ACBC 2015: Charles Soule Talks Civil War, Secret Wars


Charles Soule is a fast talker. That’s a good thing when you’re trying to get some time to talk to him amid a busy schedule talking to fans at his own booth and participating in multiple panels and events for Marvel during this weekend’s Atlantic City Boardwalk Con.

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Fortunately, Soule was kind enough to sit down and chat about his upcoming Secret Wars tie-in series Civil War, which he’s doing with artist Leinil Yu. In just a few minutes, he was able to provide quite a bit of insight into one of the more highly anticipated books spinning out of Marvel’s big 2015 event.

Let’s start with the set-up. Asked if the new Civil War is set in a place where the original one never ended, Soule confirmed that was the case, but added that it had grown to something much. much larger in scale.

“The Civil War in the original story ended with Captain America surrendering to Tony Stark in Times Square after he sort of technically was about to win,” Soule said. “Then he’s like, man, you know, we’ve lost, and so he surrendered. In the new Civil War that’s coming out, the basic concept or the idea is that that surrender never happens. So the war continued, and it spilled out beyond the super hero community to basically encompass all of everyone in the country, everyone in the world in sort of way. Certainly in the States.”

That’s already an intriguing premise, with even normal people forced to answer the “Whose side are you on?” question from the original series. Along the way, the battle evolves to become something that has left its original ideological struggle behind, with Soule and Yu exploring how familiar characters are affected by six years of constant conflict.

“Everyone sort of had to choose a side, because of other things that happen that I don’t want to spoil, but it was something that … it wasn’t just about whether or not super heroes needed to register,” Soule said. “You know, when you read about World War I or the Civil War, and they had 10 different causes, and they all kind of combined together to make this thing? It’s more of a world like that.”

It’s also a story that fans can appreciate without following the main Secret Wars series if they so desire. There’s always a question when it comes to super hero crossovers concerning how connected all of the parts should be. Too much integration leaves readers who only want to check out the main book feeling like they’re forced to buy more comics just to enjoy one story, while too little makes people cynical about how much the tie-ins really matter.

Marvel might gave found the sweet spot with Secret Wars by creating two types of tie-in series. Some, like Thors, are very closely aligned with the “spine” of the event, as Soule describes it. Others aren’t, and Civil War falls into that category.

Civil War is definitely a Battleworld series, in which it is designed to sort of take place within itself,” Soule said. “It’s part of the larger story for sure, but it’s something that you can read whether or not you’re reading Secret Wars, whether or not you read the original Civil War or whether or not you even know how to read. The last one, I’m not as sure about. You could have someone read it to you. You could look at the pictures, right?”

When it’s pointed out to him that just taking in the art might not be that bad since Yu is involved, Soule answers with a self-deprecating joke about how it might work better with no dialogue. But as he’s quick to note, he’s already had the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing artists in his writing career — work by Tony Daniel and Steve McNiven sitting right in front of him at his booth reinforces that notion — and Yu certainly belongs in that company.

He’s also already handled super hero stories with large casts, doing the art for Secret Invasion a few years ago. That makes it seem less likely that Yu would balk at any kind of massive fight scenes his writer might throw at him, and so far, so good, according to Soule.

“So far he’s been very cheerful and upbeat about it,” Soule said. “There’s some stuff in issue 4, where he’s like, ‘Oh my God man, why’d you do this to me?’ But you know he hasn’t said no, he hasn’t said change it, so it’s going to be a huge, huge epic thing for sure.”

The big difference between the new Civil War and most comic book stories is that not only will it be evaluated on its own merits, but it’s also inevitably going to be held up against the previous series of the same name. It’s not alone in that regard, as Marvel is inviting such comparisons by giving a bunch of the Secret Wars tie-ins the same names as previous sagas from throughout the last few decades.

Still, Soule seems confident that he’s up to the task, having had his moment of self-doubt a while back when he replaced Scott Snyder on DC’s Swamp Thing — a series that had a virtual Murderer’s Row of creators over its history, including the likes of Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Brian K. Vaughan.

With that experience behind him, he’s comfortable that as long as he brings his ‘A’ game to Civil War, everything else will take care of itself.

Swamp Thing is a huge legacy book, and the talent that’s been on that book over its time is just enormous,” he said. “So that I was very nervous about, because I felt like I was going to be judged against them. For me, I just had to do the best book I could do and then let the readers decide, or really let myself decide. If I knew I’d done my best, even if it didn’t land the way I thought it would, I would get over it, you know, because it didn’t really matter what Brian K. Vaughan had done on the book or Alan Moore, or anybody.

“So with respect to a book like Civil War, Death of Wolverine or any of these high profile books that I’ve been really lucky to do, you know, whatever. It’s going to be my book, that’s the most important thing to me – that it’s my take, and my tone and my words, and if people dig it, awesome, and if not, hopefully I’ll write something else.”

Somehow that seems like a pretty safe bet. Civil War #1 goes on sale July 8.

Next: More from ACBC 2015: What comes after Secret Wars?

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