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Alternate Cover - 22nd November 2006

Alternate Cover

It's probably the review of Civil War #5 that you're clamouring for this week, but let me remind you that there are still other comics coming out, and this week, the best of those aren't even related to Civil War at all. White Tiger #1 brings a rare Bendis-created Marvel character to her own title, and Quesada's series finally screeches (ahem) over the finish line with Daredevil: Father #6. There's also reviews of Thunderbolts #108, which wraps up the series, Ms. Marvel #9, featuring Rogue, and Iron Man #13, featuring Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts! (No, seriously.)

Civil War #5

Civil War #5

Publisher Marvel • Writer Mark Millar • Artist Steve McNiven

Continuing the title's reputation for giant status quo-altering reveals, The Punisher turns up to make his first non-MAX appearance in the Marvel Universe in about 5 years. He's made his choice, and he's on Captain America's anti-registration side. Only problem is, they're not sure if they want him. Also in this issue: Spider-Man finally makes the clearly-telegraphed jump from the Pro to Anti team, Stature and Nighthawk go the other way (as if you care), Jack O'Lantern and the Jester join the mounting pile of corpses and Iron Fist, dressed as Daredevil, ends up in prison (again.)

It's all getting a bit frantic. If nothing else, the title is continuing its penchant for being the lynchpin of the crossover without trying too hard to tell its own story. Last issue, Sue left Reed, her and Johnny quit the Fantastic Four to join Cap's team, and the pro-reg side used a cyborg clone of Thor against the others, accidentally killing Goliath. This issue, barely a mention of any of that. The ramifications of the events in this issue are sure to be felt in other titles altogether, not least because anyone following the promo material is well aware that Punisher War Journal #1 comes out this week. Civil War #5 is only a few pages away from being Punisher War Journal #0 in that respect.

Not that there's a huge problem with any of this. I feel sorry for people coming to the title expecting the whole story, though, because all the character material is shunted into the peripheral titles, leaving this as event, after event, after event. McNiven's art, however, really stops that from being too bothering, because when things look this good, it's hard to complain. I'm getting fatigued with the crossover in general, but as a series, the Civil War mini makes compelling, if surprisingly shallow, reading.

White Tiger #1

White Tiger #1

Publisher Marvel • Writers Tamora Pierce/Timothy Liebe • Artist Phil Briones

When, in Bendis' run on Daredevil, he saw fit to kill off the under-used Puerto Rican hero, White Tiger, the story goes that his editor suggested to him that instead of just killing off other people's characters, he should give something back. To that end, Bendis set up the new White Tiger, a former FBI agent and the female niece of the original. Using the original's amulets, Daredevil gave her his version of the "power and responsibility" schtick and left her to decide what to do next.

Well, somewhat removed from that series, here's where we discover what she does. Written by Tamora Pierce and Timothy Liebe, what we have here is the story of White Tiger's first outing in costume, intercut with a quick a reminder of where she got her powers. In order to firmly entrench it in the Marvel Universe, the Black Widow shows up to take her costume shopping, and Spider-Man, still in his original costume (for as the first page hastily informs us, in caption, this series is "Prior to the events of Civil War...") makes an appearance in a what used to be a popular trick, back in the day, to remind people this was happening in the Marvel Universe. It felt about as forced then as it does now, but strangely his dialogue turns out to be the most memorable part of the book.

It's a strong start, if nothing else. It's the kind of formula Marvel was, and is, built on - an average person getting powers and trying to do something with them. Phil Briones' art is suitably full of action, and the colours by Chris Sotomayor raise it to the next level, even if David Mack's cover does eclipses it all slightly. There are far worse comics you could be buying than this one, though the fact it's only a limited series makes me wonder just how much character development we'll see at the end. Undoubtedly it'll end with the potential for a full series, it's just got 6 issues to make sure it deserves one.

Daredevil: Father #6

Daredevil: Father #6

Publisher Marvel • Writer Joe Quesada • Artist Joe Quesada

Leaving aside the jokes about Quesada combatting lateness by leading with example with this series, #1 of which came out in April 2004, and #6 of which has a cover dated February 2007, there's actually a lot to like about it. Not least the fact that there's a recap page, because without it I'd be digging through comic boxes to try and figure out what happened.

In September last year, when my comics reviews were single-paragraph chunks on my blog, I wrote about issue #3:

Quesada’s art is stronger than I’ve seen from many people in years. It’s criminal he doesn’t draw more really, because in the midst of all the executive work he does you forget he built his career being an artist, and then something like this comes along to show what you’re missing.

That's still the case today. Quesada's art, with a Daredevil owing simultaneously to Romita Jr, Gene Colan and Frank Miller, is as good as any of Marvel's current superstar artists.

More than anything else related to the issue, I'm looking forward to sitting down and enjoying this series as a single, complete tale. It does take the very interesting step of telling us who the man Matt saved from the truck, acquiring his powers as a result, was, and it's quite a disturbing story. Quesada created this series as a way to deal with his own Father's death, so it's quite emotionally-driven. Definitely Quesada's best writing to date.

Flick-Through Reviews

Ms Marvel #9 - Reed/Wieringo
Fucking finally! I don't know what I'm more pleased about - the chance to read a title without Civil War all over it, or the meeting of Ms. Marvel and Rogue that fanboys like me have been clamouring for since the title's launch. Reed doesn't disappoint, taking the odd (and welcome) step of eschewing a standard "misunderstanding hero vs. hero" fight in favour of an "Hero meets alternate-universe double" story with Rogue thrown into the mix to show us how Carol's changed, and how the alternate version of her hasn't. With a cliffhanger that almost feels as if it could go either way, excellent guest-art from Mike Wieringo, and a bonus Beast appearance, no fan of X-Men or the Avengers could go wrong to pick up this story, told in the classic style.

Iron Man #13 - Knauf/Zircher
After 10 years of comics collecting, Iron Man and Captain America compete to be the longest-running Marvel titles that I have no interest in. Civil War crossovers compel me to buy them, but god knows I'm not enjoying it. An abundance of sub-plots will undoubtedly please regular readers because it means their title isn't being hijacked, but for me, it's not very interesting.This issue tries to show Tony doing the agonising that's so missing from his other Civil War's appearances and serves to make him seem like slightly less of a dick, but not enough to engage any sympathy from me. One man who does get sympathy from me, though, is Pat Zircher, who shows that with some decent inking and colouring, he's actually a top penciller, when I'd previously regarded him as something of a mid-level guy who can turn 'em out but isn't the top of his field. My mistake.

Thunderbolts #108 - Nicieza/Grummett
Ending a run that started in #34 and continued, more or less uninterrupter, until this issue, Nicieza finally bows out of the Thunderbolts game ready for the Ellis-run overhaul of the title next issue. It's a highly strange ending that utterly smacks of deck clearing - this issue ends, mid-action sequence, with the promise of certain death still looming. It reads kind of like the end of Angel Season #5, but only if you knew that season 6 was coming and that it'd be almot entirely ignoring the story it's left with. A bit of an odd way to end an otherwise complicated and tightly plotted book, though I wouldn't be remotely surprised to see a certain amount of (character) resolution show up in Zemo's forcoming miniseries, written by Nicieza, Zemo: Born Better. Thunderbolts in this incarnation has lasted longer than it might've been given credit for, but it's never truly reached the heights of the early Busiek days again - it's been close, but never better. For now, I'm looking forward to seeing the new take, so roll on Ellis.

About this entry


Reading about those civil war comics reminds me of the Ultimate Showdown.

I wonder if the outcome will be the same...

By Jeffrey Lee
November 23, 2006 @ 10:12 am

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female niece

As opposed to male niece.

By James H
November 23, 2006 @ 11:34 am

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Nicieza's still got one more Thunderbolts issue left! :p Plus the Zemo mini.

(Page from TB109:

By Somebody
November 23, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

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Nicieza's still got one more Thunderbolts issue left! :p Plus the Zemo mini.

(Page from TB109:

(razzim-frazzim-quotation-marks...if you're going to insist on them, at least give an error message...)

By Somebody
November 23, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

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Ah, that certainly alleviates a lot of confusion! I was sure this was his final issue and that Ellis was starting with issue #109. In that case, let me up the grade to C+. It's kind of a pity that Nicieza's run is ending like this because I don't think he ever even returned to his own prime, let alone Busiek's. There was a good amount of potential in the new cast but I think he got a bit too interested in the Purple Man and the Squadron Supreme/Sinister, simply because other writers (Bendis & Straczynski) had made them into hot properties.

I'm not sure a cosmic-level villain like the Grandmaster is such a good fit for the team, either. I loved that first Nicieza story when they went chasing the Hulk, and Graviton's appearances throughout the series, but at this point it seems like everyone's been more or less reduced to standing on the sidelines waiting for Zemo's endgame. Also: FUCKING HELL, HAWKEYE!

By James H
November 23, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

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