Civil War: Front Line - Paul Jenkins, Ramon Bachs, Steve Lieber, Lee Weeks (Review)

Summary: Civil War: Front Line is an 11-issue, limited series tie-in to Marvel Comics's Civil War event which started in August 2006. Part of the story is told from the perspective of two reporters embedded in the opposite camps of the war. Ben Urich follows the stories on Iron Man's side with the pro-registration heroes, while Sally Floyd investigates the anti-registration faction headed by Captain America. Writer Paul Jenkins was given carte blanche to have the stories reflect the current political landscape in the United States. The other half of the series is told from the perspective of Speedball of the New Warriors. It shows Speedball's struggles with survivor guilt, imprisonment, and relations to the victims of the Stamford disaster.


Review: So, to preface this review there's a bit of a confession I have to make. I'm not a huge comic buff. At least not yet. Any reviews from this point forward on comics are coming from someone who has very minimal exposure to them - this is my disclaimer! So please take these reviews with a grain of salt if you are an avid reader, some of my criticisms may largely be due to ignorance of the art form and/or past storylines.

With that said, I have taken it upon myself to become more immersed in the genre, and thus far my journey has been pretty terrific if I do say so myself. Now, Civil War is my FIRST MARVEL COMIC. This is big girl stuff right here. I still may be partial to DC (again, this is all based on my very small bouts of exposure, so it's possible that opinion will change) but ever since Avengers fever hit everyone (myself included) I thought it was the appropriate time to try it out.

Why did I pick this as my first one? I HAVE NO IDEA. It was sitting in my boyfriend's room and the cover looked interesting so I thought it would be worth a shot. It's really difficult figuring out Trade Orders since I'm really starting from nothing here, so I tend to just grab something interesting and hope that I can follow it and build from there. I'm definitely not unhappy I read this one, and it was easy to follow despite having no background.

The artwork was great, and really stood out. It's very classic but modern without looking too digitally-rendered. I can be a little nit-picky with that (as if I have a right to be since I can't draw for shit), but I was really digging the nice mix of bold colors with a touch of darker, gritty-realism.

The plot was a really cool concept, but I don't know how crazy I was for the execution. Civil War falls somewhere right in between reaching for a "larger" theme and a close character-study, never fully falling into either category which can leave me underwhelmed. I really enjoyed Gail Simone's Wonder Woman run because I'm a sucker for Gods and Goddesses, and over the top symbolic characters. Wonder Woman reminded me a bit of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, which btw - if you haven't read yet PLEASE DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND BUY IT RIGHT NOW. PLEASE, IT'S PERFECT.

Civil War does not have quite the same reach. It doesn't go after the "big concepts" of reality, but is clearly more focused on very realistic human, political issues - which I absolutely like too. I wasn't crazy about all of the parallel frames that had the "Marvel" civil war occurring alongside a historical event that is similar. I think it might have been powerful had it only been done once, but it seemed a little forced? I felt like they were REALLY hitting me over the head with that fact that IT'S A METAPHOR, GET IT??? When that is .. really obvious already.

I was definitely impressed by their ability to include so many characters and keep me engaged while simultaneously not making the storyline confusing for a new reader. Although the plot and characterization were super tight, it didn't go as in-depth as I would have liked. Some of it just came across as very surface-based; I understood what theme they were going for but it wasn't presented in a particularly new or unique way. Again, I may have been hindered by my lack of connection with each character from past stories.

Final Thoughts: Super quick, mostly fun read! Don't be scared if you don't have a strong Marvel background - you'll definitely be able to follow the storyline. Not the best I've come across so far, but certainly worth reading.

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