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 cataloging 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.
We begin at a SHIELD base in Arizona, where some genetically-created heroes are training, all part of the Fifty-States Initiative. We learn that the plan is to put a team of these beings into every state, populating its major city. We then cut to the Baxter Building, where Reed Richards is finishing up tweaking clone Thor's brain. Tony Stark and Reed are both excited about the upcoming lull in criminal activity due to the Fifty State Initiative. Reed also tells Tony that the President has granted them twelve immunities for the Anti-Registration heroes, but once those twelve have been used, the rest of the heroes are open for prosecution. Tony responds that he'll take care of the rest, as he's having dinner with the President later that night. Unknown to both of them, the Punisher is making his way through the Baxter Building in order to obtain crucial data on the Number 42 complex where all the anti-registration heroes and villains are being held.
Elsewhere, Sue Richards is meeting with Namor in Atlantis in order to gain his aid in the upcoming prison raid. Namor refuses and sends her on her way. At the Secret Avenger's headquarters, discussing the upcoming raid and who they've obtained for it. Spider-Man is back in his old costume, which makes Luke Cage quite happy. A meeting starts, and Captain America tells them they only have one chance to invade the prison complex and free their comrades. Spider-Man assures him that he'll be coming with them. Diamondback then interjects that numbers may be better than anticipated, and brings out super-villains Goldbug and Plunderer who are willing to aid the heroes. The Punisher decides that they will not, and shoots both villains dead. Captain America is not pleased with this and proceeds to beat the living daylights of the Punisher. The Punisher refuses to fight back against Captian America, and is discharged from the team.
In Stamford, Tony Stark is meeting with Miriam Sharpe. She thanks him for going through with the Registration Act, but apologizes that it's ruined the lives of so many heroes. Tony replies that there's no shame in making enemies if it means making people safer. At the North Pole, Uatu the Watcher is meeting with Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange has resigned himself to an inactive role in the war, and is instead fasting so that whichever side spills the least blood succeeds that night.
At dusk, the heroes invade Riker's Island to use the gateway to Complex 42. As they enter the gate, Spider-Man exclaims that his spider-sense is going off the scale. At this point, Iron Man and his team arrives. Iron Man gloats about his superior numbers and the mole he had planted in Captain America's team. Captain America replies that he knew about Tigra, and that Hank Pym is actually the Young Avenger Hulkling, who had knocked out and drugged the real Pym earlier that morning. Furthermore, he opened all the cells in Complex 42, evening the odds quite a bit. The issues ends with the two sides standing there, ready to fight.
Unlike the previous few issues, where events moved slower than a snail, the story moved with lightning speed. The scene in the Secret Avenger's headquarters is my favorite in the series, as it captures the characters of Captain America Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and Punisher so well. The remainder of the book is also nifty, but merely an appetizer to next issue's main course.
As always, the art is wonderful. The writing has resumed the tightness it had in the first two issues. All in all, a fantastic issue, but in the hopes that next issue beats out all the other issues I'm going to give this the above rating.
Miriam Sharpe's son's name is Damian. The only people I've seen with that name have been possessed by demons. Perhaps she'll be revealed as some sort of criminal mastermind next issue.