Acts of Treason

 

Civil War: Front Line #1

 

Going In (Opening Arguments)

JASON: What do I know about this book? Jenkins. Urich. Continuing anthology stories, al la Marvel Comics Presents. Aside from that, I haven't really heard much. I like a lot of Paul Jenkin's work though, so on that level alone I'm hoping I enjoy it.

MICHAEL: Yeah, I’m a big Jenkins fan, too, though I’ll admit, most of the Marvel stuff from him has left me cold. Like, the first Sentry thing was such a cool idea and then I read it and it’s like, five pages in, ‘OK, he’s obviously the Void. I get that. What’ll the twist be?’ Eight issues and/or crossovers later—he’s the Void! Doodly doo!

And the new Sentry mini seemed to exist for no other reason than to refute Bendis’s Sentry storyline in NAvengers, which seemed to exist only to repudiate Jenkins’s original Sentry storyline … ugh.

But, okay, I guess I can’t think of any other Jenkins Marvel work, so maybe I’m just biased and confused based on the Sentry’s role in the world.  Though I do love the Sentry. I’m not complaining about the character, just the bizarre lack of stories he’s really had so far.

But I dug a good 50 percent of Jenkins’s Hellblazer run and still think “Critical Mass” is one of the best Constantine stories ever done. So I’m damn curious as to what’s going to happen in here.

JASON: Also Peter Parker Spider-Man, Hulk just prior to Jones’ run, and also The Inhumans. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

MICHAEL: Oh, yeah, duh! His Spidey run—how could I forget that?? Though it was often a bit rushed feeling or just random, he did have a lot of really good stories (the Chameleon one) & the best Spidey story of the last 10 years or so (the one about the kid in the projects). So right on. Kudos to Paul.

 

Part One (Embedded)

 

Page 1 Panel 1

JASON: It was a dark and stormy night, made even more stormy by the large amount of rain and darkness.

 

Page 1 Panel 3

JASON: Don't look now, but Ben Urich is looking. Right. At. Me.

 

Page One, Panel 4.

MICHAEL: If he’d said ‘a Freemason’ instead of “newsman,” this could’ve been a very different book.

JASON: And if he had said “Male Model,” then we would have had Zoolander II.

 

Page Two, Panel 1.

MICHAEL: “Maybe a cut above, I don’t know.” ‘Hell, I don’t even know who this guy is. I was paid to speak here. I barely know what I’m doing anymore. Life is little but a morphine-enhanced haze of faces.’

“All I know is that the last time I saw Johnny was eight days ago.” ‘That’s it. Nothing more. I don’t even remember my name, thanks to—I’m assuming—the drugs. See, I don’t even know that for sure. All I know is when and where Johnny last left a bar. Who are you people, again?’

 

Page 2, Panel 2

 JASON: Johnny Fernandez was Irish?

MICHAEL: I’m not even sure where you’re getting this. Just from his bizarre facial hair? If so, then I’m guessing Bachs here accidentally thought he was drawing O’Flanagan, not Hernandez. But ah well. Miscegenation is wacky and widespread, like Pokemon.

JASON: The hat man, look at the hat.

 

Page Two, Panel 3.

MICHAEL: “And he always figured he’d see it coming.” ‘But when the New Warriors tried to take down a guy who could f#$!ing explode … no one—no one—could’ve been expected to guess what happened next. I mean, no one could foresee such a thing. It was like organized wrestling: no one was prepared.’

 

Page Two, Panel 5.

MICHAEL: Unless you’re Tony Stark. He’s a futurist, you know.

 

Page 3 Panel 1

JASON: It truly is a dead man's party.

MICHAEL: Boingo! This reads like different people throughout the room are having bits of the same conversation. It kind of creeps me out.

 

Page Three, Panel 3.

MICHAEL: “Johnny Fernandez would’ve loved … [wearing] funny hats.”

‘Yeah. All we need is some grease paint and some children to molest and he’d be in hog heaven. Maybe a balloon animal or two.’

 

Page 4 Panel 1

JASON: “I don't think anyone in the White House could have scripted this Nitro thing any better.” Come on, Sally! You're so close. Just repeat after me: “Hate-Monger”

MICHAEL: It’s true, though, that they couldn’t’ve scripted it any better. I mean, as thin of a premise as this is hung on, have you seen those Christmas cards they put out? /Shudder/

JASON: Honestly, those things are just creepy.

 

Page 4 Panel 3

JASON:Civil War: Front Line- A stark look deep inside the liberal media”

MICHAEL: Stark? Was that an IM joke?

JASON: It was a pun. Just making sure you were paying attention.

 

Page Four, Panel 5.

MICHAEL: Holy hell, is this an actual conversation about the registration act by two normal people who don’t necessarily hold to either side as Truth and Law? Dear Lord, I feel as if I’ve fallen into some sort of parallel universe … why is everything so blue, Ma? Why so blue?

 

Page 5 Panel 1

JASON: Yes! Bumblebee! “Reporters! Transform and roll out!”

MICHAEL: “This was put into motion the day some angry extremists decided to fly a couple of planes into some tall buildings in Manhattan.” First off, wow, what a banal way to frame the events of 9/11. Secondly, I still say the immigration law is far more timely and relevant. I mean, look at how we’re handling Iran or North Korea right now—“diplomacy takes time” is I believe what the president said about it. He’s f#$!ing brilliant, that one. He should be writing a Civil War title he’s so damned brilliant.

 

Page Five, Panel 2

MICHAEL: “All of a sudden”?!? Where’ve you been the past hundred years, Ben? I mean, especially in the MU, working for Jonah ….

 

Page 5 Panel 3

JASON: So far, my only problem with this is the same problem I have with every Civil War book so far: It's too slanted to the Con- side.

MICHAEL: At least we did get Ben admitting, ‘look, it’s going to happen. We need to deal with that.’ Rather than being like, ‘let’s take up arms and kill everyone who disagrees!’

JASON: Maybe the Hate-Monger’s ray can’t penetrate bars and/or taverns.

 

Page 5 Panel 4

JASON: Hey! Only Ben's wife, or maid, or whatever she is, get's to call him a dirty little monkey!

MICHAEL: The hell? I want a chipper wifey-maid-y thing.

 

Page Five, Panel 5.

MICHAEL: Or candy! Candy sells anything!

 

Page 6 Panel 1

JASON: It's great commentary on the American public that they wouldn't be depressed reading about 600 people dead, unless the article talks about the funerals.

MICHAEL: ‘Try to approach it in a light-hearted fashion. Start off with a joke. You know, like, “what do you get when you mix an unstable exploder with a school full of children? A badly-thought-out comic crossover event.” Something like that. But punchier. What rhymes with Nitro?’

JASON: That’s a tough one. Metro? Castro? I’m not sure.

 

Page 6 Panel 3

 JASON: America's security just came under attack from costumed freaks? I wonder why no body decided that any of the times Dr. Doom attacked. Or Kang. Or Red Skull. Or the Masters of Evil. Or The Brotherhood. Or... you get the point.

MICHAEL: But Speedball couldn’t even tell you who was the president. That makes it his fault.

 

Page 7 Panel 1

JASON: “Everything's about the explosion but nothing's about the 'Why'.” Thank you Jenkins. Thank you thank you thankyou.

MICHAEL: ‘Look, Ben, we did a story last year about the Y. Nobody cares about the Young Men’s Christian Association, you’re just going to have to accept that. We’ve moved on. Join us.’

 

Page Seven, Panel 5.

MICHAEL: No one will be admitted during the gripping art-vs.-product scene. I feel the ghost of Andy Warhol peering down on this scene and smiling. Maybe frolicking about and dropping some daisies on it.

I kid, but seriously. This is about 37x more interesting than nearly every page of CW itself so far.

JASON: Amen to that.

 

Page Eight, Panel 1.

MICHAEL: “A number of things to clear up on your company medical form.” ‘Like it says here you’re surgically attached to an Elmo doll. We find that hard to believe.’

 

Page Eight, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: She seems damn near suicidal over the missing Havok copy.

JASON: Hey, that could win her the Pulitzer!

 

Page 8 Panel 4

JASON: Yeah Sally, that's about how I felt when I saw Spider-Man's new costume as well.

 

Page 8 Panel 5

JASON: She left the front door open? In New York? Oh, she is suicidal.

 

Page Eight, Panel 6.

MICHAEL: I like the fact that the lines apparently tell us that Spidey’s spider sense is going off at the doll being chucked at his head. Like the Totem Spider God inside is thinking, ‘Dear God, not Elmo!’

Which is understandable, I suppose.

 

Page Nine, Panel 1.

MICHAEL: She calls Spidey “you people.” What, is he black now and she’s Ross Perot? There’s an obscure reference. Whew.

 

Page Nine, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: “You’re not in the mood—“ Dude! He was totally there for a booty call! Nice! The MJ-Peter breakdown begins here.

JASON: Joe Q wets himself in delight.

 

Page Ten, Panel 1

JASON: Aw. It makes me kinda sad that Sally's drinking. Jenkin has done such a good job with her in this book that I hate to see her fall off the wagon.

 

Page Ten, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: Wow, his buttocks are really … molded … in that chair. I … can’t stop looking. I feel uncomfortable. I’m getting warm.

And I thought the worst thing you could do to a hyperactive spider was put roller skates on him?

 

Page Ten, Panel 5.

MICHAEL: Foreshadowing! Totally foreshadowing. You get it?

 

Page Eleven, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: Why in god’s name is Spidey sniffing her old cat cans? Does she even have a cat?

JASON: Maybe that’s why he’s smelling them- he’s looking for the stench of an old lady. Trust me, he’ll know it when he finds it.

 

Page Eleven, Panel 5.

MICHAEL: “Didn’t it occur to anyone what this would do to my family?” Yeah, but SHIELD probably blames them somehow.

‘I blame Spider-Man for the Green Goblin’s murders.’

‘Well, I blame his overprotective aunt!’

 

Page Twelve, Panel 1.

MICHAEL: ‘But if I tell them you have a family, that’s going to narrow your identity down to like one out of 8 million! Maybe if I don’t tell them you’re a man.’

‘I think they know I’m a man.’

‘…. Sure.’

‘No, seriously. Spider-Man. I mean, c’mon, how obvious can you get?’

‘… Whatever you say.’

‘Is it the costume? It’s a little tight in the buttocks, sure, but—‘

‘I’m not arguing!’

 

Page Twelve, Panel 3

JASON: "... but there's a cost." Glad to know that someone's thinking about that.

 

Page Thirteen, Panel 2

JASON: She swings...

 

Page Thirteen, Panel 3

JASON: ...she misses!

 

Page Thirteen, Panel 5.

MICHAEL: “Well … this is awkward.”

It’d probably be even more awkward if you went ahead and went for it.

Or maybe less. Not sure.

 

Page Fourteen, Panel 3

JASON: On yeah. Sally is so hung over right now. Poor girl.

MICHAEL: Spidey was kind of a bad friend there. ‘Hi, I’m here to bitch about my problems and shoot down your advances. Y’drinkin’ again? Too bad, I’m not gonna bother with that. Hey, is this Purina?’

 

Page Fourteen, Panel 4

JASON: “Maybe Iron Man got a new costume” YES! Please let it be the red and silver, please let it be the red and silver. *crosses fingers*

 

Page Fourteen, Panel 5.

MICHAEL: “Spider-Man showed you his what?” Man, it’d be really awkward if right at that moment there was one of those weird pauses in everyone’s conversation and it fell silent just as Sally yelled, ‘Not his penis!’

 

Page Fifteen, Panel 1

JASON: “Amongst the items we discussed...” What the hell else were they talking about? Baseball scores? Lost? Oh, wait. I know. The Hate-Monger.

MICHAEL: ‘Though I was unable to speak to the president about the encroaching Hate-Monger menace, I was able to convey my concerns to his aide-de-camp, Ducky Wucky.’

 

Page Fifteen, Panel 2

JASON: Roughly half? Why do I not believe that nearly half of the super-heros in the Marvel U have public ids.

MICHAEL: Well, let’s see. There’s Reed, Ben, Johnny and Sue … that’s roughly half, right?

JASON: I’m sure Reed could work some kind of math magic to prove you right.

 

Page Fifteen, Panel 3.

MICHAEL: “I have always … been your servant.” ‘At the merest flick of your stupid, cracker pinkie finger I’ve foregone my important research and bent to lick the s#!t from your cracked bootheel.’

 

Page Fifteen, Panel 4

JASON: Tony's a salesman, alright. He's never wondered that, but he's working it like a pimp.

MICHAEL: ‘Maybe I’m hiding from gremlins. Invisible aliens. I just don’t know’.

 

Page Sixteen, Panel 1

JASON: “I have my own series of steps I've taken. 12 of them.”

 

Page Sixteen, Panel 3

JASON: I wonder if he has the corpse of Jim Roades in there.

MICHAEL: Oh, dear, God, everybody run! I think he’s going to do a USO show!

JASON: I’d pay money to hear IM break out in a rendition of Thanks for the Memories.

 

Page Sixteen, Panel 4

JASON: Holy crap, a multi-millionaire CEO lying to people! Gasp. The shock. The horror.

MICHAEL: Dude, that Secret Service guy is looking right at us. ‘You. Yeah, you, buddy. Back away. He’s not giving out any free rides here, sweetheart.’

The one in the background’s prepping to be a backup singer.

 

Page Seventeen, Panel 1

JASON: I bet you five dollars the Tony paid the reporter to ask that question. Ever since Titanium Man, Tony loves paying people off.

MICHAEL: ‘Take it off!’

 

Page Seventeen, Panel 2

JASON: The registration act only requires people to reveal their identities to the government. Ok, first off, that makes this book way more informative then CW1, and secondly, why would that make the public feel better? How is this different then how the Marvel U operates now? Pre Act, if Firestar went nuts and melted a bus load of nuns, SHIELD would investigate her secret ID and then hunt her down. Post Act, they could just do it faster.

MICHAEL: I don’t think anyone realized this was how it worked. Now that they know, though … watch out! It’s angry mob time! I hope those IM suits have tomato-resistant shielding!

 

Page Seventeen, Panel 3.

MICHAEL: “Did he just say what I thought he said?”
‘Well, I don’t know. What do you think he said?’

‘He eats babies with soup.’

‘Then no.’

 

Page Eighteen

JASON: I never noticed that Tony's neck is that damn long. Hm.

MICHAEL: ‘We don’t believe you!’

‘Bring on Jim Rhodes!’

 

Part Two (The Accused)

 

Page 1, Panel 1

JASON: Crap. This is going to be the Marvel equivalent of  Ol' Yeller,  isn't it?

MICHAEL: Alby is my ex’s cat’s name. Now I picture the cat leading them. ‘Mrowr! Mwrowr!’

 

Page 1 Panel 2

JASON: That sound he heard was my hopes for Civil War 1 falling and crashing.

MICHAEL: I think for me it was more along the lines of a death rattle. My hopes were crushed out of me.

 

Page One, Panel 4.

MICHAEL: It’s the Phoenix!

 

Page Two, Panel 1

JASON: These two frighten me. Look at how dark Albie's face is there. He's unnatural. I think he may eat people.

MICHAEL: Yes. I’ve heard the darkies do that ….

 

Page Two, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: “If this is anything, I don’t want you getting yourself hurt.”

That implies that Albie will hurt himself in any situation, anywhere, when anything is happening.

‘Ah! It’s something!’

JASON: 'If there's anyone injured, I want to eat them.'

 

 

Page Two, Panel 5

JASON: 'DINNER!'

MICHAEL: They’d totally fight over who got the hindquarters first.

JASON: Who wouldn’t?

 

Page Three

JASON: YES! Speedball! I knew he'd live, I just knew it! Thank you, Mr. Jenkins. Thank you.

MICHAEL: Yes, thank god. At least a slight glimmer of hope as to things in the MU working like they should.

Hey, just as a side-note, Speedball’s a mutant, right? Doesn’t that mean he should’ve been guarded by a Sentinel at all times?

JASON: Nope, not a mutant. He’s a science accident, ah la the FF or Spidey.

 

Page 4, Panel 2

MICHAEL: Everyone pay attention—who has hair here? That’s right, Speedball does. Now watch the magical hair.

JASON: What's that, Speedball? Perhaps you could hum a few bars.

 

Page 4 Panel 3

JASON: Thank you.

MICHAEL: ‘He’s hummin’ like a piggy. Let’s eat ‘im like one.’

 

Page Four, Panel 4.

MICHAEL: It’s like he’s giving birth to a mosquito or something.

 

Page 5 Panel 1

JASON: Great. That's all we need, more blood on Speedball's hands.

MICHAEL: What’s up with Albie’s hand there?

“Do you know CPR?” ‘Tee hee, let’s eat him.’

 

Page 6 Panel 3

JASON: Powerless now, also? I have a feeling that this story arc is going to end with poor Robbie eating a shotgun.

MICHAEL: Why? If he’s powerless, no biggie, right? He’s now got nothing to do with the SRA. And I don’t think he can be prosecuted for trying to take down a vicious murderer.

Also, he’s still got hair.

 

Page Seven, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: And now? No hair! But they neither say here nor imply earlier that he has any sort of head injuries. So why would they shave his head? Just feeling giggly?

JASON: Maybe the rogue members of Project: Paper Clip were prepping to shave off pieces of his brain, but they just got interrupted.

MICHAEL: They’re escaped Nazis. They’re already about as rogue as you can get, aren’t they?

 

Page Eight, Panel 2.

MICHAEL: Previously, in Civil War.

 

Page 8, Panel 6

JASON: Damn. That looks fun. They should put that ride in every major amusement park.

MICHAEL: Wheee! I’m a stealth bomber!

 

Page 9 Panel 1

JASON: Ok, seriously. Does Marvel have a yearly quota of the words “children” and “baby” that they're trying to fill?

MICHAEL: But what about the children?!?!

“They couldn’t even work from dental records to get an accurate body count.” ?????

Seriously? Man, Nitro must be way more powerful than ever previously implied. I’d think if Ground Zero were that friggin’ powerful it would’ve taken out a little more than a few blocks.

Also, if they couldn’t get an accurate body count, who knows, maybe just like two kids died. Yay! We can all forget about it now!

 

Page Nine, Panel 4.

MICHAEL: “Get someone in here! Now!”

‘I’m paralyzed with fear, Doc! We’ve never ever had a patient wake up before! This is my worst nightmare come true!’

 

Page Ten, Panel 1

JASON: Attack of the Blurry Man!

MICHAEL: [X-Files Theme Music]

 

Page Ten, Panel 2

JASON: 'How many fingers am I holding up, Mr. Baldwin, you babykiller.”

 

Page Ten, Panel 3

MICHAEL: ‘”Attached” to it? No. No, I wouldn’t say that. It’s my bunny!’

JASON: 'Wait, I'm lost. Am I going to hate the number 4, 612, 2, or 60?'

MICHAEL: That’s a hell of a title for that dude. There are like 18 agencies involved in that one sentence. Damn.

 

Page Eleven, Panel 3

JASON: Yep, he's differently going to eat a shotgun.

MICHAEL:  ‘Oh, and five: we shaved your head. No reason, just figured it’d be fun. It was, believe me.’

Why is he under arrest, exactly? Being nearby when somebody exploded? I’m pretty sure that’s not illegal.

JASON: Criminal neglect, is that what it’s called? He and his team essentially provoked Nitro into blowing up a bunch of people. I don’t know if he could be jailed for it, but at the very least he’d be open to a civil suit by the victim’s families. I think. Maybe. I don’t know. Law makes my head hurt.

MICHAEL: It’s possible, but a) sketchy and b) you’re told what you’re under arrest for when you’re arrested. Granted, very possibly the line right after we hit ‘to be continued’ is ‘…for criminal neglect,’ but still. I’d like to see what it is, exactly.

 

Closing Arguments

JASON: Paul Jenkins once again does the voodoo he do so so well. I have never read a crossover where every tie-in issue (excluding Wolverine) has been better than the core book. Regardless though, there were a few blemishes on this issue. The big one, of course, is when our two point-of-view characters are against the Act, it makes the proReg side seem kinda like bad guys. I'm very happy that Speedball's alive, though on the other hand I'm not really sure he's making it out of Frontline still sucking breath. Overall though, I dug this issue and I'm looking forward to its continuation.

MICHAEL: Yeah, I think the main problem with this book is the same as with all the other books so far: the ProReg side seems pretty f#$!ing evil, and they really shouldn’t. But here we have people resigning themselves to the Act in “Embedded” (which was handled well, don’t get me wrong—and I disagree with you that they were “antiReg,” I just think they were not looking forward to the division the Act would cause), Speedy getting f#$!ed over (and arrested!) in “The Accused” for no apparent reason, and then the odd little epilogue bit about internment camps during WWII (in which, oddly, a member of a camp seems fairly “proReg,” if we carry the metaphor over).

Still, though, perhaps this beginning kind of necessitated an “anti-Reg” feel & it will smooth over by issue three or so. And yes, by far, this was a hell of a better look at the effects on the world than Civil War itself.

 

 

Michael T Bradley has been reading comics for about 14 years. His Marvel background in particular involves many a late night in college reading through their “comic library,” which included a full run of Spider-Man. Every title. Back to Amazing 19, baby. Spidey is by far his favorite Marvel character (and important to this series, or so it seems). He pretty much dropped out of Spidey when Todd McFarlane came along, with brief periods of interest drawing him back (i.e., the Clone Saga, some Paul Jenkins stuff, a love-hate relationship with Straczynski, and Spider Man Loves Mary Jane). Beyond that, Michael’s main interaction with the Marvel universe is David’s Hulk run and “anything Mark Gruenwald wrote.” So if Quasar shows up, we’re covered. Also, Michael used to work in a comic store, so he’s been at least partially in touch with a lot of things that have happened in the Marvel universe.

 

Jason Freston, on the other hand, reads lots and lots and lots of comics. Jason’s obsession started over 20 years ago and seems to have taken on a life of its own. Spider-Man is also Jason’s favorite Marvel character (he even stuck through during the McFarlane years). Currently you can find Jason reading comics, and occasionally working, at Dragon’s Keep in Provo, Utah. (You can also generally find Michael there, as well, working on the next installment of this damned monster of a project.)

 

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