Tuesday, January 29, 2008

UXP # 143g: "Civil War: Epilogue"

Amazing Spider-Man # 538 (rest of issue), Civil War: Frontline # 10 (Pages # 6-17), Civil War # 7 (Rest of issue), Civil War: Frontline # 11 (rest of issue), Ghost Rider # 8 - 12, Fantastic Four # 543, Captain America # 25, Civil War: The Initiative, Civil War: The Confession (Rest of issue)

Peter Parker returns to the sleazy hotel room after being counted among the missing. He embraces his wife and aunt, then the snipers shoots. He shoves MJ out of the way . . . and Aunt May gets the shot straight in the gut. The story continues off in Back in Black and One More Day.

Ben and Sally go off and interview Captain America and Iron Man to get a perspective on the registration act now that the Civil War is pretty much over. The interview with Cap quickly devolves into Sally yelling at Cap for not knowing what America is all about. She and Ben then leave and open their own news website – frontlines.com. Then they go off to interview Iron Man and tell that they know that he’s the traitor. He pushed for a war between Atlantis and the US to up the amount of heroes registering. He then manipulated his stock to create a pension fund for firemen, police officers, and super-heroes. With the fear of a terrible prison out there, he hoped more people would register. It’s diabolical and people died, but it was for the greater good. Tony gets pissed, but Ben assures them they won’t run the story. They leave and Tony cries.

Not long after this, a heartfelt letter from Reed gets to Sue. She returns to him. Tony meets with Miriam Sharpe aboard the SHIELD Hellicarrier, as he is now Director of SHIELD. He tells her of the new future they’re building and that 42 was named such as it was 42nd of a list of 100 ideas.

In Sleepy Hollow, Illinois, the Devil has taken control of Jack O’Lantern’s Punisher-killed body. Ghost Rider goes and helps a Sheriff deal with him. There’s zombies too.

During an anniversary television special, the Fantastic Four reunite. However, Reed and Sue decide to take some time off to deal with their recent problems – effectively replacing them with Black Panther and Storm.

Captain America is marched into an NYC courthouse. As he is, Sharon Carter and Winter Soldier both are present in the hopes of either rescuing him or just wanting to witness. However, as he’s walking before a crowd, a sniper shoots him down. In the chaos that ensues, Sharon goes to him. He orders the crowd to depart for their own safety, and then is shot again.

Winter Soldier goes to the window where the sniper was located and with the help of the Falcon, they quickly track down Crossbones. Winter Soldier beats him up, then Falcon orders him away as Capekillers arrive. They take Crossbones into custody.

On the way to hospital, Steve Rogers tells Sharon how beautiful she is . . . then dies.

At the hospital, Red Skull’s daughter gives Sharon a trigger word that forces her to remember what exactly happened when she ran up to Steve’s body. She killed Captain America.

Despite Cap’s death, the Initiative is still in full swing. 50 super-hero teams for 50 states, plus Omega Flight in Canada. Iron Man also peeks in at footage of the new Thunderbolts team. Afterwards, he speaks to Ms. Marvel regarding an encounter she had with Spider-Woman. Turns out she told Spider-Woman that Cap was alive in the hopes of bringing her and the rest of the group (read: New Avengers) back into the system. Tony disagrees with this tactic, the two part ways, and Iron Man decides to form a new team of Avengers.

Shortly thereafter, Cap’s body is brought to the SHIELD Hellicarrier. Tony locks himself into a room with it and confesses to Steve’s fallen body. He tells him that he feared a war would come between those with super-powers that despite how much he knew it was coming, it wasn’t worth the price he had to pay.

There’s a lot of good aftermath material here. The Ghost Rider story was particularly fun. The Fantastic Four was light-hearted and yet, meaningful. I like the idea of Reed and Sue taking a vacation and T’Challa and Ororo taking their place.

The Spider-Man snippet was effectively powerful. I have to comment and say that it’s nice to see the fallout from Peter’s revelation coming out now in the aftermath of the chaos of Civil War. It’s too bad none of it matters since “One More Day” – which was the laziest, sloppiest amount of storytelling I’ve seen in years. I mean, come on . . . (rants)

Ben and Sally completely lost me. The sheer amount of unprofessional actions just killed that book for me. It stopped being interesting and became, well, stupid and lame.

With these various books, we see a very interesting Tony Stark. On the one hand, when dealing with Sharpe and setting up the Initiative, Tony is smart and smooth and just all together with it. On the other hand, we also see full of guilt and shame. When confessing to Cap, there’s a bit of relief to see him come to terms that he’s done a lot of bad things that – despite being for the good – just aren’t worth it in the end. It’s well done and makes a very balanced Tony Stark.

Captain America’s death is wonderfully brutal. It hits hard and while getting shot in the back may not be the best death for Captain America, it serves its purpose. Plus, did Sharon really kill Cap? We don’t know yet – that’s besides the point. His death is like the last explosion in this story. It’s the final thought. He’s dead, the Marvel Universe has changed, and the future is uncertain. And everyone is charging right in.

~W~

Monday, January 28, 2008

UXP # 143f: "Civil War: Final Battle"

Amazing Spider-Man # 537 (Pages # 1 - 21), Punisher War Journal # 2 (Up until page # 27, 29), Civil War # 6 (until page 9), Civil War: Frontline # 8, Civil War: Frontline # 9, Civil War: Frontline # 10 - "The Accused", Amazing Spider-Man # 537 (Rest of issue), Civil War: Frontline # 10 (until page 11), Civil War # 6 (until page 16), Punisher War Journal # 3 (until page 20), Amazing Spider-Man # 538 (pages 1-2), Civil War # 6 (rest of issue), Civil War # 7 (pages # 1 - 7), Black Panther # 25 (Page # 6-7), Civil War: Frontline # 10 (rest of issue), Civil War: The Return - "Captain Courageous", Civil War # 7 (Pages # 8-14), Captain Marvel # 1 (Pages 2-3), Black Panther # 25 (Pages # 8-27), Amazing Spider-Man # 538 (pages # 3-11), Civil War # 7 (page # 15 - 28, Panel Three) (Reed's dialogue panel pushed back), Amazing Spider-Man # 538 (Pages # 12-15), Civil War: Frontline # 10 (Pages # 1-5), Black Panther # 25 (rest of issue), Civil War: The Confession (Pages 20 - 31)

Captain America goes out to find Spider-Man and does. He talks about what America really is and then gets him over on his side. Yay for Spider-Man! However, the Kingpin puts a hit out on Peter and “anyone” who might be near him. An assassin heads over to the abandoned building across the street from the sleazy hotel that the Parkers are hanging out at.

The Punisher and Captain America continue on their escapades, dealing with criminals and villains. Frank then retrieves the tech he needs to infiltrate the Baxter Building.

While Reed puts the final touches on “Thor,” Punisher slips in and gets the needed information on 42. Sue goes to Namor for help, but he refuses her.

Danny, an NYPD cop and one of Ben Urich’s sources, tips Ben off – Stark is making a killing in the stock markets. In fact, the day before Stamford, he cashed in. Plus, Osborne was given nanites from Iron Man and the Pro-Reg. forces. In exchange for this info, Danny sets him up for a date with Sally. Before hand, Sally has the chance to interview Captain America, only to find that Cap doesn’t have much of a story to tell because his idea of America is very different – or perhaps (she muses) she’s just a changed woman. Whatever the case maybe, the mind-controlled Osborne kills some visiting Atlanteans when they show up to recover the bodies of the sleeper cell (which they claim was peaceful). During questioning, he’s taken away by SHIELD.

Speedball has insane pain in his back now from the bullet fragments and now that his power has returned and changed, he decides to Register and gets out of jail. Now free, he confronts the man who shot him, then goes off and puts on a costume that will increase his pain as well as channel his new power. He then becomes the new Penance.

The Secrets Avengers convene to go over their plans when two villains – Goldbug and Plunderer – offer their services. The Punisher kills them because they’re bad guys and Captain America beats him up. As he does, we see flashbacks that show why the Punisher is working with Cap and the Secret Avengers and why he respects him. Cap then has Castle thrown out.

Ms. Marvel delivers the name of the man who arranged for Osborne’s control and the assassination of the Atlanteans to Sally. Sally is shocked and arranges to meet Ben Urich at Time’s Square at 6:15. Shortly thereafter, Ben comes to Jameson with a story that he knows the Bugle can’t publish and thus, quits.

Doctor Strange continues his fast in the hopes of a peaceful end to the conflict.

After a phone call to May and MJ, Peter joins the Secret Avengers in their final assault. They sneak into Ryker’s Island, then through the portal and into the Negative Zone. Once there, Iron Man, the Pro-Reg Forces and the Thunderbolts all arrive – with Tony telling Cap he’s had a spy in the Secret Avengers. Cap reveals that he’s known about Tigra being a spy and then has Pym change back into Hulkling, having taking Yellowjacket’s place earlier. With Hulkling having taken Pym’s place, the cells of 42 are opened and the captured heroes arrive and join with the Secret Avengers.

The battle kicks off.

Captain America wants the battle taken out of 42 and into the Baxter Building, but they’re unable to do that. Cloak teleports everyone into New York City, dropping them onto Time’s Square below.

Sally and Ben meet just as the battle is renewed in Time’s Square. Typeface is killed as the pair rush into a subway tunnel to hide from the conflict.

Meanwhile, 42 is drifting due to the damage it received in the battle. Turns out Captain Marvel in this warden due to an accident that brought him forward in the timestream. He’s uncertain as whether or not to take action, but finally does.

The battle in Time’s Square gets rather pitched. Spider-Man punches and kicks – among others – Mr. Fantastic. As Lady Deathstrike, Venom, Bullseye, and Taskmaster beat the crap outta Cap, Namor arrives with a strike force of Atlanteans. However, Thor, Sentry, Captain Marvel, and the California Champions arrive as well.

In the midst of the battle, the Wakandian Embassy tries to evacuate. Storm is asked by T’Challa to protect while he battles the Pro-Regs. This eventually leads to a confrontation with Thor. The two battle; getting rather harsh while Storm protects the evacuating Wakandians. Sue steps in at one point and helps protect Storm from an onslaught of lightning. Storm manages to disrupt Thor’s circuitry using an EMP, but he reactives . . . but this time, it’s Hercules that wants to tackle the faux god.

Spider-Man muses about the war while Jameson and various others bare witness. He begins to understand that at the end of the day, they’re not fighting over rules and regulations – they’re fighting over the people, the citizens, and the way things used to be. Spider-Man then spots Captain Marvel and goes off to accuse Tony of disgracing Mar-Vell’s memory just he like he did with Thor. Iron Man blasts Spider-Man away, and then is confronted by Cap.

The Vision helps disrupt the armor and Cap leaps right into battle.

The Thing then returns, looking to help the people by keeping the battle away from the citizens. Sue is overjoyed by his actions, but the Taskmaster lines up to shoot her. Reed leaps into the way and takes the bullets. Enraged, Sue smashes Taskmaster.

Thor and Hercules continue their battle, with Hercules eventually smashing Thor’s head in with his own hammer. Thor is destroyed.

Captain America and Iron Man continue to duke it out, with Iron Man now on the ropes. With his helmet shattered and his armor down, Iron Man looks to Cap (with his shield raised) and tells him to do it. Cap hesitates . . . and is tackled by cops, firemen, and paramedics. Cap insists that he’s helping them, but they make him look around at the damage that he and this battle have caused. Because he resisted, the Civil War began and eventually destroyed Times Square.

Cap surrenders and orders his troops to stand down.

In the aftermath of the battle, Sally and Ben emerge to find the destruction appalling and Ben wonders if perhaps this was why things had to change. Black Panther and Storm now have nowhere to go with the embassy destroyed. Plus, Spider-Man is among the missing and the assassin is still targeting their room.

The Punisher managed to pick-up Steve’s mask.

Brought to Ryker’s, Steve and Tony get into it, with Steve blaming Tony for making this happen in the first place and asking if his new position as SHIELD director is worth it. Tony just basically calls Steve a sore loser and walks off.

Wow. Okay.

First of all, my hat’s off to Marvel. The way this all read right here – this final portion – it’s perfect. If one reads this in the order I did, they’ll see the major subplots converge in the final battle. Even little things, like Ms. Marvel’s doubts, manifest when she gives Sally the information about the traitor. It fits so well together and, in fact, adding the extra scenes and elements from other books only makes it all the more effective. It gives the final battle more intensity and makes Cap’s surrender not only more dramatic, but also make more sense.

On the character’s side of things, I think this was a great work right here. Punisher, Black Panther, Speedball, Storm, Hercules, Reed, Ben, Sue, Tony, Steve, and Peter all are very well played here. The more I read that scene where Cap surrenders, the more I understand why he did it and why it makes perfect sense.

I talked about in another review about what “Civil War” war really about in terms of the larger MU. Things needed to change and this was the change. There was resistance to change, as there always is, but at the end of the day, this change was for the better.

There are still emotional issues to figure out and there’s the whole Osborne/Atlantis conspiracy, but this is pretty much the big end of Civil War. Next up, the epilogue.

~W~

Sunday, January 27, 2008

UXP # 143e: "Civil War: War Crimes"

Amazing Spider-Man # 535 (Rest of issue), Civil War # 5 (pages 1-13), Amazing Spider-Man # 536 (pages 1-8), Civil War # 5 (Pages 14-28), Punisher War Journal # 1, Punisher War Journal # 2 (pages 1-10), Amazing Spider-Man # 536 (rest of issue), Civil War # 5 (rest of issue), Civil War: Frontline # 6 (rest of issue), Civil War: Frontline # 7, Fantastic Four # 541, Black Panther # 24, Black Panther # 25 (1-4), Civil War: War Crimes, Iron Man # 13 (rest of issue),Iron Man # 14, Fantastic Four # 542, Captain America/Iron Man, New Avengers # 24, Captain America # 23, New Avengers # 25, Captain America # 24, Winter Soldier: Winter Kills, Civil War: The Return - "The Decision", Moon Knight # 7-8

Spider-Man decides he’s had enough of Tony’s shenanigans. He gets May and Mary-Jane out of Stark Tower, then confront Tony himself. They smash through a wall, and then Tony tries to talk Peter down. SHIELD agents show up, blast the window open for Spider-Man to escape, and Peter goes for it.

Iron Man follows him out and deactivates the Iron Spider-Man Armor. It shuts down, but it turns out that Spider-Man had an override installed in it. He takes down Iron Man and makes a run for it. SHIELD then unleashes Jack O’Lantern and Toy Man (new Thunderbolts) to follow Spider-Man into the sewers. Jack O’Lantern’s gas makes Spider-Man crazy and is about to be captured, when the Punisher shows ups and kills them both – then rushes Spider-Man to Captain America’s Secret Avengers headquarters. Turns out that he’s been keeping an eye on it, making sure it remains secure. We flashback and learn that Punisher discovered that Stark has building the Thunderbolts and it turns that offering criminals a “second chance” just doesn’t jive with Frank Castle. Captain America decides to take Castle in and make him part of the group.

After recovering, Peter goes to May and MJ for confirmation that he did the right thing.

Meanwhile, Daredevil has been captured (so has Cloak and Dagger) and hands over a piece of silver to Stark for being a traitor.

Speedball decides to present his case in front of Congress, but on his way in, he’s shot by the father of one of the Stamford kids. He’s rushed into an ambulance, which crashes on the way to the hospital when his powers go completely insane. Meanwhile, Congressman Sykes bails out Sally Floyd because he fought in ‘Nam for her right to say whatever the heck she wants. How nice of him!

Wonder Man spies on Joe the Sleeper Agent when he goes to a warehouse full of Atlanteans. The warehouse is then destroyed by the Green Goblin, with Simon knocked out as well.

The Thing heads off to Paris as he promised, where he teams up with the Heroes of Paris – basically JLA rip-offs – and battles some lame super-villain. It’s funny.

Things with the Wakandaian royal family aren’t that great. The white guys in Washington are continuing their smear campaign; the US is performing war games near Wakanda; and the tribal council is getting restless. T’Challa makes sure that everyone is loyal and getting along with the Secret Avengers while Ororo chats it up with Reed, and then joins her husband.

The imprisoned Kingpin gives some information to Iron Man, which eventually turns out leading Tony right to Hammerhead and his group of super-villains that he planned on using against the Pro-Reg forces and Secret Avengers.

On his wedding anniversary, Spymaster goes to kill Iron Man – but ends up in fisticuffs with Happy Hogan instead. Happy manages to take out Spymaster, but ends up in a coma. Pepper and Tony meet at the hospital, and Pepper asks Tony to uses the Extremists Virus to shut down Happy’s life-support. Unable to do so, Iron Man meets with various other associates. Eventually, he talks to Cap and finds out that Steve had nothing to do with Spymaster. After an argument with Invisible Woman, Tony cuts the life-support.

Johnny reaches out to Reed and Ben, but to no avail. Sue and the Mad Thinker meet with Reed regarding his equations, but Sue runs off again.

Captain America and Iron Man finally meet again at the decimated remains of Avengers Mansion, where they discuss the registration act and better times. Of course, it ends with them battling it out, then walking away, their friendship destroyed.

The Sentry heads to the moon for some peace and quiet, but ends up getting ambushed the Inhumans. They bid him welcome as a guest and when he’s about to do something naughty with Crystal, Iron Man shows up and wants Sentry to return home and to Register. Black Bolt kicks Iron Man out and the Sentry is still left undecided.

As the Red Skull continues his plotting and planning, the Winter Soldier does some work for Nick Fury – which mainly includes infiltrating SHIELD’s mainframe and getting the stats on the Capekiller armors.

An angry employee of Stark Tech sneaks into the Avengers Tower and shuts down Tony in his armor. Maria Hill rescues Tony then and hints that Tony could take her position at SHIELD.

Captain America infiltrates an AIM facility being raided by Hydra. After he busts through some agents, SHIELD shows up with Capekillers. He’s then rescued by Sharon Carter, who has joined his side.

Shortly thereafter, Winter Soldier is asked by Nick Fury to make sure that the Young Avengers don’t accidentally break-down a Hydra cell he’s been watching. Winter Soldier is not exactly happy about this, as this is his first Christmas free, but he does what he has to. However, after meeting the Young Avengers, they’re discovered by Hydra and the cell is destroyed anywho. The Young Avengers then traces Winter Soldier back to a cemetery, where they come to understand who he really is as Bucky makes peace with Jack Munroe. Finally, at the grave of Toro, Namor appears and the two chat.

The Sentry finally decides to register after fighting Absorbing Man. Captain America confronts Moon Knight regarding his use of too much force against criminals, touting that there was one person he could apply the Registration Act to, it would be him.

Breaking it down now . . .

The Spider-Man betrayal/Punisher joining Secret Avengers/Thunderbolts first unleashed is perhaps among the best sequences in all of Civil War. Flowing across three titles (each one adding just a little more to the various scenes without making it unrecognizable), it’s a well-executed affair. Each characters comes across honestly. Peter, just finally done with it all. Tony, trying to stop Peter from going too far. Punisher, deciding that the Civil War has just gone too far. The whole thing plays off so great.

The Speedball stuff continues to be rather intriguing, and really conveys a strong character piece. You really feel sorry for the guy.

The whole Sleeper Cell storyline is just as intriguing, though knowing where it’s heading . . . uh . . . well, it’s still pretty good and appropriately murky at this point.

Ben and Sally continue on their little quests for the truth, though to be honest, it’s getting a little old and has stopped having that “ground-up” POV that made this book so good in the first place.

Ben’s adventure in the City of Lights is fun, but not really worth much in a broader sense.

T’Challa comes across as a great character in Hudlin’s “Black Panther,” but let’s be honest here. This is really where Storm starts to take off again until Hudlin’s pen. In addition to be the most in character since he stared writing her, Storm also gets some great development and really comes across as the character we all know and love.

The Kingpin story is a nice little piece, really offering up some insight into the Kingpin’s jailbird adventures. It sometimes pushes a little too far here and there, but it’s a good look at the criminal element and what they’re up to while the heroes are fighting it out.

The Happy Hogan story is done rather well, though to be honest, it’s overshadowed by other elements of Civil War.

The various wartime reunions of the Fantastic Four are relatively pointless.

The Iron Man/Captain America story is really a fine tale, and one that should have come far earlier. It’s a nice character piece and despite the brief fight sequence, it’s a good floating heads book. Flashbacks are utilized well here as well.

The Sentry/Inhumans story does a good job of bringing in the Inhumans to at least the outer circle of this crossover. However, I need to harp on the sheer inconsistency between the portrayals of the Sentry. In New Avengers and The Return, his character goes from insecure to cocky. It’s whiplash – even with the “he’s crazy” explanation.

The disgruntled employee story from New Avengers is rather flat, too, to be honest.

The Captain America titles continue to do a good job of building the Red Skull’s “master plan” while also allowing the ripples of Civil War to affect Sharon, Nick Fury, and Bucky.

The Captain America/Iron Man special and the Winter Soldier: Winter Kills one-shot both do a good job of building on what an issue of Black Panther did as well and that’s offer flashbacks. Placing flashbacks to the days of the Invaders and the various adventures of the Avengers adds a broader context and aspect to Civil War, giving it even more meaning and evoking thoughts of changes and transformation done to the operational standards of the Marvel Universe’s super-heroes.

The Moon Knight/Captain America thing is about a strong as a fart in a stiff wind.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

UXP # 143d: "Civil War: Choosing Sides"

Eternals # 2, Pages 13-24; Eternals # 3, Pages 1-8, 12-13; New Avengers # 23, Civil War # 3 (Pages # 2 - 3), X-Factor # 8-9, Wolverine # 42 (rest of issue), Fantastic Four # 538, Wolverine # 43-48, Blade # 5, Civil War: Frontline # 3, Civil War: Frontline # 4: “Sleeper Cell, Part Two”, Civil War: Choosing Sides - The Immortal Iron Fist, Young Avengers and Runaways # 1-4, Ms. Marvel # 6-8, Civil War: Choosing Sides - Switching Sides, Civil War: Choosing Sides – USAgent, Black Panther # 21, Heroes for Hire # 1, Iron Man # 13 (Pages # 1-22), Black Panther # 22, Civil War: Frontline # 4 (rest of issue), Civil War: Frontline # 5

The Eternal Sersi is throwing fancy party for a foreign country when it’s crashed by terrorists working for the Deviants. Even with the memories of him being an Eternal suppressed, Makkari leaps into action and saves a lot of people. Iron Man then shows up and helps clean up. He then confronts Sersi about registration, to which she confesses as having no memory of ever being an Avenger or having powers.

Spider-Woman is then brought into SHIELD custody for being a triple-agent. She is then rescued by Hydra, but manages to escape to Captain America, having no where else to go.

Members from Iron Man’s Pro-Reg forces meet up with various heroes. Doctor Strange is gone, having retreated to the North Pole to fast until it’s all over. T’Challa rejects Reed’s offer to come over to his side.

X-Factor is then notified that Quicksilver might be heading to Mutant Town. The X-Men arrive after Pietro meets with Jaime and his team and X-Factor decides to take a stand against Registration – mainly because X-Factor learns the truth about Decimation and Jaime helps Aegis escape Capekillers.

Wolverine, against the X-Men’s orders, goes after Nitro. He picks up his scent in Stamford and goes on the hunt.

With Sue and Reed arguing, Ben goes to talk at Johnny while he’s in a comma. Ben then goes out, sees Ms. Marvel fighting Silver Claw, and decides to stand up for the people. Meanwhile, the mysteries “DB” gets a hold of Thor’s hammer.

Wolverine tracks Nitro down to Big Sur, California. He’s joined by SHIELD agents who get completely wiped out. As Wolverine starts to take Nitro down, Atlantian sleeper agents leap in to take Nitro themselves. Nitro dangles some juicy information in front of Wolverine, which causes Logan to vow to keep Nitro alive. Namor shows up, takes Logan down, then hauls Nitro to Atlantis for killing Namorita. Wolverine heads down and confronts Namor and takes off one of Nitro’s hand . . . and learns that Damage Control, Inc. gave Nitro MGH. MGH (Mutant Growth Hormone) gave Nitro more power, in the hopes that he would cause greater damage and therefore, give Damage Control Inc. more business. While destroying various arms of Damage Control, Inc., Logan is taken in by SHIELD . . . only to escape and confront the new CEO of Damage Control, Inc. He and Wolverine fight until they crash over the side of the building. Logan then tells one of the sleeper agents (pillow talk) about where his soul goes when he’s really damaged.

SHIELD drags in Blade after he battles a registered Morbius and Blade is charged with reeling Wolverine. He and Logan battle it out, until Blade realizes that he knows Wolverine from years ago and was actually saved by him. He then tells SHIELD that Logan is off limits.

Sally Floyd is brought into a gathering of super-heroes in hiding, including Network, Battlestar, Solo, Typeface, and others. Afterwards, Sally witnesses a battle between Pro-Reg Bantam and Anti-Reg Thunderclap. Thunderclap, unfortunately, accidentally knocks Bantam into a gas tanker and BOOM! She-Hulk continues to try and convince Speedball into Registering, but he again declines.

Meanwhile, an Aquarium blows up and the owner – Joe – turns out to be an Atlantian deep sleeper agent who is activated by whale calls and goes to Atlantis.

We then revisit Daredevil as he asks Iron Fist to take his place for a while. Iron Fist does, but decides that Iron Fist would/will be needed soon.

The Young Avengers get word of the Runaways in Los Angeles and decide to go against Cap’s orders and go to confront them. After a scuffle, the teams discuss registration before they are attacked by Marvel Boy and half the teams are captured. The rest go after them and eventually succeed in releasing Marvel Boy from his brainwashing and rescue their friends. The teams then part ways, with the Runaways deciding not to side with anyone and instead, “run away” from the situation.

Ms. Marvel, Wonder Man, and Arachne are given new missions after Prowler is captured. Arachne is asked to bring in Shroud, with whom she is having a love affair with. The two go on the run while Wonder Man and Ms. Marvel ask Arana to register (she does). The trio follow Shroud and Arachne and after bringing in Shroud, they battle it out with Arachne at her parents house in front her daughter.

Venom takes out some SHIELD agents, but then is approached by Radioactive Man and Songbirds about joining the Thunderbolts. He accepts.

USAgent is approached by Iron Man about heading up to Canada to go after Purple Man and to head up the new Alpha Flight team. After some complaining, he goes.

Storm and Black Panther go to Atlantis at the invitation of Namor. Namor wants to build up a global resistance against the Registration Act and wants T’Challa and Ororo to lead it. After some debate and some flashbacks regarding the Invaders, T’Challa decides to do it.

The Heroes for Hire (Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Humbug, Shang-Chi, Tarantula, Black Cat, Paladin, and Orca) are asked by Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and Spider-Man to hunt down super-villains. After helping to fight the Mandarin’s Avatars, they manage to bring in some super-villains seeking to flee New York.

Iron Man, on the west coast, is filming PSAs, being threatened by the Secretary of Defense, and helps to find comfort in his friends . . . only to not get any.

Black Panther and Storm meet with Captain Britain, who turns them down. After that, they head to Washington DC to meet with the President – which goes wrong when they’re asked to Register. On the way out, Black Panther goes to help a child who is in danger of being trampled by a crowd. Nearby ONE forces register this as an attack. War Machine gets involved and nearly killed if not for T’Challa. Iron Man then shows up and the two fight, with Black Panther declaring that his business in America is not finished.

Sally Floyd once more goes to the underground super-hero meeting, only to discover she was followed by SHIELD. She barely escapes. Meanwhile, Ben Urich is attacked by Green Goblin, but when Osborne is about to actually kill him, he flips out and runs off. Ben goes to Jameson and the two tie into it . . . with Ben getting fired. Sally is contacted by someone mysterious who tells her she’s looking in the wrong in the place. When she brings her story to the Alternative, she and her editor are arrested by SHIELD.

After being shunned and rejected by his mother, Speedball is sent to “Fantasy Island,” the Negative Zone prison created to hold super-heroes and super-villains.

Okay, well, let’s start at the top . . .

“The Eternals” is a great story. Honestly, I could have put the entire mini-series in here. Putting it up against the back-drop of a “Civil War”-ridden Marvel Universe is a great choice.

The Spider-Woman story is nice, though it does feel a little detached from the major event.

X-Factor is a great story that pulls together threads from Decimation and Civil War and links them nicely. Jamie’s ultimate decision to defy the X-Men, protect Quicksilver and Mutant Town, and stand proudly against Registration is well reasoned and I liked that we saw him move emotionally towards this decision.

Wolverine’s tale is quite excellent. Wolverine comes across as honorable, savage, complex, emotional, deep, and bad-ass all in one. It’s great to see him chafe under Scott and Emma’s command and break out on his own. He’s smart here, he’s using his head. It’s probably among the very best Wolverine stories I have ever read – and that’s saying something. His interaction with Namor is also particularly enjoyable as the two seem to be more similar than one would think. Further, the battle with Blade, while mostly fan-service, is fun to watch. As an aside – there’s an interesting connection Logan has with the New Warriors. Way back in “Mutants No More,” the New Warriors managed to save Logan’s ass when his powers were gone.

Fantastic Four, personally, feels like little more than a blip on the RADAR. It’s fun to see Ben entertain the comatose Johnny and I like the position he gets stuck in at the end. But the fight between Reed and Sue just doesn’t jive well with me.

Frontline continues to do a good job at offering a street-level, down-to-Earth look at the Civil War. There are some highlights, including mainly the Bantam/Thunderclap fight and the gathering of C and D-listers. However, even though it’s well-written, the veering towards the Sleeper Cell/conspiracy storyline takes away from the position these characters were so perfectly in.

Speedball’s tale continues to be more and more tragic.

The meeting between the Young Avengers and the Runaways is a fun one and it’s about damn time these two teams meet. It’s a pretty good story, even though its connection with Civil War is a little subtle. But it’s great to see these characters interact and it works well against the back-drop of Civil War.

Ms. Marvel is another strong book, really focusing in on the friendly face of the Pro-Reg forces. Ms. Marvel’s character really shines as she is gentle to bring in Arana, but harsh when separating Arachne from Rachel. It’s a well-paced, well-written story with top-notch character development for Ms. Marvel.

Black Panther’s role in Civil War works well and suits both him and Storm to a tee. Hudlin is finally getting the hang of Storm. The “white media versus black media” is played a little too hard, but there are some strong highlights that outshine that. The meeting with Namor, Captain Britain and Iron Man are well-handled and all the characters come across nicely. Iron Man is a little harsh, but not as bad as with other writers.

Heroes For Hire is a fun book with great characters and a nice premise.

The “behind the mask” look at Iron Man is appreciated as we see just how insecure he is about all of this despite the “I’m a great super-hero, go register!” attitude.

The various “Choosing Sides” are all just mainly snippets, but they’re good snippets and offer insight to the characters dealt with in said story. They vary in terms of quality, but for the most part, it’s pretty good.

~W~

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Minor Milestone

Hello all you guys and gals!

Though you won't notice it until next week (or perhaps even the week after that), the Uncanny X-Periment is completely up-to-date. Yes, that's right. I just read all of Messiah Complex, which now only leaves us with whatever comics are coming out on a week-by-week basis.

I'm not sure as to what this means for the Uncanny X-Periment. On the one hand, it's kinda nice to not have about ten stacks of comics sitting next to my bed, waiting for me to crack 'em open, and then write about them. But on the other hand, I want to keep this blog somewhat active.

I'm reluctant to go on an issue-by-issue up-date. I think it kinda harms the intention of this blog, as my goal was to take specific eras of the X-Men and offer overviews/reviews of said eras. This worked quite while with Wolverine: Origins, as the quality of this series actually improved when all of the so-called "first act" is put together.

I'm pretty sure you'll see activity here for at least the next month. I'm going to be posting the "Civil War" entries daily after I get my computer back up and running (and thus having access to my back-dated entries). After that, there will be a spot reserved for Astonishing X-Men, and then Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire. Which is then followed by Red Data and Endangered Species. That will ultimately get us to Messiah Complex.

I'm fairly certain that by the time we get to Messiah Complex, X-Men: Emperor Vulcan will be completed. I may even toss in X-Men: Die by the Sword for kicks and giggles. So that's some material right there.

As for the future of this blog, I haven't quite decided. As strange as it sounds, February is big X-Men month for me. It was the month that, in 1992, I picked up my first issue of Uncanny X-Men and X-Factor. So I may do something to celebrate that event. I may also do a few articles and observations and the like.

We'll cross that bridge when we get there, though. I figure, by the time I get the "last" entry up, I'll have a clear answer as to what the future holds of this blog.

~W~

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Intermission: Technical Difficulties - Part Two: Electric Boogaloo

Yet again, I'm faced with computer problems. They always seem to compound on each other. A few months back, it was some very nasty spyware/adware that got to me. This past month, my adapter went bad. Upon getting a replacement, this new one barely works with it. Even when man-handled!

So . . . I'm using my Dad's computer. When I head back to school, I'll probably be up-dating from there. With my fingers crossed that I saved my back-dated entries onto my flash drive that is. If not? Well, sorry. It'll be a while.

I kinda feel like I'm talking to myself with this thing, anyways.

~W~

Saturday, January 12, 2008

UXP # 143c: "Civil War: Registration Becomes Law"

Civil War: Choosing Sides – “Non-Human Americans,” New Avengers # 22 (until page 13), Civil War # 2 (until page 14), New Avengers # 22 (rest of issue), Amazing Spider-Man # 532 (pages 23-25), Civil War # 2 (rest of issue), Civil War: Frontline # 2 – “The Program,” Civil War # 3 (page 1), Thunderbolts # 103 (until page 10, panel 3), Amazing Spider-Man # 533, Thunderbolts # 103 (rest of issue), Civil War: Frontline # 2 (rest of issue)

It’s about here where things get a little more complicated continuity-wise. I messed up the placement of Amazing Spider-Man # 532, pages 23-25; it should really take place before Civil War # 2, while New Avengers (until page 13) should be moved into Civil War # 2, probably between pages 11 and 12. Oh well.

Kicking things off, Howard the Duck and his girlfriend Bev (making their second appearance here at the Uncanny X-Periment) make their way to the Cleveland Registration Office. After some mix-up with the DMV (whoops! Ohio has a BMV!), they end up in the right office, where Howard learns that he’s been classified as non-existent . . . which makes him very happy.

With the registration deadline approaching, Iron Man and Ms. Marvel go and see Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and their baby daughter. Luke and Jess refuse to sign up and Luke has Jess flee to Canada while he remains in Harlem.

Meanwhile, both Cap America’s so-called “Secret Avengers” and Iron Man’s Pro-Reg forces tackle various threats; the former being Reaper and Vulture, the latter being a giant-ass Doombot. At the Baxter Building, the battling of their former friends is wearing on Sue, but Reed is really excited about it and is building something called ’42.’ J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie muse over the Registration Act as it is about to go through; when it does, Tony Stark expresses to Happy Hogan his doubts.

Immediately following midnight, when the act is passed, Luke Cage is attacked by SHIELD and their Capekillers. As capture seems to be within reach, he is rescued by Captain America, Daredevil, and Falcon. They then high-jack a tank and make it out alive.

Twenty-four hours after the Act is signed, SHIELD and the Capekillers capture the Young Avengers, who are then rescued by Cap and Falcon and taken back to their secret HQ (one of Fury’s old underground bases). They are joined by Cloak, Dagger, Cable, Hercules, and a few others.

Peter arrives in Washington DC and is introduced as Spider-Man before peeling off his mask on live television, revealing himself. The point of this was to show that the Registration Act is the responsible thing to follow.

Norman Osborne watches as Peter/Spider-Man answers questions and grows furious. He is then offered a chance to change the game by the government.

The Thunderbolts catch the news during a battle with Quicksand, who they defeat and wonder about how Spider-Man’s revelation will effect their status quo.

With the press conference completed, Peter heads home. Once there, he learns that the Bugle is suing him for damages. Furthermore, Peter catches a news conference that states that he and many others will hunting down those that did not Register.

Back in DC, Yellowjacket, Mr. Fantastic, and Iron Man meet up with Baron Zemo and Songbird, who recruit them into capturing super-villains. This leads to a battle with various college kids that stole old Beetle armors. After the kids are defeated, Baron Zemo relishes in the fact that that villain hunt was going for two weeks before he was even asked to (part of another plan).

Ben Urich manages an interview with Peter while Sally goes after Firestar (who says simply she’s giving up the super-hero lifestyle to get a college education and job). The pair then witnesses the first major engagement of Civil War – Iron Man taking down the former Slinger Prodigy.

Finally, Speedball refuses Registration and ends up in jail.

Lots to cover here. Let’s break it down into the small stuff first.

Howard the Duck’s story was simple and funny and offers an enjoyable angle on the current situation.

Luke’s struggle against SHIELD and his determination to stay both speak greatly of his character. Jess shines through as well. The art is bad, but the writing is well-done.

Civil War itself provides brief, but brilliant spurts of insight. Reed and Sue’s rising tension (and Reed’s apparent denial/blindness of it) really speaks of the way the war is affecting their marriage. Tony’s “I hope we’re doing the right thing” line is one of my favorites. It really humanizes him. The rescue of the Young Avengers is delightfully dynamic.

Frontline continues to be smartly written and provides a ground-level look at the war as it unfolds. Speedball’s story is not as strong, but still remains interesting. Less so than Osborne’s, which was a good fit for the character; it also ensures that the bad guys aren’t just the good guys.

Thunderbolts . . . while I love the role they go onto play in Civil War, I still find their characters to be lacking accessibility and come off as clich├ęd.

There is a chink in the armor here, though, and that’s with the Registration Act. All of these books deal with it being passed, but there are still some questions that need to be asked. Just because one registers, do they have to be called up into active duty? Is it like the Marines? What kind of training? What if they’ve been at it for years? Are there certain levels and requirements they have to match? And what if they don’t want to be a super-hero? Who takes care of their personal information?

One issue of She-Hulk would have answered all this. Marvel dropped the ball here and had they gone over all the details in canon, then I don’t think that readers would have opposed the Registration Act so much.

Now, as for Spider-Man’s unmasking . . .

I like it, generally. It shakes things up, gets things around. It has a great impact on Spidey’s supporting cast – Aunt May, MJ, Flash, Osborne, Jameson, Urich, etc. It’s a bold step and one that makes Spider-Man’s involvement in Civil War a more emotional thing. It fits his character. There’s a strong case made for it.

There are some other things about Spider-Man that I’d like to go into, but we’ll cover that a few entries later.

~W~

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

UXP # 143b: "Civil War: Opening Shot"

Civil War # 1, Wolverine # 42 (until page 27), Civil War: Frontline # 1, Amazing Spider-Man # 532 (until page 21), New Avengers # 21, She-Hulk # 8, Black Panther # 18, Captain America # 22

The New Warriors head to Stamford, Connecticut to film the second season of their reality TV show. They track down Coldheart, Cobalt Man, Speedfreak, and Nitro to a suburban house across the street from an elementary school and battle with them during, well, recess. Nitro then explodes, killing the New Warriors and some 600 people at Stamford, including school children.

The heroes respond, but there is a backlash. Rallied by Miriam Sharpe – mother of one of those killed in the blast – thousands are demanding super-hero registration. What would registration mean? Revealing your secret identity to the government, getting training in use of your powers, and licensed. During an informal meeting at the Baxter Building, the rift between those who agree and disagree begins to grow. When SHIELD Commander Maria Hill tells Captain America he’ll have to hunt down those that don’t comply, Cap refuses and is attacked. Captain America then goes underground and Iron Man – who is in support of registration – tell the President he’ll hunt Cap down.

During this, we’ve got Wolverine, who feels as though everyone is getting too cluttered in the post-Stamford event and instead should be concentrating on finding Nitro, who managed to escape.

Sally Floyd and Ben Urich are asked to take a side by their respective publishers, which eventually leads Sally into an interview with Spider-Man and Ben arguing with Jameson. Spider-Man gives Sally a tip – to see Iron Man’s Washington Press Conference, where Tony reveals that he’s not only Iron Man, but also an alcoholic as a way to of “coming clean.” Oh, and it turns out Speedball survived and is secretly arrested, his powers having saved him and burned out from the explosion.

As this is all occurring Tony allies himself with the government and asks Peter to fully disclose himself to the government and the public as a rallying symbol. Peter is left uncertain of this.

SHIELD manages to track down Cap, who confronts an alive Dum-Dum Dugan before escaping and meeting up with the Falcon. The pair then goes to recruit Yellowjacket, who holds them until a unit of the newly-instated Capekiller soldiers arrive to take them down. The pair escape, of course, to bring more to their cause.

The New Warriors not involved in the Stamford incident go to She-Hulk for help in their legal battle with a website that is making their names known so that angry lynch mobs can attack their friends and families. After a brief court battle, Iron Man gives She-Hulk the name of who is behind it – former New Warrior Hindsight Lad. The New Warriors take him down. Meanwhile, John Jameson (Man-Wolf) is confronted by Cap, but turns him down and instead proposes to Pro-Reg She-Hulk.

In Wakanda, there is a cease-fire issued when Black Panther and Storm marry. Iron Man and Captain America have harsh words, but it doesn’t take too much away from the wedding. Storm’s very spirit is tested before she is deemed strong enough to marry T’Challa. Man-Ape turns out to have been invited, Doom sends wedding gifts, and despite the tension, everyone seems to have had a good time.

Finally, Sharon Carter gets a psychological evaluation after messing things up. SHIELD tried to use her feelings for Cap to bring him in, but she sent the Capekillers to another location while she tried to convince Steve to change his mind. She’s okay to return to duty, but it turns out that the evil Doctor Lukin is working with the Red Skull and is messing with her mind.

Whew! And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Civil War itself brings the problem right up in front and is among Millar’s best single issues. Everything is really well done, from the opening scenes to Cap’s leaving of the Hellicarrier. The best moment, however, is the meeting at the Baxter Building. It really brings the large Marvel Universe together in such a strangely informal way. The Avengers, Young Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and a number of B and C-listers are all there, discussing what’s going on. And when the Watcher arrives, you can just feel the already tense situation take a grave turn. It’s a great scene that pulls the issue together.

Wolverine is a good start. I like to see someone actually making an effort to track down the real killer. I’ll cover more Wolverine ground later.

Frontline presents a nice start and it’s good to see a more ground-level, human-eye look at the events taking place. The scene with Sally and Spider-Man is fantastically awkward and Iron Man’s “coming out” would have been far more dull if not the “and I’m an alcoholic” part. Good beginning.

Amazing Spider-Man is pretty straight-forward. Not sure why Tony is pushing Peter to reveal his identity to the public, but I can see why Tony needs Peter to at least register. The Tony/Peter dynamic is a great aspect of this book and really comes through nicely.

New Avengers gives us a decent look at the inside of Cap’s head as he’s dealing with recent events. The art is a strange match, but I loved seeing Cap and Falcon working together, as well as Cap starting up the rebellion.

She-Hulk is a treat. It’s good to see an issue dedicated to dealing with the New Warriors not involved in Stamford. I wish there had been more Civil War tie-ins, including one dealing with the details of the Registration Act.

Black Panther is good. I like the blend of realism and Marvel fiction in terms of the guest list. Needed more X-Men. We saw Nightcrawler, Professor X, and the Astonishing team, but where was Rogue, Cannonball, Warren, Bobby, and the others? Even New Excalibur were shown! A better spotlight on the X-Men would have been great here, but Kitty and Professor X both get nice little moments (unlike Cyclops, who gets the dull line “I wonder what kind of impact this will have on her responsibilities as an X-Man?” BLARGH!). Cyclops has a personality. Hudlin finally starts to get the hang of Storm, which is about time. The spirit world/Panther God scene is nicely done and overall, the issue is pretty good. I placed it here instead of later mainly because I put it later, it would have hurt the Luke/Jess separation. Furthermore, it serves as the only other time that Cap and Iron Man are somewhat non-violent with each other.

Finally, we have Captain America. It was cool seeing this story from Sharon’s POV and seeing her struggle with everything going is a nice and needed touch. Cap’s determination really shines through. Brubaker has Cap nailed here. And the scheming by the Red Skull is an excellent scene.

~W~

Sunday, January 06, 2008

UXP # 143a: "Civil War: Road to Civil War"

New Avengers: The Illuminati, Fantastic Four 436-437, Amazing Spider-Man # 529-531

Okay, okay, I know, I know. What in the world is Civil War doing here? Well, I figured we’ve got some time to kill since we’re looking to get this completely up-to-date by the time “Messiah Complex” is over, so let’s do it like this. I’ve broken down every single portion of Civil War into a gigantic chronological read order. You can check it out over here. I figured, since we’ve got this time to kill, why not focus on that? I mean, while the X-Men aren’t the stars, they do have a role to play and there are repercussions in their little corner of the Marvel Universe. Plus, I'm a big fan of "Civil War." It's actually among my favorite Marvel stories, so . . . yeah. You'll get an up-date today, then some in the middle of the week (I'm thinking Wednesday-ish), then next week. Ready? Good. Here we go!


After the Kree/Skrull War, Iron Man called together Mr. Fantastic, Black Panther, Professor X, Namor, Black Bolt, and Doctor Strange in the hopes of forming an uber-team. Everyone turned it down. So, it was decided by everyone but Black Panther that this group would meet every now in secret to share information and to tackle “secret” issues. Recently, with Professor X missing, this group decided to launch the Hulk into space. This created a rift in the group as Namor greatly disagreed. He rushed off. Now, Iron Man has called them together again in regards to some legislation he was secretly handed. Turns out that the government is nearing it’s wit’s end as far as super-human recklessness is concerned and wants to propose an act that will force super-heroes to register with the government. Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic want to get behind it, Strange and Black Bolt disagree, and Namor laughs and leaves.

When Reed gets home, he and the rest of the Fantastic Four are called to Okalahoma, where Doombots are attacking a research facility that’s been built around the fallen hammer of Thor. Doctor Doom himself arrives, as it was the hammer than freed him from Hell and he thinks he’s worthy of it. Well, duh, he’s not, but he did “activate” and a mysterious ‘DB’ is on his way to retrieve it.

Meanwhile, Iron Man gives Spider-Man an Iron Spider-Man Armor and makes Peter his right-hand man. They head to Washington to argue the registration legislation. Conveniently, Titanium Man shows up. Spider-Man fights him, they continue to debate, and then they leave. It then turns out that Titanium Man was hired by Stark to show lawmakers that heroes are needed.

Okay, so let’s get to it, shall we?

First of all, the Fantastic Four story is great. It’s short, it’s fun, it’s exciting and energetic. Between JMS script and Mike McKone’s art, it’s rather good.

Illuminati is pretty good too, but this is where I start to have a problem. Now, let me state that I like the idea of the Illuminati. It’s one of those “I thought of this idea ten years ago!” things. It just makes sense to me, y’know? Overall, the script works and Alex Maleev’s art really fleshes it out nicely.

Amazing Spider-Man is good too, but it gets a little long-winded. It’s funny, don’t get me wrong, and both Tyler Kirkham and Ron Garney do good work here, but the dialogue is very, shall we say, Claremontian? But I can look past that, I suppose.

Here’s my beef though – why introduce the legislation now? It doesn’t make any sense. What’s the point? Because a bad thing is going to happen? Gah, the wheels are showing. Even a line saying that “it’s been in the works for years, sometimes getting shelved and sometimes getting dusted off when crazy things are happening” would have worked. The scene that kills me is when Iron Man talks about exactly what happens. I know, I know, futurist. But still . . . it stretches even my suspension of belief.

Seriously, if this portion was toned down, it would have been better.

You know, if you couple this with the first few pages of the Civil War Sketchbook, it actually really feels like you’re about to get swept into something huge gigantic. Which really works for this story.

~W~