The Marvel Universe has always had problems with masked identities. From the Sentinels and the Mutant Registration Act to Jonah Jameson and his tirades against Spider-Man, masked heroes and villains are usually the object of scorn. However, when a group of heroes inadvertently destroy a small town, the scales of tolerance are tipped and the civilians call for the cataloguing of the super-hero community. The mini-series, "Civil War", details with the inevitable factions that arise and the effects is has on some of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe. Caution: Possible spoilers ahead.
When we last left our heroes, they were in shock and awe of the newly returned Thor. Their shock grows and their awe diminishes as he unleashes another lightning bolt at the Secret Avengers (Captain America's group of heroes) and basically tells Dagger that he's going to kill her. The Secret Avengers attempt to escape, but Thor calls them wretches in a weird font and tells them they're not going anywhere. Captain America and Iron Man (Tony Stark) are engaged in fisticuffs elsewhere on the battlefield, and Cap refuses to surrender. However, he has taken a lot of damage and is nearing defeat. Hercules will have none of this and arrives to save Captain America, with a side-effect of neutralizing some of sonic scream disabling the Secret Avengers. They seize the moment and attack with gusto, while the Falcon carries Captain America to safety.
Goliath, meanwhile, is making his way to Thor with the hope of taking the Thunder God out of the battle. Thor has different ideas, and uses a lightning bolt to shoot a hole through Goliath's heart, killing him. Dagger is in shock at this turn of events, while Thor wishes to add more tally marks to his kill column. The lightning bolt misses its mark thanks to the Invisible Woman, and the Secret Avengers who are not wounded or dead teleport to safety.
Reed Richards shuts down Thor with a verbal code, while Yellowjacket yells at him about Thor's lack of morals. Reed tries to reason with Sue, who will have none of it. Spider-Man tells Iron Man, "I thought you said what you were doing, Tony. I thought we were doing this so one else got hurt" while Uatu, the Watcher, looks on with a frown.
At Avengers Tower, Iron Man's team tend to their injuries while Reed Richards and other scientists try to find out what went wrong with Thor, who is a clone. Peter Parker talks with Yellowjacket and the Wasp, all of whom are freaked out that one clone Thor killed Goliath. Yellowjacket wonders why the clone Thor did it. Peter asks if Yellowjacket ever wonders if they chose the right side.
At the Secret Avengers Headquarters, everyone is doing the same thing. Wounds are being tended to and questions are being asked about Thor and if the right side was chosen. Darkhawk, Stature, and Cable walk out on the Secret Avengers while a man in a ski-mask looks on.
Some point later, Tony Stark attends Goliath's funeral. The woman who accosted him in the first issue of "Civil War" comes to him again and tells him that her son idolized Iron Man, and to remind Tony of why he was doing this. Peter Parker is also attending the funeral with his wife and aunt, and Reed Richards believes him to be acting strangely. Later that night, Susan Storm leaves the Fantastic Four to join the Secret Avengers.
At Avengers Tower, it is revealed that the Thor clone was just the first of many such clones. It is also revealed that Iron Man's team will soon be working with several villians, including Venom.
The death of Goliath is obviously the focus of this issue, and since this is the middle issue of the seven-issue miniseries, everything hits a turning point. Spider-Man is obviously going to leave Iron Man's team, and the addition of several known supervillians to Iron Man's side promises to escalate things quite a bit. What will Spider-Man do from here on in, though? In "Amazing Spider-Man #534", he rejected Captain America's offer to join the Secret Avengers, and Cap seemed quite put out by this.
While the art was fantastic, as always, the story itself seemed to get a bit muddled after the Secret Avengers retreated. After that point, it just seemed rather sloppy and forced along. It was still quite good, but not up to the standard Mark Millar has set for himself in the previous three issues. Hopefully, the next issue will be better.
While I'm still wondering about Howard the Duck's stance on all of this (a promised one-shot detailing Howard's stance still has not surfaced), the woman who comes to Tony Stark in the cemetary has struck me as rather suspicious. First, she accosts Tony Stark outside of a church, and now she comes to him in a cemetary and makes sure he stays his course. What I'm thinking is that this woman is not all that she seems, and she's a plant by some supervillian or Maria Hill (director of SHIELD) in order to keep Tony Stark's eyes on the prize. In this case, the prize being heroes at Civil War with each other and the eventual implementation of the "Fifty States Initiative". I'm probably wrong, but I won't be surprise if she turns out to be SINISTER.