Thursday, November 16, 2006

Stream-of-Consciousness Review: Civil War #5

Cover: This scene, cool as it is, doesn’t actually occur within the book, although Spider-Man does run afoul of some of the new Thunderbolts, and there is a flaming jack o’ lantern involved. Pages 1-2: The Storms, currently on the run from their husband and brother-in-law Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards, are being pursued by SHIELD agents, whho, we’re told, have flooded the streets of New York City with all their crazy hoverbikes, helicopters and tank thingees (What, no flying convertibles? I thought all SHIELD had was helicarriers and flying convertibles?) Page 3: Outside Stark Tower, former Defenders LVP Nighthawk and Young Avenger Stature are meeting with Happy Hogan, about to make good on their promise to defect from the Anti-Reg side last issue. This third panel is a great example of why Steve McnNiven, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell are and unfuckwithable art team. Tell me that’s not the absolute coolest Nighthawk’s ever looked. And yet, this page is the first time in the series I’ve really felt let down by McNiven. Check out all those passersby. Yeah, they’re New Yorkers, but they’re not even glancing at these two masked super-people. Weren’t we lead to believe that the United States was in the grip of some anti-superhero hysteria that resulted in the Registration Act? These civilians aren’t even phased by seeing super-people, which seems a little odd. Nighthawk’s rationale for changing sides doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, either. “We’re living in a different world now, sir. I guess it took Goliath to make me realize that,” he says. Yeahbuwha? It took the Pro-Reg side unleashing a killer clone of Thor to blow a whole in Goliath to make you realize you should be on the side of the people blowing the holes into people, not the side getting holes blown into them? So, is ‘hawk just a big coward or what? Well, maybe he and Cassie are just trying to infiltrate the Pro-Regs….Page 4: If you haven’t been reading Amazing Spider-Man, this scene picks up right after ASM#535, which ended with Iron Man flying through six walls of his own building to flying tackle Spider-Man because he heard Spidey tell Aunt May and MJ, “I realize I’ve been on the wrong side.” And what are Iron Man’s first words to Spidey afterwards, according to this scene? “Peter, you’re acting like a lunatic. Why can’t we just sit down and discuss this like grown-ups?” Iron Man also says of the Negative Zone detention camp that it’s “only a temporary measure,” whereas he told Peter that it was permanent in ASM (or permanent until the detainees decide to sign on the dotted line). Page 5: Iron Man makes an argument I wish he would have made earlier—essentially saying it’s this lousy status quo, or an even worse one—but he takes it a bit too far by mentioning May and MJ. It didn’t sound all that threatening to me, but Spider-Man must have though so, as he puts Iron Man through a wall over it. Page 6: Tony breaks out the repulsor rays, and we get a nice display of spider agility. Odd that Iron Man has to shoot rays at Spidey though, isn’t it? I mean, he built that “Iron Spidey” suit, and he didn’t include some kind of failsafe device in it? Stark kept a hair of Thor’s from their very first meeting just in case he ever needed to clone him, and yet he didn’t think to put a failsafe of some sort into Spidey’s costume? I do hope Iron Man has a means of tracking the costume, otherwise I’ll lose respect for his scheming abilities. Page 7: Avengers Tower has reinforced glass strong enough to stop men in metal spider costumes from jumping through it, but not stong enough to stop men in metal spider costumes being shot through it by a barrage of bullets, as the SHIELD capekillers demonstrate when they come in guns blazing. Page 8: Okay, here’s the second time this issue in which McNiven lets me down, the second panel, which shows us the Thunderbolts. So, what, they’re all just standing around a huge empty room in their costumes posing, waiting to be activated? Page 9-10: The Jester and Jack O’ Lantern are the first to find Spidey, and they come in with yo-yos and gas pellets blazing. Page 11: Did I mention how awesome this art team is? I know I pointed out a few panels where they didn’t seem to think the psychology of the crowds through very well, but man, just look how totally bad-ass Jack O’ Lantern is. Even The Jester looks really cool. Man I could really get used to these villains; they seem pretty cool here. I hope we see more of them in the future. Page 12: Oh, so that’s why two such relatively low-level villains were grouped with the A-List villains on the last panel of Civil War #4. I admit I laughed aloud when I saw Jack’s head smashing, and the pumpkin goop shooting out the exit wound, but, um, that means his head was really a flaming pumpkin? I guess I should look him up on, but I was fairly certain that was just some kind of mask, and that he was a human being in a costume. Guess not. Good news for Jester, it looks like his headshot was just a glancing blow. He might live to throw exploding yo-yos another day. Mark Millar is playing coy with who Spidey’s savior is in this scene so far, with Spidey referring to him as “Skull-face guy” and seeing his chest emblem through a cloud of hallucinogen, but the Michael Turner variant cover has already spilled the beans: It’s The Punisher. Now, what I want to know is, how did he keep those white boots so white while running around the sewer? Page 13: I’m glad Johnny and Sue said it in panel 3, because I started thinking it as soon as I read it in panel 2. By panel four, we’re inside "Captain America’s New HQ”, and we get a look at an Anti-Reg meeting. I have no idea who some of these people are, like the lady talking (a Hero For Hire, right?), or the two women on the far left hand side of the panel. Little help here...?Page 14: Some tantalizing bits of foreshadowing, as Cap talks strategy with his team. Page 15: Okay, now his boots are dirty. Thankfully, it’s just Spider-Man’s blood staining them and not, you know, the other sort of stains one can expect to pick up while stalking the sewers. If he’d just wear black boots, he could avoid this whole problem. Page 16: Some more costumes I don’t recognize, but Punisher seems to, or at least he recognized Ultra Girl. Falcon’s not happy to see Punisher there, and says so: “Since when were you on this team, Punisher?” (No, I don’t know why he didn’t say “Castle” either). Punny responds, “Sine the other guys started enlisting known thieves and multiple killers.” Wait, Punisher spends his time punishing “known thieves?” I thought he was more of an organized crime/drug trade/murderer-oriented vigilante. Page 17: Nope, no idea who that guy with the red and white arrow motif going on is. “Who do you figure’s been running around in a ski mask and covering your backs these past few weeks?” Punisher says, implying that the answer is him. That’s right, Ski Mask Guy is actually…the Punisher? Of all the Big Dumb Moments in “Civil War” so far, this is by far the Biggest and Dumbest. The Punisher was wearing a disguise? He was wearing a ski mask? What on earth for? The Punisher has been breaking laws throughout his entire vigilante career—the dude’s whole M.O. is that he runs around the city avoiding the cops and putting bullets in the heads of bad guys, murdering them. And he’s never done it in a ski mask until Civil War #4 . Why on earth would he be wearing a ski mask then? Is he suddenly afraid that he might be recognized now that the Registration Act has gone into effect? He had no compunctions about breaking all those other laws and doing so without a mask or attempting to conceal his identity, but he’s afraid SHIELD will bust him for running around in a costume murdering people? What the fuck?! It's not the mass murder charges that scare Punishr, it's the SHRA violation? Oh Man, if I think about the Punisher suddently starting to wear a ski mask to conceal his identity for one more second my head will explode like Jack O’ Lantern’s…Okay, let’s pretend that panel didn’t exist and that there never was a Ski Mask Man. Let's just move on to the next panel. What do we have here? Oh, it’s Punisher telling the Anti-Regs that only he has the black ops training necessary to get them into the Baxter Building. Not Captain America, who’s been doing the same shit Punisher’s been doing, only on a grander scale, for even longer, but only the Punisher. Hmm, I wonder if Invisible Woman and the Human Torch, who have lived in the Baxter Building for years, wouldn’t be able to pull that off better than the Punisher? But wait, the craziness of this page isn’t over yet! In the last panel, we see Tigra hiding in the corner, using a Stark-brand cell phone. Since the last time we saw her, she was on Stark’s side, I guess we’re to assume that she simply infiltrated the base, rather than pretended to defect to spy on them for Stark. But what strikes me as even weirder is her tool—a cell phone. Stark, Reed Richards and Hank Pym can build a Negative Zone prison, Thuderbolt-controlling nanites and so on, but the best spy tech they could come up with is a cell phone? I’d ask where Tigra keeps her cell phone when she’s not using it, but I don’t want our discussion to go there. Page 18: Meanwhile, in Hell’s Kitchen, it looks like Daredevil got busted. Hopefully She-Hulk and Mr. Fantastic helped take him down, because if SHIELD did it without their help, DD went out like a punk—or did he allow himself to be captured to free the prisoners from the Negative Zone Guantanamo they’re being kept in? Shulkie rearticulates Iron Man’s argument from earlier on in the book to Reed, who seems pretty bummed out. Page 19: Tony Stark, wearing a suit and tie instead of his armor, talks to DD as he’s being frog-marched into the Negative Zone, essentially asking him to join his side, and dangling his very own super-team in front of Dardevil. Pages 20-21: A two-page spread of the N-Zone facility. I’d prefer not to think about this too long, as I’ll get that same annoying itch in the back of my head that occurs whenever I think too long about the Death Star in Star Wars, regarding who the hell actually builds things this big, and how they do it…Page 22: Daredevil gives Tony his answer. As the Internet might say, “Pwned!”


Unknown said...

Thanks for the review. Is it just me or does it seem, well, dumb for the Feds not to unmask Daredevil before they took him in? If they prepare a holding cell keyed to Daredevil's abilities, rather than Iron Fist's, we're going to have a prison break. Then again, with the attitude DD was copping, maybe that's Cap or Punisher under the cowl, being smuggled into prison.

Anonymous said...

The arrow stripe guy is Stingray. I only know that because of the Atlantis Attacks storyline that ran through the annuals about 15 years ago because I haven't seen him since.

With relation to Tigra, I'm not at all surprised she's spying for Iron Man. Stark is the pimpinest pimp what ever did pimp.

Caleb said...

Hey guys, thanks for reading.

I didn't even consider the silliness of putting a guy in a devil costume in jail still wearing his devil costume at the time since my head was still reeling from the Punisher thing, but yeah, there are soooo many problems with the jail set-up. From the look of the McNiven cover to #6 posted on Newsarama yesterday, it does indeed seem like the man in the devil costume was a plant and there's a jail break coming.

Thanks for ID-ing Stingray, Harris. I asked Troy Brownfield, Shotgrun Reviews ringleader and professor of comicbookology about him, and Troy had this for a reading reccomendation:

"He's Dr. Walt Newell, an oceanographer who developed an exo-suit for underwater exploration and adventuring! The coolest Stingray story is when he teams up with The Thing in Marvel Two-in-One (I think it's) #64-66. They fight the Serpent Squad for the Serpent Crown in a story that also involves Triton of the Inhumans and the Scarlet Witch. It's fun comics with really good art. Stingray also appeared in West Coast Avengers for a short time. He's a neat background character, who has curiously been consigned almost totally to the water."

Unknown said...

It looks like there has been some silliness with the plot from the last issue. While I was questioning the logic of not unmasking Daredevil (do the Anti-Reg's assume the guy won't be unmasked), folks on the Marvel messageboards are questioning why you need the Punisher to break into the Baxter Building when you have two former residents (Sue & Johnny) on the team. I suppose Mr Fantastic would be prepared for Sue & Johnny, but not for The Punisher - a nut with a gun is a threat? Great security Richards, you should work for Homeland Security.