Friday, April 5, 2013

A Series Of (Mostly) Meaningless Tangents: Civil War Marvel Universe Underwhelms.

The Good: She-Hulk chapter, Some of the artwork
The Bad: No character development, Only one interesting character in the book, Erratic (and often-poor artwork), No coherent plot or plot threads
The Basics: Picking up some of the stray stories from the Marvel Civil War Saga, Civil War Marvel Universe collects stories about the b and c-rate heroes and villains in the Marvel Universe.

As my She-Hulk Year continues, I have been exposed to quite a bit of new (to me) Marvel Comics. Because Jennifer Walters is part of the Civil War Crossover Event, I have been picking up other books, outside Civil War (reviewed here!), from that event. The first of the “spinoff” books is Civil War Marvel Universe. This book proved to me that Marvel is no better than DC when it comes to crossover events. Just as DC had dubious inclusions in its major events, like Blackest Night: Rise Of The Black Lanterns (reviewed here!), that included stories of characters who had nothing to do with the event – like Jonah Hex and Starman – Marvel seems to try to make the bucks off the fringes of their events, too. Civil War Marvel Universe is that book for the Civil War Crossover Event.

It is important to note that Civil War Marvel Universe is not a single cohesive story. Instead, it is a collection of short stories – many only a few pages long – anthologized together because they are, essentially, the leftovers of the series. The only one that is truly vital is the She-Hulk story and it is the exact same chapter that is included in She-Hulk: Laws Of Attraction (reviewed here!). That it is available elsewhere in a superior book makes it impossible to recommend bothering with Civil War Marvel Universe.

Civil War Marvel Universe is a bit of fractured storytelling from the disparate parts of the Marvel Universe. It opens with the She-Hulk section, which recaps the time she went on Larry King to advocate in favor of superhero registration (that actual interview is still not included!). Following her appearance on Larry King Live and being cured of the spell that has made Jennifer Walters invisible to those who want to do She-Hulk harm, Jennifer Walters finds herself once more able to exercise her abilities, unregulated, to transform into She-Hulk. Jennifer Walters begins defending the civil liberties of the last two Warriors before being targeted herself. She helps take out the perpetrator before John Jameson proposes to her. The artwork in this chapter is good, but it contains a number of elements that are serialized to the main She-Hulk story, none of which have to do with the Civil War.

After selling his movie rights, Macdonald Gargan kills a S.H.I.E.L.D. team, then turns into Venom to accept the amnesty offer being offered by the government. This chapter has no character development and it makes it entirely baffling why S.H.I.E.L.D. would even work with a guy like Gargan. Moreover, if the government and the superheroes know who he is, it seems like Venom would be one of the villains they would try to take out (one way or another) as opposed to offer amnesty and a position in the Thunderbolts to. This mundane chapter is plagued by sketchy artwork that makes the brief, dark scene seem cheap.

Another pointless story has Ant-Man helping a girl out of the war zone before wandering off to be a peeping tom.

As a fan of Daredevil, I was psyched to see a vignette from his corner of the Marvel Universe included in the book. However, Matt Murdock – having either been undercover with a new alias or captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. at this point in the narrative – is nowhere to be seen. Instead, Danny Rand, The Immortal Iron Fist, takes over for Matt Murdock as Daredevil in Hell’s Kitchen and walks into a trap. While the artwork in this story is consistent artwork with Daredevil, the muted colors and shady lines make less sense for his replacement. The artwork in Daredevil is arguably an expression of how Murdock “sees” the world, so it makes no sense for it to be the same in Danny Rand’s story.

U.S. Agent, who seems to be a cheap knock-off of Captain America, is almost killed by the Purple Man before joining Omega Flight in Canada. His story is irksome to read as it has two parallel storylines which are jumbled together . . . for no particular reason. This story has somewhat underdeveloped artwork.

In Cleveland, Howard The Duck tries to register but finds the local government denies his existence. This humorous, but somewhat pointless vignette has comic strip artwork.

“The Return” has Captain Marvel guarding the Negative Zone facility. A good chapter like this ought to get even those of us who do not know the character to invest in him or her. This chapter entirely failed to do that. I didn’t know the character and did not care about him after I was done reading this short story. This chapter does, however, have great artwork!

In another well-drawn, but pointless story, the Sentry decides to register.

“The Initiative” has Michael Pointer, “The Collective” brought in for Omega Flight. Civil War Marvel Universe concludes with stories wherein Hurricane is hunted by the villainous Thunderbolts and brought in and Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel finds Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman, and tries to talk her into registering. If it seems like I am not evaluating these so much, that it true, but there is not anything of substance to evaluate. Civil War Marvel Universe is not about significant plot or character developments; it’s about making sure every obscure character who can get a page in the narrative gets one. And it didn’t make me care, so I feel like spending no more time upon it!

For other Marvel graphic novels, please visit my reviews of:
The Avengers: The Search For She-Hulk
Deadpool Classic, Volume 1
Daredevil: Return Of The King


For other graphic novel reviews, please visit my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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  1. Ironic comment on US Agent being a cheap knock off of Cap, since (A) the first US Agent was Steve Rogers himself, after the Government prohibited him from using the Cap identity (they viewed the costume as governmental property, meaning Steve had to either be their servile lackey or quit the role: Steve quit), and (B) the present US Agent, John Walker, was Steve's replacement for Captain America, until he proved insanely & violently unfit for the part, leading to Steve's restoration to the role, government-control free.

    1. So, even in a single outing, it was pretty clear that U.S. Agent is just a second-rate recasting (either way) of Steve Rogers' Captain America! Hilarious!

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!

      -W.L. Swarts