Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On Wars, Both Secret and Civil

We're just days removed from New York Comic Con, and geeks are all abuzz about several developments coming out of Marvel, namely that The House of Ideas is not only bringing us an all-new Secret Wars event next summer, but that 2015 will also see the release of another Civil War series. Whether the two events will occur simultaneously remains to be seen.

I was mere months old when Marvel launched its first Secret Wars crossover in 1984, so the announcement didn't necessarily bring about any pangs of nostalgia (even though I do thumb through my softcover trade paperback of that campy "all the good guys vs. all the bad guys" yarn every now and then), but the Civil War revelation is another story entirely.

Civil War, Marvel's politically-charged tale about a rift in its superhero community, kicked off in July 2006, a time when the idea of an Iron Man film seemed laughable while Spider-Man 3 was poised to be the biggest comic book movie of all time. I started working in Manhattan that fall, and my office was right between Midtown Comics' Lexington Ave. and Times Square locations. I hadn't been a regular consumer at a comic book store since the mid-1990s, when locales like The Dragon's Den in Greenwich, Conn., and The Spider's Web in downtown Port Chester, N.Y., served as nerdy refuges before superheroes were "in." With so many comic book stores in my area shuttering in the wake of the industry's 1990s boom period, I wound up getting my fix from the limited selection of new titles at bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders before my interest in the medium reached a low point in my teens. A chance lunch hour visit to Midtown Comics changed all that. I immediately gravitated toward Civil War and its numerous spin-offsI was hooked again.

Although the bleak tone of the Civil War miniseries wasn't for everybody, the tight narrative by Mark Millar and the striking artwork by Steve McNiven kept me enthralled during my Metro-North commutes, and I was genuinely heartbroken when Captain America was assassinated after the series' conclusion the following year. My fandom only grew from there, and I went on to amass countless single issues and trades from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image and just about anything else that I could get my hands on. Now, I'm a weekly regular at my local comic book store (A Timeless Journey in Stamford, Conn.) and my collection of current series and back-issues getting out of hand, to put it lightly. And it's all because of Civil War, for better or for worse.

Eight years later, Marvel is revisiting Civil War, with a teaser image that's evocative of the original. With rumors of a Marvel Comics reboot and recent speculation about how the Civil War storyline might be adapted in a future Captain America or Avengers film, there's lots for geeks to debate and wonder about. I'm proudly standing among them.

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