At first, I was sceptical and under-enthused by Marvel's "Civil War" cross-over mini-series, but like with any good story, the further in you go, the higher the stakes, and the darker the prospects. For those unfamiliar, "Civil War" goes a little something like this: TV reality show superheroes The New Warriors pick a fight with a super villian (Nitro) way out of their league and end up getting themselves killed. That wouldn't have been so bad hadn't Nitro taken out half of a town and a school full of 300 elementary school kids with them. This causes a national uproar and soon a Superhero registration act is passed requiring all super-powered people to register with the govornment, give up their secret identities and work for the "man". Needless to say many aren't happy with this, but many in the superpowered community, like Iron Man, think it's long over-due. Unfortunatly, his long-term coleague Captain America disagrees and the battle lines are drawn. Spider-Man, in an cue from Tony stark in an attempt to "set the right example" unmasks himself to the media for the first time. The governemnt backed heroes led by Iron Man (and joined by Spider-Man, amoung others) start to hunt down the rebel heroes led by Cap (Unofficially called the "Secret Avengers")
Whats crazy about this mini-series is how long-standing friendships and alliances are being shattered and relationships redefined. For example, Sue Richards leaves Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four after he becomes obsessed with the hero hunting and she joins the Secret Avengers. Spider-Man's life long admiration of Captain America is thrown a curve when he's forced to fight him or be persecuted himself. Iron Man's (Tony Stark) involvement is perhaps the most fascinating. Events unravel that show the depths of Starks distrust and cynicism over the years. The govornment is now employing super-powered criminals to hunt down the rogue heroes. It's like all these years you've been presented with a certain world (ala the Marvel Universe) and now that world has been thrown into a surreal nightmare.
I think in the end, spider-man is going to be the focal force that brings the story to it's conclusion. He started out only somewhat hesitant of the Act, but in issue #4, after a former Avenger is killed by a maniacal Thor, he says "Is anyone starting to wonder if we picked the right side?"
I thought Marvel was going to bomb in their attempt to out-crisis DC's "Infinate Crisis", but I must say, I've become much more excited about each subsequent chapter of "Civil War". There's something great to be said about the ability to even be able to mount stories this large. The only reason DC and Marvel can do these hugely exciting and complex stories are because of decades upon decades of story and character developement. And while it's silly to suggest such a notion, they succesfully make it seem as though everything that has happened with every character and every book for the last 60 years has all merely been leading up to this one catastrophic story (Infinate Crisis-DC, Civil War-Marvel).
If you're not a comic book reader but you're curious about this mini, wait till the start of 07 They'll have a nice one volume collected edition of the series you can read in one sitting for a fair price (usually 10 to 15 bucks, for what amounts to the collection of the 7 comics with cover prices of 3 bucks each...do the math.)