The Amazing Spider-Man #529

Definition: Civil War. A war between citizens of the same country. When thinking of Civil War, you think of the Civil War that almost tore the United States apart. Brother against brother. Friends against friend. People that were one day friends were suddenly enemies and looking to murder each other.

Marvel Comics had their own Civil War. What started as a move by politicians to have superheroes in that universe to register if they wished to fight crime turned into one of the most notorious battles in Marvel’s history. It’s also the inspiration for the new Marvel movie coming out this year, Captain America: Civil War. With that, I wanted to explore the series that gave the film its inspiration with the hopes of seeing what works, what doesn’t, and what the filmmakers end up incorporating into the final product.

This issue is a pretty straight forward Spider-Man adventure. We find Peter Parker working for Tony Stark. This issue gives us the birth of the Iron Spider outfit that is making its presence known in the Ultimate Spider-Man show on The Disney Channel. Tony makes the suit for him as a way to entice him to go along with his plan of going against Washington against a proposed Superhero Registration Act.

The story was pretty short but sweet. Think of it like the comic version of the opening of a James Bond film. Most of the action involves Peter trying out the suit by taking out a couple car jackers who have a hostage. Peter is able to take them out with relative ease thanks to some new tools the suit offers.

I really liked Peter’s quips throughout the story. While the story feels pretty short, you get a definite feel for the characters. Peter and Mary Jane feel very much like a regular couple. Tony feels just like a supportive older brother type. The problem I find is that I only feel this way because I have such familiarity with the characters. This is a minor quibble because I think it is safe to say, especially after the success of Marvel movies since Blade, most folks have at least a general familiarity with the characters in such a way that they would probably feel the same way I do. The fear I see is someone coming into this world cold, starting with this issue, and not getting a real sense of the characters. To be clear, I very much accept that my opinion here is just that, an opinion. It is simply my opinion of the story I read. Others may read it and feel differently. Admittedly I may just be over thinking things. Writing a review after a long week of work can lead to me being a little cranky at times.

The art work was pretty solid this issue. The only issue I had, again a minor quibble, comes with the exterior scenes in the story. The scenes where Spider-Man is fighting the car jackers just doesn’t feel like an exterior scene to me. Yeah, I know. It’s a drawing. It’s not meant to replicate reality. If it were trying to do that, it would be a photograph. I contend that while these stories are meant to be fantasies, since they are mostly set in locations that are real, those locations should be drawn in such a way as to feel like you’re there. Does that mean they have to be drawn like photographs? No. But add some depth to the exterior shots. I’ve not been close to a highway anywhere in this country that feel as small and closed in as the highway that is presented in this story. Does Spider-Man have to appear an inch tall to showcase the depth and distance of the exterior scenes? No. But there has to be a better way to show depth and it’s not this.

Bottom Line:

I was surprised at how low key an event like Civil War started. That’s not a bad thing at all. All too often, big issues between people end up starting over the smallest things. I was also surprised to see Tony start off the story very much on the side that Captain America eventually takes. He didn’t start off this story believing in the Superhero Registration Act. He tried to settle this on his terms of course which obviously failed. I can’t wait to see how Tony went from how we see him in this issue to the supporter of the act in future issues.

Knowing how Spider-Man ends up switching sides during the course of the war, it was interesting seeing how his affiliations were so much tied with Tony Stark at the beginning of this story. I want to see what causes his affiliations to change.

New Avengers #31

New-Avengers-31-pg-000

One great feature about the Marvel Unlimited app is the Discover section which brings together notable events and one shots for famous characters in their arsenal. For major event stories that take place over multiple issues and multiple lines of comics they give you a suggested reading order to keep you organized. While the story itself may not be 100% written to be a chronological story (They can be side stories that don’t affect the main plot of the event story but still affect a major character) knowing where the creators of the story want you to start if you want to tackle a particular story is a nice touch. One story line I came across was for Secret Invasion. To kind of mix things up here, I think I will be reviewing the Secret Invasion story from start to finish. The reason I say I think is that for all I know I may end up hating this story so to commit to reading a story that takes place over 98 issues would be silly on my part if by issue 12 I’m hating what I’m reading. Without further ado, let’s begin the Secret Invasion.

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/New_Avengers_Vol_1_31

I’d really like to send my love and appreciation to the good folks at the Marvel Wiki site. It’s been a great starting off point for me when it comes to wanting to know more about characters, stories, and the people who make them. Hats off to the work they and their contributors do.

The Good:

To start off, this comic, apart from the very last page, have nothing to do with the story we are about to dive into. From the intro on the first page of the comic it’s explained that what we are seeing is the finishing touches of the Civil War story line (which I definitely want to re-read before the movie comes out. I can’t wait to see Spider-Man in a real Marvel movie!) Taking that into account, what we’re seeing here is mostly cleanup. There’s not too much story going on but on the flipside you’re also not bored out of your mind. You care about the characters and want to see them overcome their fight against Elektra and the evil organization known as The Hand.

And hell, let’s talk about that ending.

Elektra Skrull

I would expect nothing less from a Brian Bendis comic. The closing image is jarring. It evokes a feeling of paranoia. Someone who they thought was their enemy turned out to be someone completely different. An alien in their midst looking to cause trouble among Earthlings. If it could happen to their enemy, could people they consider their friends not be who they say they are as well?

Being that this came out in 2007 when America was well in the midst of their Islamic xenophobia this feeling of paranoia was most likely intentional. When you’ve been attacked you’re in protection mode. You don’t want to be attacked again. Anything and everything that gives you the remotest sense of danger you’re paranoid about. It’s a natural reflex which in and of itself is not bad but taken to extremes can lead to horrible actions on the paranoid person’s part as well as leading to the paranoid person being exploited by people looking to harm them. This was a great start and definitely makes this decision to read this story a good one (so far).

The artwork was great. The cover alone is quite jarring with the character Echo shoving a sword into the gut of who they think is Elektra. The character portrayals were great. You could get a sense of the emotions the characters were looking to convey in the story. I especially liked the concern from Jessica Jones (I can’t wait for the Jessica Jones show on Netflix!) when she inquired about Luke Cage, the father of her baby. Quite realistic.

The Bad:

I do wish there was some more substance to the story. This is nitpicking because the intro is pretty clear that what I am reading is the very end of another story line but this still felt quite rushed with no real substance. It was essentially a 20 page fight scene with a shock ending. There are no character arcs, nobody learns anything, you’re just coasting by until you can get to that last image.

If I had to nitpick about the artwork it would be that the artist was more concerned about the characters and not about where the characters were at. I never got a true feel as to where the action was happen. Apparently it was at some sort of ninja temple or something but the location was drawn in such an abstract manner that I never really felt a sense of scope or anything. If the action at hand has no real danger of harming the environment about them, it may as well be happening on a soundstage.

Bottom Line:

This is a good start for this story. While I would have liked them to have planted the seeds more in the previous story apart from one image on the last page of this issue, it is what it is. The last page alone is worth the read because it gets you interested in what happens next. It’s not perfect but that alone gives it good marks in my book. I rate the story a 7.

The artwork I’m conflicted on. While the character drawings were great, I wish more attention was given to the location where the action was taking place. This is nitpicking to be sure. Please don’t take this as an I hate the artwork rant. But what the artist did good could have been better if more attention was paid to the entire piece and not just the characters. I rate the artwork a 6.