Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Civil War #5 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Soule wraps up this series beautifully.  Seriously.  As endings go, it's pretty damn perfect.

Jennifer manages to punch a hole in the Skrull's compound, allowing Tony to restart his communications system (because he can now transmit a signal) and call a suit of armor to come get him.  Jennifer goes after Veranke while Tony beelines for Steve.  As I mentioned last issue, I wasn't entirely sure how Tony was going to convince Steve to believe him that the Skrulls were "responsible."  But, Soule solves that problem in exactly the way any good author should solve it:  he shows and doesn't tell.  Tony uses his sonic blasters to reveal that his deputy, Bucky, was a Skrull, proving his point to Steve.  (I'm pretty sure that he got this information from Jennifer's quick look into the Skrulls' files.)  Still somewhat disbelieving, Steve allows Emma to share Tony's thoughts with him, showing Veranke's super-villain exposition from last issue.  (It's still the only weak point of this series.)

However, Tony worries that it's still too late, since it'll be next to impossible not only to rally the troops on both sides to work in concert against the Skrulls but to prevent them from shape-changing and fleeing.  Steve suggests the Bellcurve bomb -- dun dun DUN! -- and he gets Logan-Hulk to throw it into the Divide.  (On that, I had no idea that Logan was the Hulk.  Did we see that happen, or did it happen before the series?  I feel like Soule thought that I knew that, but it was definitely a "WTF?" moment for me.)  However, the bomb is damaged, and Steve and Tony go to detonate it themselves. Seeking some form of penance, they also decide to attract the heroes into the Divide with them:  the bomb explodes, killing Steve and Tony and removing the powers of Earth's superheroes.  Later, Peter and Jennifer talk on the Divide, showing that the two sides are cautiously working together.  Jennifer asks Peter if he thinks that Steve and Tony purposefully took away their powers.  He responds that he doesn't know, but he doesn't want to fight about it.

I like this issue so much because it really delves into the psychology of the events.  For example, on several occasions, Tony refuses to blame the Skrull for the war.  He recognizes that they might've fanned the flames of the conflict, but he and Steve kept the war going because they were heroes made kings:  they couldn't lose.  Steve is more quick to blame the Skrulls, and it fits with his personality:  he can't admit that he could've been the bad guy all along.  (Tony faced that reality years ago.)  Steve only starts to come to that realization at the end, and even then it's overshadowed by his disbelief that it was the Skrulls all along.  But, it's not just Steve and Tony that Soule puts on the couch.  We learn that MJ chose the Iron because she thought that it was better for their daughter; Peter chose the Blue to avoid getting thrown into Stark's jails.  But, Peter implies to Jennifer that those decisions might have had more to do with their relationship (and the problems in it) and that the forced choice might've been a convenient excuse.  Again, it shows a subtlety that we just rarely see in comics:  the "villain" isn't necessarily the one that causes the problem; sometimes, it's just the way that the hero frames the problem, usually in a way that suits him/her.  Seriously, where else do you get that sort of insight?

When you combine the characterization, plotting, and scripting with Yu's pencils, it's just a great package.  This series and "Amazing Spider-Man:  Renew Your Vows" are definitely the top two "Secret Wars" tie-in series for me.  In fact, even if you're not reading "Secret Wars," you should pick up this mini-series.  It stands on its own as a great story.  (Can Soule and Yu come work on "Amazing Spider-Man" when Slott is done?  Please?)

***** (five of five stars)

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