The Road to Civil War 02 – The Amazing Spider-Man 530

Important Note #1: Before I do anything else, I want to point out a slight change to the reading order for this project. When I started this project, I was using the “date released” order that’s in the Marvel Unlimited iPad app. Recently, however, I discovered that Marvel.com has a suggested read order that flows a bit better. I’ll be using that from here on out. To make things easier, I’m going to go back and and number the posts to reflect this. That’ll leave us a small gap temporarily, but it’ll make sense soon.

Important Note #2: (In case you missed it elsewhere, I’m running a GoFundMe campaign to read and review every issue of Marvel Comic’s Civil War crossover event prior to Captain America 3: Civil War hitting theaters the beginning of May. If you like what you read here and want more, or just feel bad I have to read this much JMS and/or Mark Millar, throw me a few bucks, will ya?)

Cover to The Amazing Spider-Man 530Alright, now that the housekeeping is out of the way, on to The Amazing Spider-Man 530, picking up the morning after the end of 529. Peter and Tony are hopping onto Tony’s private jet (naturally) to attend the first, closed hearing about the Superhuman Registration Act (SRA). We also get yet another promo for Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers: Illuminati special, which I’ll be getting to in a few posts. I can’t really fault Marvel for throwing in references to it, as they position the Illuminati as this heretofore unknown cabal of geniuses that will have a lasting effect on the Marvel universe (616, of course, but *spoilers* most of the multiverse as well).

Tony lets Peter know he’s just completed a new version of the Iron Spider costume (you know, the one created less than 24 hours comics time ago). Once the duo is aboard the plane, we learn more about the SRA, including that numerous lawmakers are tacking unrelated items onto the bill (Democracy, everyone!). The most heinous idea here is that the US government promises it can keep the proposed database safe from hackers/supervillains, cause, you know, there’s never been a leak of confidential information before or anything…

It's totally, TOTALLY safe
It’s totally, TOTALLY safe

As Tony and Peter get to their hotel, we discover that even Marvel’s editors can’t agree on the correct course of action. From there, we get our introduction to Iron-Spider 2.0, including now being made of, and i quote, “…Liquid metal nano-fiber that can more or less disappear when not needed” (SCIENCE!). It also has camouflage capabilities now, including stealing Nightcrawler’s ability to blend in with shadows, and the most obvious new addition, 3 “waldoes”; basically, smaller Doc Ock arms.

Only Wolverine gets the "T"
Only Wolverine gets the “T”

Now that the setup is out of the way, we get to the meat of this issue. Tony Stark appears before a rather contentious and combative closed Senate hearing to give his opinion on the SRA. The most interesting thing to note in this issue (and using Marvel’s suggested reading order) is that right now, Tony seems on the fence about the SRA, going so far as to argue against it in Senate chambers. He expresses the opinion that, regardless of the damage caused by costumed heroes in the course of doing their job, they’ve also saved the US at least 47 times, which is worth far more than any damage done in the pursuit of justice.

Peter tries to help Tony out, but due to inexperience in this type of situation, just puts his foot in his mouth and actually makes the Senate’s case stronger. At the end of the day, no matter how much Tony seems to disagree with the Senate’s position, he makes it clear he ultimately serves the US and it’s leadership, and nothing will change that; thus begins his descent into the super-patriot that triggers a Civil War.

FIRE

We end this issue with another display or the Iron-Spider suit’s capabilities, instigated this time by The Titanium Man’s assassination attempt on Tony Stark. Matters are complicated when the Army shows up and opens fire on both villain AND hero. It seems the Senate’s hatred of superhumans has spread quickly.

I gotta hand it to JMS; this issue, I was engaged the whole time. It filled in some bits I had either forgotten or never read before, and painted Tony in a more sympathetic (for now) role than I remembered previously. Some of that can be chalked up to the new and improved reading order I discovered, but not all of it. Tony genuinely seems conflicted after these 2 issues of TASM. Well, at least more conflicted than I remember, and more privately conflicted than we’ll ever see once the full event starts. We also get some more solid Peter Parker action, trying his best but still putting his foot in his mouth.

And that’s another review on the books (Though, by the refactored numbering, this is only the second, so that’ll seem weird later). I’m hoping now that i’m over the latest betrayal of my fleshy meatsack (or as you regular hoo-mans might refer to it, being sick), I can get back to daily posting, and get caught up as well. Thanks for sticking around!

The Road to Civil War 04: Fantastic Four 536

(In case you missed it elsewhere, I’m running a GoFundMe campaign to read and review ever issue of Marvel Comic’s Civil War crossover event prior to Captain America 3: Civil War hitting theaters the beginning of May. If you like what you read here and want more, or just feel bad I have to read this much JMS and/or Mark Millar, throw me a few bucks, will ya?)

Cover of Fantastic Four 536
Cover of Fantastic Four 536

Ahhhh J. Michael Straczynski, my old nemesis, we meet again. There was a time in Marvel Comics’ history that involved him writing everything Mark Millar wasn’t, apparently. Both of these guys will feature heavily in the coming months. Anyway, welcome back to day 2 on The Road to Civil War. Our next stop on the The Road to Civil War is Fantastic Four 536. This cover does it’s job, because I was sucked in as soon as I saw a certain someone’s Doomy metal hand gripping Thor’s hammer. (Remember, this is long before **spoilers** Thor’s arm got torn off and he started rockin’ a metal appendage of his own.)

We start out following what could only be Thor’s aforementioned hammer, flying through space and setting off radar alarms across the country. After blowing off a plane the hammer cuts through, we see it’s explosive landing, and then, **Timey Wimey**, we’re six months in the future (present?) at the Baxter Building. In case you don’t remember, that’s home base for the first family of Marvel Comics, the Fantastic Four.

Reed, obviously just getting back from some clandestine mission, tries to ignore Sue’s inquiries about what happened, but, as you can see in the featured image for this post, Sue is having none of that. Resigned to being sandwichless (for now), Reed spills the details of the meeting he just had with the rest of The Illuminati. There’s a whole issue devoted to them coming up soon, so I won’t go into detail, so for now, I’ll just say the membership comprises Namor, Tony Stark, Black Bolt, The Black Panther, Stephen Strange, and the curiously absent Charles Xavier. Basically, representatives of the major forces and/or players in the Marvel universe.

Illuminati Roll Call

Tying in directly with the final panel from The Amazing Spider-Man 529, Tony Stark/Iron Man presents his comrades with advance notice of The Superhuman Registration act(s), which is what this whole event is about. The Marvel Universe is chock full of costumed peeps running around, answerable to no one, and the American government has decided they’re not gonna have that any more. They demand all superheroes register with the government, using their real, unmasked identities, and become officially sanctioned agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Tony, thinking he has this on lock, declares The Illuminati should come out in favor of this bill, going so far as asking all of them to voluntarily unmask now, ahead of the bill. This further confirms the weird turn Tony takes throughout Civil War, wherein he becomes a pawn of the government to the detriment of basically everyone and everything around him. We don’t really see the full response to Tony’s play, because cross-promotion is magic, but Reed does let slip that, “…There was some disagreement.” (bolding not mine, but in the comic. for once.)

Now, onto the meat of this issue, the FF coming to the rescue of a military base out in Oklahoma somewhere that’s being overrun by Doombots. Pretty quickly though, we discover the onrush of Doombots were a feint to take attention away from Doctor Doom’s real target, and just then a missile comes screaming into frame and destroys every bit of the base, except the central sphere of invisble-ness that Sue was able to throw up quickly.

Reed laments that nothing is salvageable, but the real Doctor Doom comes confidently striding in shedding some new light on the situation for Reed. Doom is always extra smug and egotastical around Reed, and today is no exception. He is convinced that whatever the base was protecting is all he needs to rule the world.

Doom's Ego

It’s here we discover Doom’s true target, Thor’s hammer, which is still in one piece without a single scratch after the missile’s explosion. (C’mon, Marvel, you can’t tease Doom grabbing the hammer on the cover and then not deliver in the issue; that’s just false advertising) 

I hate to kinda repeat myself this early in the game, but much like yesterday, I enjoyed the non-Civil War parts of this book. Sure, the dialogue between The Thing and The Human Torch seems a little off and forced, but I’ve sat through far worse in service of sticking with some characters I truly love.

While I joke above about cross promotion , I can’t really fault Marvel for giving us a taste of The Illuminati here before asking us to pay for the full experience. This is right around the decision to retcon some key moments of Marvel history stretching back to the 70’s as being caused, or sometimes fixed, by this secret cabal of Marvel’s movers and shakers. Including them in an event of this magnitude makes perfect sense as a move to strengthen their reputation.

Coming up tomorrow? More JMS on The Road to Civil War, heading back to Amazing Spider-Man. Thankfully by Friday, we’ll get to the New Avengers: Illuminati special that released around this time, before starting in on Civil War proper on Saturday.

The Road to Civil War 01: The Amazing Spider-Man 529

(In case you missed it elsewhere, I’m running a GoFundMe campaign to read and review ever issue of Marvel Comic’s Civil War crossover event prior to Captain America 3: Civil War hitting Theaters the beginning of May. This is the first of many reviews to come.)

So, here we are. I’ve committed to reading and reviewing every issue of Civil War over the coming months. Before we get to Civil War proper, we have to travel The Road To Civil War, and boy, the Comics Gods can be fickle and unkind.

I had sorta blanked out the fact that J. Michael Straczynski was the guy guiding Spider-Man through most of the 2000’s, and then BAM, I open up the first comic on my list, The Amazing Spider-Man 529, and JMS hits me in the face like a brick.

**Pours the first of many Dark and Stormys**

Iron Spidey REPRESENT
Iron Spidey REPRESENT

As you may recall, Civil War coincided with the Iron Spider years, and this issue is where it all begins. JMS goes hard, starting with an, “Oh, that scamp Tony Stark” joke that just hasn’t aged well AT ALL (translation: It’s hella skeevy to even joke with your buddies wife that there’s a camera in the bedroom, Tony. YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS!). After that awfulness, we move to Tony putting the finishing touches on a new suit for Spider-Man. In a rather familiar Red and Gold color scheme, naturally.

The rest of the issue is mostly Spidey taking the suit out for a test-drive, with plenty of justification for all the fancy gizmos and doodads Stark threw into this new suit, including: glide capabilities, thermal imaging, police band radio, and even being bulletproof. I had honestly forgotten that JMS was decent back in those days, and really enjoyed this bit of the comic. His Peter Parker is on point, humor-wise, and once you get past the sequence being an obvious commercial for Spidey 2.0, it’s a solid piece of comic-ry. (Comicness? Comicsosity? I dunno, you know what i mean.)

The fix is in
The Spidey-sense is (almost) never wrong.

Post test-drive, things get dicey. After Tony’s taking Peter and Mary Jane in, protecting them, then giving Peter this snazzy new suit, Peter’s spider-sense has gotta be tingling, and rightfully so. As soon as Peter pushes the issue and asks Tony, “Why?”, we see that Tony has an ulterior motive. He butters Peter up with talk of them both being the same type of person, and how he considers Peter and MJ family and all that, before asking Peter to swear a “blood oath” to him (no really, look at the panel below), the details of which have to be kept from everyone. Thanks to Tony’s heavy manipulation, Peter immediately accepts. Then this bombshell of a last panel is dropped, and the boys are off to Washington. dun dun DUUUUNNNNNNNNN

Nothing ominous about a blood oath, nothing at all.
Nothing ominous about a blood oath, nothing at all.

Tony has always been the (sorta) lovable, womanizing asshole living off dad’s money who just so happens to be one of the smartest guys ever, but he’s next-level manipulative here. Peter Parker is the smart but awkward guy who tries really hard and has lost all the father figures in his life. Tony works that angle to perfection; ensuring that if Peter responds with anything other than, “Yes!”, he can play the “disappointed Dad card” to secure Peter’s loyalty. This really just scratches the surface of how awful Tony will get as this series goes on.

That about does it for today. Next up, The Road to Civil War continues with Fantastic Four 536 written by……Straczynski again? Welp, liver, this is what we’ve been training for. See you back here tomorrow.