This is yet another Civil War one-shot tie in. Myself, I long for the good old days where a crossover was a couple of issues in Spidey and another couple in Daredevil. By contrast, if you wanted to get the complete Civil War story, you're talking fifty or so different comics. Way to make life simple, Marvel!
Spidey appears in his Tony Stark costume on page 8 (counting all pages) panel 2, in the upper left corner. That's a very minor cameo, but enough for us to review the issue anyhow!
Having just read Civil War: The Initiative, I wasn't feeling particularly charitable when I picked up this issue. Expecting another similar "promo" one-shot which did little more than plug upcoming title revamps, I was pleasantly surprised to see that "The Confession" actually contains real story. Two of them in fact, both entitled "The Confession".
The first story consists entirely of Iron Man dialogue. He describes how he feels that the staff of SHIELD seem still to owe allegiance to Nick Fury (still alive, but hidden since the events of Secret War were made public). He tells how he spoke to the men about the victory of King Pyrrhus - a victory which cost him so much that it nearly destroyed him. This tale backfired, with Iron Man losing further the confidence of his team.
He then describes how back from the day when he met King Arthur (see some ancient issue of Avengers no doubt), but even from that day he knew that one day a civil war would rise up among the super-heroes, pitting friend against friend. He tells of how he knew which side people would take, except for Peter Parker. Actually, this is a little contradictory with events leading up to Peter's defection when Iron Man anticipated Spider-Man's betrayal. Though perhaps he only anticipated it in the short term.
Describing how he fought in the Civil War, seeking victory at any cost, Stark breaks into tears as the camera pulls back to reveal Captain America's bloodied body. Iron Man confesses that "it wasn't worth it".
The second story is set earlier, and features Iron Man visiting Captain America in his cell at Ryker's Island. Captain America berates Iron Man for the damage he has caused in his single-minded pursuit of his cause. He quotes Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) in his condemnation of mankind, "He is the only animal who will fight for sordid wages..." He asks Stark, "was it worth it?"
This issue is a key conclusion to the whole Civil War affair. Without it, Civil War is that much weaker a story. Really, this should probably have been Civil War #8, just to make sure that everybody brought this issue. As it is, I suspect many folks might well just overlook it.
The events here remind us that Iron Man and Captain America were once friends for so long. They remind is just exactly what a civil war can mean. It means brother against brother. It reminds us that when the huge cost of war has been added up, that the wisest among us will ask hard questions such as "Was it worth it?" There are one or two trillion-dollar conflicts going on right now that might invite such questions.
The sequencing of these stories is interesting. The first answers the question asked in the second. I would have been tempted to have put these stories in the inverse order, though I wonder if the impact might have been reduced. Are questions more interesting before we know the answer? Are answers more interesting before we know the question? In either case, the two tales are highly effective.
Civil War contained some great moments, and "The Confession" is one of those. Bendis cuts to the heart of the matter, and deserves this four and a half webs.
"Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood... to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" -- with his mouth."
-- Samuel Clemens.
From a purist point of view, I'm not entirely sure that Clements was 100% accurate in his claim. I believe that ants also undertake wars and even use mercenaries. But in that case, if our closest neighbors in this matter are scurrying insects then perhaps we shouldn't brag too much either.