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Civil War General ? Part 4

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In most wars, it would be impossible to get real insight from the generals controlling the action.  But luckily, the only American Civil War being fought this year is taking place in the Marvel Universe.  And the man presiding over the whole thing, moving pieces around as he sees fit is Tom Brevoort, editor extraordinaire.  Tom was kind enough to sit down with Broken Frontier and talk about the buildup and execution of issue #1 of Marvel’s Civil War.

Civil War General - Part One
Civil War General - Part Two
Civil War General - Part Three

-- SPOILERS AHEAD --

BROKEN FRONTIER: Before we discuss what went down in the issue specifically, let me ask you, even though it was worth the wait, how happy and relieved are you to see the new book in readers’ hands this week?

TOM BREVOORT: Honestly, I’m not especially relieved or anything. It’s nice when the books come out and all, but right now my focus has switched to issue #5. And I’m certainly braced for the inevitable snarky “It wasn’t worth the wait” comments from irate fans—but hopefully, those sentiments should be in the minority.

BF: Civil War #4 is marked by two sub-themes if you will: ‘crossing sides’, on the one hand, and ‘crossing lines’ on the other. Starting with the latter, the pro-registration side seems to have crossed the line twice here, first by cloning Thor and then by forming a new group of Thunderbolts, including several big-name villains like Bullseye and Venom. What led them to these, for lack of a better term, ‘eyebrow-raising’ actions?

TB: If you’ve been following some of the other threads of the story in some of the tie-in books, these decisions don’t really seem to be all that out-of whack. The specific reasons for cloning Thor will become apparent at the beginning of Civil War #5 , and tie directly into the 42 disk and Tony’s Fifty-State Initiative that’s been mentioned elsewhere—I can’t really say too much about it without giving the whole game away. But this is a part of a larger idea that Tony, Reed and Hank are driving towards.

As for the Thunderbolts, we’ve seen over in the main Thunderbolts series that the Commission on Superhuman Activities has adopted the T-Bolts as a sort of successful pilot-program for villain reform. As a result, they’re looking to expand the program, with a veritable army of villains swelling the T-Bolts’ ranks. The group we see in Civil War #4 is a part of that larger initiative—the general idea being that perhaps some of these career criminals can be put into a position where they can be of benefit to society, which is a pretty positive approach to rehabilitation.

The group we see at the end of Civil War #4 is an iteration of the Thunderbolts, and will be a component of what’s coming up in that series as the Civil War draws to a close. Most people will probably miss her in the shot, but you can see Songbird standing among the other characters in that final McNiven splash—this is a crew that’s being put into the field under her jurisdiction and guidance. Going forward, and beyond the end of Civil War, you’ll be seeing a Thunderbolts team and series that’s the super-villain equivalent of New Avengers —with a bigger, meaner, badder cast of characters in the mix, along with a number of the “core” T-Bolts.

BF: Both for clarification’s sake and to add some more back story to the event, can you explain how cloning Thor went down, because, as a god, Thor would appear to be a unique ‘force’…

TB: Thor is a Norse God, but that wouldn’t necessarily preclude anybody from cloning him—presumably he has DNA of some sort. We’ve certainly seen other characters over the years create duplicates of Thor, or empower other villains and such with his abilities. And in the case of Thor, given his dual heritage, he’s probably easier to clone than, say, Balder, since he’s of-the-Earth (if not precisely of-humanity.)

As for the hammer [the clone is wielding], it is technological, as can be seen on Page 13, Panel 2, where two techs in Avengers Tower have it opened up and are performing maintenance on it.

BF: Also, was the cloning of Thor the secret plan ‘Number 42’ Reed mentioned in issue #2, or is that a card yet to be played?

TB: The cloning of Thor is a component of Plan 42, but not the whole of it—that all gets explained an laid out in the opening sequence in Civil War #5 .

BF: The direct consequence of cloning Thor is that the Civil War now has his first real casualty, a martyr even, in Goliath. Internally, was there a lot of going back and forth over who would get killed?

TB: Very little, honestly. We knew all along that there were going to be some casualties of one sort or another, so when Mark threw out the idea of Goliath being felled, everybody sort of nodded and agreed with the move.

BF: This issue goes a long way in showing just how complex the whole situation is, on every level, from the public to the very personal and intimate. The public perception got shook up when Spider-Man unmasked, and now we have several characters mulling their original stance/decision following Goliath’s death. Would it be right to say that the personal conflicts these characters are now dealing with is less affected by the Superhero Registration Act, but more so by the fight between the heroes and its outcome?

TB: It’s being affected by both, in that the Registration Act has caused certain characters to make choices, and the effects of those choices are serving to cause other characters to question where they stand and what they’re doing. So in Civil War #4 , after the first direct casualty in the person of Goliath, and the fact that the Thor clone didn’t perform as advertised, we see characters on both sides of the fence questioning the role they’ve been playing. That will continue to be the case as the series goes on.

BF: The biggest name to switch sides is undoubtedly Sue Storm. In her letter, Sue uses the words ‘your last memory of me’ and ‘making love one final time’. So, to put it rather bluntly, will this break-up end in a divorce, or worse, another casualty, when all is said and done?

TB: Wait and see is all I can say. But the letter doesn’t indicate an upcoming casualty—Sue wouldn’t know if such a thing was coming when she penned that letter. Still, anything could happen.

BF: Though Reed appears on the page following the ones displaying Sue’s goodbye-letter, we haven’t seen any backlash on his end. Will that be dealt with in Fantastic Four proper?

TB: Yes, and to a lesser degree in Amazing Spider-Man next week (issue #535 - ed.) .

BF: Either way, it is interesting to see that instead of seeing Reed dealing with or sobbing over Sue’s decision, he goes straight back to business. Going back to the ‘crossing the line’ sub-theme we talked about earlier, is this a sign of Reed and Tony losing part of their ‘humanity’, in terms of getting out of touch with their emotions? I’m asking, because one of the core—and most integral—aspects of the Marvel Universe and its characters has always been its ‘down-to-earth-ness’. Have Reed and Tony moved beyond that, hoping to tilt things back in their favor?

TB: That’s certainly one way you could choose to interpret it. But I think part of the difficulty people seem to be having with the actions of these characters is the fact that we haven’t as yet really had the opportunity to get inside of their heads, either in the main books or in the various tie-ins.

That will change… Fantastic Four #540 is a Reed-centric story, for instance, and Iron Man #13 and #14 and the Iron Man/Captain America: Casualties of War special will deliver great insight as to what Tony is thinking and what his perspective is.

BF: One more question regarding Reed, Tony and the pro-registration side: how did they get S.H.I.E.L.D. to greenlight the formation of a new band of Thunderbolts? Dealing with the likes of Bullseye and Venom seems like it’s bound to bite them in the butt, microscopic nanobots being present or not…

TB: As seen in Thunderbolts , the T-Bolts’ activities have been sanctioned and are being overseen by the Commission on Superhuman Activities, so in point of fact Tony probably didn’t need to do much convincing. And in the case of Venom, it’s worth remembering that this Venom is not Eddie Brock, but Mac Gargan—also a career criminal, but one without the history of violence and dementia that Brock possessed.

BF: Peter Parker is obviously very conflicted over how everything’s playing out. If his frustrations and concerns become unbearable and if he, consequentially, knocks out Iron Man instead of Cap, how would that affect the status quo of the character? I may be going out on a limb here with all the ‘ifs’, but the potential duality that may cause would be a good reason to make Peter don his old costume again all by itself…

TB: Not too much I can say here—this forms the backbone of next week’s Amazing Spider-Man ssue, so look there for your answers. But in any case, Spidey’s going to have a tough road to walk for a long time to come.

BF: Finally, we’re now past the halfway point of Civil War. How about ending this interview with one of your finest cryptic teases on how the conflict will continue from here on out?

TB: As I said earlier, in Civil War #5 we’ll learn what Tony, Reed and Hank’s larger vision is, and how that’ll further change the landscape of the Marvel U. And let me reiterate what we’ve said before: despite the fears of many of the readers at this point, there’s not going to be any sort of cosmic reset button pressed or anything. You said you wanted to see the big crossover books have a lasting effect on the larger universes—now deal with it.

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