A fairly big week for me (by my standards of course) with 5 books out this week. I didn't even get a chance to read them all yet but I only have one to go. So this week we have Civil War #7, Elephantmen #7, She-Hulk #16, New Avengers Illuminati #2, and The Dark Tower #1 (a hold over from last week but after reading all the hype I decided to check it out). I haven't read the Dark Tower yet. By the time I got done the other 4 it was getting fairly late and I was having a tough time concentrating and after the first couple pages I realized I just wasn't able to give the book the attention it needed. So that review will have to wait. And because Civil War will most likely dominate my attention during these reviews I think I'll leave it until the end.
Elephantmen #7 -- In this issue the storyline veers off on a tangent a bit. We begin with Savannah (the young girl from the first issue of the series) trying to see her friend Ebony in the hospital (this is following his fight in issue 3) and she's taken to Hip instead (who has the idol he fought Elijah, the croc guy). Hip decides to tell little Savannah a pirate story. By the time the story is over, Savannah heads home (though not before Hip gives her the little doll that was inside the idol) and Obadiah learns that Hip beat Elijah and took the idol. And a picture of Hip with Sahara with Hip's comments about a broken heart leaves the reader knowing that things between Obadiah and Hip are intense and getting more so. So much happens in so few pages there but the most of the issue is the pirate story, Captain Stoneheart and the Truth Fairy. It's an enjoyable story with Captain Stoneheart resembling Hip (courtesy of Savannah's imagination) and again, the writing (the story, the dialogue, and the flow) is better than a lot of other stuff I've been reading. This is what happens when the writer(s) really focus on putting out a story that they care about and not focus on flash. My only real complaint, the pirate story was a little difficult to read at time, especially near the beginning. The two page splashes of art all jumbled together that seemed overly dark with narration spattered throughout made it a little more of a challenge. But as the story went on the narration text issue seemed to just be a blip at the beginning. The art remained pretty dark and fuzzy though. But all in all, this was my pick of the week.
She-Hulk #16 -- It's She-Hulk and Wolverine versus Wendigo as SHIELD (a UN force) squabbles with some Canadians about what to do with Wendigo. First up, the art. Seriously, the art really ruins so much for me. Now it's a little too cartoony for me but I can get over that but it's just not even good cartoony in my opinion. I'm reminded of one panel where She-Hulk just didn't look right. By this I mean she looked like that scene from Spaceballs where the guy has his head twisted around, this one it looked like She-Hulk was twisted at the waist and had her butt in front. The sad part is that I think it's actually improving but it's still nowhere near where it should be. Then you have She-Hulk deciding to fight the Wendigo in the snow in her sports bra and panties. Why go so minimal? It didn't make much sense. Though you also have to wonder about She-Hulk herself, as something seems to be going on there. She's seeing images of Jen Walters who now seems to indicate her and She-Hulk are becoming two different people (closer to Bruce and the Hulk) and She-Hulk's antics (sleeping with Quartermain and trying to seduce Wolverine here) leave you wondering. And the fight with Wendigo is decent but in some ways it just reminds me of the poor showing of Abomination from last issue. These sorts of story elements keep me coming back so I'm a little less inclined to drop this book than I was but seriously, the art needs to be changed.
New Avengers Illuminati #2 -- To get the easy part out of the way, the art was good. It was dynamic when it had to be, clearly illustrated the story, etc, etc. The storyline is that after realizing the Infinity Gems were out there unprotected, Reed figures they should assemble the full Infinity Gauntlet to ensure the gems are kept safe. Long story short, he assembles the gauntlet, Uatu shows up and expresses disappointment, Reed decides to have the Illuminati each take a gem and hide it, and Prof X seems to have some concern over Reed. It was an interesting story and I can understand Reed's concerns about the gems being out there but I question his wisdom at having the Illuminati hide them. He went through a lot just to get them himself so if he could put them back it might make sense. If someone had the power to get them from where they were, they probably have the ability to find and take them from where ever Iron Man will put his. In the end, doubt gets cast on Reed. Prof X doesn't seem to trust him, the others have their doubts, and you kinda wonder if he really did try to force the glove to blink itself out of existence. I kinda wonder why Prof X didn't look more deeply into Reed's mind early on but perhaps doing so might have caused more harm. All in all, it's not a bad series but perhaps I'm just tired of the new direction Marvel seems to be heading with their characters with all the deceit, the distrust, the manipulation, etc, etc.
Which leads us into...
Civil War #7 -- Let's start with the art because the discussion of the writing could drag on. I was critical of McNiven on the last issue but I think he made up for it here. It's pretty intense stuff and he conveys the action and emotion well. I might have liked a few more group shots so we can be reminded now and then of the scope of the battle but all in all, the art didn't disappoint in this issue (at least it didn't disappoint me, I know some people really dislike McNiven's art but I'll leave it at that). Looking just at this issue, we have a lot less dialogue so there's not much to gripe about there (except for something near the end of the book that I'll touch on later) and for the most part, the story in this issue alone is decent enough and I'll avoid giving the details as this review will probably be long as it is. Do I have a problem with Cap's surrender, sorta. When I read the original planning sheet and outline for CW 7 that Tom Brevoort put up on Newsarama (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=102414) I thought "Yeah, you know I could have accepted that ending if Tony was still someone Cap could trust." But then you have the "evil Tony" stuff most of which, I admit, happen in the tie ins (except for the cloning/cyborging Thor). The secret Negative Zone prison which may or may not be killing people or making them insane depending on whether the events portrayed in Frontline actually happened or are just a Marvel booboo. The controlling the media to further the hatred towards costumed heroes. The recruiting of villains and seemingly the ones who are most eager to kill someone. The registration not being held to just costumed vigilantes but anyone SHIELD deems of interest. And a bunch of other fun stuff that I've ranted about a time or two. Also, just look at how he acted towards Maria Hill at the end. He's there with the mother who's son was killed to start Civil War off and he decides to revel in Maria's mysery as he smuggly requests that the former director of SHIELD (who has been demoted so that he can take over the role) get them some coffee. Really? He's revelling in the situation even though in some books it was Maria that said she felt Tony was more up to the task of heading up SHIELD than she was. And he chooses this time to rub her nose in it and gloat about his own step up the ladder? At that point my opinion of Tony (and in turn every hero that followed him which amounts to most of the Marvel Universe) dropped again. And that's why I have a problem with Cap just up and saying, "Yeah, I give up." His fight against registration may not have been the right idea but his fight against Tony and some of the stuff going on beyond just registering seemed very justified to me.
And Civil War on the whole, this event was a mess. Quesada and others admitted from the start that this was a last minute change of plans and that showed. They were not prepared. Not only in the delays but there was no communication or strong company-wide focus. We have Frontline and other books portraying events one way and the main book (and Millar himself) contradicting these events. You get the Negative Zone prison depicted one way in some books (showing what should happen when one travels into the Negative Zone) and another way in other books (including the main book). You have the US government controlling SHIELD even though SHIELD is supposed to be a UN led operation. And events of the story get led not by the story itself or by the characters but because someone at Marvel thinks it would "shake things up" or because you want a cool visual (like wanting Thor in the series but not having him available so concocting a story where they create a clone/cyborg hybrid). Not to mention bringing back Captain Mar-Vell (I know I wasn't the only one what surprised when he appeared in CW #7 and not one person on the anti-reg side said "Hey, isn't that Captain Mar-Vell? The guy we grieved as he died?") and Namor's brief appearance in CW 7 are also proof of that. To be honest, it's almost like a pattern for Millar. I find much of his Ultimates stuff to be about doing that "cool shot" (like having two issues in a row end on the dramatic return of a character the rest of the team turned their backs on) but in this case I think others at Marvel are also responsible. And if they had concentrated on the story and kept that original ending in mind, I think it could have been a great series. But hey, Quesada's happy because he gets to gloat about how many copies it sold.
So there you have it, I still have one more issue of Frontline to read before Civil War is done (and it comes out next week) but for me, the series was a pretty solid miss. And the event on the whole has left a very bad taste in my mouth towards Marvel and especially towards Quesada and those that seem to be in his inner circle. So for the next few months I get to save up some money as I pass on all the post-Civil War stuff going on. Do I have high hopes for World War Hulk? To be honest, with Marvel the way it is I'm scared (and not in a good way) of what they'll do next.