Is Civil War going to live up to the expectations that are usually had concerning mass title crossovers?

I just read Civil War #4... hooo boy... Have I mentioned that those expectations are usually pretty damn low? Yeah.

Oh, and this contains spoilers. Just so you know.

Also, 5 minutes to read a comic? Like, wtf? More on that towards the end.

Marvel's latest crossover seems good enough... if you -just- jumped into comic books. It has all the cliches and plot devices that we all know & loathe by now, which aren't so bad... IF you just jumped into comicbookdom recently.


Seriously. It's like they think we were born yesterday and are about to get off the boat. What's up Marvel? No. Really. What the hell is UP?

So far Civil War has been pretty standard fare, though I have made the best of it and thus enjoyed it. But no more! The whole Thor clone thing just... it just made me lose faith all over again. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'd love to hammer you with some spoilers... Okay, so Thor has been gone awhile and, at the end of Civil War #3, he makes his triumphant return, on the side of Iron Man! I was like "Holy cowpatties!", no doubt about it. I looked forward to #4, like so many others. Then I read it and felt the depair right down to my balls... Ugh.

At first, Thor seems to just be outta whack and stuff but then he kills Goliath. Just: BAM. Dead.

But who ever really cared about Goliath? Really. He likeable, sure. But no one cares. Comic cliche plot device to shake crap up #12: "If you're going to kill a hero, make sure it's someone no one gives a flying sheep's ass about". I know. It 's soooooo played out. So played out. At least Goliath won't be back... C-List Heroes never make it back. They usually stay dead, right?

Oh, I'm sure someone could counter me on that.

I could go on some spiel that UK comics are so into proving they can kill their main heroes that they offed Johnny Alpha (from 2000AD's Strontium Dog). Which, in retrospect, was a mistake. And they've been fixing it (yay!). But, still: wow. Those Brits can be harsh. It's an aspect I like.

Anyhow, so yeah, Thor kills Goliath and then something something then he's revealed to be a CLONE that Tony Stark had up his sleeve (and he used a Thor-hair he got from WAY back). W.T.F.? A clone? A gawddamned clone? And he's a souless non-human thing because Stark drank too many martini's and didn't realise that cloning a god with no human stuff blah blah blah leads to bad clonesville? Or whatever shit Millar is dishing out. Whatever. It's stupid. Just plain stupid. Clones are so 90's. Dammit.

Except for what Bendis is doing with Ultimate Spiderman. That's brilliant. That's how you do a clone story.

Back to "Clone-ivil War" or whatever... Reed Richards is - did I mention that he's being made to look like a total tool in all this? Yeah - So, Reed Richardsis helping Tony out and stuff, has clone-code trigger words and all that crap. Which leads to one of the best parts of the issue: Sue growing a pair and leaving Reed. Good on Sue, I say. And she's pretty awesome at it. Nice work, Millar.

Wait, did I say "nice work"? Look Mark Millar, you get points for writing some amazing stuff with The Ultimates and some other things, too, but I can't let it slide what you are doing with Civil War. The end of #4 is the topper, though, with some nasties Thunderbolted (chipped, etc., villians who are used by superheroes, SHIELD or something) to go get Captain America and his crew of "renegades". I saw Bullseye, Venom and Taskmaster (yay! I love Tasky), for instance, and someothers. Now, I know I said I love Taskmaster in the parrentheses there, but come on... Isn't this a little... well, cliched out? Venom? Isn't he just movie-fodder now? And isn't Bullseye busy boning The Punshier or something? Arrrgh...

Maybe I expect too much. I have become so barraged by "bad comicbookisms" over the last 25+ years that I've just gotten used to it. I feel like a resident of an intellectual rape-room at times. A bitter, jaded and thoroughly well-ridden resident. Is there a Cult of Cliche of some sort out there?

Look, Civil War has been well-written so far (technically; ideas aside). The dialouge is top-notch and Steve McNiven's art is -awesome-. But, jesus, Mr. Millar, could you give us long-time fans something more, I dunno, compelling and fresh? Like you do with The Ultimates, for instance?!

I expect better, dammit.

I remember Infinity Gauntlet. I really enjoyed Infinity Gauntlet. Now THAT was a crossover. Sure, it had its (many) flaws, but as far as crossovers go it was pure gold, baby. Why can't we have gold?

And spray painting it gold doesn't count!

One last complaint, and this just doesn't go for the latest issue of Civil War, but for many other comics out there. In the olden days (the 1980's, for example), it took around 20-30 minutes to read a comic. There was lots of text in them-there word bubbles and, gosh darnit, it was fun to read 'em. Now, I love art as much as the next geek, but when art is 85% (and at times more) of the comic... well, fuck that. It took me 5 minutes, roughly, to read Civil War #4. I will admit that my reading skills have improved over the last 20 years or so, but not by THAT much. I'm also reading Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson right now, so I can comapre these mid-80s books to current issues. And, yeah, it's not me reading any faster.

(I am -not- bitching about "widescreen" format here, either, though it seems to have become the dominant format and it - does- look good... only problem being is that it provides less panels and so the overal story presented suffers)

I hate the fact that I wait a month (or more in some cases these days... deadlines ain't what they used to be) for a new issue and, when I get it, even enjoying it, I whip right through it. I feel like I've wasted my time (and money).

I could go on and on with this, but I think I will save it for a future Bitpulp entry.

So, in a nutshell, Civil War #4 was very disappointing (and does not bode well for the rest of the crossover madness). It's like Millar is channelling his old Judge Dredd days (for which he is universally loathed) and piping it right into the Civil War comics. Not that his Dredd was that horrible, but it just reminds me of those terribly boring and rather lame stories of Old Stoney Face and Mega-City 1. Maybe it's just me.

It probably is. At least in the States.

Please keep in mind that Mark Millar is still a fave writer of mine... so I do hope he can pull whatever is cool out of his ass and place it firmly within the pages of Civil War.

Starting with #5, please.

Cheers and Sides,