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Comic Book Review: Civil War #4

The Revolution’s interest in Civil War greatly diminished due to the massive delays in the shipping of Civil War #4 and the lack of any attempt to show the pro and anti-registration sides in an equal light. I’m sure that Millar will deliver an entertaining story. I’m sure the artwork will be excellent. However, I feel that Civil War could have been even better having Marvel done a better job with their approach to this mini-series. At any rate, let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Millar
Penciler: Steve McNiven
Inker: Dexter Vines

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: This issue continues the brawl from the end of Civil War #3. The anti-registration side is stunned to see Thor alive and well. Thor, who acts in a ruthless manner, proceeds to open up a huge can of whoop ass on the anti-registration side. Iron Man continues to lay a serious beat down on Captain America. Goliath then looks to take on Thor. (Uh-oh, bad idea. You mess with the bull and you’ll get the horns.) Thor responds by blasting a giant bolt of lightning through Goliath’s chest killing him instantly.

Thor goes to blast the rest of the anti-registration side, but his lightning is blocked by Invisible Woman’s shield. (Traitor!) The anti-registration side takes this opportunity to turn tail and run like a pack of scalded dogs.

Reed Richards then gives a verbal command that “shuts down” Thor. Invisible Woman tells Reed to not talk to her. She walks off. We shift to Avengers Tower where Henry Pym is sickened by Goliath’s death. He appears to be having second thoughts. Pym then reveals that Thor is just a clone. (Uggh. I hate clone storylines.) That Tony had been holding onto a strand of Thor’s hair since the first meeting of the Avengers. Pym wonders what kind of man combs his furniture for hair and skin cells. (Marvel continues to assassinate Tony’s character.) Evidently, this Thor clone is not functioning properly.

We cut to the “Secret Avengers” Headquarters where Captain America’s team is getting medical treatment from the battle. Captain America is raving like a crazy zealot. Nighthawk says that Cap won’t stop until the entire team is dead. Nighthawk and Cassie from the Young Avengers decide that they want no part in fighting other heroes and the government. They leave.

We cut to Goliath’s funeral. Tony Stark is sickened by this death. Mrs. Sharpe, the mother whose son was one of the children killed at Stamford, approaches Tony. Mrs. Sharpe tells Tony that Goliath knew what he was doing. That it is no more Tony’s fault than a cop could be blamed for shooting a criminal who pulls a gun on him. Mrs. Sharpe gives Tony her son’s favorite toy: an Iron Man action figure. She said it was to remind Tony of why he is doing what he is doing. We then see Reed Richards watching Peter Parker at the funeral. Reed mentions that Peter is acting very suspiciously.

We then shift to a letter from Sue to Reed. She is leaving him and the kids. She and Johnny are joining Captain America’s anti-registration side. Susan hopes that Reed won’t think she is a bad mother and a bad wife. She hopes that Reed can fix this.

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We slip back over to Avengers Tower. Reed and Tony are talking about how they are losing more heroes from their team. That the balance had tipped in Cap’s favor since Goliath’s death. Reed and Tony decide to unleash the new version of the Thunderbolts on Cap’s Secret Avengers. We see the new version of the Thunderbolts: Jack o Lantern, The Jester, Taskmaster, Bullseye, Lady Deathstrike, and Venom. End of issue.

The Good: Civil War #4 delivered a nice battle scene with plenty of Thor goodness. Millar crafted a nicely paced and brutally entertaining battle between Thor and the Secret Avengers. Millar then gave us a little surprise that I’m sure many readers have been expecting to happen. Sue Richards turns on her husband and helps the anti-registration side escape. I have been waiting for this to happen and Millar let this plotline develop naturally and it had a nice flow to it.

Millar did an excellent job with the various character’s reactions to the death of Goliath. Henry Pym’s sickened reaction had him questioning his loyalty to the pro-registration side. Sue Storm’s anguish causes her to leave her husband and children. Tony Stark’s feelings of guilt and the weight of having to do what he thinks right no matter the cost. Captain America’s fanatical reaction is like a leader of a terrorist organization. They all were excellent.

Millar really impressed me by delivering wonderfully complex and deep emotional reactions to Goliath’s death. Millar has been the only writer to even make a token attempt at making Tony Stark and the pro-registration side look like anything other than goose-stepping Nazis.

I thought that Millar’s portrayal of Captain America was very surprising. Captain America comes off as a total nut job. He is acting more and more like a zealot terrorist leader who is blind to anything other than his own personal crusade and does not care how many people will have to die in order to achieve his mission. Having Cassie and Nighthawk leave Captain America’s Secret Avengers made Captain America seem even more like a crazy old man bent on getting everyone killed. For the first time since Civil War began, Captain America is portrayed in something other than a totally positive and angelic light. All the other writers in the various Civil War tie-ins are painting Captain America in the most favorable light possible. Millar definitely distorts that view of Captain America. I love it. It was a nice little twist and made this story even more complex and textured. It also furthers my belief that both sides are wrong about how they are approaching the situation.

Millar also manages to make Tony Stark at least a teeny bit sympathetic in the funeral scene. Tony truly feels he is doing the right thing. He is terribly upset over Goliath’s death and feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. Mrs. Sharpe’s little speech to Tony and her giving him her son’s favorite toy was very powerful. This just adds more weight to Tony’s shoulders. For the first time, the reader actually gets to see Tony as something more than just a one-dimensional Nazi-style villain.

The ending was definitely an unexpected twist. A team of some of Marvel’s nastiest supervillains is certainly going to make the next issue highly interesting! If nothing else, we are going to get treated to one wickedly brutal fight.

McNiven supplied this issue with some wonderful artwork. I dig McNiven’s style and his art creates a very dramatic and powerful comic book.

The Bad: I had some issues with Civil War #4. First, Millar’s attempt to make Tony Stark and the pro-registration side something more than one-dimensional Nazi-style villains is a case of too little, too late. Millar continues to assassinate Tony’s character by having him portrayed as a bizarre man who would comb his house for DNA samples and keep them in storage for use in some future nefarious plans. The fact that Tony collected Thor’s hair sample back from the Avengers’ very first meeting makes Tony look like a dick. But, it is even worse that the current vilification of Tony’s character that has been going on. Up until now, Tony only started acting like a villain at the beginning of Civil War. With this plotline, Marvel has now retconned Tony’s past and made him start acting like a dick from the very beginning of his career during the formation of the Avengers. It is bad enough that Marvel is completely assassinating the current character of one of their greatest heroes. Now, they have to retcon this character’s past and assassinate his character retroactively. Bad form, Marvel. Bad form.

Also, the use of a team of extremely nasty supervillains automatically makes Tony and the pro-registration side look like complete villains. This is a total case of guilt by association. Marvel now wants the readers to view Tony and the pro-registration side as on the same level as some of Marvel’s sickest villains. I think this is a huge mistake and makes this story even less interesting. The more one-sided and less complex Marvel makes the Civil War storyline, the less interesting it becomes. Marvel should have taken the opportunity to portray both sides equally and thereby create an extremely complex storyline that makes the reader uncomfortable and struggle in deciding who the heroes are and who the villains are. Instead, Marvel wimped out or decided to use this storyline for their own political platform and totally neutered what could have been a very deep and powerful story. Marvel is delivering the reader a much more shallow and one-dimensional story than what Civil War could have been.

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I absolutely hate clone storylines. I despise them. So, it is only natural that I am massively disappointed that Thor is nothing more than a clone. I feel that this is such a cheap way to bring back Thor. Not only is Thor a clone, but he is a psychotic clone who the pro-registration is controlling like he is a biological weapon. Very unimpressive. Very disappointing. It furthers the perception that Tony and the pro-registration side are nothing more than monstrous Nazis who would create a Thor clone to employ as the ultimate biological weapon. And the fact that the Thor clone is turning out to be uncontrollable is unoriginal. This is Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein theme that has been played out numerous times before and with much better skill.

The death of Goliath was anti-climactic. Marvel has been building up to a big-time death. I guess we are still waiting for it to happen because I wouldn’t rank Goliath as anything more than a D-list character. Killing off a total no-name character doesn’t really have much impact on the reader. I can only imagine that the big-name death that Marvel has been promising must happen in one of the final three issues.

And I have to mention that I think with Civil War #4, Reed Richards surpasses Tony Stark as the biggest dick in the Marvel Universe. Marvel is totally and brutally killing Reed’s character. Reed comes off as looking like a villain more monstrous than Doctor Doom. He coldly reacts to Goliath’s death like an experiment that went wrong. It is amazing how harshly Marvel is beating Reed’s character. I mean, I don’t know how Marvel expects any reader out there to ever like this character again. Between what Marvel is doing with Reed and Tony, I hope they don’t ever expect to sell many Fantastic Four or Iron Man comics any time in the near future.

Overall: Civil War #4 was a well-written issue. I may not agree with the direction that it is heading or how certain characters are being handled, but I will agree that Millar is spinning a well-constructed and written story. The pacing is great and the dialogue is excellent. Millar delivered a very entertaining story. I look forward to the next issue.

1 thought on “Comic Book Review: Civil War #4

  1. Wow. Yours is the first ‘positive’ review of Civil War #4 yet, sir. Commendable, considering the weighty complaints leveled against it.


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