Saturday, June 17, 2006

Spider-Man Unmasked:
Marvel's Civil War #2

Let's not waste any time here:

Every one of these blockbuster events promises to shake its respective universe to its very core. Usually that means a minor character is bumped off, a team or two splits up, but the status quo is held intact. But this.

Peter Parker is defined by his outsider status. Keeping his secret identity is central to everything he holds dear in his life. How many times did they play the 'Oh no, someone's going to learn Peter's secret and that puts ______ (Aunt May, Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy, etc.) in grave danger!' card back when people actually read Spider-Man comics?

Do I think they should have done it? Absolutely not. Do I think it's in Peter's best interests? Oh hell no it's not. Do I think it works?


It works, it's brilliant, I actually love it. Even though I hate it, I love it. Even though I think someone very close to Peter is dead, rotting meat now, I love it. Even though this would appear to put Pete in Tony's camp, I love it.
Because it takes guts. Because it's something real. Because it represents a genuinely life-changing moment for one of our most beloved comic book icons.
Make no mistake about it: I love this move.

And I love this book. In my review of Civil War #1, I said I hope that this book would finally give the company a solid identity for the first time in the remarkably scattershot Joe Quesada era. It's living up to that promise for me.

I'm completely gripped by the action scenes. Here's where Steve McNiven really excels. Take the scene where Patriot of the Young Avengers is chased by S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopters:It's an extremely cinematic scene, but at the same time it works in the language of comics, something that many other artists can't seem to get the hang of. Especially that second panel above, with Patriot leaping from building to building: you feel the silence, you feel time slow down for the terrified young man. This book is Steve McNiven's coming out party.

And I like Mark Millar's writing, and his dialogue especially. He creates scenes that feel real but-again-still belong to the world of comics.
He's great with Tony Stark's confusion, just like he was with Captain America's last issue. If there's a glaring weakness to this book so far, it's that Millar and the editorial crew are so clearly on Cap's side. But that makes the plight of Tony Stark all the more compelling as he's swept along by his own self-doubt into battle against his brothers.

I love the sad moments with Sue and Reed in the Fantastic Four's headquarters as well. This is what you always figured their marriage was like: Sue, neglected and pining for attention, and Reed completely absorbed with his equations and gadgets. The only time he takes any notice of her is when she reaches for his disk marked '42' (is Millar giving a nod here to Hitchhiker's Guide?) and Reed grabs her wrist (not her hand, her wrist) and says "I'm sorry Susan. But I'm afraid that's classified information."

There's a lot of internet fuss about Joey Q bitching about how writing for married couples is boring, and perhaps the unmasking and Reed's coldness are calculated to split both super-marriages up. I think Joe's interview was a great big red herring, and if not it ultimately says more about his own personal issues than anything else. Pete, Reed, Mary Jane, and Sue function perfectly as married folk. If your writers are having trouble with that, get better writers. If you don't like marriage, Quesada, get counseling and leave Spidey alone.

But regardless of that kind of wild speculation, whether or not Reed and Sue are torn apart by this crisis, we're only two issues in and we've gotten something as big as the Spidey reveal. Who lives? Who dies? Who can guess after this?

For the first time in years, I'm proud as hell to say: Make Mine Marvel.



Matt Gill said...

I am totally into this whole Civil War thing--even buying and reading the cross over issues of Wolverine and Amazing Spider-Man (But I haven't crossed the threshold of buying She-Hulk and something called the Thunderbolts.) The best touch with Spider-Man's unveiling was the focus on J. Jonah Jameson's reaction. It shows that the writers and editors really took the time to make this moment perfect. Because, of all the people in the Marvel universe who would be most affected by the revelation--who would have the best reaction of all is ol' Triple J. His world has just been flipped on its head.

But how can the writers not be on Captain America's side? Tony Stark and Reed Richards are the biggest pricks in the Marvel Universe. Poor naive Parker is stuck in the middle, but he has to come to his senses sometime.

Matt Guerrero said...

You're reading the cross overs? That's awesome. Time and money have prevented me from doing so, but I plan to catch up now, especially the Spider-books. I hear that She-Hulk is well written now, but I'd feel silly walking up to the counter with an issue.

I always had Namor pegged as the biggest prick in the Marvel U, that's some great taste in men Sue Storm has. And give Tony a break: all this getting spit on and working for G.W. Bush is likely to make him hit the sauce again.

Peter will join the underground for sure, in fact this whole revealation might be a smokescreen of the fact that he's already working for them. Loyalty aside: He should be pissed at Tony Stark for building him that ugly-ass suit.