The Marvel Universe has always had problems with masked identities. From the Sentinels and the Mutant Registration Act to Jonah Jameson and his tirades against Spider-Man, masked heroes and villains are usually the object of scorn. However, when a group of heroes inadvertently destroy a small town, the scales of tolerance are tipped and the civilians call for the cataloging of the super-hero community. The mini-series, "Civil War", details with the inevitable factions that arise and the effects is has on some of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe. Caution: Possible spoilers ahead.
All the heroes fight, Captain America surrenders, gets arrested, and the "bad guys" win.
There is something dreadfully wrong with the world when the climax of Marvel's latest crossover can be summed up in a single sentence. For the sake of being thorough, I will try to expand upon the issue a little bit more:
In the Negative Zone prison, the two sides begin to battle. Punches are being thrown, energy beams are being shot, and property is being damaged. What's worse is that SHIELD has locked the gateway out of the Negative Zone, leaving the battling heroes trapped there during their conflict. Spider-Man decides to confront Iron Man, only to be way-laid by the X-Villain Lady Deathstrike and Venom 3. Meanwhile, Dagger and the Black Panther are attempting to transport the heroes and villains to New York City. They succeed with the aid of Cloak, and soon it's raining men and woman in tights. Iron Man and Captain America endeavor to restrict casualties, but after everyone has landed safely, it's back to fisticuffs. Spider-Man, for his part, kicks Reed Richards in the throat.
Elsewhere, the Thunderbolts (Lady Deathstrike, Venom, Bullseye, and the Taskmaster) have ganged-up on Captain America. Namor the Sub-Mariner and his Atlantean Army arrive and attack the Thunderbolts, turning the tide of battle in the Secret Avenger's favor. Iron Man counters this with his group of home-made super-heroes including Captain Mar-Vell and Clone Thor. This turns the tide of battle again. At this, the Young Avengers' Vision disrupts Iron Man's circuitry. Then Captain America whacks him with his SHIELD, drawing the attention of Clone Thor. Before the faux Asgardian can do anything, Hercules punches him in the face.
Meanwhile, a bus gets turned over and it is revealed that Ben Grimm has returned from France. Sue Richards is surprised, but even more surprised when she's saved from Taskmaster's bullet by Reed Richards. Invisible Woman then stomps Taskmaster flat. Meanwhile, Hercules and Clone Thor have been going at it, and Hercules has had enough. He picks up the fake hammer of fake Thor and smashes apart the clone.
Captain America has laid Iron Man down for the count when a
metaphor bunch of citizens tackle the Star-Spangled Avenger. Captain
America sees the somewhat minimal damage the battle has caused and surrenders,
causing everyone to stop fighting. He takes off his mask and submits to being
arrested. The Punisher picks up the discarded mask.
In the aftermath, we discover that the Fifty-State Initiative has gone through giving each state a team of superheroes. All the Thunderbolts are seemingly placed into the Negative Zone prison, while some superheroes migrate to Canada including US Agent. Spider-Man has re-donned his black costume and everyone is healing from the events of the past seven issues. Tony Stark, however, has been made the head of SHIELD, claiming that it was his plan all along and that he would never let anyone else guard his friends' secret identities.
The art, as usual, was spectacular. The writing, however, was not. As I mentioned before, the entire issue could be summed up in one sentence. My biggest complaint was not that the "bad guys" won, but rather won in such a shallow way. What's more is that, rather than the big explosion that has been built-up throughout the "event", there was quick pop then a long-drawn out fizzle. Bad show, Marvel, bad show.
Tony Stark's remarks at the end of this issue make it sound like he staged this whole thing to get into Miriam Sharpe's pants.