(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?)
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.
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.
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.