Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stream-of-Consciousness Review: Civil War #4

This is it folks, the big one, the halfway point, the issue where someone dies. I’ve been racking my brain (and scouring my copy of Civil War Files for clues) to try and figure out who, and this is the list of suspects I’ve come up with, in order of likelihood:

1.) Hercules—He seems a little out of place being featured so prominently alongside Cap, Daredevil, Falcon and the other street-level, anti-registration heroes. Plus, he’s a longtime Avenger, whose death would have a serious impact on both sides of the conflict, and since is presumably Thor who does the accidental killing, then there’s no better demonstration of the thunder god’s power than to have him kill off another divine hero.

2.) Goliath—Even more so than Hercules, I have no idea what the hell Goliath is doing in this story. He’s been on so many covers, and been given a disproportianate amount of panel-time, given his staus in the Marvel Universe. As a guy who’s power is to grow giant, he’s a redundant hero so wouldn’t be missed all that much, but, more importantly, Mark Millar hates giant superheroes, and is always looking for excuses to slot them. Stature's the only other anti-reg giant, and she’s a teenage girl in a popular series, so Goliath it is.

3.) The Falcon—Nothing would make Cap go apeshit faster than the Falcon getting accidentally killed by Iron Man’s pro-registration side, would it? If there’s one death that would escalate the conflict like crazy, it’s Falcon’s.

Page 1: Awesome. Picking up right where we left off, there’s the mighty Thor, missing and presumed dead for years, standing in the middle of the biggest disagreement between his two Avengers allies Iron Man and Captain America ever. He looks really pissed, a little crazy, and totally bad-ass—Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell are divine themselves. Look at the lightning arcing from the hammer, the way it seems to glow within, casting light on Thor’s helmet. There’s lightning in his eyes and, hell, even his hair looks like it’s glowing. I can see why Marvel would rather delay #5 than get a fill-in artist—You can’t fill-in for this team. Page 2-3: Thor throws his hammer at the Secret Avengers. He speaks in Thor font, but his dialogue sounds off—he says “you” instead of “thou,” and there’s no “yon”s or “verily”s yet. Then he pounds it into the ground, throwing them all over. Page 4: Cap looks like he’s gone through a meat-grinder, but still spits at Tony, “You really think I’m going down—to some pampered punk like you?” Ouch. Tony hits Cap and the rest with a sonic attack; his side’s spared because of their “audio-blocks.” Of course, Tony probably should have just used those in the first place, and spared everybody a lot of punching and kicking. Page 5: “Tough old bird?” That’s Captain America you’re talking to, Shellhead, not Aunt May. Look, out, here comes a Greek god with a giant tank full of something explosive! Page 6-7 : Hercules’ plan to save Cap? Cause a gigantic explosion a few feet away from him. It turns the sonics off though, and the anti-regs rally for a few panels Page 8: Nobody can accuse Goliath of being a coward. He head straight for Thor, and even has the balls to quip: “Get ready for the shortest comeback in history, Thor.” Mr. T. responds, “I don’t think so.” Which sounds off. Shouldn’t he say something like, “Verily, I think not,” or take the opportunity of fighting a giant man to say something about fighting frost giants? Oh, snap! Lightning bolt raight through the chest! So, Goliath is the one who dies! Man, what is up with Millar and giants? Page 9: Goliath hits the ground in one panel, but it lacks something—how many times will giant men fall dead on a field full of warring superheroes? Let’s see some earthquaking action here, McNiven. Dagger confirms it: “Thor just killed Goliath.” So, after entrapping the anti-reg team (remember, the pro-reg team faked a warehouse fire to trick them into that location), Tony’s team uses lethal force while trying to capture former allies guilty of what amounts to civil disobedience. But the Green Goblin they stick in prison? What the hell? Page 10: Thor tries to off the rest of them with a lightning bolt (If McNiven and company ain’t drawing the new Thor ongoing, I don’t know how it could possibly live up to this Thor story), but, what’s this? Susan “Invisible Woman” Richards saves the day. Page 11: The anti-reg team escapes, thanks to Sue’s ointervention and Cable’s ability to operate Cloak’s teleportation powers. I reiterate: McNiven is the fucking man. The scene where the rebels disappear into the folds of Cloak’s cloak is just gorgeous, particularly the shell-shocked, sad look on Falcon’s face, the anger emanating from Cage and Hercules, the fear on Patriot’s face…just a beautiful, beautiful panel. This issue would probably work just as well without dialogue, McNiven and company get so much emotion in the expressions and body language of the characters. In the bottom two panels, Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards shuts down Thor by reciting a verbal code. Ah-ha! So that’s not Thor after all, or he’s hypnotized or something…? Page 12: Yellowjacket and Sue yell at Reed, Spider-Man tells Iron Man, “I thought you said you knew what you were doing, Tony.” Meanwhile, Wonder Man and She-Hulk climb up Goliath (Man, this may even dampen my enthusiasm for Shulkie, if she stay’s on Tony’s side after this), and the Watcher looks like he’s about to start crying. Page 13-14: In Avengers Tower, the pro-reg “heroes,” who now seem more like the villains of the piece, are getting patched up. We see the interior of a Mjolnir hammer, with circuitry coming out of it, and Reed seems to be sticking a syringe into Thor’s ear. Spidey shares his shock with Pym and the Wasp. “I still can’t believe we cloned a god,” Pym says. Ah-ha! Uh, huh? That was a Thor clone? I’m relieved in one sense; it explains why Thor was talking funny (that is, not talking funny enough), and why he was so bloodthirsty. On the other hand, a fucking clone?! Millar does realize that nothing good ever comes from stories involving clones, doesn’t he? Matt Brady of brought up a good point regarding the pro-reg heroes cloning on behalf of the federal government, presided over by President George W. Bush (as seen in Civil War #1). Bush and his administration are vocally against cloning, on religious and moral grounds. If they were going to support the cloning of anything or anyone, do you really think they’d make that exception for a clone of a being that claims to be a pagan god? God, could you imagine Tony Snow’s press conference on that? Page 15-16: We check in with the anti-regs, as they lick their wounds. Not sure who’s in the background here: I see Triathalon, but that’s all I recognie. Is that Justice? Misty Knight? Nighthawk quits because, well, he’s a pussy, apparently. Cable quits too, saying only “The way I see it, they can do anything they like not that they got Thor on-side.” Stature quits too, because this isn’t why she wanted to be a superhero. Someone watches the three of them leave from the shadows. Page 17-18: That someone is…Beachead? No, whoever it is, he’s got blue eyes, is apparently white, and is wearing a ski-mask. It could be the Punisher, who’s yet to show up, but he’s never worn a ski-mask while skulking about before. My guess? It’s Hank Pym, having second thoughts. If anyone would feel guilty about Goliath dying, it would be the guy who invented the particles that gave him his growing powers, right? Plus, Pym is white with blue eyes. Jump to Goliath’s funeral in New Jersey, where we learn he’s been buried in 38 burial plots. Tony paid for them. So he’s not a total ass yet. The mother of one of the kids killed in the Stamford disaster appears to give him another guilt trip, which is the only real motivation I’ve seen for Stark’s actions within the series. Page 19-20: Thus far, Reed has been simply cold and uncaring, but at the funeral, he seems to be getting infected with Tony’s dick-ishness, as he acts suspicious about Peter Parker. Meanwhile, Susan leaves a Dear Reed letter to her husband, which Millar lets us read. She says how ashamed of him she is, and explains that she and the Human Torch are defecting. The Thing seems to know about their decision, but is staying behind. Page 21: You can practically hear the Imperial March as Reed, Tony, Janet and Hank—no, wait, Happy?—walk down a hall in Avengers Tower, discussing the “Fifty States Initiative” (what, an army of Thor clones?) and the fact that they’ve got a new version of the Thunderbolts. Basically, they’re going to use microscopic nanobots to control these new Thunderbolts, “people with experience in superhuman combat.” Page 22: The pro-reg’s newest allies? Bullseye, Lady Deathstrike, Venom, Jack O’ Lantern, Songbird* and two others I don’t recognize. It’s quite a “Holy shit!” moment, but, on the other hand, it’s getting harder and harder to suspend disbelief here. Keeping in mind that the pro-reg heroes are simply trying to enforce a registration law, capturing their friends and allies who have broken no law other than failing to sign a piece of paper, doesn’t unleashing an army of psychopathic mass murderers seem a little, um, extreme? Particularly given the fact that their last high tech solution to capturing the rebels lead to an ally’s death? Isn’t this a little like shooting Saddam Hussein full of nanobots and then sending him out into the deserts of Iraq to capture conscientious objectors fleeing their military service?

*I had originally mistook Songbird for Mockingbird, mixing the Thunderbolt up with an old Batman villainess. I corrected it above. The other two villains are Taskmaster and the Jester, as is pointed out in the comments section below.


Anonymous said...

The other Lady is Songbird instead of Mockingbird and the white hooded guy is Taskmaster. :) Who that guy in the back is, no idea.

Anonymous said...

It's the old Daredevil villian, the Jester.

Caleb said...

Thanks for catching me and correcting me. Yeah, Ihad the wrong 'bird; that was indeed Songbird, the current Thunderbolt and future Avenger (at least according to Avengers Forever), but I guess I had the Batman villainess on my brain.

Good call on Takmaster, and the other guy is indeed the Jester, according to all the Civil War blather going down online this past week.