If I had to name what I believe is the greatest graphic novel story arc in the history of all the comic-verses I would name Civil War
among them. Perhaps this story arc may indeed end up right near the very top. However because this story is part of an arc narrative it fails to stand strong alone. Without the other novels, there is a lack of full continuity and resolution. Therefore, this book just feels a little flat, containing a great introduction and body but a weak conclusion. I personally love strong conclusions more than strong introductions.
The premise of Civil War is simple. Tensions have been developing between normal mortals and the godlike superheroes and eventually these tensions explode with a literal explosion that destroys a town. This explosion happens to occur during a superhero, reality-television, show, while the heroes are pursuing super-villains. The result of this explosion leads to the American government wishing to instigate laws to make all superhero activities legislated and that require all heroes legally give up anonymous heroism. However, Captain America decides that this is a bad idea and goes underground to fight against such a law. On the other hand, his friend Iron Man heads up a team of heroes who hunt down and imprison any 'rogue heroes'. Hence, the idea of Civil War
is that the hero camp is divided against itself. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
In many regards, this book appears as a deliberate attempt to look at the American 'War on Terror'. However, it examines many other critical areas: such as the impact of reality television and the dangers of foolish or stubborn actions. It challenges the reader about the notion of the police state, that utopian and dystopian aspects of life are perhaps not as distant as humanity may assume. It observes the humorous irony of hunting down heroes for performing heroic deeds, posturing that perhaps at times doing the right and noble thing may require going against laws and conventions.
Speaking of the critical way in which this appears to examine terror, there is the sense that the writers are challenging American legislation. Has America, in her pursuit of terrorists, crossed a line of terrorism against the terrorist? Recently, there has been much debate about drone attacks – are these actually terrorist actions against terror suspects? In the past, was the dropping of atomic bombs against Japan as much a war crime as the attack on Pearl Harbour? With the debate of gun registration laws recently there is a point made by some that how can the government of America talk about forcing others to register their guns while being free to have armed soldiers protect them. It appears that the authors of this graphic novel have recognised such a vein of hypocrisy inherent in some American legislative motions of their past and are attempting to dissect it and to indicate it, through their graphic novel story. For how can the government of this novel assert it is aiming to save lives while at the same time preventing heroes from truly doing their duty? The law and the government alone wish to control power clearly in this Marvel universe and that is something made evident by the authors.