Writer: Brian Bendis
Artists: Alex Maleev and Jose Villarrubia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Two old friends have nothing left to say to each other. But that doesnít keep them quiet.
Comments: Iím torn over this issue. I hated Civil War. I donít like that the Marvel Universe has now crossed a threshold it will be difficult to recover from. I thought the major series was inept, and many of the tie-ins were garbled and confused. The whole concept led to a dreadful issue of She-Hulk, and made the New Avengers less relevant than ever during its interminable duration. And Bendis (prior to this event) has turned out some of the least enjoyable stories Iíve ever read about some of my favorite characters, warped out recognition.
On the other hand, Bendis has been taking up nearly all of the emotional slack of Civil War with his solo New Avengers issues, providing human motivation and drama where Millar has offered only action figures on a tawdry playground. And I was quite surprised by this issue, as I full expected Cap to be doing all the confessing.
Cap, however, has nothing to confess. Heís been perfectly clear. Instead, this issue is about Tonyís failings. Heís trying to justify himself, but heís also trying to reach out to his old friend, and admitting that a lot of the horrible outcomes of the conflict rest on his padded metallic shoulders.
Tony sounds like Tony here. I really like the retcon relating to one of his adventures, time traveling to battle Morgan Le Fey. Iron Manís done that more than once, and heís obviously drawn to the days of chivalry and courtly battle. That he saw his own future when fighting alongside King Arthur is not hard to believe. Leave it to Bendis to dig up some obscure continuity just when it might serve him best, and to do so in a way that isnít really a retcon exactly. He doesnít change anything about what Tony did (itís not even clear which Middle Ages trip it was), but he does let us find out about something that happened that we didnít previously know.
The gimmick of slicing the issue in half and shuffling it just for effect was confusing, but there is a clear distinction between Cap having his say, and Tony (belatedly) having his. Maleev is the perfect artist for this sort of Bendis talking-head issue. Iron Man looks defeated, battle-scarred, battered and tired on every page. And Cap looks angry as hell.
The cover, which I think is Maleevís painted work, is quite effective as well. And as ambiguous as the issue itself; are we seeing blood from Capís wounds spattered over his shield, or an America that has been beaten and left for dead?
I didnít enjoy this issue, but I have to admit it was needed, and fulfilled its role as a painful coda. The Marvel Universe is full of victims now rather than heroes, and the suffering here is on the scale of Bendisí darkest Daredevil issues, but it has much more depth than the parent series and does show Bendis working in his favored mode: tragedy.
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