The penultimate issue is here and if you’ve ever read a review by me on a penultimate issue you’ll know I’m very wary of them. So often they skimp on story and act as a bridge to set up the finale, leaving it boring, uneventful or both. I check out the issue to ask the question: is it good?
Civil War #4 (Marvel Comics)
Things are really ramping up in this issue because of war. Captain America takes the Blue and heads over the Divide to take on the Iron Man controlled area known as the Red. If you were upset to see a lack of action sequences from artist Leinil Francis Yu you are in for a treat here. Last issue saw She-Hulk infiltrating the Blue for her boyfriend and president Iron Man, Spider-Man acquiring a secret weapon by sneaking into the Red and a major reveal of someone who was supposed to be dead. Considering this is a What If? story writer Charles Soule has the opportunity to deliver. I think he does.
Cue dramatic music!
Soule organizes this issue similar to the last, with one character entering his enemy territory and another doing the same. This time it’s Captain America with a full fledged army on one side and Iron Man rescuing She-Hulk on the other. The war is being waged on the Red side by none other than Bucky Barnes who will most likely clash with Cap next issue. This issue is all about the gearing up to the battle as we get a great speech from Cap to his men as they roll into enemy lines. Soule lays it on hard as to why they must attack and successfully positions Cap and his men as heroes. They’re doing what they must and they need to do it now or their children will starve and only know life as a constant war. It’s convincing and necessary; they are the attackers, after all. Soule masterfully crafts this series by making both sides the good guys even when they do bad things.
Meanwhile, Iron Man’s side of the story offers some major reveals and explanations as to why the war has gone on forever. There’s a nice twist of Iron Man’s powers that connects to Siege, and some great action too. It’s a smaller action sequence since it’s just Iron Man vs. a bunch of bad guys—who I will not name to avoid spoilers—but it is just as fun as the major war battle Yu has cooked up over with Captain America.
Love that armor.
The issue does start out slow with the first two pages feeling very wordy and really only there for those of you who haven’t been reading along. I’m also not 100% surprised by the twist as it aligns with other Marvel summer events. Will anyone really be surprised? Probably not, but it’s a nice rejiggering of events to fit into this alternate version of Civil War. Once again it does not tie into Secret Wars but maybe there’ll be a connection made in the finale.
The art by Yu is spectacular. Dare I say it’s his strongest issue of the series, with more than one epic shot to ogle over. Want to see a heroic Captain America make his big speech in a splash page that screams propaganda? You got it. What a giant battle scene with dozens of characters duking it out? You get that too. Meanwhile Iron Man looks fantastic, and the army is incredibly cool and detailed. Can someone explain to me why Yu isn’t drawing the main event? Guy is fantastic.
Is It Good?
This is a great penultimate issue with big reveals and tons of action. It’s a bit slow to start and the big twist isn’t jaw droppingly surprising, but overall this is yet another exciting issue.