Civil War #4 centers on a battle. In fact, it’s the battle we’ve been waiting for since the first issue. Granted, it’s called Civil War, but the seeds of this encounter between Captain America and Iron Man’s forces has been set in motion since the ominous death of Miriam Sharpe. This could only end with a massive altercation between Captain America, his troops, and Iron Man’s forces at the divide between the two territories. And honestly, that’s what I came here for. So, how does this match up to the epic culmination of Mark Millar’s original series?
First of all, the battle is on a tremendously larger scale, as it should be considering the amount of time between the spark of conflict and this, and the final culmination represents several years of tension. Leinil Yu’s art is gorgeous here and his depiction of the scale of this battle brings readers into the book and enhances the gravity of the situation. He does great work with conflict and he is the only artist I would have picked for this series.
Both sides have sent their best efforts forward, while Stark busies himself with rescuing She-Hulk. There are some occasions here where Civil War really suffers from its position in Battleworld; some of the dialogue doesn’t make sense (the references to national pride, the existence of Wakanda inside this small domain, and a few others) and a number of other little issues that get in the way of writer Charles Soule’s storytelling. There are a number of Secret Wars tie-ins that have used Battleworld to its fullest, like the brief but effective Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders, but others are stymied by the restrictive nature of the story, this is one of them. Civil War reads more like a What If?: What if the Civil War Didn’t End? It’s fairly easy to ignore many of the Battleworld elements, but I can’t help but imagine what this and many others would be like as alternate reality tales rather than Battleworld domains.
Regardless of the structural prohibitions put upon Soule due to Battleworld, Civil War remains a well told story. Captain America appears after a notable absence last week and delivers a fairly inspiring speech to his group before the Battle of the Divide. Again, Soule showcases a strong grasp on the psyche of Captain America and Iron Man, a characteristic that was lacking in Spider-Man’s own development an issue prior. The characters here all have their own distinct voice, the mark of a talented writer, which made the disparity of Iron Man’s voice from previous moments particularly suspicious during this issue.
Another thing to note about Civil War #4: Spider-Man is mostly absent for the book. Focusing on the bigger picture, it’s easy to see why his story would be held aside, but other than a few lines he is unseen, as was Captain America in the last issue. Again, there’s only so many issues to tell this big story, so it makes sense to shift the focus for an issue. This might be fine in trade as well, but waiting for weeks at a time for a well-rounded and paced issue expounds on character absences, at least for me. Then again, I’m reviewing the book critically, and this could be something that casual readers/fans wouldn’t notice.
Civil War #4 relies on Soule’s strength in writing consistent characters to reward observant readers with twists that makes sense while still managing to surprise. Only upon a second reading, with the knowledge of these twists, does Soule’s writing reveal that that obvious was always in plain site. Not to give much away, but those readers who noticed that Secret Invasion was strangely absent from “Secret Wars” and desired more of that tale will be in for a surprise or two.
Civil War #4 brings a majority of the plot threads and elements from the series to a head as the two opposing sides clash! Yu's art is fantastic as always and he really gets a chance to impress with some massive battle scenes. The character issues from earlier in the series are still present, though the dialogue and overall plot is still miles ahead of the original Civil War series.