Secret Wars Civil War has been a gem of a big event tie-in series. Charles Soule has displayed his considerable writing chops by delivering a story that is meticulously plotted, well paced and treats the reader to both excellent character work and entertaining action and adventure. Honestly, there really is not much more I can ask from a super hero title than what Soule is delivering to us each and every month. I am more than confident that Secret Wars Civil War #4 will be another quality read. Let’s hit this review.
Words: Charles Soule
Pencils: Leinel Francis Yu
Inks: Gerry Alanguilan
Colors: Sunny Cho
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Beast telling Steve Rogers and Peter Parker that the Bellcurve is now online and ready to be deployed. Steve tells Peter to bring him his shield.
We cut to Resident Alpha where Tony Stark is putting on his Iron Man armor. Bucky tells Tony that it is too risky for Tony to go into the Blue to try to rescue She-Hulk. Tony asks what kind of man would he be if he did not go and rescue the woman he loved. Tony says that Bucky will be in charge in his absence. Tony says that he trusts Bucky completely and has total faith in Bucky. Tony says that Bucky will do a better job than Tony would. Especially since everyone knows that Tony’s motto is make love not war. (That’s the Tony Stark that we all know and love! Give the man a martini and several gorgeous women and he is set!)
We zip forward to “Ten hours before the Battle of the Divide.” Tony has tracked down She-Hulk’s location. She is being held captive in the Divide.
We shift to “Six hours before the Battle of the Divide.” Captain America’s army is attacking and neutralizing all of the Sentry Towers along the Divide.
We zip over to Black Panther watching the events occurring on the Divide at this moment. Black Panther tells She-Hulk that he has been in hiding in the Divide and orchestrating all the events in order to keep the war between Tony and Steve raging. Black Panther admits that he destroyed the Negative Zone prison and he engineered the division of the country. Black Panther says that every time it appeared that there was going to be peace between the Blue and the Iron that Black Panther would do something to make sure the war continued.
She-Hulk asked why Black Panther did all of this. Black Panther answers that he did it for his people. She-Hulk says that Wakanda is gone and nothing will bring it back. Black Panther screams that he does not care about Wakanda. That his home is gone and that he will make a new one for he and his people. She-Hulk asks what the hell Black Panther wants with her. Black Panther responds that She-Hulk is not the one he wants.
We see Iron Man arriving at Black Panther’s hidden base in the Divide. Iron Man starts battling Black Panther’s defense system.
We shift to “Four hours before the battle of the Divide.” We see Captain America’s army crossing over the Divide and onto the Iron’s side of the Divide. Captain America delivers a stirring patriotic and jingoistic speech to his army about the importance of what they are doing today for the Blue. That their children have never known peace. That unless they act right now then the Blue risks becoming a country whose only purpose is to breed more fighters to continue the battle after they are all gone. That the only gift to the generation that follows them will be death. That the war will rage on and people will forget why they are even fighting anymore. They will just live for the battle.
Captain America tells Peter Parker to “do it.” Peter presses a button and Miriam Sharpe’s home suspended across the Divide blows up. Capitan America says that there is no going back. That the war ends today.
We zip to “Two hours before the battle of the Divide.” We see that Black Panther has captured Iron Man. Black Panther says that he has been playing Steve against Tony this entire time. That at no point was any of what has happened with the war ever Tony’s fault. It has been the Black Panther keeping the war going this entire time. Black Panther says that this war is about to end. That Steve Rogers and the Blue are attacking the Iron.
Black Panther then turns into Steve Rogers and then he turns into Tony Stark. (Uh oh. I think we can all see where this is headed, right?) Black Panther says that he captured She-Hulk to lure Tony here in order to kill him and then replace Tony with himself. Tony says that it is clear that Black Panther is not really T’Challa. Black Panther replies that he has destroyed Tony’s armor and the facility has a suppression system to counter Extremis and anything else that Tony has created. That without his technology Tony is just a man.
Tony replies “Am I?” Lightning crackles from Tony’s hands. Tony says that once he cloned Thor. That turned out to be a bad idea. But, he kept the tech involved in creating the powers of Thor. Tony blasts Black Panther’s guards and then blasts Black Panther. Black Panther is knocked out and then transforms into her true form: A Skrull! (Knew it! Damn dirty Skulls!!) Tony comments “Huh. A Skrull. My money was on Mystique. (Great line.) Black Panther was actually Skrull Empress Veranke.
Suddenly, a bunch of Skrull guards arrive on the scene. Tony is outnumbered.
We shift back to “Hour two of the Battle of the Divide.” The Blue’s army is in battle with the Iron’s army. We cut to Bucky talking to Carol Danvers. Bucky gives Carol her marching orders for the battle. Carol asks where Tony is right now. Bucky answers that he will say this only once. That Tony left him in charge. Bucky says “I know you don’t like it. I also don’t care.” (Damn! Bucky just schooled Carol. Just sit your $5.00 ass down, Carol before Bucky makes change.)
We hop back to Tony blasting away at the horde of Skrull soldiers. Suddenly, She-Hulk joins the battle and says “She-Hulk rescue puny boyfriend.” (Ha! Another great line. Love it.) She- Hulks takes down the remaining Skrull soldiers. She-Hulk then says that she has to tell Tony what she saw in Steeltown.
We cut back to the Battle of the Divide. Captain America tells Peter that it is time to activate the Bellcurve. That the Iron will lose a good chunk of their powers, but so will the Blue. But, Captain America thinks this might give the Blue a slight enough advantage to win the battle. Peter says that in order for this plan to work that Steve has to get the Iron’s soldiers to converge on the bomb. Steve says that he has a plan.
Steve says that he should have never let them put him in charge. Steve says that he makes a better soldiers than he does a general. Steve then gets on top of the vehicle that is carrying the Bellcurve. Steve yells out “You want me? Here I am!” We see the Iron’s soldiers converging on Steve. End of issue.
The Good: Secret Wars Civil War #4 was a flat-out fantastic issue. Period. This issue has it all. Action, adventure, drama and intrigue all wrapped up in a wonderfully crafted package. Soule takes the reader on one hell of a roller coaster ride with this issue. There are so many twists and turns in just this issue than you get on many multi-issue story arcs! Soule drops plot bomb after plot bomb on the reader to the point where it seems like literally anything can happen at any given movement. And that is awesome. I love to read comics where the reader is breathless and feels like literally anything can happen.
Secret Wars Civil War #4 was brilliantly plotted and paced. Seriously. This issue is about as good as it gets. Soule weaves a complex story with multiple plot lines and numerous moving parts. Yet, he never loses his focus or gets lost in the details. Everything slides together seamlessly as the plot lines come together in a pleasing fashion and with a strong sense of internal logic. This issue has a ton of plot development. It is such a treat to get an issue so dense and full of rich substance these days in the era of decompression. There is so much for the reader to process. This is an issue that demands attention and warrants several readings.
To top it all off, Soule delivers all of this content with a swift pace that never feels rushed. Yes, a lot happens in this issue but it never seems like Soule is forcing things or skipping over plot developments in a rush to complete the issue. Secret Wars Civil War #4 moves quickly but in an intelligent and organized fashion. The result is that the sense of tension hits a fever pitch with this issue. The reader is on the edge of their seat as we crash our way to the gripping hook ending. Without a doubt, I am eager to read the final issue to this series. Like right now! Soule definitely succeeds in getting the reader more than excited to come back for the grand finish to this tale.
Secret Wars Civil War #4 is certainly not short on action. This issue has more than enough brawling to keep action junkies satisfied. The fight scenes are all well done and serve to crank up the intensity of the story. I particularly enjoy how the entire issue is framed around the Battle of the Divide. Having the scenes labeled in relation to their proximity with the beginning of the Battle of the Divide helped make the epic battle scene that much more important. Soule certainly go over the massive scale and importance of the Battle of the Divide with the reader.
Out of all the various twists and turns in this issue, the biggest one was the revelation that Black Panther was a Skrull Empress. Perfect. Skrulls are a great classic Kirby creation. They are despicable and sneaky foes who make for fun villains with their shapeshifting abilities. This also works nicely with Marvel continuity since Secret Invasion was the big event that followed Civil War. Soule employing the Skrulls as the driver behind the continuing war between the Iron and the Blue was a nice way to make both Tony and Steve looks like heroes and avoid shouldering the blame of fueling the war for so long.
Soule whips up some excellent dialogue. The characters have well-developed voices. The flow of the dialogue is pleasant and natural. The character work is also top-notch. Soule is able to create some strong chemistry between Bucky and Carol as well as between Tony and She-Hulk. The tension between Bucky and Carol is perfect. It is consistent with Carol’s personality for her to not be happy with Tony picking Bucky over her. And this scene effectively portrayed Bucky’s hard-nosed and blunt style as well. And, of course, I the chemistry between Tony and She-Hulk continues to be the crown jewel of this story. I love how Soule is handling these two characters. Tony and She-Hulk work wonderfully together. So much that I would like to see these two characters paired up at some point in the future in the regular Marvel Universe.
Soule also did a good job with Steve’s character. This is the first time during Secret Wars Civil War that I have found Steve to be interesting. Up until this issue, Steve has been relatively flat and shallow. I appreciate that Soule finally delved into Steve’s psyche and gave us so much more than just a tea party styled character.
I loved the moment where Soule draws a parallel between President Truman and the atomic bomb and Steve Rogers and the Bellcurve. Both weapons are innovative and new weapons of mass destruction. And the use of both weapons come with heavy consequences. It was a nice touch that Soule had Steve think about how he u sed to judge Truman for dropping the atomic bombs on Japan. That Steve always thought there had to be another way. Yet, Steve now deciding to use the Bellcurve made him rethink his view of Truman. This was some intelligent and well done character work.
I also enjoyed how Soule tackled the thorny subject of Steve as a soldier and inspirational figure versus Steve as a leader of a country. Steve admits in this issue that he is a failure as a leader. That he is built to be a soldier. Soule nails Steve’s character in this moment. Steve is the ultimate soldier and is quite inspirational when leading people into battle. However, as the leader of a country? Steve is a failure and certainly is not well suited for that job. This is nicely contrasted with how well suited Tony is for the job as the leader of the Iron.
Yu and Alanguilan combine to deliver some average artwork. Both are talented me. However, their style of art is better suited for non-super hero genre comic books. I just have a tough time warming up to this style of art on a classic and grand super hero story. It just is not a good match.
The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.
Overall: Secret Wars Civil War #4 was another wonderful read. Soule has impressed me so much with his work on this title. If you still have not jumped aboard this train then I absolutely recommend getting Secret Wars Civil War when it comes out in trade format. This story is well worth the price of admission.