Civil War: The Confession offers the reader an intimate look into Tony Stark’s motivations behind fighting for the Superhuman Registration Act, nearly sparking war with Atlantis through Norman Osborn, and assuming the directorship of S.H.I.E.L.D. Brian Michael Bendis writes the titular confession as an illustrated monologue. Speaking aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier to someone off-camera, Stark explains the events that long ago hinted at the future war among the heroes and his desire to end the conflict as quickly as possible. Approaching the situation pragmatically and anticipating many of the consequences, Stark elected to take the most reasonable approach he could ascertain – one that would see the heroes of the Marvel Universe forced to compromise their principles, but not eliminated.
Bendis presents an unusually sympathetic look at the pragmatic, yet amoral or even immoral, actions that some men will take in pursuit of the greater good. Bendis hardly offers a ringing endorsement of Iron Man’s logic, but he lucidly explores a mindset often demonized in comics – that of a conservative willing to make great sacrifices to get the job done. Most writers use characters like Stark to demonize the current presidential administration and blast anyone that fails to agree with their own politics. Bendis explores Iron Man’s predicament and, while not exactly justifying it, forces the reader to understand the compromises those in leadership sometimes to have make. At the same time, he explores the great cost of victory at all costs. When the camera pulls back to reveal the man to whom Stark addresses his confession, Bendis suggests that some means don’t justify the ends, no matter how reasonable.
Alex Maleev remains one of my favorite comic artists. He manages to dress up a story that amounts to a one-sided conversation with dynamic battle scenes culled from flashbacks. And yet, he always returns to Iron Man addressing a silent figure that remains off camera. Stark reasons with himself and the other character and examines the reflection on the inside of his own mask. Eventually, he breaks down and weeps. Maleev then presents a morbid image that asks us how far we should ever go in pursuit of an ideal.
Civil War: Confession seems gratuitous after the glut of one-shots, crossovers, and miniseries associated with the title, but it serves as a fitting conclusion to the main series and to the recent events of the Marvel Universe. Pick this one up.
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