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CIVIL WAR #1-5

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VS.

Hank Johnson - Agent of Hydra 001-000

 

HANK JOHNSON: AGENT OF HYDRA

 

Despite having already lost in this bracket, it’s not hard to see how Hank Johnson made it as far as it has. The writers working on this bracket all have different amounts of comic reading experience, but something like this is easy to get behind: it’s funny, it feels new, and it’s only one issue.

 

Civil War’s road to the Final Four is a little more surprising, however. Was it able to take advantage of easy match-ups in each step of the tournament? Or is there something about this book that makes it a little more special than the thousands of Battleworld books Marvel threw at us last summer?

 

The Civil War this comic is based on, a 2006 story that saw Captain America and Iron Man go at each other over superheroes having to register themselves, has a pretty special place in comic book history. Not only is it the basis for the next Captain America movie, but it’s most likely the final big moment in the comic book industry. Sales of comic books are currently so low that the only reason they’re probably still around is because they provide movies with ideas. Civil War was the last blockbuster, when it still seemed possible for a title to sell the amount of copies that were sold in the early 90s. A lot of people came back to comics to read Civil War, something that Battleworld (and Secret Invasion, and Avengers vs. X-Men, and Fear Itself, and a million others) tried to do, but it doesn’t seem like it works anymore. Comics aren’t the only place to see Captain America and Iron Man fighting each other, and the idea of a summer event bringing people back is a bit of a pipe dream at this point.

 

The Civil War of Battleworld shows what it would have been like if Cap and Iron Man kept the fight going for decades. After anything goes on that long, from a story to a war to a marriage, it’s no longer fun to try and figure out who’s in the right, and who’s a butthole, because at that point everyone is a butthole. And that’s definitely the case here, as the whole book ends up amounting to four issues of the two guys pointing fingers, and then one final issue of finding out that the real villain, the Skrulls, was behind the war the entire time. Sweet. I was nervous I wouldn’t get any Secret Invasion in this Event about Events, but here, finally, are the Skrulls, cheating their way through fiction as always.

 

The five issues of Civil War aren’t bad comics, but they highlight all of the questions I have with the whole concept of Secret Wars and Battleworld. When Doom was creating all of these islands from scratch, he thought “I remember that there was a Civil War, and because I remember it, I will now make a place where it is that same Civil War all day every day.” And even if we’re supposed to forget about Doom, and just bask in the glory of reading shit that seems like that shit we used to like, then the five issues don’t really amount to much. Even pulling it out of Secret Wars – which is easy, because this is the type of Battleworld book that barely mentions Doom at all – it feels pointless. It’s fun, and it’s not the worst Battleworld book by any stretch, but ultimately pointless.

 

Having read every issue that Secret Wars unleashed on us, I finally feel like I know what makes up a quality Battleworld book. It’s not how much it ties in the main story, or how much it separate itself from the Doom shit and tries to stand alone. Both of those options produced some good books and bad books. The key is to have a writer that knows exactly what he or she wants to say or do, stays strong, and achieves all of their goals. Siege was one of my favorite Battleworld books, and it was all about the Doom. Weirdworld was one of my favorite Battleworld books, and it had nothing to do with the Doom. I gave up on trying to find the cohesiveness through all of the titles long ago, and started just trying to find it in each individual title. Maybe it’s a cheat to say Hank Johnson stays cohesive when it’s only one-shot, whereas Civil War is five issues. But the strength of Hank Johnson’s voice, which presents us with such a great story and character, far outshines the slight fun that Civil War is. The goal isn’t to answer our questions about Doom world, but to get us to never ask them in the first place.

 

– Ryan

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