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Alternate Cover - 25 October 2006

Alternate Cover

It's another of those all Civil War Marvel weeks. At this point my wallet is really feeling the strain, as is my sense of aesthetics. I've tried to keep things cheerful, but you never can tell which way I'll be going psychologically speaking. This crossover is bringing out some fantastically good issues, and some fantastically MOR rubbish. You might say that the only thing worse than a bad comic is a mediocre comic (no, sorry, that can't be right. The only thing worse than a bad comic is a Rob Liefield comic. Haha. ZING!) This week we've got the end of Wolverine's Civil War tie-in, as we find out what happens when Wolverine catches up with the man responsible for the Stamford disaster, the climax of the X-Men's contribution to the crossover (in name alone) in Civil War: X-Men, and the end of Ms. Marvel's Civil War story in which we see how Civil War can even make the bad characters look good.

Wolverine #47

Wolverine #47

Publisher Marvel • Writer Mark Guggenheim • Artist Humberto Ramos

I'll start with Wolverine this week, as in many ways it's the most deserving of the spotlight. As part of the Civil War crossover, the arc "Vendetta" has seen Wolverine tracking down the person responsible for the Stamford disaster which killed all those poor defenseless kiddies, as well as the super team you love to hate, the New Warriors. Initially this meant looking for Nitro, who used his human-bomb powers to perform the deed. After tracking him down, Logan realised that while he was responsible, there were people ordering Nitro around who are more responsible. That man was the new CEO of Damage Control, the Marvel Universe clean-up crew, who had given Nitro performance-enhancing drugs so that he'd cause more carnage so that Damage Control could get the clean-up contracts. It's not entirely removed from certain recent political situations, that's for sure.

There's an interesting point earlier in the arc where Iron Man asks Wolverine what he exactly intends to do once he catches Nitro. After a bit of tough-guy "Whatever I have to." dialogue it eventually emerges that Logan doesn't really know. He wants to kill him, but he's not entirely sure what this will achieve. It's an interesting philosophical take on the character, to have him unsure whether he's satisfying justice or simply his own bloodlust, and I'm glad to see it resolved now. With the closing issue, Logan finally justifies to himself what he stands for, and in doing so, kills the man responsible for empowering Nitro to the degree where he could blow up half a town. Logan himself is confident that he has killed an animal that deserved to be put down, rather than a man.

The way it's written, it's hard to disagree. Not impossible, of course, and it's always strange to see someone who's undeniably a hero taking a life in such a calculated and premeditated fashion. Personally, I think it's been realistic and convincing in its case as to why Logan would do this. He's not morally ambiguous like the Punisher - his morals are just different to ours.

The ending to the arc is suitably muted in tone. Logan's not proud of what he's done, even though he ultimately believes it's the correct thing to do, and as a reader, that's what I feel. The whole arc has been great and it's good to see someone take Wolverine into the places people often claim he goes but that they rarely show. Guggenheim and Ramos have one, stand-alone issue left on the title, and it's a pity, because I'd stick with the team if they stayed on longer. This arc has been an immensely satifying read and, of everything to come out of the Civil War crossover, this arc has been my favourite.

Civil War: X-Men #4

Civil War: X-Men #4

Publisher Marvel • Writer David Hine • Artist Yanick Paquette

On the other hand you have this utter pretender to the Civil War name. While there are the barest hints of a "Civil War" in the X-Men, it's got almost nothing to tie it to the main Civil War going on over in the rest of the Marvel Universe. Sure, Iron Man and Ms. Marvel turn up at the end, but that's largely incidental to the overall plot. They contribute nothing to make their appearance anything more than a token one.

What we have here is a somewhat cynical attempt to bring David Hine yet more work with his pet characters from the long-ago cancelled series District X (and then Mutopia X, and then X-Men: The 198) but because of the Civil War name, it's selling utterly hugely. This, however, is the kind of cheap cash-in that's going to make people lose faith in crossovers all over again. While it contains major status quo changes that will undoubtedly be reflected somehow in the X-men core titles, it is beyond insignificant as part of the Civil War story. A sequel to The 198 should've been marketed as such.

To be honest, the story isn't terrible and the impact of it would seem to matter. I'm usually pretty forgiving when it comes to marketing tactics and the like, but given that the themes of personal registration and civil liberties that have always been present in the X-Books are now being applied to the wider Marvel Universe as the very crux of the crossover story, keeping the X-Men on the boundaries by doing a story where Bishop and some sentinals get almost all of the last remaining mutants on Earth accidentally killed seems like a real missed opportunity. I genuinely feel like I've been cheated, and from now on I'm staying away from and X-Men series with David Hine on, because I'll simply have to believe it's going to be a 198/District X story.

Ms. Marvel #8

Ms. Marvel #8

Publisher Marvel • Writer Brian Reed • Artist Roberto De La Torre

Ah, this week's final Civil War comic. It's a damning issue, that's for sure, not least because you'll find yourself siding with the Arana, Marvel's unconvincing Spider-Girl meets The Guyer character over the titular Heroine. What we see is the equivalent of a policeman taking out a cadet on a job and showing him beat the shit out of a bunch of peace-loving beatniks in front of their children simply because they have refused to fill in the necessary forms that allow them to continue being peace-loving beatniks. It's no wonder Arana's confused about her role as a hero at the end of the issue.

To be fair, Reed has done a great job with the writing, based on what he was given. Carol's internal conflict isn't really rendered very completely - as guilt for apprehending and, er, "subduing" Spider-Woman (right in the face) she considers paying her Daugter's college tuition when the time comes - but it's a minor enough flaw. Using Arana as the reader figure in the story, observing what's going on but not really sure what to make of Carol's clearly wrong actions, Reed has given a clear way to show that even as one of the more balanced members of the Pro-Reg side, Carol hasn't really got the right end of the stick.

To be honest, despite all this, the best reason to buy the book is there on the last page. Finally, 8 issues into the solo title, Rogue shows up at Ms. Marvel's place. This makes next month's issue a must-buy for some classic Marvel grudge match material. They've resolved things between them before, but there's nary been a meeting of the two that didn't involve a certain amount of pummelling. I can't wait to leave this Civil War nastiness behind us and get on with the next round.

Flick-Through Reviews (er, Review.)

X-Factor #12David/Various
Quite probably the best X-Book out there today. As is standard, PAD's critical success isn't the outright commercial hit it should be, however it's doing pretty well for itself. In this, the one-year point of the title, we learn the truth about Mr. Tryp and Singularity Investigations, as well as discover just what his agenda is. The revelation - that if X-Factor succeeds in restoring mutant powers to those that lost them, civilisation is doomed - is suitably heavy and provides an excellent resolution to this part of the story. Naturally, the cliffhanger ending, increasingly a staple of the title, leaves you dying to find out more. Artistically the book is on shaky ground with the multiple artists making the best of a bad situation. Still, that should be at an end with the next issue and it only promises to increase the profile of the title. Mutants the way I always liked them.

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