CIVIL WAR #1, a Marvel Comics Event, rocked the comic book world when it was released on May 3rd, 2006. Written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Steve McNiven, the story pits fan favorites heroes Captain America and Iron Man against one another in one of the most topical dichotomies: freedom and security. A line is about to be drawn between heroes and the public alike. Which side are you on?
The story opens up with the New Warriors, a young group of heroes who are seeking fame while crime-fighting. Their latest exploit takes place in Stamford, Connecticut—their plan is to charge into a supervillain hideout. However, the brash team fails to account for the human bomb Nitro, and the elementary school filled with children near door.
Nitro sets off an explosion that kills the hundreds of the students in the blink of an eye. The only things left are dust, ashes, and those who managed to cling to life.
Following this horrific event, readers witness an inevitable fallout between superheroes and the public at large. Many call for the ban of all heroics, while others lobby for governmental restrictions on “capes.” Even the superhero community finds themselves on opposite sides of the issue. Iron Man and many of the top-level heroes believe it’s high time they register so they may be held accountable to the people they serve. Others—street-level heroes like Luke Cage and Daredevil—refuse to consider registering on account of their liberties being violated.
The climax of the issue hits when we’re taken to Captain America as he prepares to give Maria Hill his opinion on the matter. We see the pain the Avenger has undergone while contemplating the issue. It’s clear even the best heroes have doubts about what is “right.” But he soon makes his position clear, and he’ll stop at nothing to uphold his conviction.
Millar’s script is a perfect parallel to events in our own society, both past and present. The public faces choices between freedom and security almost every day. We try to find the perfect balance, but our convictions often place us on polarized sides. And as readers will see, the Marvel heroes fair no better than the divided world we know.
McNiven’s penciling, along with McKniven, Dexter Vines, Mark Morales, John Dell, and Tim Townsend’s ink work, captures the true essence of our favorite Marvel heroes. Each character is fully fleshed out in exquisite detail, from Captain America’s boot cuffs to the fused pieces of Iron Man’s suit.
These and the rest of the illustrations are expertly colored by Morry Hollowell, who contrasts the warm colors of the explosion’s aftermath with subdued, cool colors for the stricken heroes. In addition, the lettering from VC’s Chris Eliopoulos helps readers feel the emotions from each character through well-placed bold letters.
McNiven’s cover illustration shows Captain America facing Spider-Man and the rest of the Marvel hero line-up. We get the sense he’s about to do something that will leave the rest of them in disarray.
Aspen Variant Cover
Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald’s variant cover features three of the big players in this conflict: Captain America, Iron Man, and Wolverine. What’s more, the cover is divided, showing the anti-registration heroes on Wolverine’s side and the pro-registration hero on Iron Man’s. One might think Captain America, positioned directly on the line, will be the equalizer in this conflict. But his downtrodden face suggests otherwise.
The story laid out in CIVIL WAR #1 continues to amaze readers far and wide. Few comic books can bridge the gap between fantasy and reality. We highly recommend revisiting this tale.
What parallels do you see in CIVIL WAR #1 to events in our own world? Let us know in the comments below!