The Road to Civil War: The Road is Dark and Full of Terror
(Author’s Note: I’ll normally be posting these weekly on Friday, but this last week I got caught up in a whirlwind of various dramatic things. I will try to stick to a schedule, though.)
SPOILERS! SPOILERS EVERYWHERE! ALL SPOILERS EVERYTHING!
I explored my general sentiment in my last Civil War post. It’s been some years since I read these books mainly because I probably hated everything about Civil War. Part of me wants to say that maybe I never gave it a fair chance with it coming hot off the heels of events like Secret Invasion and House of M. Wait a minute, you ask, why are those stories important? Let’s back up a moment. Civil War didn’t just suddenly happen. It was the culmination of work over about three events, which was actually excellent in theory, but it was flaky on the execution. I don’t know if they thought this was where they were going to go when they started all this. Maybe it was just an organic progression of events until someone said, “Guys, we should totally have a superwar!” How can you go wrong with that?
It all seemed to start with Avengers Disassembled in 2004. In this event, the Avengers are savagely attacked on various fronts that have psychological and physical consequences for the players on the team as they try to sort out the mess their lives have become. This event occurred around the height of Tony’s alcoholism, which is really brought front and center here. In the end, the Avengers learn that Scarlet Witch orchestrated the attacks on them. They appear random, but Scarlet Witch is actually having a breakdown because she believes that her children–children made with magic–have been taken from her. Using her powers doesn’t help matter and only pushes her closer to the brink. In the end, she blames the Avengers for her missing children. This leads to a fight. She’s put in a trance and given to her father, Magneto, because that’s always worked out well for her. The end result: no more Avengers. HOWEVER… from this, we got 90,000 Avengers spin-offs, so there’s that.
Avengers Disassembled spiraled into House of M in 2005 after everyone made the great decision to give a mentally torn Scarlet Witch to her dad. Nothing bad could come from that, right? Not even by extension? Magneto loves his daughter so much. Professor X is there. What could go wrong? Oh, the fact that there was talk of killing Wanda and then her twin brother, Quicksilver, gives her the extra push she needs to completely lose it and warp reality to the point where there was a significant drop in the mutant/hero population. We’re talking millions to only a handful. Many heroes/villains found themselves waking up to what their lives could have been if they were normal/powerless and they had no idea. The only person not affected? Wolverine. Yep, the irony in the man who couldn’t remember his own identity remembering everything in House of M isn’t lost on anyone. Unfortunately, when they finally get everything back in order, the mutant population never recovers. This is explored in an aftermath mini-arc known as Decimation. This event sparks the events leading up to what I like to call “Civil War 2”– the Avengers vs. X-Men arc. However, you can’t have Civil War 2 without Civil War.
Things calm down from that a little as we go into Secret Invasion where the Kree/Skrull war comes into play. Don’t know what a Kree or a Skrull is? Don’t worry about it. Not that important for this. Just know they are aliens. Skrulls can shapeshift which means many shenanigans when they’re around. These aliens hate each other. FIGHT! You can basically say this has been a thing since before I was born… literally. Secret Invasion takes place in 2008, a few years after House of M, when the aliens decide, “Let’s start kicking earth.” It’s all fun and games until they do that. Then, some of Earth’s mightiest heroes decide to band together to create an Illuminati (actual name… LOL) to say, “Screw you guys. Leave us alone or I swear to God…” Then, the aliens respond, “You know what? I want to know where ‘I swear to God’ takes us. Damn your planet.” Secret Invasion was the straw in the craw for heroes. Despite banding together to fight aliens, we’re faced with The Road to Civil War where Tony says that maybe heroes are at fault for what happened because nobody in the superhero community shares information with each other. He’s probably right.
In The Road to Civil War, things actually start a few years before the Registration Act is to be introduced and moves to right before its introduction. Tony wants to start a congregation of heroes, so he invites Doctor Strange, Reed Richards, Professor X, Black Bolt, Namor, and Black Panther to a summit in Wakanda to propose such a plan. From the beginning, it’s poorly received by the others with some good reasoning. There were already seeds of Iron Man’s fanaticism rearing its head. I understand the sentiment, but the sentiment comes off a little misguided. The problem is these people trust each other, but they don’t trust the others’ teammates, families, or friends. This is something they don’t mind telling one another. T’Challa bows out before Tony can even get the words out of his mouth, calling everyone trash in the nicest way possible, especially the mutants, when–wait for it–he marries Storm during this event (some years after this scene takes place in the comic).
Finally, after a hail of “Calm the fuck down, Namor!” remarks and a million reasons why this can’t work, they decide to do this thing. It’s not super effective.
They meet a few times over the years to fight angrily about things like Namor wilding out about every Avenger decision involving shooting someone into space. In this instance, it’s Hulk. Hulk is out of control (again) and someone needs to do something about it (again). Namor expresses anger when the idea of killing Hulk comes up. We can’t banish him to a different dimension. That didn’t work out so well last time. Let’s shoot him into space because that’s smart. “Imma let you finish, but…” Tony says to Namor, which ends in Namor trying to drown him because Namor gives likes zero actual damns. The final meeting comes when Tony tries to rally the team again to his cause because the Registration Act is coming. Everyone pretty much flounces except Reed. Professor X can’t flounce because he’s missing. Black Bolt has to flounce in sign language because if he speaks he kills everyone.
Enter Spider-Man. Tony needs friends with him in Washington. He’s short on those these days, so he decides to take Spider-Man. Peter is working for Tony, but it can’t hurt to soften him up before asking him to take a trip to Washington. Give him a pretty suit to wear. Have dinner with him. Spider-Man’s a cheap date (I know the suit wasn’t cheap!), so he breaks down pretty quickly without knowing what Tony really wants him to do and not realizing he’s being manipulated and will continue to be manipulated during their portion of the story. I know it was supposed to be for a greater good and all that, but it was just “yuck!”
The world thinks Spider-Man is dead, but that’s okay. Because of anonymity Peter Parker can still live. However, he makes his reappearance in this suit, but no one knows it’s really him, especially not in that fancy dress. Tony takes Peter with him when he goes before a special senate that oversees human/superbeing affairs. It’s a contentious secret meeting, and Tony does have all intentions of trying to keep them from introducing the act. He’s almost succeeding after Titanium Man attacks and he’s pursued by Spider-Man who doesn’t know that Tony has actually hired the villain for just this purpose–to make the senate reconsider. While Titanium Man may not be Tony’s biggest fan either, he can’t turn down money. Villains are predictable in that way if nothing else.
After Tony almost has them reconsidering, after Spider-Man himself gives a special speech about them making the law softer by registering those more patriotic heroes while allowing vigilantes to do their things from the shadows (because sometimes you need an Iron Man and other times you need a Punisher and plausible deniability), we run into a big issue. They’re actually quite receptive to this idea until… until… SPEEDBALL! Cut to the Fantastic Four.
Now, we’re trailing the F4. Good thing. I was getting tired of Spider-Man’s puns. I can deal with punny. I can’t deal with excessive punny. Okay, the “moose and squirrel” joke still makes me laugh a little (Quoth the Titanium Man, “Amerikanski humor…”), but mostly, I can’t deal with Spider-Man’s puns.
Anyhow, Reed Richard receives an emergency call to come to a government facility in Colorado because they’re being attacked by Doombots. Reed isn’t sure why they’re being attacked because they wouldn’t tell him what was in that facility. The facility cropped up over a span of about six months. Reed figures it must be something there worth Latveria releasing the Doombots for because this is an act of war on American soil. It can’t be an attack by Doom because he’s trapped in Hell (or something) and has been for the last two years, right?
Let’s give it up for the real MVP of this book.
At this point, my head is already hurting, but Doom escaped Hell and I feel like a Kelly Clarkson song about this! OH, I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S HAPPENING TO ME! So, yes, Doom is behind the attack because he had a brief taste of greatness in Hell (or whatever) and saw Thor’s hammer. Doom can be anything he wants to be, so when the Thor’s hammer told Doom he could wield the shit out of it and slipped into a rift that led back to earth, of course, Doom followed. The facility is a house for the hammer, and finally, it’s true owner will hold it. BEHOLD! A GOD!
Thor’s hammer: “LOL, no. Just kidding.” Who knew Thor’s hammer was such a troll? At least, Doom sent up some kind of beacon. Who would need a thing like that for a missing hammer? The mysteries never stop.
This is where our story ends. Tony was kind of on the right track. Namor has trust issues and Spider-Man can be bought with food and a fancy dress. Villains can be bought with money–who knew? Politicians are sleazy. How do laws work? Speedball–who dat?–just messed EVERYTHING up! Doom is not a god, but he escaped Hell. Where the hell is Captain America?
Not as demoralizing as my initial read was, but I am old and battle-hardened. (Also, I barely remember this book… oops…) Being battle-hardened means LOLing in the face of adversity. Moose and squirrel. LOL. Besides, I just wanted to give a glance of what led up to Civil War. I’m sure my real ranting will come next time.
Coming Up: Civil War by Mark Millar