As Charles Soule, Leinil Francis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan’s “Civil War” miniseries nears its conclusion, the conflict escalates when Steve Rogers’ forces cross the divide and move in on Tony Stark’s territory, even as a surprising third force is revealed and answers the mystery behind the shocking assassination attempt in the first issue. Like he’s done throughout the story, Soule merely uses “Secret Wars” as an excuse to tell this tale, using no other elements from that series and even eschewing any mention of it. It’s a smart call, as the series does well as a continuation of the original event it’s based on.
While the battle lines are clearly drawn, Soule mixes things up a bit and keeps the original “Civil War” concept intact while extrapolating on it with a few twists. Stark isn’t quite the villain the first event — or even the first issue of this series — made him out to be. His dedication to rescuing the captured Jen Walters is refreshing, although not surprising as she is his love interest. The dynamic between a proactive Stark and an opportunistic James Barnes continues to serve as a late blooming plot twist that keeps the story on its toes, even as the final showdown nears. Similarly, Steve Rogers’ aggressive tactics are somewhat surprising, yet also true to the essence of the character established decades earlier.
Rogers’ battle worn, aging facial features are just one aspect of the story captured by Yu and inker Gerry Alanguilan; Cap looks every bit the lifelong soldier entering what could be his greatest and final battle, and the soldiers under his command also have the same grizzled, hardened look of weary but ever-determined warriors. It also works well for the glistening capital city of the Iron, but the restrained colors from Sonny Gho keep it from looking like all that nice a place, after Soule’s story has made clear it isn’t.
Yu and Alanguilan also make the theater of war look like the decidedly nasty place it should be; skirmishes are detailed in a gritty, but not grisly, manner and a double page spread illustrating Cap’s advancing armies might be a bit of an artistic indulgence, but it’s a downright beautiful piece that effectively uses perspective to capture the scope of the invasion as well as the superhuman element of it.
Soule and Yu have ensured that each issue not only advances but amps up the story, and “Civil War” #4 is the best single issue example of that, prepping for what’s shaping up to be a bombastic conclusion.