Since I finished the Harry Potter series of books last summer, I’ve found myself to be in a very real struggle to find fiction that I actually enjoy. Recently, however, a couple of good friends have opened my eyes once again to the goings-on in the Marvel Comics Universe, events that slipped off of my radar over the last few years.
Since graduating high school, I’ve only very rarely bought any comics, and even then I’ve focused more on trade paperbacks than anything – I’ve borrowed a few Batman titles here and there, purchased V For Vendetta and Watchmen.
A couple of months ago, however, Jay tipped me off to the latest event in the Marvel Universe, the Secret Invasion serial. It spiked my interest enough to go to a few comic outlets, and flipping through the trades I discovered the Marvel Civil War (wiki), something I can’t figure out now how I missed.
As a quick courtesy, I’m just going to toss out the fact here that this entry is going to be pretty rich in comic lore, be it about specific characters, events, or what-have-you, and all appropriate references will be linked. This may run a bit long-winded, but I warn and assure you, you are likely to find this fascinating.
Events begin with a meeting of the secret Illuminati, a small collective of the world’s most powerful heroes:
- Doctor Strange, the Sorceror;
- Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans, who reside on the Moon;
- Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, founder of the X-Men;
- Reed Richards, aka Mister Fantastic, of the Fantastic Four;
- Namor the Sub-Mariner, King of Atlantis; and
- Iron Man (Anthony Stark), founding member of The Avengers.
In this meeting, Iron Man warned the others of the U.S. Government’s work on a new Superhuman Registration Act, one that would require all heroes everywhere to register their powers, abilities, even secret identities, all under the guise of accountability. Under the Act, heroes all become Government employees, subjected to mandated standardized training and education periods, and decorated with badges.
Iron Man even went on to warn the Illuminati that a single mistake on the part of any hero could ignite the political powderkeg set in the wake of the introduction of the Act, that the seriousness of the issue could not be ignored. And soon, they were obliged:
Within the flame of a single explosion, killing over 600 people, the idea of privacy and even of Right and Wrong all wisp away like smoke. Before long, the Act becomes law, and the Universe is split; heroes believing the Act to be a reasonable request found a leader in Iron Man. These heroes were charged with the unsavoury duty of hunting down their friends – any unregistered hero to be arrested and incarcerated until such a time as they do register.
And those opposed to registration found an unlikely leader in Captain America. Believing the Act to be un-Constitutional, he leads a resistance of heroes underground, and the battling begins. Tensions run high as each side scrambles for allies, and each hero dying or switching sides is a momentous deal. No one is safe, as the Act and its consequences spread outside of American borders and affect all people, whether they are supernatural, muscled crime fighters, or mutants.
I’ll be reading this for awhile, as the whole saga spans approximately 106 issues, be they specific Civil War issues, or issues from serials about Spider-man, Wolverine, The X-men, Avengers, Fantastic Four, and so on. Make no mistake, there wasn’t anyone this event didn’t affect – the Civil War was the Marvel Universe for a considerable time.
And now, I’ve only got some thirty or so issues to read until I’m finished. Then maybe I will read the Secret Invasion…