Warzones graphic novels revisit eras from Marvel’s past to present a varied scenario, or take another look at alternate worlds created over Marvel’s rich history. The bigger picture is that they tie-in to the 2016 Secret Wars graphic novel, but aside from a few comments about the world being ruled by Doom, there’s little that causes head scratching, and the Warzones stories stand alone. The original Civil War was 2007’s crossover that saw Iron Man and Captain America leading opposing factions of superheroes according to their acceptance or not of a law requiring superheroes to register their identities with the government.

The defining factor in concluding that original story was Captain America’s surrender on recognising the human cost, but not before his team had freed imprisoned superheroes from a protected jail. That incident is where this alternate version begins, a deviation resulting in a massive body count that splits the USA into two areas known as the Blue and the Iron. The Blue is the larger area, but the Iron pursues a deliberate policy of starving resources. It’s difficult not to draw real world parallels from the situation Charles Soule creates from this, when after years of indifference, peace talks are about to begin.

Suffice to say the story wouldn’t live up to the title if they succeeded, and the reason they don’t is the story’s propulsion. Soule’s plot requires people from each side to infiltrate the other as misunderstandings continue to prevail. Is there someone, however, who might benefit from continued hostilities?

Soule’s characterisation of well known heroes worn down by years of ideology and attrition works well, particularly with Spider-Man, there’s one very fine and appropriate surprise, and his escalation of tension is good. So is the art of Leinil Francis Yu. He never stints on detail, yet couples that with strong storytelling.

There’s an irony in Marvel following their second Secret Wars series the next year with a second Civil War series. It was poorly received, and this is far better. The suspense is kept on the boil until the final pages, and everything leads to a pay-off worth what’s come before. Don’t bother with Civil War II and pick this up instead.