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Alternate Cover - 5th July 2006

Alternate Cover

It's a heavy as hell week, and I'm that's talking about the weather. I bought 9 comics in total, so rather than try and cram it all in, I'm going to concentrate on the Civil War issues and then throw in a couple of the others with next week's reviews, but fear not - the big Spider-Man reactions are all covered.

The eagle-eyed among you will notice a lack of images and information. Well, truth is, I didn't have time today, so if I'm feeling really generous, I'll stick 'em in later. No promises though.

I'm still totally unconvinced by JMS' Spider-Man. It didn't grip me a few years ago and it's not gripping me now. His dialogue seems awkward, and while the characters are consistent in themselves, they're not consistent with the rest of the portrayals seen in other titles. JJJ's reaction is the best scene in the issue, and it's surprising how much the readers seem to empathise with him because they know that somewhere in there is a nice guy who has genuinely been betrayed by Peter. Okay, it's because of his own short-sightedness, but you can genuinely feel the anger and hurt that JJJ feels.

Some light comedy rescues the other character interplay, though the drama in the same scenes falls totally flat for me. This should've been a huge issue, but all it seems to involve is backstabbing from Tony, and, vomiting aside, a pretty nonchalant reaction from Peter where his unmasking is concerned.

Garney is still doing his thing on the title, but I've made it clear before that he's not my favourite artist. My favourite moment of this entire issue was the final page when Iron Man introduces the people on his side, and the entire roster of the Thunderbolts is standing there. As a Thunderbolts fanboy, I enjoy seeing them get wider recognition. Besides that, well, if you're looking for an exploration of what this means for Spider-Man and the MU in general, there's a different comic you ought to be buying...


...and here it is. Front Line is proving to be, over its previous two issues, the glue that holds Civil War together. Before its release, I wondered if it'd be a throwaway title. Now, I'm realising that it's utterly essential. It takes the big ideas of the main Civil War series and shows them being applied on the small scale, showing how they'll work at the implementation level. Ben Urich and Sally Floyd, as reporters forced onto opposing sides of the issue by their publishers, provide the objective look at the registration act that's too often missing from the other titles.

The most chilling scene comes from the appearance of Norman Osborn, in full psycho mode, who has watched the Spider-Man press conference (included in this issue) and wants to know what the hell's going on. It's a far more powerful scene than what JMS did in Amazing, and where his scenes of villains finding out who Spider-Man is came off as unmenacing, this scene makes you genuinely fear for Peter.

The ongoing story of Speedball is adequate and entertaining, if not quite as good as the lead, despite being slightly un-subtle about things (he's clearly in Guantanamo bay at one point) it's a compelling story. He genuinely can't understand why this is being done to him, because he was trying to be a hero. I'm expecting it'll end well for him in the end, but judging by events, he's got hell to pay before then.

The historical backup, as with last issue, is pretty terrible. It feels unecessary and lacks appropriate perspective. A minor glitch in an otherwise great title, though.

It's clear to me now that I'm never going to be a big fan of Straczynski. Between all of his TV and comics work, the only thing I enjoyed much at all was the first half of Rising Stars, so I'm going to try and be a little objective because I accept that it's not bad writing per se, just a matter of taste. As far as his Fantastic Four specifically, he's not half as bad as I'm finding him on Spider-Man.

JMS' version of Thing is one of his better portrayals. While the other characters don't get a huge amount of page time, I think his version of the F4 is more in line with what I like to see. Thing's inner conflict over the registration act is dramatised very effectively in the form of an argument with the Yancy Street Gang. It's somewhat frustrating that by the end of the issue he's still thinking about the correct course of action without any strong feelings one way or the other. Ben's position is that the law is the law, and he doesn't want to go against that, but this argument concerns me a little - surely a hero is someone who does what's right, rather than what's legal. If it gets played out to the natural extension of the philosophy, it could make an interesting story, but right now we just have an issue of indecisiveness.

Meanwhile, there's a Thor subplot that I'm finding way more interesting than the rest. Not enough to make me buy a Thor revival yet, but I can see it might become an issue in the future...

Finally catching up with itself, New Avengers is back on schedule. This is the first in an arc of Civil War single-issue stories concentrating on one of each character. This issue, Captain America.

Howard Chaykin's appearance on art feels like something of a coup for Marvel, and he seems appropriate for a Captain America issue. That said, following Deodato on the title with only a week gone by makes it a bit of a jarring change. Bendis opts to show the start of Captain America's resistance being formed as Cap and the Falcon try to find heroes to recruit, without a great deal of success.

Cap has the benefit of the most sympathetic position in Civil War. Undoubtedly, the readers are mainly going to identify with him and Iron Man's team hasn't done a great deal to make themselves look like the good guys so far, so there's an immediate sense that big things should be happening. However, that's not the case. Cap's philosophy's are weak and his devotion to the cause seems somewhat faltering. Presumably he'll be overcoming this at some point to be a little more inspirational when he needs to, but with his guard down in front of readers, sitting alone in a safehouse confused about where to go next, he's far from the badass Millar's writing in the pages of Civil War, which feels a little inconsistent. Though he does lamp Giant Man quite convincingly.

I never throught I'd see the day, but this arc actually has me interested in Wolverine again. I haven't read Wolverine regularly since way before the reboot of the title, at least 4 years ago now. I gave it a try here and there, but I was starting to think that I'd just gone off the character.

However, as of now, I'm officially back reading Wolverine. This is the Wolverine I've missed reading about. The no-nonsense, get-shit-done, damn the rules and god help anyone who gets in his way Wolverine. The guy who does the things that no-one else will admit need to be done. The man who stands up for what he thinks is right. In this case, that means tracking down Nitro and punishing him in a way only Wolverine can. While it you might not necessarily agree with his view that an execution is needed, and immediately, you can't deny it raises provocative points. "What kind of punishment are they handing out for killing 60 kids these days?"

Guggenheim is writing THE iconic Wolverine as far as I'm concerned. Ramos gets a lot of flak for his style, but I think he draws a great Wolverine, and it's a real gift to have an A-List artist on the title, because frankly his talents should be employed on some higher profile stuff. There are some dodgy moments in the book - it's hard not to wonder whether they'll explain how Wolverine managed to regrow himself from seemingly nothing after Nitro exploded him - it's a dodgy moment that only works because the strength of the writing steamrollers over any stupid element in the scene.

Not just one of the best Civil War tie-ins, but the best Wolverine has been in years, as far as I'm concerned.

X-Factor #8 gets the award for most tenuous Civil War tie-in so far. The Civil War content consists entirely of a conversation between Siryn and Spider-Man about the morality of registration. Hardly worth your effort, it'd seem.

However, this is also one of the best issues of this series so far. After a somewhat disappointing relaunch off the back of an inexplicably superb Madrox miniseries, it finally feels like it's getting up to the level I was expecting of it. Layla Millar, the walking plot device from House of M, has been central to these stories, and her particular brand of omniscience and intellectualism makes her a compelling character, the motivations and origins of whom remain a total mystery, but god damn if it isn't fun finding out. Speaking of which, X-Factor's ongoing quest to figure out what caused the Decimation takes a turn for the amusing when they decide, following Cyclops' suspicious behaviour last issue, to go and find out why he knows something and who else might be lying to them. A deceptively simple course of action that it's good to see being addressed.

Madrox's particular gimmick at the moment is that he sends out his duplicates to try different lifestyles, to the point of even losing track of them, and later, sometimes years after, he can reabsorb them and their knowledge. In this issue, a version of himself turns up who became a secret agent - but it's not clear whose side he's really on. The art is moody and appropriate, and Calero does well to distinguish himself while matching the tone already set.

About this entry


Dennis Calero did XF8. Sook quit after one issue and two half-issues.

By Somebody
July 06, 2006 @ 5:33 am

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Hmm, I couldn't remember whether it was Callero or Sook that had replaced the other, so I checked the solicitations on and sure enough, they list Ryan Sook as penciller. That'll teach me to rely on the internet for information. I'll alter the review text so that it's accurate since my comments still stand, but maybe Marvel should have a look at their own site a bit too...

By James H
July 06, 2006 @ 9:05 am

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Well, them weitching the 8/9 covers ( - #9 solicit) should have been a clue that you never rely on for accuracy :)

'Sides, if you had the issue in hand to review it, couldn't you have checked directly tho? IIRC, they got the credit right there

By Somebody
July 06, 2006 @ 12:24 pm

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Yeah, they did get it right on the issue, but it was dark when I was writing these up and rather than try and find the issue in my room and risk waking up my woman, who was asleep, I thought I'd just use the site. I did notice this morning that the cover was wrong on the site, too. Good job I didn't have time to steal their images for the thumbnails like usual! Bunch of amateurs ;-)

It's a pity that the one time they decide to promote the series they also manage to fuck up their own publicity material ;-)

By James H
July 06, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

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