I decided to end Marvel’s punishment early because I kept hearing about Civil War #7. (Don’t judge me, a good parent knows when to cut a wayward child some slack and when to be a hard ass.) The very first review I read was by the esteemed Augie DeBlieck and he was underwhelmed by the final chapter to Marvel’s latest event. The forum postings that I read (which I consider to be short form reviews) and I got the same sentiment. The only people who seemed to even like it was the same small bunch of Marvel apologists that have been saying how great Civil War has been since BEFORE the first issue.
It seemed like I could not get an unbiased review of the thing. The people who hated the series hated the ending. The people who loved the series loved the ending. The people who were ambivalent about the series were ambivalent about the ending. So if I wanted to get a good sense of the final issue, I would have to read it myself.
I read it and I thought that it was easily the best chapter of the story since the first issue. There were things that I just didn’t get (like the prison guards "locking" the doors and trapping everyone in the Negative Zone… huh?) and a couple of things that I thought required a little too much of a suspension of disbelief (I can buy a marauding Atlantean army lead by Namor, but how in the hell did they know where to go when it seemed like Cloak was teleporting them to an almost random location?) and something that I just flat out hated (Tony Stark wouldn’t build protections against the Vision into his armor? Come the f–k on!)
However, all of the bad things were outweighed by a single scene. The scene that a lot of people didn’t like. The scene where Steve Rogers had Iron Man down (after playing dirty) and he could have ended the life of his friend turned foe. He was stopped. Not by his seemingly vanished moral compass or his tiny little conscience, but by the people. I loved the fact that it wasn’t a superpowered gang of costumed thugs that stopped him, but a bunch of brave Regular Guys.
These were guys who could have been killed at any moment because they were in the middle of a war that they didn’t cause, a war that they had absolutely no control over (We can recall, impeach or elect the other guy in the real world) and ultimately a war that was dumped right on their doorsteps. They were right in the middle when other people were being moved out of the way. Unlike everyone else there, they had no belief that they were going to survive the next few minutes. And when the time came, they did what everyone else around there thought they were doing–The Right Thing.
Captain America Steve Rogers was a supervillain at that moment and he had a superhero who had the trust of the people in his clutches. (It reminded me of that scene in Spiderman 2 on the subway when the New Yorkers got in Doc Ock’s way. Only better because it didn’t have a bullshit "We won’t tell anyone" scene.) Only when he was confronted by the realization that he was on the wrong side did he finally snap out of it.
When I say he was on the wrong side, I mean that he wasn’t on the side of the innocent people. He wasn’t trying to make a bad situation better, he was trying to protect a skewed view of what was right. The series started with children dying. Rogers lost sight of that fact. He only saw that someone was telling him to do something that he didn’t want to do. Throughout the series, you saw times where Iron Man wasn’t sure if he was doing things the right way. You NEVER saw that with Steve Rogers, you only saw the single minded adherence to the idea that "I’m right because I see how things are supposed to be." That is only a short step away from the "Do this because I say so" mindset that a lot of fascists, dictators and tyrants hold.
I’m glad that the "character" of Captain America remained inside of Steve Rogers. I’m also glad that Rogers did some jail time. Anything else would have been insulting to anyone reading it. I liked the way that they established a bunch of new heroes. The Fifty state initiative looks very interesting and I am actually looking forward to some of the stories that are going to come out of this.
A lot of people said that this issue was anticlimactic and I can’t see that. I hate to compare this to anything else and would prefer to let it stand on its own, but I think that the last few pages of this issue can be compared favorably to the last few pages of the last issues of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis and even Watchmen. The endings of all those stories weren’t about ending or finality, but rather they all gave a sense of beginning that was just starting.
Civil War wasn’t a perfect event and I didn’t like most of the story that was told, but this issue was a great first step towards the future of the Marvel Universe and for the first time in a long time, I’m curious to see what that future is.