Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I know I shouldn't whinge about "Civil War", it'll only damage my digestive system...

...but I'm going to anyway.

Civil War has no quest. We've had the trigger - reality TV show goes horribly wrong (something of an oxymoron because all reality TV is horribly wrong) - Nitro explodes some suburbanites and then the US government passes Stalinist legislation in a hundredth of the time it would normally take to get a Municipal Dog-Crapping Ordinance passed.

So we're triggered. Typically, after that comes the quest, that infinitely stretchable section of narrative which takes us from the beginnings all the way to the climax itself.

"Frodo has to get to Mordor to chuck the ring down the Cracks of Doom" was a quest.

"We have to get the secret plans to the rebel base and then blow up the Death star" was another.

"Let's stop Jean Grey from going bonkers and blowing up star systems" was a good one.

So what is Civil War's version of the quest? Captain America and his pals sitting around in moody disused factories dabbing antiseptic on each other's lacerations before bouncing off to free another batch of spandexes from Tony Stark Chokey so that they, too, can flounce onto cardboard boxes in semi-darkness?

It's just stasis. A quest needs a goal, a hint of how things might be resolved. If Cap and co had a big meeting and concluded that they themselves didn't have a clue what to do, but they charged dynamic teenage hero Wesley Smuggins with finding a way, that would be a quest. We could follow Wesley for an issue or two as he finds out the President has been replaced by a loathsome, slime-pulsating alien (this may actually have happened in real life).

If they decided to replace the US Congress with a Dictatorship of the Proletariat, that'd be another. It'd be worth reading, as well.

But there is no hint of a way forward, and so it's horribly bogged down - which is, as it happens, the way most Civil Wars turn out.

Now you're all ahead of me in your reading, and maybe by now Civil War has taken off and is fabulous, but at the moment, my problem with it is that, after thirty issues or so, this narrative hasn't got round the first lap.


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