idea of the series is that Iron Man and Captain America react differently to the governmental response to an accident that kills hundreds of people. A reality TV Superhero show (COPS style) tries to take down some minor league super villains. This goes badly when it causes an explosion that destroys an elementary school and kills over 600 people, mostly children, while being filmed.
That accident turns public opinion against superheroes and a movement starts to requires registration of all heroes and requires all heroes to work for SHEILD if they are going to use their powers, making all heroes government employees. Anyone refusing to register will be arrested.
It is this point where the difference occurs. Captain America does not believe that everyone should be forced to register and work for the government, although that has been his whole career as a hero. Iron Man feels guilt about his own actions that have endangered others and thinks that this is a reasonable step that will prevent harsher retributions against heroes in the future. From that basic philosophical break down (which has been noted in a few reviews I read seems to be against their basic personalities) the rest of the Marvel world starts dividing up sides.
I think several of the characters and books were better than others. Iron Man does not seem to have strong enough writing. The initial motivation for starting the registration is done well. But as the story goes on and the implications of the decision become clearer, the ability of the writing keep a real balance between the two camps seems to falter. The writers just seem to favor Captain America’s position. The Black Panther book (which is on sale for $3.99 but not in this main sale) does more to balance Iron Man’s story than Iron Man’s own writing, even though Black Panther is sort of on Captain America’s side.
I also have been interested in reading background on Black Panther because Ta-Nehasi Coates is writing for him right now. I did not know anything about Black Panther so I picked up the Who is Black Panther collection (which oddly is on sale instead of the Black Panther Civil War book). As background, the Who Is Black Panther was helpful, but I thought it was a less engaging comic than the Black Panther Civil War collection. If I had only read Who is Black Panther, I probably would not be reading more about the character except for Coates new issues. But the Black Panther Civil War collection was well written and makes me want to read more.
One of the biggest strengths and weaknesses of Marvel’s strategy is how broadly this story is split up among characters. In Marvel Unlimited’s Civil War section there are 98 separate issues that have part of the story line. The seven books in this sale (Black Panther Civil War instead of Who is Black Panther) covers about 60% of the main content I think.
One of the reasons I never got into comic books as a kid is the expense. Even if I could get a digital copy of all of the relevant issues for $1, it would be close to $100. I have purchased eight collections that have between 3 to 6 issue for $3 to $5 each. But rounding out the rest of the story is not all that easy. I am going to try out the Marvel Unlimited to try and follow the rest of the threads of the story.
Also worth noting, I read these on the Kindle app initially on an iPad Mini. There are a few places where double page spreads were hard to read. I later realized that the Comixology app also allows you to read any comic books purchase through Amazon. As an reading experience, the Comixology app is much better than reading through the standard Kindle app.
Purchase Links at Amazon ($2.99 today May 6 only unless marked)
- Civil War
- The Road to Civil War
- Civil War: Spider Man
- Civil War: Iron Man
- Civil War: Captain America
- Civil War: Black Panther ($3.99)
- Civil War: X-Men ($3.50)
- Captain America & Iron Man (in the sale, but wasn’t part of the recommended list earlier)
- Black Panther: Who is Black Panther (good background, not great story)