Monday, February 5, 2007

CIVIL WRAP

When I set out to do this issue-by-issue rundown of Civil War 1 -6, it was only supposed to be a Six Day Event, but as you can see, it’s become more like a six week event… but I, uh, hurt my hand and contracted a bacterial infection. Oh, and, uh, we had snow -- yeah, snow, that's it -- here in South Carolina, so, of course, that slowed things down a bit too. See, I can't really be blamed for not staying on schedule, can I?

Let's look at Civil War 5 and 6.

#5

Page 1 - We kick off with one of those famous Mark Millar splash pages of Johnny Storm and Susan Richards running from S.H.I.E.L.D. Team Four.

We can only guess why Steve McNiven chose this particular pose, but knowing that J-Torch and Susie are siblings doesn’t make it any easier to look at. A minor thing, but it had to be said.

Also, really, why are two members of the FF being chased?

If we ignore the fact that the Fantastic Four are considered an emergency response team by the city of New York and their powers and abilities are probably amongst the most well-documented in the world, wasn’t Johnny layed-out in the hospital at the time the Superhero Registration Act became a law?

So, I guess he wakes up, gets the “you’re all good” from his family physician, and as he’s walking to his car, nobody stops him and makes him register?

They sent an army of cape-killers to Luke Cage’s house at 12:01, but Maria Hill can't put somebody with a clipboard in front of the Human Torch on his way out of a state hospital?

And while we're on the subject of cape-killers… what’s up with that name? “Cape-killers?”

In what I think is the best CW tie-in issue to hit the racks, Captain America # 22 sees Sharon Carter talking to Dum Dum Dugan over his trashed suit of cape-killer armor, the result of a failed attempt to take down the good Captain.

This is what gets said:

DUGAN: Ah… it looks worse’n it feels… cape-killer here took most’a the brunt. Like I’m bettin’ Cap knew it would.

SHARON: Yeah. That’s a safe bet. Still, what a name… cape-killer.

Adam at Monkey Punch Dinosaur and a few other readers have mentioned how silly it is to call these guys cape-killers since there’s only, like, two guys with capes in the Marvel U.

Still, maybe Justice is a lot more popular than we thought.

Page 4 - The Iron Man and Spider-man scene that spins directly out of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 535.

A little aside here: I keep thinking about that poor kid in the Midwest who gets a subscription to Spider-man every year from his sweet Aunt Bonnie. And then one day, in 2006, his Spidey comics start having these weird, half-image covers, suddenly Iron Man’s more of a supporting character than Aunt May, and the stories inside don’t really make sense one issue to the next - each reads like something’s missing, and they never pick up where the one before left off.

Poor kid…

Anyway, It would’ve been nice to have seen something here letting the uninitiated reader know where this started. Especially since the last time we saw Iron Man and Spidery together in CW they were best pals. I understand if Marvel thinks footnotes pull people out of the story, but would it hurt to have a single page in the back of each issue detailing how the tie-ins play a role in what we just read?

Pages 5 thru 7 - This Iron Man/Spidey break-up's been building for months, and it ends with the web-slinger running out on the Pro-Reg side… but not before he crashes into a reinforced glass window and gets attacked by a squad of cape-killers.

I keep wondering why his spider-sense didn't warn him about the glass, the cape-killers, etc…but, oh, well.

And what’s up with Tony’s smartass line about the reinforced glass?

"Avengers Headquarters.

Reinforced glass."

“Reinforced glass?” Ah, presumably to keep bad guys out and to protect those inside… but not reinforced enough to hold up against the cape-killers’ weapons? Maybe Spidey weakened it when he hit it. Lots and lots of maybes.

Page 8 - Maria Hill releases the dogs.

Also, here we get another reference to some “Final Battle” that's coming.


Seems S.H.I.E.L.D.’s holding onto the Thunderbolts for Civil War # 7 because… um, the script says they have to, I guess.

Page 9 thru 11 - Spidey On The Loose! Running for his life in the Manhattan sewer, Spidey's stopped and eventually brutalized by Jack O’Lantern and the Jester, all while wearing his nigh-indestructible Deus ex Machina suit which just weeks before could fly, turn invisible, and deflect bullets.

Page 12 - An off panel assassin takes out both Jack O’Lantern and Jester.

No surprise, but it's the Punisher, or as Spidey calls him, “skull face guy…”

What gives, Peter? You’ve teamed up with this guy more than anybody (well, maybe not Wolverine, but…) - I think he’s cool with you calling him the Punisher by now... might even be able to get away with Frank.

Ignoring Spidey’s dazed acknowledgement of the Big Apple’s # 1 vigilante, why does Jack O’Lantern’s head explode like, well, a big ol’ jack O’lantern?

Isn’t that supposed to be a mask? Artistic license, Mr. McNiven? Sorry, pal - LICENSE REVOKED!

Page 13 - This installment's Poorly Thought Out No Prize goes to Christopher “ISB” Sims who wonders, "Why does the INVISIBLE WOMAN need a disguise?"

Great question, Chris!

So, Johnny and Sue join the Underground Avengers, and their entrance announced by the Serpent Society’s (or more recently, B.A.D. Girls') Black Mamba who’s apparently on a first name basis with both of 'em.


Black Mamba, huh?

Page 15 - The Punisher arrives with Spider-man in an homage to the sorely missed Dale Keown.

Page 16, panel 5 - The Punisher's response to Falcon’s question, “Since when are you on this team?”

Punisher: "Since the other guys started enlisting known thieves and multiple killers."

Black Mamba and Diamondback still in the room?

Page 17 - Best (by that, I mean worst) poorly thought out statement of the issue.

“Who do you figure’s been running around in a
ski mask and covering your backs these past few weeks?

Okay, I gotta call bullshit on this one.

Since none of the characters had even mentioned it, I was under the impression that we, the readers, were the only ones that knew there was a mystery man in a ski mask running around “covering [their] backs.” Introducing ski mask guy last issue was nothing but a red herring meant to add another layer of unnecessary to this whole mess, and that kind of makes me mad.

Think about it for a minute - why would the Punisher need to wear a ski mask? Who’s he got to hide from?

And finally, pages 19 thru 22 - Devil-Fist’s been captured and taken to Area 42 On The Negative Zone Strip.

Seems that he hasn’t said a thing since they caught him, and found a silver dollar hidden under his tongue (?).

Stark asks him about it, and he tosses out this bit of weirdness:


"Guess that’s thirty-one pieces of silver you’ve got now, huh? Sleep well, Judas."

Am I crazy to think this is just plain ridiculus?

We last saw Devil-Fist messing around with that coin in CW # 1... so we're supposed to believe he’s been holding on to it this whole time just so he can get captured, and maybe -MAYBE- get personally escorted to Area 42 by Tony Stark so he could give it to him.

Damn, but that’s weak.

There’s a SPOILER ahead, so if you don’t know that it’s Iron Fist in the Daredevil suit, don’t read… oops.

I know I'm over thinking this (but someone's gotta), but I guess Millar uses "DareDEVIL" here since this is such a "nice" Biblical reference? The wonderful Ann Nocenti did stuff like that all the time when she was on DAREDEVIL, and it was beutifully subtle… but not so much here.

Would Danny Rand - a guy raised in the extra-dimensional realm of K’hun L’un where they most certainly don’t worship Christ - really think this kind of thing up all on his own?

# 6

Pages 1 thru 3 - Hank Pym and Maria Hill check out the new Champions, or whatever. Go get 'em, losers!

Page 4 - The Punisher breaks into the Baxter Building. Wait - The Punisher... breaks into... the Baxter Building?

Okay, don’t get me wrong - I love the Punisher, and would never underestimate his abilities as one man paramilitary strike force, but c’mon, guys...

That's Reed Richards' joint - Galactus would have trouble B&Eing into that place.

Pages 6 & 7 - Sue goes to Atlantis to recruit Namor and gets shutdown. Namor wonders why Captain America didn't come to ask for his help in person, instead of sending some chick he used to crush on. I've avoided playing the "what they should've done" thing in these reviews, but in this scene, what they should've done (couldn't help it), was send Cap down to Namor, and still have Subby refuse to help, but totally come clean about the whole Illuminati stuff, thus sending Cap back to the surface madder than ever.

Page 10 - Back at Underground Avenger HQ, Diamondback brings in Goldbug and the Plunderer. The two d-list villains explain that "heroes ain’t the only ones scared [that they’re] heading for a police state.”

If you’ve read it, you know what happens next.

No BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA sound FX, but the point’s well made.

Villains in his soup? Big Frank don’t truck with that.

I'll admit it, I loved the hell out of this scene - that's classic.

But if you remember, these guys were invited in by Diamondback and Black Mamba played doorman to Johnny and Sue in the issue before.

I guess you can make a case for Diamondback since she's kind of reformed, and I’d probably give you that. But unless I missed it somewhere, Black Mamba’s still a card carrying serpent, and Frank's got plenty of bullets left, so what gives?

I don't really like that Cap beats up Frank in the scenes that follow - Cap's a little to reactionary, especially considering he brought Frank in. What's his responsibility in all this?

Things move pretty fast from there.

The Underground Avengers throw their stuff in a bag, and get on over to Area 42, while I'm left wondering, did anybody bother and take the Punisher - a man who's just had the stew beat out of him for being a murder - to prison? Isn't what you do with the Punisher? (For the answer to this question, look no further than Punisher: War Journal # 3)

Anyway...

Cap's team gets inside with a little help, and quickly find themselves face-to-face with Iron Man's Pro-Reg team, and an army of super-criminals.

Tony does his best Rick Flair impression and calls Cap into the square circle.

The mole turns out to be Tigra, but who didn't know that?

But Cap throws a wrench into Tony's plans by revealing that the underground has their own spy in Iron Man's ranks... and he's just let all the prisoners out, and both teams are now pretty much evenly matched.

Good thing Tony knew what was going to happen in the Final Battle, huh?

And now here we are - three weeks away (and I'll believe it when I read it) from the conclusion of Civil War.

From now until then, I plan to look at as many of the different CW tie-in books that I can, and try to see which ones fit... and which ones don't.

8 comments:

seth said...

I like these dissections of Civil War, and I think most of the points you make are valid, but I also think you're being unfair on some things.

"What gives, Peter? You’ve teamed up with this guy more than anybody (well, maybe not Wolverine, but…) - I think he’s cool with you calling him the Punisher by now... might even be able to get away with Frank."

Spiderman's heavily drugged. It's fair to say he wouldn't recognize the Punisher, or really anyone, in his state. It's an annoying plot trick, obviously used to disguise Punisher for a panel or two more, but still makes logical sense in context.

"Would Danny Rand - a guy raised in the extra-dimensional realm of K’hun L’un where they most certainly don’t worship Christ - really think this kind of thing up all on his own?"

I think this is unfair. I'm Jewish, and I've called someone a "Judas" before (albeit in a much more playful manner than DevilFist), and I think it's an extremely appropriate insult for Iron Man. Claiming Danny Rand wouldn't say that because he wasn't raised Christian is more of an insult to his intelligence than a plot flaw.

TCB said...

Thanks for the comment... and you're probably right about me being a little unfair - I tend to be a little hard on 'em, as you've noticed.

I don't think there's anything wrong the insult, and you're right, it IS extremely appropriate here... my problem isn't so much what is said, but how hard Millar and Co. have to work to get it said.

Honestly, had Matt Murdock been the man under the mask, I wouldn't have an issue with it, because just based off the nature of DD -"Illegit son of nun" in a devil costume", etc... - it would have totally worked as something he might say.

But clearly there was a reason they wanted Daredevil to be the one to throw out the Judas line, and I think by having it done by an imposter weakens it, and kind of ends up turning an otherwise cool moment into just another clumsy bit of "oh, damn!" dialogue.

Does that make sense?

David C said...

Nah, I think you're being very fair. There are just so *many* of these moments where you have to make excuses for the writer, mentally backfilling reasons for stuff. One or two, you get a pass, but when there's something like this on just about every page?

Matt P. said...

As always, I'm enjoying the heck out of these CW columns. Somebody else confirming what I sort of sense (Spider sense, perhaps? Possibly! And unlike Spider's in CW, mine apparently works all the @#$%ing time) when I see the issues up on the rack but can't bring myself to buy.

For the record, the last I can remember (and this goes back to early 90's Captain America issues), Diamondback, Black Mamba, and Asp all left the Society for some reason or other. Something to do with DB crushing on Cap as she was wont to do back then, I think. So, technically, I guess BM's probably as reformed as DB is.

I doubt it would've stopped Frank, though. They were ophidian-themed terrorists (no, the other ones in the MU), and Skull Face Guy doesn't forgive easy.

Damn. I just realized there's at least three snake-themed evil groups in the MU.

Carla said...

Dude, there are over 123 tie ins to Civil war counted on Wikipedia.
I salute you for your bravery.

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