There’s no issue of the main Civil War II series this week, but the conflict that crosses the entire Marvel Universe this summer continues, on a small scale, with the heroes Spider-Man and Hercules, among others. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #1 and Civil War II: Gods of War #1.
New Kid in Town
In Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #1, we find that the new precognitive Inhuman named Ulysses is chilling with Spider-Man for a night. The idea is that Spidey, being his age, maybe can get a handle on how the kid is dealing with his new situation – taking his temperature as the Human Torch puts it. Ulysses has a lot to get used to. In a very short amount of time, he has been taken in by the Inhuman Royal Family, thrust into a huge gathering of New York’s superhero community (amongst whom he caused a ruckus), and now he’s hanging with Spidey.
But Ulysses is not the only one getting used to a new status quo. Having been away from comics for a year or so, this was my first taste of the new Spider-Man dynamic. Peter Parker is now running a tech company out of the Baxter Building. Wow. This is not the Peter Parker I have been used to, and I can’t say I don’t mind seeing him this way. Could I get used to Spider-Man as a Tony Stark on the side of the angels? I think that I could. However long it stays that way, perhaps I’ll give the current Spider-title a peek.
Writer Christos Gage has always been respectful of what has gone before while telling tales of the present, and he doesn’t disappoint here. One of the tenants of the Silver Age is that every comic is always someone’s first, and without telling, Gage gives us everything we need to know about what’s happening here. We get the lowdown on Spidey’s new position, what’s up with Ulysses, and who’s who in this new paradigm. Not only does he pull that all off, he injects humor, suspense, and even a bit of bittersweet to the mix.
While the words are wonderful in this issue, I was equally delighted by the pictures. Artist Travel Foreman is a new name to me, and he reminds me a bit of Jim Lee or early Todd McFarlane, so yes, another name to watch. I liked his visuals from the hair coming through Spidey’s mask, to the newish costume (love the shading and glowing spider-insignia), to the tour of Parker Industries. I did wonder about Medusa being back in her retro-costume. The art sure is nice though.
Teen Hulk and Depressed Herc
Amadeus Cho in a bar? That was my first question when opening Civil War II: Gods of War #1, answered quickly by the oddity that he is the ‘totally awesome’ Hulk, another gift of the Secret Wars to the All-New All-Different Marvel. Sorry, folks, I’m a traditionalist. I like my Hulks Banner without the fauxhawk, and my Hercs without the topknot, groan. I like the banter between Cho and Hercules, but then again, it’s Dan Abnett writing, what’s not to like? Cho is trying to cheer his friend, without much effect.
The barside conversation brings up many truths about Marvel’s Hercules character. He’s a joke, a blunderer, a drunken philanderer, and while the first superhero, not really the best. Don’t get me wrong, I love Herc, but there’s nothing here that isn’t true, and the problem is – he gets it, he sees it, and he’s having a pity party. He has a quest, but the Avengers have snubbed him. It’s at this point, coincidentally enough, there’s a disturbance outside the bar – and Hercules and the Hulk stumble into the battle against the Celestial Destructor from Civil War II #1.
At first, the prince of power dives into the combat, then hesitates. Still feeling sorry for himself, Hercules is reluctant to join the battle when he finds that the Avengers and the rest of the assembled neglected to recruit him for this fight. Seriously, because he was the last kid to be picked for kickball? It is at this point that Hercules is beset by a trio of characters unfamiliar to me – the Uprising Storm, apparent the cabal against which Herc is currently waging war. They have cursed him, with the intent of making him join them as a god of chaos.
Now, I don’t know who these folks are, nor do I know who those Herc goes to for help are, but once again using the above tenant from the Silver Age I talked about in Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #1’s review where every comic is someone’s first, Abnett lets me into the story suitably. I don’t know who they are, but I know what they are, and I’m eager to know more. Artist Emilio Laiso gives them each a visual identity, a distinctiveness that heightens every panel of this issue, another name to watch.
Gods of War
These friends that Herc gathers for advice in his time of need are old gods, folk of his time who understand his needs and mindset. One, an oracle, finds that the modern heroes who have spurned him have an oracle of their own. With the help of his old friends, and with a little spark from his landlady, Herc is inspired to do something about his plight. He decides to reunite the Gods of War, getting the band back together.
Who are the Gods of War? I would say it’s safe to say fellow Avenger seen in this issue and similarly left out of the battle with the Celestial, Gilgamesh will be among them. Abnett promises other heroes of myth, perhaps Beowulf, perhaps Theseus, maybe other others, we’ll see. Their mission will be to rage against the Uprising Storm, and perhaps also the superhero Civil War. It’s left unclear whose side they will be on, or if they’ll be involved. I suspect, however good this book may be, it might just be a red sky Crisis tie-in rather than really connected to Civil War II.