Chaos War: Avengers
featuring Fred van Lente, Michael Avon Oeming and J. M. DeMatteis
(Art by Tom Grummett, Cory Hamscher, Stephen Segovia, Ivan Rodriguez, Danny Miki, John Wycough, Victor Olazaba, Don Ho, Brian Ching and Rick Ketcham)
A tie-in to the Chaos War event storyline, this book features three stories. The first sees deceased Avengers who are brought back to life stepping in to protect their comatose living comrades, the second follows Ares as he confronts the Chaos King in the Underworld and the third has Thor battling an alien god called Glory.
Now this is the first and only Chaos War book I've ever read, so I went into it with very little knowledge of the set up for the story. To any other readers in the same boat, be prepared to have to accept things on face value because it picks up and ends amid events of the Chaos War, so we get little intro and no real ending. Ares' story suffers in particular from this and therefore feels very disjointed. On the other hand, Thor's story is fairly self-contained but just failed to really connect with me and also was a bit too existential in its tone; trying to make serious points about prayer and God in a story about a Norse god fighting an alien god. Frankly, it just didn't work for me.
For me the highlight of this book was 'Chaos War: Dead Avengers'. I've always liked stories which feature B-list or underpowered heroes taking on challenges that should be dealt with by the A-listers and here we get a real team of misfit Avengers who all share the dubious honour of having been dead up until the Chaos War. Whilst Captain Marvel (the Mar-Vell version) and Vision aren't B-list heroes, the likes of Deathcry, Swordsman, Yellowjacket and Doctor Druid are. Each of these heroes has to face their own shortcomings, as well as come to terms with the deaths and rebirths, whilst defending the comatose Avengers like Captain America, Iron Man and Wolverine. I would've been much happier if this entire book had focused on the Dead Avengers, instead of just the first half.
2 out of 5
Civil War: Marvel Universe
(Art by Paul Smith, Leinil Yu, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, David Aja, Scott Kolins, Roger Langridge, Tom Raney, Scott Hanna, Marc Silvestri and Top Cow Productions)
A tie-in to Mark Millar's 'Civil War' which features a number of minor Marvel characters and their reactions to the Superhuman Registration Act.
First off is a story about She-Hulk. She's torn by her support of the Act as She-Hulk and her obligations as the lawyer charged with protecting the rights of superhumans. Next up is a Venom, who decides to rack up a few more bodies before signing up to serve in the Government-sanctioned Thunderbolts. The Irredeemable Ant-Man is then called to act as a hero to protect an innocent caught between the two sides of the Civil War. In the next story Iron Fist agrees to become Daredevil to fight in the Civil War. The fifth story features U.S.Agent as he too is torn, this time between his duty and his dislike of Tony Stark.
Things take a lighter tone as the irrascible Howard the Duck reluctantly queues up for registration. Then, in 'Civil War: The Return' Captain Marvel is torn from another timeline and tasked with guarding the superhero prison in the Negative Zone, whilst the Sentry struggles with both his conscience and the Absorbing Man. Finally, 'Civil War: The Initiative' shows us the aftermath of the Civil War as Tony Stark attempts to rebuild the Avengers, a new super team is gathered in Canada, the ex-villain Thunderbolts revel in their new sanctioned positions and Ms. Marvel encounters the fugitive Spider-Woman.
Overall, I didn't really like this book too much. The stories are so short that they never manage to fully develop their better elements and the characters featured (with the possible exception of U.S.Agent) just aren't ones that interest me. Also, very little of the political and moral tension so prevalent in the other Civil War books is apparent here.
It comes to something when the best story offered here is the tongue-in-cheek Howard the Duck one ("You're a duck..." "And you're a civil servant. Let's not let our prejudices get in the way of civil discourse.")
2 out of 5
Civil War: X-Men Universe
(Art by Dennis Calero, Staz Johnson, Klaus Janson and John Stanisci)
Two stories tying in to 'Civil War' by Mark Millar, in which the Superhero Registration Act drives a wedge between the heroes of the Marvel Universe.
The first is about X-Factor and shows how they learn that the X-Men have been lying to them about the events of M-Day. The ensuing sense of betrayal leads them to choose the side of Quicksilver, the architecht of M-Day, over that of their former allies.
The second story is the better of the two and features Cable and Deadpool. When the latter is hired by the U.S Government to hunt down heroes avoiding the registration, it brings him into conflict with his friend and ally (Cable) who has chosen the side of the rebel heroes. This latter story manages to perfectly balance the poignancy of its political statements against its madcap humour. I particularly enjoyed Deadpool's reaction to getting his ass kicked by Squirrel Girl.
4 out of 5