THE ROAD TO CIVIL WAR…

 

So, taking a cue from other high-profile news sites, Jason and Michael decided to take on the daunting task of going through the Civil War series with a fine-toothed comb, answering questions you might have and raising many, many others that you … probably also have, too. But considering we’ve already had many hours-long conversations about the workings of this series, we thought it might be a good idea to present these so that you, O gentle reader, could get a different perspective. We felt our backgrounds provide an interesting and dynamic viewpoint. To wit:

 

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.)

 

Both agree that the high concept behind Civil War is brilliant, and both have high hopes for the series. But as just a further dividing line, Michael is a huge Millar fan, calling Wanted “this generation’s Watchmen,” whereas Jason … disagrees (though he did enjoy Wanted).

 

Let’s start with

 

THE NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI

 

which is pretty much the first “official” lead-in to Civil War we have.

 

OPENING ARGUMENTS:

 

MICHAEL: Overall, I have to admit, I dug this issue. I felt there were a lot of conceptual problems that should’ve been solved before doing it, but just as a self-contained story it worked for me. And I love Maleev’s artwork. Going in, I really wasn’t expecting anything, as I hadn’t even read the NAvengers issues the Illuminati showed up in, so basically all I knew was “Reed and some other dudes hang out in a room and talk.”

JASON:  This Road to Civil War issue seems to be paved with cobblestone crap. I’m trying to be nice here when I say that I’ve read spam with more consistent storylines. With that out of the way, I’m honestly going to try to be as impartial as I possibility can. Though, I do really like Maleev’s art as well.

 

So curl up with your copy of Illuminati and get ready to read along…

 

Page 1.

MICHAEL: So this is (as we find out in a page or two) set right after the Skrull-Kree War, right? Wasn’t T’Challa like banished to kitchen duty back in those days? I thought he was just this crappy second-rate character until Christopher Priest got ahold of him?

JASON: All hail Priest. Though, as a side note, just how long did Panther keep those guys waiting? Iron Man and Dr. Strange look like they’re asleep.

 

Page 2.

Panel 1:

JASON: I love how Dr. Strange turns into Martha Stewart right there.

 

Panel 3.

MICHAEL: Guess Iron Man must not be a futurist yet, huh?

 

Panel 5.

MICHAEL: Of course, the way he’s talking here, it almost sounds like he’s starting to set up the basic fundamentals of the beliefs of a futurist. Considering the Machiavellian, uber-intelligent manipulator Bendis seems determined to make Stark, it kind of fits that he’s going to start his own movement and philosophical belief system here.

JASON: Who’s he referring to here when Tony says “We”? Namor? He had nothing to do with Kree-Skrull War. Professor X? Ditto. Dr. Strange? Once again, he wasn’t there, and knew nothing about the events that lead into the War. I’m honestly not sure about Black Bolt, but I’m giving Bendis the benefit of the doubt there. So why didn’t Tony just do this with the Avengers while Reed sips tea in the background.

MICHAEL: I’ll give Bendis the benefit of the doubt & assume that something presaging the Kree-Skrull War popped up somewhere in other books here and there (???). I’m guessing the “we” is meant to be “Avengers,” “mutants,” “the FF,” and “those other guys.”

JASON: Still, it’s seems like it would have made more sense to have an event that everyone was involved in, like Acts of Vengeance, to cause the Illuminati to form. But, all in all, I’ll buy it.

 

Panel 6.

MICHAEL: So I get that with the close-ups of all the masks, Maleev is trying to emphasize the subtext (i.e., this is ultimately going to be all about questioning the validity of wearing a mask), but what the hell is this? “Hey, folks. A huge fight is already brewing between Namor and X here, but please. Enjoy a lizard.”

JASON: This panel is brought to you by Sobe.

MICHAEL: Be the lizard, Danny

 

Page 3.

Panel 1.

MICHAEL: “a more unified structure amongst ourselves”? Isn’t that what the Avengers are there for?

JASON: Let me say now that I really like the idea of the Illuminati- having a secret group of superheroes pulling strings for the last X amount of years is great idea. But Bendis completely drops the ball on retconning them in.

 

Panel 2.

MICHAEL: “we’re the ones who will defend it. There is no one else.” Except the Avengers, right? Which you’re a member of … right?

 

Panel 4.

MICHAEL: I’m still baffled here. Isn’t this the point of the Avengers? A group of uber-powerful people who gather to defend the world? Isn’t this why people were really pissed when Hawkeye joined, because he was too underpowered? I’m trying to remember the Avenger lineup from the beginning … Hulk, Iron Man … Cap, maybe? Who the hell all was in there? Giant Man? And even at this point, we’re talking some pretty heavy hitters in there, right?

JASON: The Founding Members of the Avengers are: Iron Man, Wasp, Ant-Man, Thor, and The Hulk. When Hawkeye joined the team consisted of just Cap, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. People were upset, in the Marvel U, because three out of four members had criminal records.

MICHAEL: And while we’re on the topic … Okay, so the main point IM seems to be making here is that they each had bits and pieces of the big picture, but they weren’t able to share it in time. This is “many years ago,” but with a little thought we can figure out approximately when this is happening.  Since it was stated by either Mackie or Byrne or someone that, when Spider-Man: Chapter One came out, Peter had been Spidey for approximately nine years, that means Spidey’s origin (1963 our time) was around 11-12 years ago (I’d say at least two years comic time have passed in the Spidey comics since Chapter One, don’t you think? Even if we go conservative and go with only 10 years totally, our math won’t be messed up that much). The Kree-Skrull War issues of Avengers came out in the early 70s. So that’s 10 years after Spidey’s origin our time. So approximately one-quarter of Spidey’s decade as Spidey (a little less). So if we have Pete as Spidey for, say, 12 years, that means this is about nine and a half years ago in, as Warren Ellis called it, “Marvel’s ever-shifting continuity” (I’m paraphrasing). (And don’t think I’m knocking the shifting continuity; I don’t mind it.) So that means this whole event is taking place in, approximately, 1996-1998. (Whew! Finally, to my point!) That means that the internet was up and running pretty much wholeheartedly (and even if it wasn’t what it is today, obviously, it was damn close, and we’ve got Tony Stark and Reed Richards here on the team, inventors or at least fans of technology), so my question is, why in god’s name don’t we just, say, set up a message board? Hide it or something so you don’t get a lot of spam e-mail, but for God’s sake, how difficult would that be? Then you can be like,

 

From: Cueball@hotmail.com

To: List

Subj: They’re back…

 

Hey all, Sentinels are attacking again. Would appreciate your help at the Institute if you’ve got a spare moment, and if you’ve got any mutants on your teams, let them know to watch out. I think it’s a worldwide attack. Details later.

 

Am I crazy?

 

JASON: Yes.

 

Page 4.

Panel 5.

MICHAEL: Possibly the best argument I’ve heard all issue. Welfare is a great concept with pretty worthless execution. So is worker’s comp. So is etc., etc. Though, of course, this argument seems to fit better in CW1 rather than here, but anyway.

JASON: I do agree that this was the wrong place to present this argument, but I disagree with Strange’s statement (and for that matter Reed’s in the last panel). Only because every person in this room has had to overcome nigh-insurmountable odds at one time or another, but here they are- leaders, teachers, and kings, complaining that it would be too hard to set of up a charter of regulations for other heroes to follow. I just don’t buy it.

MICHAEL: I guess I can see your point. Like, the argument here is that it would get too bogged down in self-regulation. But lots of industries have decided to self-regulate because they know that’d be better than the government stepping in. The two immediate examples that spring to mind are porn and … Marvel.

And while we’re on the topic, what the hell do their ratings mean, anyway? I can’t find a guide on their damn site (possibly the least user-friendly site out there), and it’s like … T is I think Teenager & above, so that’s easy. But then there’s A. is that ‘all ages’ or ‘adult’? I think the former, ‘cause I think they have an M for Mature, but I’m not sure. Then half their comics seem NOT to have ratings.

Still, in either case, neither Marvel Comics nor the porn industry have ground to a halt because they’ve had to self-regulate. Understandably, the UN is a bit more difficult to run because of varying social values, but since the kind of ‘superhero UN’ being presented here would be an American institution (or at least that’s heavily implied), it doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult of a prospect. And if they’re worried no superheroes would want to have jobs like that … ask She-Hulk. Ask … that other guy. IM was a friggin’ Cabinet head for a while, for God’s sake. And I’m sure Peter Parker would be happy to have a well-paying government job, and he’d give his all to actually do something with it.

JASON: A= All ages. T = 12 and older. M= Mature. Just cause you asked.

This was something that really bugged me. Tony put forth a good idea with the best intentions and everybody reacted like he murder Aunt May on national television.

 

Page 5.

Panels 1-2.

MICHAEL: I’ve got to agree with BP here. Think about it. Considering we’re supposed to read “homosexuals” for “mutants” (if Lobdell is writing, at least), can you imagine a group thinking, “I know how we can give credence to our group! Make it so it’s got lots of gay people!”

JASON: I disagree. That’s exactly what superheroes are there for- to show everyone that the world can be a better place. If they cave in to that kind of prejudice, they stop being heroes.

MICHAEL: It’s not about caving to prejudice, it’s about getting them to accept you before giving them a reason to hate you without proof.

JASON: And what better way to get someone to accept you, then standing shoulder to shoulder with Captain America as you stop AIM from destroying the world? I do understand what you’re saying, but the reason it’s invalid in my mind is because the Avengers already did all that with Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. They weren’t burned in effigy then.

 

Panel 4.

MICHAEL: Like maybe join the Avengers!

JASON: Maybe they should have some kind of recruitment drive, get this monkey off Tony’s back. So to speak.

 

Page 6.

Panel 1

JASON: Just enough to know that the public didn’t care.

 

Panel 2.

MICHAEL: Namor-Arm-O-Cam. He’s heard rumors of Canadian assassins on the team? Hell, I think that’s like ten times more than anybody knew of Wolvy’s origin at that point in time. Odd that the rumor mill reaches friggin Atlantis. (He’s from Atlantis, right?)

JASON: Namor’s heard rumors of Wolverine. Suspension… of disbelief … slipping…  Really, this is the kind of weak writing that ruins this issue. Besides, Namor’s asking the world’s strongest telepath how he screens his students?  This book’s officially making me sad.

MICHAEL: No, no. It totally tracks. Cause that’s “not the kind of thing [Charles] does.” His argument is airtight, baby.

 

Panel 4.

MICHAEL: Of course the main flaw here is … don’t we all assume Congress is corrupted? And the superstars we look up to, half the time we’re just waiting for them to fall (X-Statix, anyone?). I know that culture was only just beginning to become really popular in the mid-to-late 90s, but I still think someone should’ve been like, ‘everyone still loves Hugh Grant and he got caught being blown by a prostitute on tape,’ or, y’know, ‘George Bush became f#@*ing president.’ Stony silence in response seems harsh, at least.

JASON: I honestly don’t understand what Namor’s point here was supposed to be. That the Avengers has had reformed villains on their team? Public already knows that, and doesn’t care. That Charles harbors mutants? That Black Bolt has family issues? This just doesn’t make any sense. The Avengers already have put a spotlight on the ugly parts of their history, and you know what? People look to them as delegates and role models.

 

Panel 5

JASON: I think I may have liked this issue better if every panel was like this one.

 

Panel 6.

MICHAEL: Come on, Reed, you’re so close … message board. Message board.

JASON:  I’m waiting for Namor to say “Fools! Charles, how many words a minute can you type? And you, Black Bolt, you can’t give dictation! How could any of you expect to take notes or start up a message board?”

 

Panel 7.

MICHAEL: Baron Zemo’s decapitated head is really shocked by this idea.

 

Page 7.

Panel 1

JASON: Or, instead of going behind the backs of your friends, family, and teammates, you could just make a database and share everything.

 

Panel 3.

MICHAEL:Cuz that bitch, Sue? She’s a gossip like you wouldn’t believe. F#@* you and your stupid home life, Reed.” Why in god’s name would he trust Reed but not Sue??? Hey, also, why isn’t Rick Jones here? Didn’t he win the friggin war for them?

 

Panel 7

JASON: This whole page was “Marvel Super-Heroes, as presented by Ms. Roberts’s 4th Grade Class”.

 

Page 8.

Panel 1.

MICHAEL: How could a fifth grader with a history book figure out that you’re the only hope if you’re sooooo secret? Huh?

JASON: Hm, Perhaps they could make it a Secret War?

 

Panel 2

JASON: Strange looking very constipated here.

 

Panel 4.

MICHAEL: Why has IM gone from optimistic do-gooder to bitchy third grader? This page is nothing but him hurling around childish insults. What a great comeback, Tony! “But, it is.” Next panel: No, it’s not. Next panel: Yes huh.

JASON: Probably because he came into this room expecting to have a conversation with adults and ended up trading verbal barbs with a body building elf.  I’m very bugged that outside of Tony, not a single person here stood up for themselves during Namor’s many, many outbursts.

MICHAEL: Maybe everyone else is just staying quiet ‘cause they’re afraid if they make a scene they’ll get thrown out & won’t get to enjoy a really great dessert served by hot black slave bitches—sorry, “liberated free Nubian princesses” or whatever.

JASON: “Honestly Sue, it didn’t mean anything. I didn’t know what they meant by ‘having dessert’, and I couldn’t insult our host Black Panther…”

 

Bottom of the page:

MICHAEL: Okay, so I suppose that last panel was supposed to show that someone didn’t raise their hand, but I wasn’t going to bother going through and figuring out who’s who here. Did anyone?

JASON: It was Black Panther. I think he was asleep during this whole debate. Lucky bastard.

MICHAEL: Didn’t he leave the room?

 

Page 9.

Panel 1.

MICHAEL: Is Black Bolt hiding his face in shame from Panther here? ‘Oh, dude, I just had an itch on my nose … I wasn’t voting yea. Seriously.’

 

Panel 4.

MICHAEL: So here comes another big problem with the underpinnings of this story, I think. BP here is arguing against something more like the ‘Squadron Supreme’ decision (“we’re trying to change the world, let’s do it by ruling it”), Not what Tony’s presenting (which, in essence, sounded like a message board—a place to share ideas and so forth). Everyone who disagrees seems to be disagreeing on the terms that this is a horrible, Authority-like ruling-the-planet decision. Namor’s whole “you can’t tell your wife, Reed!” would seem to fit if they were actually agreeing to form the X-Files consortium here, but seriously, what would Reed say? “So, honey, after the war we decided to keep in touch more. Think I’ll bounce some of my patent ideas off of Tony now and then.”

“Oh, God, Reed! This is just what people are afraid of!”

WTF????

JASON: Exactly. Tony was proposing an open, organized team and an open sharing of information. And now all of a sudden, it’s a conspiracy to rule the world? Is Bendis really expecting us to buy this? Are we really supposed to believe that the people in the Marvel U aren’t concerned that there are 15 different super teams and an untold number of solo heroes running around, but they would be scared if there were only one controlled team?

Doesn’t that thought run contrary to what Civil War is about?

MICHAEL: My assumption here is that Bendis just got excited about the idea as a whole when writing it and accidentally forgot to put in a sort of segue or something here to explain that at least the men in this room felt the darker outcome was a logical extension of the proposed one?

JASON: Even if your assumption is right, it’s sloppy writing.

 

Panel 6.

MICHAEL: What happens then, BP? Namor hits someone.

 

Panel 7.

MICHAEL: But as silly as I’m being throughout this, I want to point out that I love Bendis’s over the top writing here on stuff like this. “Walk away now.” It’s so overdone, but I love it. I love the melodrama.

JASON: Crap, I thought the “Walk away now” line was directed to the readers.

 

Page 10.

JASON: Strange says if it doesn’t work, they’ll walk away. I’m holding you to that, Doc.

 

Panel 3.

MICHAEL: He’s thinking, “oh, now you decide to ask me for my opinion? I had an argument that would’ve won Panther over in like seven seconds flat, dickweed. But no, no, let’s not ask the guy who can’t speak.” Oh, and he adds, “Could I have a laptop to write on? A frigging chalkboard and some chalk, maybe? I’m sure Panther’s got some paper and a f#@*ing pen around somewhere, right?”

JASON: Heh. Bolts’ the perfect silent partner.

 

Panel 4.

MICHAEL: “I rarely leave my house at it is.” Wow. That sounds so bad, Stephen. Like … creepy bad.

JASON: I guess sitting around at home watching Greatest American Hero is more important then going out and saving Earth’s dimension.

 

Panel 6.

MICHAEL: So, a nice attempt by Bendis to try to tie this into old Marvel continuity, but since Giant Size came out in 1975, man, Xavier must be thinking a heck of a while in advance here … though, I guess that really only plays out to a few months. And it works perfectly, too. Remember when IM totally helped Xavier get the guys free of Krakoa? That was great.

JASON: Yeah, what exactly did anyone (Charles aside) in this room have to do with Krakoa? Did the FF go out and get their butts handed to them, then tell Chuck, “Sorry, it’s outta our league. Better get your teenagers to do it.”? A very pathetic attempt to make this book look like it has an impact anywhere.

 

Page 11.

Page 12-13.

MICHAEL: “26. Two kids and a dog.” I guess she means wounded, because as it apparently said in She-Hulk (I didn’t read it, just heard it), Bruce has never actually killed anyone. Except over in that not-our-world mini, Banner, which I did read (liked the art, but obviously it didn’t really relate to the real Hulk). When asked about this seeming discrepancy, Bendis replied something along the lines of, “I just can’t believe Hulk has never killed anyone. That’s just deluded thought.” I’m paraphrasing, but all you really need to know is the gist of his message, anyway: “F#@* you, Dan Slott! You’re ignorant!” Considering She Hulk is one of the first titles CW is going to tie into, don’t you think maybe it would be good to be on Slott’s side? Or at least have strong-armed him a little here? Ah, whatever.

Oh, and by the way, who is this bitch? I know she runs SHIELD now, because I’ve seen her pop up in some other things, but apparently the whole reason Fury’s gone underground is because of the events of Secret War, which a) sounded horrible and b) came out so late that I think only very, very few actually stuck with it (also, I tried reading it for this and could not stand the art; I couldn’t tell who was who). So it’s very frustrating that a change like Fury being underground now happened in something that no one has or can read without a stomach of iron.

JASON: Yeah, Bendis can’t believe that Hulk not killed someone by now. That’s fine. I can’t believe that cosmic rays will let someone turn invisible. Lucky for me this is fiction ,right? Guess Bendis doesn’t feel that way.

The bitch is Maria Hill, a character so full of nuance and depth, that nobody’s cared to submit an entry on her at Marvel’s website.

 

Panel 2.

MICHAEL: Neither. Banner’s tried to kill himself before and it didn’t work. And after his last rampage over in Hulk, he banishes himself to the Alaskan wilderness, shunning all human contact! So, obviously, he’s on top of the whole “I’m a danger to people” thing.

JASON: Hopefully nobody screws it up for him.

MICHAEL: Yeah. I mean, obviously, if someone provoked him into leaving his Alaskan wilderness and doing anything else, they would pretty much be the ones at fault—essentially, Bruce would be the gun & they’d be pulling the trigger. It’d be like that whole “Spider-Man / Osborne” argument but with weight and truth behind it. Good thing that’ll never happen.

 

Panel 5.

MICHAEL: And on the topic of that “Spider-Man / Osborne” argument ….

This is the most ludicrous logic ever. If Spidey had a license to kill, then I could understand. But, hell, let’s blame all the police officers who haven’t shot Green Goblin when they had a chance. Or the police officers in our world who don’t just blow criminals away if they’re caught in the act. Or if a DA accidentally allows a case to lose on a technicality, maybe they’re at fault more than the perpetrator? This also reminds me of the people who voted for Kerry whining to me, ‘it’s people like you who allowed Bush to win!’ because I voted for the socialist party (the one that’s into socialism, not the White Power one of a similar name). I would always reply, ‘no, it’s the people who voted for Bush who are to blame!’ Gah.

This logic is just fallacious. Now, if the President or … the judicial branch or … that dude from 100 Bullets said, “Spidey, you now have the power to kill Norman with impunity. Do it.” And then he didn’t kill Goblin, I’d understand.

Also, the people with licenses to kill (police officers, soldiers, etc.) are given training and I believe it’s a rule for police officers that if they use their weapon they have mandatory counseling sessions. So just assuming that because you’re civic-minded enough to fight crime makes you capable of murder seems a bit of a stretch. Also, of course, there’s the matter of accountability. I mean, certainly, Goblin is an easy argument to make cause he’s been out there for years murdering like crazy, but what if we take, say, a newbie supervillain who’s only killed a few people? Could / should Spidey kill them then? Or how about a run-of-the-mill serial killer? They’re definitely dangerous, but even people with licenses to kill aren’t supposed to do so unless forced into it. I’d think this Hill chick should’ve maybe assigned this SHIELD dude to like a Law 101 class rather than letting it haunt her because of its brilliant deductive powers.

JASON: Flipping this over now. If Spidey decided to kill the Goblin, you know the first thing SHIELD would do? Call for his head.

MICHAEL: Exactly. Just as they and the police and the press have done every time they’ve thought he crossed the line.

JASON: I don’t see Hill ordering SHEILD to track down Goblin, or any villain for that matter, with a license to kill. But I guess all she has to do is talk the talk.

 

Panel 7.

MICHAEL: And it gets ridiculouser. I mean, she’s just said two panels ago, “he webs him up, they throw him in jail.” So why isn’t it the jailers’s faults? Hell, as we saw in “Breakout” over in NAvengers, there’s this whole jail of repeat-offender superpower freaks. Why not blame all the guards on duty there? Cripes, they’re just down the hall from the bad guys, they have huge guns … seems like they’re more to blame than Spidey, through this line of reasoning.

JASON: Or perhaps some lawmaker could say that when someone like the Goblin, who’s been tried and convicted, escapes from jail that he’s forfeited his right to due process. Then the next time he gets webbed up and thrown in jail, the state can execute him the next day. Plenty of other ways through this argument. But does Tony Stark, one of the top ten smartest people on the planet bring up any of this? Does he even put up any type of defense? Nope. I take back what I said earlier. Now  this book makes me want to cry.

 

Panel 8.

MICHAEL: They are? Why? Why now, after years and years of superheroes? Because of the Avengers Disassembled silliness? And if so, why? Wasn’t it just a few years ago that Johns was writing the Avengers so that they became their own sovereign nation like the Papal States? What happened to that?

JASON: Because Bendis thinks it’s silly that the Avengers could do that, so he just changed it. That seems to be a theme of his.

MICHAEL: No, you’re wrong. He retcons it. But rather than argue my point, I’m going to ignore yours and pretend it’s not even there. In fact, I’m ignoring all your comments I don’t like. Obviously, you’re just wrong, so I will read it as a smooth transition from my last brilliant thought to my next. Om. (In other words, ‘na na na na na na, I can’t hear you.’)

JASON: Cute.

 

Page 14-15.

Panel 1.

MICHAEL: Wow, considering her logic was so flawed a fifth grader with a history book could see through it, Tony accepted her argument pretty damn quickly.

JASON: Arggg! The frustration of this book is driving me mad!

 

Panel 6.

MICHAEL: You know who’s really missing here? Charles. I mean, seriously. The whole side that Namor is trying to fight for is the idea of redemption, really. The underpinning of our whole society. Yes, most of us cynical bastards know that cops are pretty much there to keep bad guys off the streets, and jails are big pens to throw the wolves into so they eat each other first, but the actual belief behind them—the real point of our justice system is this belief in redemption or correction. Ideally, prisons are there to cause reform. And this seems a Charles argument—it’s okay to let Magneto teach the kids for a while because he believes in redemption. Wolverine is the classic example, of course. But instead, we have f#@*ing Namor making this argument? It seems a bit specious to me.

JASON: Tony could have just as easily made the argument, also. Tony sponsored Hawkeye, a known villain into the Avengers. And it was the Avengers that allowed Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch into their ranks. Why Tony’s suddenly calling for Hulk’s blood is beyond me.

MICHAEL: I always thought it was stupid they accepted known criminals. Didn’t like the stories, don’t like your argument. It’s now erased from history because I don’t like it (Marvel: It’s In Continuity … if you want it to be!)

JASON: Crap, you’ve been invaded by the Spirit of Joe Quesada haven’t you? Out! Out, foul spirit! In the name of Jim Shooter, I compel you! Out!!!

 

Page 7

JASON: Glad Reed finally said something. I was staring to forget that he was even in this book.

MICHAEL: Yes.

 

Page 16.

Panel 1.

MICHAEL: Oh, hey, even Stephen makes the argument. How in control is Bruce, really? Not at all.

 

Panel. 2.

MICHAEL: ‘In a self-guided space plane that’s like as big as the Farscape project and he’d have no idea how to fix, with a constantly shifting weight because he’d zap back and forth between the two identities! He’s safe as kittens.’

 

Panel 3

JASON: No one was trying to control Wanda, because no one knew she was nuts. This has nothing to do with the Scarlet Witch and has everything to do with Bendis suddenly deciding that the Hulk is a mass murderer.

MICHAEL: Considering Tony was so swayed by that SHIELD chick’s argument, my question is: why aren’t they maybe setting up a ship to catapult, say, Green Goblin off into space?

JASON: Like I said, talking the talk.

 

Panel 4.

MICHAEL: See, if only they’d let him finish the sentence. ‘…if this conversation continues, I’m gonna punch Iron Man through that goddamn wall!’

 

Bottom of the page.

MICHAEL:  Oh, God, the hands thing again.

JASON: Namor’s just upset because he doesn’t have any stylin’ gloves.

 

Page 17.

MICHAEL: Again, as ludicrous as this whole thing is, I do enjoy it. The dialogue has a strong hint of a John Wayne movie. “Someday, somebody’s going to teach you a lesson. But I’m not gonna be the one to do it. No, I’m not gonna do it  …. The hell I ain’t.’ BAM!

JASON: Because, as anyone who’s ever read the old Defenders stuff knows, Namor and the Hulk are BFF. *rolls eyes*

MICHAEL: Did they dislike each other? Seriously, I’ve never read Defenders. Of course, I can’t see Namor being friends with anyone …

JASON: I’m about 80% sure that they fought like schoolchildren. Though, I admit, I may be confused by the last Defenders mini by Giffen.

 

Page 18.

Page 19.

Page 20.

JASON: I appreciate the attempt at making this book interesting. It’s nice to be able to look at Meleev’s art without the words making me sick.

 

Page 21.

Panel 7.

MICHAEL: So he’s ‘resisted your enchantment’ before? Why does everything Stephen says in this entire comic sound like a creepy pedophile speaking?

 

Page 22.

JASON: So, I guess this means Namor’s never coming back, eh?

 

Page 23.

MICHAEL: Marvel actually attempts to cover their ass a little bit here, continuity-wise. It’s so cute. It’s goddamn adorable, really.

JASON: “The new ones are staggeringly lifelike”?  If the old one’s weren’t, then what the hell good were they?

MICHAEL: Remember when Tom Baker wouldn’t join in The Five Doctors special? They just used a life-size cardboard cutout of him for the photo shoots. Nobody knew for years. I think this was something like that. Or maybe it was like Empire Strikes Back. They just used an old lady and a monkey until they figured out something better.

 

Panel 3

JASON: Oh, and just so you know who to kill when you get back, we did it! Sucker!

 

Page 24.

Page 25.

 

JASON: Funtime, Inc. It’s where Tony makes his… toys.

 

Page 26.

Panel 5.

MICHAEL: I love this. Namor’s back. Really, I think, he could care less who argues what. He’s the king of Atlantis, he doesn’t give a s#!*. He just shows up to yell at people and hopefully fight someone. If it’s a slow meeting, I can totally see him being like:

 

IRON MAN: Okay, let’s call it a night. I’m wiped.

DOCTOR STRANGE: Yes.

NAMOR: No you aren’t, Tony! I see through your pathetic ruse! You’re off to drink, aren’t you, you f#@*ing alkie!

REED: No, Namor, I honestly just think he’s—

NAMOR: It’s just like you to defend him, Stetchy! You’re his little bitch-boy, aren’t you? You looking to tussle? Huh? I’ll take you on any day of the week, you freak!

Dr. STRANGE: I bet some grease and a vinyl glove will solve this debate.

 

Also, why does Reed use the term “House of M” here? Did they all know about this? I definitely, at least, don’t recall Namor being one of the people who remembered what happened (and if we’re to assume they filled him in later, why wouldn’t Reed just say ‘yes’ here?).

JASON: Oh my God! Namor’s back? Did Tony call him? If Bendis has his way, Tony’s going to become dumber than a rock by the end of Civil War.

 

Panel 7:

MICHAEL: ‘To kick IM’s ass again!’

JASON: Maybe its all the blows to the head that’s making Tony all stupid-like.

MICHAEL:Peppeeeeer!”

 

Page 27.

Panel 1.

MICHAEL: Um. Why did Tony invite him? I want to see that phone call.

Ring Ring.

“Hello?”

“Yeah, hi, Namor, this is Tony Stark? I know the last time you saw me you beat the living bejeezus out of me and tried to drown me, but, well, there’s a bill that’s being considered in the House right now that I think might affect all superheroes and—“

“Uh, that’s great, genius. What does that have to do with me? I’m the king of a separate nation, remember?”

“Oh, right. Well. You make the best bean dip, and our meetings really haven’t been the same since you’ve left. Strange always makes his far too mild and—“

“What’s this really about, Tony?”

“Um. Well. I, um. I miss you. The vest, and, y’know…”

“*SIGH* All right, I’ll be there.”

JASON: Crap in a hat! Tony did call him! I find this sooo much more believable then the Hulk not killing people.

 

Panel. 2.

MICHAEL: now, I know a lot of people might bitch here. Bills have to go before one side of Congress, be signed, then go to the other side and get changed, re-ratified, and sent back for like months before being signed into law (and then the president can veto it if he wants), but I’m fine with this simplification of how the legal system works. As long as we don’t go too simplistic, I’ll run with it.

 

Panel 3

JASON: I can’t wait to seen Namor’s reaction to this.

 

Panel 5.

MICHAEL: So SHIELD is developing a unit to hunt down superheroes who refuse to sign, huh? Keep this in mind, it’ll pop up again!

JASON: Seems like the evil version of what Tony was trying to do back at the beginning. Maybe it would have turned out better if anyone would have listened to Tony back then.

MICHAEL: Maybe somebody told Sue.

 

Page 28.

Panel 2.

MICHAEL: Namor never takes the easy bait.

JASON: Namor…bait. Was that a pun?

MICHAEL: For reel.

 

Panel 4.

MICHAEL: Look, he’s just flagrantly trying to start an argument here. “The rest of us”? You’re not a member of the United States!

 

Panel 5.

MICHAEL: Guess Nick Fury’s “Secret War” wasn’t so secret if it’s got a name and it was a big enough deal to sway Congress, huh?

JASON: Yep. Not like Inferno, Secret Wars II, Kang blowing up Washington DC,  or anything else over the course of the last 20 years have.

 

Panel 6.

MICHAEL: The next page should so be a splash of IM just sucker-punching Namor so friggin hard, after a set-up like that.

 

Page 29.

Panel 1.

MICHAEL: Didn’t really help you when it came to the Skree-Krull War, though, huh? Or knowing Namor was going to punch you that hard? Or…

JASON: So now Bendis tries to make Tony sound smart. Way too little, way too late.

 

Panel 2.

MICHAEL: Hasn’t stuff like this happened before? I mean, people screw up, people die. Cops have to deal with the same sort of thing. I mean, I guess they’ve got a bit more accountability, but come on. This is a bit silly. Or, I don’t know. I think it would be a solid argument if it weren’t for the fact that we’ve had disasters happen because of superheroes and their accidental mishandling of a situation in the past, right? Jason? Can you back me up here with any specifics? The only thing I can think of is, Jameson has been trying to prove that Spidey’s a menace for years, yet we’ve never seem them take that seriously enough to even form a Spidey-Busters group or anything. How about the Thunderbolts? They got outed as villains, right? How did that end up? I mean, they’re still around, so ….

JASON: The simplest ones that I can think of, is the multitude that anyone in the MU has been brainwashed/mind controlled through out the years. They’re trying to make it seem like Civil War has had some kind of build up, but it really hasn’t. It’s just a good concept for an event book. They could have built into it- that would have been amazing. Or they could have just come clean and acted like it’s just an event book. I would have been happy with either. But this, “No, no. It’s not just our summer crossover, we’ve been building this for years!” bulls#!* just kind of pisses me off.

MICHAEL: What’re you talking about, come clean? It says right on the cover “A Marvel Comics Event.”

JASON: Hm. Okay. It does. Sorry. Still, it doesn’t mean that this issue, or Civil War, has had much more build up then solicits in Marvel Previews.

MICHAEL: And those trailers on their website. Oh, God, those make me laugh.

 

Panel 3.

MICHAEL: Tony’s not a futurist, he’s read the f#@*ing script to CW1 here! C’mon, it seems like there are a lot of other more likely possibilities than this one to bring down the superhero community. And even if this is the most likely possibility, why is it likely it’s going to happen now, while there’s a bill in Congress? And why is there a bill in Congress? Because there was an explosion at Avenger’s mansion? Like that’s never happened before.

JASON: Dead on the nose.

 

Panel 4.

MICHAEL: Man, this talk about Spidey seems eerily prescient, huh??? This does actually lend credence to a huge theory I’m working on involving Tony and Peter (it’s not, ‘they’re gay’).

JASON: Yeah, Spider-Man’s name really did just fly to Tony’s lips. I think they’re doing something here also. Oh my hell! They’re finally done something in the issue that has me interested!

MICHAEL: We’re both such Spidey whores. Do you think that’s all it is? Like, there are other people reading who are huge Krakoa fans who think the book’s total s#!* except for the bit where they mention Krakoa? ‘OMG THEY’RE TOTALLY BUILDING TO SOMETHING THERE!’

JASON: You know, Krakoa was my favorite character from the 70’s. If I were a giant sentient man-eating island, I’d be Krakoa. 

 

Panel 5.

MICHAEL: IM should be working for the Marvel marketing department. This is a far better solicitation for CW than ‘whose side are you on?’

JASON: Civil War’s coming. What do you do, man—what do you do?

MICHAEL: Pay out the ass on a weekly basis and vent my frustration online?

 

Page 30.

Panel 1.

MICHAEL: I think what he means here is, ‘we should bring together the powerful people we control and put them on TV.’ As it is, the only real person here who would lend any weight to this argument, I’d say, is Tony, since he used to be the Minister of or Secretary of Defense or whatever the hell he was. Reed, as well, is a giant in the intelligentsia community, but does anyone care what he has to say on politics? I mean, Noam Chomsky has railed against the establishment for years, but he’s still dismissed as another bleating liberal. Beyond that, we have two representatives from foreign nations (yeah! If we get Vladimir Putin to back us, the American public will totally be on our side!) and a guy who, by his own admission, ‘doesn’t leave the house.’ Yes, what a frickin power-group you’ve got here.

JASON: I think Tony’s meaning that it will have more impact on the superheroes than the government. I think he’s hoping that more would follow their lead.

 

Panel 3

JASON: The only way they brought anything on themselves was by listening to you! I love how not once does Namor ever bring anything constructive to the table. It’s just, “You’re wrong, and you suck, and I’m right, and I rock. Now I’m gonna hit Iron Man.” Yet, they still invite the fish!

MICHAEL: Maybe he smells really nice.

 

Panel 6.

MICHAEL: “Like when I touched those boys.”

 

Page 31.

Panel 1

JASON: Reed agrees. How in hell can they justify having Reed agree with registration? Because he doesn’t wear a mask, so of course he’d agree? Was that what they were thinking? Acts of Vengeance, back in the 80’s, Congress tried to pull a stunt very similar to this one. Who shut them down? Reed, with an impassioned speech. Could he have changed his mind since then? Not if recent issues of the Fantastic Four have anything to do with it (which apparently, they don’t). At the beginning of the year, Reed proves that the government cannot keep the locations of his own children safe, and yet we’re led to believe that he trusts them with the names of hundreds of superhumans? No bloody way.

MICHAEL: You know what? Those issues sound stupid. So stupid. They didn’t happen. There. Poof. Fixed.

JASON: The power of Shooter compels you!!

 

Panel 4.

MICHAEL: This is the funniest Strange has ever been. He’s just bizarre in here. In these two pages, he goes from Valley Girl (Um. It’s like, totally wrong?) to someone who totally misses Tony’s point (that if they wait they’ll be forced to give in for the reasons Stephen lists in the first panel) to a guy who’s realizing he’s 30 and still hanging out in his parents’ basement with a bunch of losers to a moody fifth-grader (‘never call on me again. Meh’).

 

Panels 6-9.

Ah, the infamous Black Bolt section. This bit is just chuckle-worthy because, though I generally like Maleev’s art, nobody knows what the f#@* is going on here. Bendis explained it in an interview (Black Bolt is disappointed and in the last panel we’re supposed to see him flying away). Different interpretations I had:

 

My fist…

Will hit you…

Over there.

 

Or, one that works and totally misses the point Bendis was trying to make:

 

I [if he had his thumb out here, he could be pointing to himself and we wouldn’t see the thumb]…

Am with you…

And you.

 

Here I blame Maleev, not Bendis. Even if BB looked disappointed and not dyspeptic in those penultimate panels, it really wouldn’t matter if the final panel showed BB flying off.

JASON: I read it the second way. Bolt was really just a non-issue during this book that I guess it really doesn’t matter, though.

MICHAEL: Seriously. They should’ve just invited the teleporting dog for all the input BB had to give.

 

Page 32.

MICHAEL: And see, again, since those BB shots came so close to the end, here we don’t get any further help with what he decided. He’s not there, that’s for certain, but neither is Reed and Reed was sitting closer to him. Thank goodness for the internet.

JASON: I had anything to do with this book, I would have hid my name in the back of it also.

 

 

CLOSING ARGUMENTS

 

MICHAEL: So, as I said at the beginning, overall I dug the story. I thought, despite all its faults, it was an entertaining melodramatic read. I missed Xavier, because I thought he added a unique voice, and what I mainly felt was a desire to see more of these guys. It made me both hungry for more of the Illuminati’s past adventures and hungry for Civil War #1. I’d really wished Bendis had put in at least one more meeting of the Illuminati rather than the like 5-page fight between Iron Man and Namor (I guess he thought we’d get bored if it was only talking heads). I’ve nitpicked and poked fun, because I think Bendis’s writing often smacks of elitism or … more appropriately, just ignoring what’s come before rather than even attempting a rewrite or whatever, and that bugs me, but overall it made me think Bendis, at least, knows what he’s doing, and he and Millar must’ve had some plans here. Will we be proved right or wrong? Will it be truce … or consequences?

JASON: This book frustrated the hell outta me. I normally like Bendis’ writing, but I feel this was just him giving everyone the middle finger. The only two people who were even remotely in character was Tony and Namor. Maleev could have just drawn anyone else in for the rest of the Illuminaati and it really wouldn’t have mattered. These book would have been much better if we would have seen the Illuminati working during events like Inferno, or Secret Wars. Then watch it fall apart over some of the more recent events. I think that taking up ten pages at the beginning just to tell us Black Panther and Namor didn’t agree was wasteful. I think that this book seriously suffered from Bendis’ decompressed style, and I really think it would have been better served to let Millar write this lead in. On the plus side, despite how I whined, I did like the way Namor was handled here.

In summary, what should have been a emotional lead in to Civil War turned out to be a schoolyard insult fight, tethered to continuity by a clump of a bully’s bubblegum.

MICHAEL: Yes, there was a bit too much schoolyard machismo, wasn’t there? (That honestly felt like the only reason Namor kept getting invited back.) This seems to be a big problem overall for the whole CW experiment: if this is, at its heart, an ideological debate, shouldn’t we see a lot of well-reasoned, impassioned debate before it leads into just hitting? I think that’s what Bendis was trying to do here overall, but it feels like we should be seeing impassioned debate rather than infighting from Illuminati up to around, oh, say, CW3 or CW4. Everyone’s just so excited about the basic CW idea they’re forgetting to set it up (except Straczynski).

Honestly, as much as I enjoyed the story in and of itself, I did feel it could’ve been better. There were (and I get the feeling I’m going to be saying this a lot before this Event is over) a lot of missed opportunities here.