AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: CIVIL WAR | COMIC REVIEW

December has finally come around, which means we’re just a short web-swing away from Spider-Man: No Way Home! To celebrate, I’m looking back at a comic that’s heavily influenced this iteration of Spider-Man!

Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Art by: Ron Garney & Tyler Kirkman
Year: 2007

Collects: Amazing Spider-Man #529 – 538

CONTENTS
– Background
– Plot
– Review


BACKGROUND:

A lot of what defines Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is taken not only from the early Amazing Spider-Man comics (and their modern day adaptation, Ultimate Spider-Man) but also Civil War, which is understandable, considering that he first appeared in the adaptation of that storyline.

But the links go deeper than just the setting. First, the comics leading to and dealing with Civil War are what define the on-screen relationship between Spider-Man and Iron Man.

Prior to Spider-Man joining the New Avengers, he and Iron Man were just occasional allies. But his time as an Avenger lead Spider-Man to come to see Iron Man as something of a father figure.

This in turn lead to Stark designing a new costume for Spider-Man, the Iron Spider suit, which is another thing the movies have chosen to adapt. While the look is quite different, the basics remain the same – the armour, the ‘waldoes’, the trust it represents.

As if that wasn’t enough, Civil War was also the storyline in which Spider-Man’s identity was revealed to the world. Unlike in the movies, where his identity is outed by Mysterio, in the comics Spider-Man willingly reveals his secret identity in a press conference to signify his support for the Superhuman Registration Act (what the Sokovia Accords are based on). It was a big moment in the movies, but a bigger moment in the comics. It was the story that flipped Spider-Man’s world on its head, and had far bigger consequences than anyone might have imagined at the time…


PLOT:

In Mr Parker Goes to Washington, Peter Parker and Tony Stark take the next step in their working relationship, as Peter becomes Tony’s right hand man. With his new role comes a new suit and new responsibilities, as Peter and Tony head to Washington D.C. to meet with various senators about the proposed Superhuman Registration Act.

But a chat with the government isn’t the only thing on the cards, as classic Iron Man foe Titanium Man is out to collect a bounty on Stark’s head, and only the Amazing Spider-Man can stop him.

Then, in The War At Home, Civil War breaks out amongst the superhero community as the SRA is passed. Determined to do the right thing and be a law abiding citizen, Peter Parker steps up and reveals himself to the world as the newly registered hero Spider-Man.

But as lines are drawn and the conflict starts to get out of hand, Peter begins to realise that siding with Iron Man may not have been the right thing to do. But is defecting to Captain America’s anti-registration Avengers even an option now that the whole world knows that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are one and the same?


REVIEW:

J. Michael Straczynski wasn’t the first writer whose Spider-Man comics I read, but he was the one who helped define the character for me. His stories had that classic Spider-Man feel, but for better or for worse, they took Spider-Man to new and interesting places.

The battlefield of Civil War is ones of those places, but JMS’ story doesn’t stand out here because of the titular conflict (especially considering every Marvel hero at the time was involved), but because it chose to explore the conflict through what makes Spider-Man so special; namely his relationships with his supporting cast, and his sense of responsibility.

As the main Civil War series had the big bombastic action covered, Amazing is able to really delve into the inner turmoil that the conflict brings to Peter Parker’s life, primarily by exploring the question of what the right thing to do is – what your morals dictate, or what the law decrees?

This is expanded upon through several very thoughtful monologues from characters like Aunt May, Mister Fantastic and Captain America, as Peter seeks advice on what the best way to proceed is .

It’s all brilliantly written, and arguably far more poignant than the main Civil War series, no doubt due to the fact it has less to juggle.

It also never loses sight of who Peter Parker is. He’s human. Even ten years on from that fateful Spider-bite, he still makes mistakes and struggles to resolve them (something a lot of fans of the MCU seem to think doesn’t happen after his high-school years – something I’ve also been guilty of forgetting). But unlike his MCU counterpart, JMS’ Peter is also a lot more mature; something that doesn’t always make its way into adaptations. He still quips, sure, but people jumping over from the newer movies might be surprised by how much time here is spent on Peter brooding, or reflecting on things in a more adult way.

This more serious nature is also reflected in Mary-Jane and Aunt May, who are integral to the story every step of the way. Every major decision that happens doesn’t move forward until we’ve had a scene where they both get to voice their opinions, and it really makes them feel like a grown-up, family unit. Which, sadly is something that seems to fall by the wayside in some other Amazing Spider-Man runs.

The only real flaw would be the fact that, as it does obviously have to tie back into Civil War every now and then, some supporting characters, in this comic at least, don’t get the chance to be explored. We see glimpses of J. Jonah Jameson, Flash Thompson, Eddie Brock, Vulture and Doctor Octopus, but their stories, and their reactions to Spider-Man’s unmasking, are relegated to other comics. That’s not really a flaw with this book per se, so much as it was Marvel pumping out several different Spider-Man ongoing series at the time, but it’s worth mentioning.

Before I wrap up, it’s also worth mentioning the art. Ron Garney is a great choice to depict the adventures of this more mature Spider-Man. His drawings are dynamic and detailed; his characters all distinct. His superhero action sequences are bold and unique, and really capture the movements of not only Spider-Man, but also the other heroes he interacts with.

A great artist paired with a great writer. The only flaw are the editorial mandate, but they’re easy to overlook if you’re willing to explore other series.


All-in-all, Amazing Spider-Man: Civil War is definitely worth a read for those who want to dig into the stories that inspired the MCU Spider-Man. I give it a…

Thanks for reading! What’s your favourite era of Spider-Man? Let me know in the comments below!

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