“Part Two: The Night the War Came Home”
Writer: J. Michael Stracynski
Artists: Ron Garney (p), Bill Reinhold (i), Matt Milla (colours)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
With this issue, J. Michael Stracynski makes the best case yet for why he should be writing Spider-Man’s Civil War tie-in book. Following on from the unmasking revelation which was the cliffhanger of Civil War #2, JMS uses this second chapter of his crossover arc to explore the aftermath of Peter’s choice to “come out,” and gets a number of balls rolling which suggest that he’s building up to an emotionally-charged and life-changing climax for the character. We look in on how J. Jonah Jameson reacts to the news; we see Spidey’s friends and foes learn the truth; and we see how Peter’s choice to affiliate himself with Tony Stark’s pro-registration team is already starting to cause him problems.
Only Stracynski, though, would make the creative choice to follow such an important and significant moment with an extended sequence of light comedy. As Pete heads away from the press conference, a phone conversation with Aunt May, MJ, and Reed and Sue Richards descends into a farcical five-way bantering session. On a first read, it’s something of an anomaly given the powerfully-written scene between Peter and Tony Stark which directly precedes it, but on reflection it’s another example of how JMS can keep the book from getting too bogged-down in the seriousness of the Civil War event. Just like the gag about a worldwide Google search for “Peter Parker” crashing the internet, or Pete’s reaction to Jonah’s threats to sue, it’s a welcome injection of levity which is in keeping with Spidey’s character without ever detracting from the gravity of the overall situation.
And gravity there is, both in Peter’s fears for the safety of his family and in the palpable sense of betrayal which is expressed by Jameson (and I can’t be the only one who kind of thinks the guy has a point?). Both story threads lead to highly-charged moments of drama this issue, but Stracynski trumps them all with a climactic rooftop conversation between Iron Man and Spidey, who is starting to get some insight into how manipulative and single-minded Stark can be in his support of the registration act. There’s a definite sense that Pete might already be regretting his oath of allegiance to his friend and mentor, and the showdown between the two heroes carries a lot of dramatic weight, allowing Spidey to show more of a backbone than he’s displayed in recent issues. This confrontational element of the pair’s relationship holds a lot of promise for a great payoff later in the arc, and with the cavalcade of heroes that show up on the final page being brought into the mix as well, this arc is shaping up to be a blockbuster to match the scale of Mark Millar’s core Civil War title, but with an additional depth and character development that could never hope to be explored in the same way by such a wide-ranging crossover book.
Ron Garney is no slouch in the art department either, and I’m quickly warming to his portrayal of the wall crawler (even if he does wear the Iron Spidey costume most of the time here). Over the past five years of JMS’ Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel has done a good job in matching suitable artists to the tone of his stories, and Garney’s bold yet grounded-in-reality artwork does a good job of reconciling the realistic themes of the Civil War premise with the over-the-top colourful nature of Spidey’s corner of the Marvel Universe.
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