Blah Blah Blog – Civil War Battle Strategy

Another post from my long-ago Marvel blog, this one concerning more of the planning for the CIVIL WAR Event series.

Civil War Battle Strategy

April 28, 2007 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

Continuing our trek through the formative stages of the CIVIL WAR crossover.

At this point, with the first issue more-or-less written (though it would go through a couple more drafts as Mark tweaked and tightened certain sequences and dialogue) another creative retreat had been scheduled, where we would hopefully nail the ending, and work out all of the assorted spin-out projects, and changes to the Marvel U. This was the retreat at which Joss Whedon arrived to Solomon-like give us the final answer after we’d argued around the ending of the series for many, many hours.

In any case, heading into that retreat, I compiled the following list of elements we needed to figure out in order to move forward, and also attached Mark’s outline of what he saw the spin-out plan achieving:


CIVIL WAR ELEMENTS WE NEED TO RESOLVE:

THE BEGINNING

Are we doing the “fake” Thor at the end of CIVIL WAR #2?

Are we perhaps assigning too many characters to sides too soon—especially with the concerns about characters such as Moon Knight and Daredevil


THE MIDDLE

Spider-Man’s identity reveal: When does it occur, and in what book? How does this all play out

How and when does Thor come into the picture—how is he introduced? Do we have any information on what this new Thor will look like, and how he’ll act on the page?

How do we bring in the new Gravity Captain Marvel? Will this seem like just another random element that gets thrown out without much explanation?


THE ENDING

How do we punch up the ending, unify Cap and Iron Man at least for a moment, and close with a bang rather than a whimper?

Where do we wind up with Captain America and Iron Man? Who are in the costumes at the end? What are the status quos of the titles?

What is the state of the Fantastic Four, and who is on the team?

Who are the New Avengers? Who are the Secret Avengers?


WHAT SPINS OUT

What precisely are we spinning out of the end of CIVIL WAR, and in what format? We need to make sure that anything we launch out will have a reasonable chance for survival in an already-crowded field of Marvel books.




MILLAR’S ROLL-OUT PLANNING E-MAILS:

Dear ladies and gents,

I have a few broad strokes here that might be a good starting point for our discussions over the next few days. There’s a decent amount of content and so I think it probably makes more sense to put all this down in an email as opposed to hoping you can all make sense of this impossible Scots accent. Please note that these are just some of the ideas I’m throwing out there and am completely open to bouncing each and every one of them around. I’ve purposely avoided starting the new draft on MCW 2 until after the meeting as I’m sure I’ll come home with a million better and more concrete ideas after the retreat.

Anyway, enough with the insincerity. Here’s what I’m thinking…

*One of the main thing I wanted to establish with this series was a revamped Marvel Universe. I want to have PRE and POST Civil War Marvel so we have something that stays in the comic book consciousness, of course, but also something that provides a new, 21st century jumping-on point for new readers. The thing I’ve had in the back of my mind all along is providing a monkey gland injection for some of the icons who might need it, really shaking up the continuity on the established books, but also taking a lot of big name properties you have lying around and spinning them off with cool creative teams and a new agenda.

The big thing I mentioned in issue two is the FIFTY STATE INITIATIVE and this is an idea Tony’s been brewing for a while. The Avengers was phase one and essentially set up a superhero base in NYC, but this is the next step as the four corners of the USA get protection in very varied forms. I like the idea of the characters spread out a little more geographically. Readers get off on characters near them and it would stop all the characters constantly bumping into one another if some were in LA, Illinois, etc, etc. The FSI is mentioned in issue two and, as you’ll have seen from the plot, gets an airing in issue four. This is my chance to revamp some characters and teams I like, but also your chance to hang any new series you might have coming up onto Civil War. We all benefit in this sense because my mini gets gravitas and your new series gets a spin-off from what’s, hopefully, going to be a big event.

Anyway, the point is that MCW is all about the heroes being forced to raise their game. The series ends with the heroes of the Marvel U revamped and looking great, more formidable than they’ve ever been and it struck me that there would be a super-villain response. There’s no room in MCW (and thematically it’s too different to include), but imagine a follow up series (by a different creative team) called WAR ON TERROR that involves all these heroes getting together and just rounding up the villains. The heroes are more organized than they’ve ever been and the villains wouldn’t stand a chance. 80% of the Marvel villains getting locked up would be a great first act and the meat of the series then becomes the response of all Marvel’s big heavy hitters as they UPGRADE their villains to fight back. What we have is superhuman darwinism, an arms race of sorts where the superheroes are now so cool and unstoppable that the villains have to become something else entirely. Just a though t to throw out there as it’s an obvous extension of the idea where we make the heroes up their game and it would be another huge seven issue event with a clear purpose (making the villains cool again after we’ve worked our magic on the heroes).

Anyway, as regards the POST MCW Marvel Universe, here’s some of the ideas I wanted to throw out there. If everyone likes it, much of this stuff comes into effect with the unveiling of the FSI in issue four. I’m sure we’ll have other cool stuff to add over the next couple of days, but this is what I’m thinking for now…

*New Avengers gets a spin-off book called Secret Avengers with Sue Storm, Johnny, maybe Spidey (as Joe suggested) and all the guys who’re still underground. This was suggested by Joe weeks back and we’ll have a clearer idea if it’s possible after we all get talking this week.

*Fantastic Four with two new members to replace the missing Johnny and Sue. Again, up to JMS as they can be back together again by the end of MCW, but I think this would be cool as it shakes up the book and makes it great when they all get back together again a year down the line.

*New Warriors: I loved this book. I’m really embarrassed I hadn’t seen it until I was killing them off, but it’s such a great concept. One suggestion to get it in people’s sights; how about MCW ends with the TV station using all the publicity to start a new NEW WARRIORS show. However, what makes this different is that it runs for six issues every summer (a season) and is open to both wannabes AND has-beens. Kind of like celebrity Big Brother. The exciting thing every year you guys launch this is who’s going to be in it. This gives us a chance for some well known names among the newbies so people actually pick it up and also creates excitement as the shadowed faces are unveiled at the launch of every series. Big Brother gets bigger every year over here using this tactic and people are guesing about the celebs for months. Keep Zeb Wells, btw. He did a great job on this.

*The Champions: Marvel has a lot of mytholigical characters lying around, but they never sell. You know why? And I’m not kidding– They’ve got beards. People HATE beards. No leading man can carry a movie with a beard. Even Disney shaved Hercules. Herc should look less like a gay S&M guy and more like a superhero. How about OLYMPUS headquarters in the Hollywood hills and Ares, Hercules, etc, etc, get proper costumes, 21st century looks, secret identities and become LA’s premiere super-team. These guys have the potential to be your Justice League.

*I like the idea of some liberal, John Kerry state having a team of famous villains who’ve been released from jail and tagged, supervised by a hero who might have been a villain once himself. This could be a really human book about second chances with a bunch of bad-asses who’s every move is being watched on CCTV.

*The Defenders: How about Tony, Reed and Hank ask Strange, Blade, Surfer, etc, to take care of all the shit they can’t do? Cosmic and horror. It’s the classic line-up with a few new twists like Blade, maybe Elektra and a couple of others more suited to this world.

*The Invaders: Cap gone (or whatever we do with him), USAgent becomes the leader of a new robot Human Torch created by Pym plus a new Union Jack, et al, to launch pre-emptive strikes on super-terror around the world. Hydra, AIM. All super-villain menaces.

*Iron Men: Tony Stark’s tech in a San Diego naval base. Superheroes meet Top Gun.

And more.. but my fingers hurt…

Ball officially rolling…

MM


And a few days after the retreat had wrapped up, I circulated this summary of the decisions that had been made there:


From: Brevoort, Tom
Sent: Monday, January 16, 2006 2:37 PM
Cc: JMS; Mark Millar; Brian Michael Bendis; Jeph Loeb; Ed Brubaker ; Quesada, Joe; Alonso, Axel; Macchio, Ralph; Marts, Michael; Paniccia, Mark; Lazer, Molly; Schmidt, Andy; Sitterson, Aubrey
Subject: CIVIL WAR post-retreat update

Folks,

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page following our retreat last week, here is the question sheet I circulated at the meeting with the questions that needed to be resolved for CIVIL WAR, along with the answers I believe we walked away from the meeting with. But if I’m forgetting anything, or anybody remembers things differently, please let me know:

CIVIL WAR ELEMENTS WE NEED TO RESOLVE:

Are we doing the “fake” Thor at the end of CIVIL WAR #2?

Yes, but we are no longer involving the real Thor in CIVIL WAR in any way.

Are we perhaps assigning too many characters to sides too soon—especially with the concerns about characters such as Moon Knight and Daredevil

Millar and I will work this out. We’ll remove Moon Knight from the group scene in issue #1.

Spider-Man’s identity reveal: When does it occur, and in what book? How does this all play out

JMS will set this up with the discussion between Pete and Aunt May in the May issue of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, #532. This issue will leave with Spidey going towards the podium, and the reader not knowing what he’s going to do. Then, in CIVIL WAR #2, we’ll see Spidey’s speech, wherein he’ll unmask before the cameras—we’ll probably see this on televisions in bars and other locations across the country. Then, in AMAZING #533, JMS will show much the same scene up close, and then deal with the reactions and fall-out among Pete’s closest friends.

How and when does Thor come into the picture—how is he introduced? Do we have any information on what this new Thor will look like, and how he’ll act on the page?

The new Thor will not be in CIVIL WAR (outside of the set-up stuff that JMS is doing in his FF issues leading up to CIVIL WAR)

How do we bring in the new Gravity Captain Marvel? Will this seem like just another random element that gets thrown out without much explanation?

When the fight breaks out of the Negative Zone and into Manhattan, we’ll bring in the new Captain Marvel as a mysterious heroic figure—he’ll appear, help take down Marvel Boy, and then disappear again. But we won’t explain who or what he is—we’ll save that for the new series. He’ll just look like the old Captain Marvel from the 70s.

How do we punch up the ending, unify Cap and Iron Man at least for a moment, and close with a bang rather than a whimper?

Final fight comes down to a brutal battle between Cap and Iron Man, at the end of which both guys are like punch-drunk fighters who can barely stand. One gets the upper hand momentarily—but before the final blow can be struck, the mother from issue #1 and other ordinary citizens move between the two men to separate them and bring the battle to a close peacefully. Cap will offer himself up for arrest, but not before removing his headpiece, saying that it’s Steve Rogers who’ll be arrested. At the very end, a shadowed hand will pick up Cap’s discarded mask.

Where do we wind up with Captain America and Iron Man? Who are in the costumes at the end? What are the status quos of the titles?

In CAP, Cap will almost immediately be shot in an assassination attempt in the aftermath of his arrest, and the quest for Cap’s assassin will drive the book for awhile. Iron Man will end up running the Mighty Avengers and being the guy overseeing the super hero registration and training process.

What is the state of the Fantastic Four, and who is on the team?

In the anniversary issue, #543 in November, Reed and Sue will take the kids and go off together to repair their marriage and reconnect. They’ll recruit the Black Panther and Storm to fill their place in the FF.

Who are the New Avengers? Who are the Secret Avengers?

Tony’s public Avengers (In the new book, MIGHTY AVENGERS) will include Iron Man, Ms Marvel, Wonder Man, the Sentry, Ares and the Black Widow. The underground secret Avengers (in NEW AVENGERS) will include Hawkeye (in a new role or identity), Cage, Jessica Jones, Echo/Ronin, Spider-Woman, Wolverine and Spider-Man.

Tom B

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