Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Road To Civil War Is A Decent Prequel To Marvel’s Big Crossover Event!

The Good: Most of the artwork, Concept, Moments of character development
The Bad: Not everything is made clear to casual readers, Not extraordinary on the character front
The Basics: Leading up to the big Civil War crossover event, The Road To Civil War introduces the major players in the upcoming struggle.

As my She-Hulk Year continues, I’ve been busy reading more Marvel comics that flesh out the overall universe to appreciate her place in the larger context of the Marvel Universe. The crossover event I was looking forward to most was Civil War (reviewed here!). Even though I have read the main event, I was curious as to how the Marvel Universe got to that place, so I picked up The Road To Civil War. The Road To Civil War is a very straightforward prequel collection with two essential stories (though they were published in three different titles and six comic books).

The story in The Road To Civil War is split between a heroic storyline and a surprisingly political story that is actually more confusing than illuminating to those who have read the main storyline. The Road To Civil War has an all-encompassing view of the Marvel Universe, with a broader range of characters than many of the volumes of the actual Civil War event.

Opening with a time lapse story focused on several major heroes in the Marvel Universe, The Road To Civil War explores how several of the major super heroes came together after an attack on Earth. T’Chala, Iron Man, Professor X, Namor, Reed Richards, Dr. Strange, and a few other major forces in the Marvel Universe come together for a secret meeting. Realizing that Earth survived more by random chance than actual skill of the heroes on Earth, they decide to get together every few months to compare notes, as opposed to Earth remaining vulnerable in the future. There, Iron Man and Reed Richards pitch an idea very much like the Superhuman Registration Act to the others and try to get them all on board to the idea of having a database for heroes to allow a coordinated defense of Earth to save it in the future. Events continue to spiral out of control in the Marvel Universe and the elite group loses members as they disagree with one another over the right way for the superhuman community to take responsibility.

As an offshoot to the meetings of the Illuminati, Reed Richards leads his team against an assemblage of Doom bots, who are after Thor’s hammer.

The other major story in The Road To Civil War focuses on Peter Parker and Tony Stark. After outfitting Peter Parker with a vastly superior, new armor to replace his old costume, Tony Stark recruits Peter Parker to join him in Washington. While there, Tony Stark appears before a secret Congressional panel to speak against the Superhuman Registration Act. At the same time, he has Spider-Man going out at night and when a Russian supervillain attacks Washington, D.C., Spider-Man has to put him down. In doing so, Spider-Man makes a strong argument against the Registration Act, though he quickly realizes that Iron Man has played several forces against each other, including himself.

The Road To Civil War is pretty low on character development, though it helps readers to know who some of the essential characters are going into the Civil War event. While many of the people like Dr. Strange, T’Challa, and Professor X sit out the main storyline of Civil War, Iron Man and Reed Richards are essential to that story. The first major story is a series of vignettes that illustrates how many different sides the upcoming conflict in the Marvel Universe has. There is no real character development in that section, it just illustrates how the major powers in the Marvel Universe are really slaves to their own motivations and desires, usually independent of what the others want.

The Road To Civil War muddies things for regular readers, though, who know how Civil War goes. After all, Tony Stark is the primary advocate for the Superhuman Registration Act. And yet, in The Road To Civil War, he seems to be an opponent of the Act in front of Congress. In fact, the elaborate ruse he goes through with Spider-Man seems entirely designed to discredit the Superhuman Registration Act. Peter Parker and Tony Stark’s chemistry in the book is decent, with a good sense of banter between them. By contrast, the Fantastic Four adventure in the book is utterly forgettable.

The artwork in The Road To Civil War is good. The colors are vivid and most of the pages have a decent sense of movement, though the opening (Illuminati) chapter is a little less detailed and is essentially just a bunch of people sitting around talking. In the end, The Road To Civil War is a good prequel, but not an exceptional character study.

For other Marvel books, please visit my reviews of:
She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction
Daredevil: Return Of The King
Deadpool Classic Volume 1


For other graphic novels, please check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing.

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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