Choosing Sides, the companion title to Civil War II, is out this week, more an anthology loosely linked to the ongoing story than anything else, it treats us to tales of Nick Fury, Night Thrasher, and Damage Control. Also out this week is the newest issue of Ultimates, retelling the start of this crossover event. Check out my reviews after the jump.
The first of the features is “Post Prologue” by Declan Shalvey. We have here only a hint of what else is going on in the Marvel Universe regarding Civil War II, it’s barely mentioned. This is a straight up Nick Fury story, filled with great action and espionage subtext. All the stuff that “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” should be, and every blue moon is – that’s what is going on here. Shalvey, with his past in noir and anti-heroes, is well suited to Nick Fury and mature reader violence. I quite liked this a bit.
I do wish the ambush could have been a little less elevator scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and that Fury didn’t feel he needed to take a powder as he has in almost every other Marvel crossover event (including the movie Civil War) I’ve paid attention to. Perhaps the latter is tradition. As I said, I liked this one, and based on it, without having read the other two stories, I’d recommend this issue. My big question however is why not just do a Nick Fury mini-series, or ongoing, with Declan Shalvey, rather than this serialized bit?
Night Thrasher is not a character I am not especially familiar with, as my New Warriors knowledge is spotty. When I saw his name, honestly my first thought was – did he survive the inciting incident of the first Civil War? I guess he did, because here he is. My first impression of the character was ‘some skateboard guy,’ but not only does this story by Brandon Easton and Paul Davidson fill in the details (remember the old Silver Age mantra, every comic is someone’s first), but lets me know that Night Thrasher is far more than ‘some skateboard guy.’ I certainly like him more here, than the profile my quick read through Wikipedia gave me.
His story takes place during the assault on New York City by the Celestial Destructor. Invited by the Blue Marvel, Night Thrasher joins the fight against the giant and his probes, but there’s more to it. Easton’s internal narrative brings more to the table in terms of Tony Stark than I’ve seen in years, and most importantly lets me know who Night Thrasher is. We also see some of what in the cinematic world separates the Marvel characters from the DCs – the caring for the victims. I loved it, in the midst of what is becoming a ridiculous superhero war, we have actual heroism. I want more. I had to wonder though, why did Captain Marvel call him ‘honey’?
With a possible ABC television series in the works, it’s about time Marvel brought Damage Control back into the limelight, and what better excuse than cleaning up after a massive superhero defensive against a Celestial in New York City, right? For those who don’t know, Damage Control is the company that cleans up the messes left behind by superhero/super-villain fights and city-demolishing crises. Written by Chad Bowers and Chris Sims (one of my favorite bloggers and Twitterers) with art by Leonardo Romero, resembling Darwyn Cooke a bit, this feature tells the tale of the Damage Control company worrying over their public image.
While the story is fun, and a great pallet cleanser after the ultra-serious two features before it, it’s the weakest of the three. I was hoping with what I had seen earlier in this issue, we might have gotten more of a pilot for more to come, but it didn’t seem that way. That said, I would like to see more to come, make no mistake. I of course looked askance at the opening page with Steve Rogers as Captain America. I had to wonder at his motive, and what Hydra might want with Damage Control or the remains of the battle zone. Sorry, Cap has been ruined for me, and I’m not letting go of that bone.
Thanos Vs. the Ultimates
Also out this week is Ultimates #8, which dramatically retells the recent battle between Captain Marvel’s team and Thanos, the one that resulted in the deaths of War Machine and She-Hulk. By the way, is She-Hulk dead? I keep hearing rumors that she did not die. A flatline on life support would indicate death I thought, but then again, it wouldn’t be the first continuity mistake a certain writer has made in a crossover event. Regardless, I looked forward to Ultimates #8, I had been wondering how Captain Marvel could go into battle with Thanos so unprepared enough to lose two comrades.
The issue begins by telling origin points of Captain Marvel’s team and how they were assembled. Speaking of continuity, the battle doesn’t go exactly as shown, but we do see, once again the deaths of War Machine and She-Hulk, but we do not see (save a panel) what I wanted to – the pivotal fight afterward where the Avengers defeat Thanos. I wanted more of that. Not much is given to the idea, other than failure, that the team included former Avengers leaders and tacticians, and against a threat those heroes must have prepared for for years, still failed.
I have to say that I enjoyed these two side issues more than I have the actual Civil War II series itself, which in my estimation is a shame. The Choosing Sides anthology is fun and exciting, informed and entertained, and made me want more, but none of the stories really had anything to do with the Inhuman Ulysses, or Iron Man and Captain Marvel, who appear prominently on its cover. They do appear briefly in the Night Thrasher story, yes, but does that merit the cover imaging that has become one of the most used visuals for the event? The feature characters don’t even appear on the cover, except in name. I’m also a bit lost on the title of the book itself. Civil War II: Choosing Sides – were sides actually chosen in it? I think not.
Regarding Ultimates #8, as a standalone, I loved it, but when presented as retelling events most of us already know, it’s not so hot. I have always loved Al Ewing doing his version of an Avengers team, and if I’d wanted to get back to reading comics, this would be on my list, especially with Kenneth Rocafort’s impressive art. I dug the mini-origin story, the characterizations, the characters, the dialogue, the Atlas-style monster Xarggu (!), and the mysterious and sinister men in black behind the scenes, really I loved every bit of this book but the sloppy retelling aspect. I wish there’s been some way of advancing the story rather than retelling it for the third (at least) time.
I’ll be back with more reviews of Marvel’s Civil War II event, and if you’d like to read my thoughts so far, click here.