Oh boy. What can I say about this issue? Where do I start? At the beginning, I guess...
"Aunt May... MJ... I need your help. I need to make a decision, and — God, I just... I don't know what to do."
You don't either, huh?
"Because depending on what we do here in the next few hours — in a few days, there may not be
a Spider-Man anymore."
Oh, how I wish that were the case. It'd be great if there could just not be
a Spider-Man for the duration of this event.
"Where do I start? At the beginning, I guess..."
Peter proceeds to flashback about his last conversation with Tony Stark. They're on a plane, discussing the aftermath of the Stamford disaster, and Peter asks how bad it is. Tony says they're still looking for survivors, so, generally speaking, it's looking pretty grim. Peter wants to know what happened.
"It looks like there was a fight between two powers or groups of powers. We're still trying to sort out who was fighting, and about what."
Okay back up, time for one of the lesser gripes about this issue. When everyone arrived at Stamford in Civil War #1, Tony said the entire nation saw the tape, and when Peter fell asleep in front of the TV there was a news report about the disaster complete with footage of the explosion
. As there's very little reason for anyone with a camera to have been in a position to capture that footage and survive, I have to assume that means that the New Warriors were broadcasting live, or at least remotely recording, and that
was what was shown on the news, so how do they not already know exactly who was involved?
Tony gets a call from... someone... and then tells Peter that it was about the body count - over 600 dead. Hm. You know, in Civil War #1, in a scene that takes place after this
, Captain America said the estimate was in the range of eight or nine hundred. That estimate has not been mentioned since.
I'm just, you know, kind of making a note of this. Interpret it however you want.
TWO HOURS LATER...
"In everyone's life, Peter, there's an 'It'... your wife leaves you, or you get cancer. There's your life before
'It' and your life after
NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT NOT THAT IT
"9/11 was an 'It' of national magnitude. And Stamford... is going to be another one."
Oh good. I had just been thinking that the plane crash in the cornfield from Wolverine #42 was too subtle
but now they've decided to make it explicit
"Look at them, Tony — the way they're looking at us, the rage in their eyes, it's as if they think we're responsible."
Oh... trust me, Peter, I... know exactly how you feel.
Oh god she can see me.
Peter says they should go back down in case there are more survivors and Tony tells him they've already helped dig out all the bodies.
Well that was... fast. Most rescue teams keep at it for weeks, and you can still see rubble and wreckage all over the place. How do you know you got everyone?
...you're just being an asshole, aren't you?
Peter asks what they're still doing there if they can't help, and Tony directs his attention to the sky. Peter doesn't see anything at first, but soon his suit zooms in on a helicopter with the Seal of the President of the United States on the side. Which is somehow clearly legible through the smoke. Hey, no fair, Tony is obviously dabbling in magic at this point. Tony says the President's office called him and told him to be there at the same time the President was so they could talk about it.
Cut to Peter and Tony in the White House. Peter talks about he's obviously in over his head and suddenly realizes he hasn't been to the bathroom since he had that jumbo slurpee six hours ago just as Tony is called to see the President. Peter spends a few seconds examining the HOLY HELL
Did... did everyone catch that? Take a good, close look at that bust of Abraham Lincoln in all three panels. It's not just shifting shadows - the thing actually moves
. Its expression changes subtly. Its hair, its marble hair
, actually shifts
between panels. The artwork behind it changes too. This is completely terrifying.
Anyway Peter walks away and asks the guard about a restroom but nope, Tony returns just then. That was... the shortest meeting ever.
"Hey, boss, there is a restroom on the ground floor, right?... Tony?"
They talk, once again
, about how the shit has irrevocably hit the fan.
"Because seriously, it feels like I just drank Hydro-Man... er, not like that, you know..."
Tony says that that's not the worst thing that's going to happen today.
"I just realized I missed the opportunity to tell the President of the United States that I really have to pee."
He informs Peter that any and all superpowered individuals or costumed heroes will have to blah, blah, blah, and that anyone who doesn't comply, blah, blah, blah. He asks Peter where he stands and Peter stands by his word. Tony then says he needs his loyalty as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man and he needs it openly.
"Yep, I definitely just pissed myself."
Tony says that Peter has to publicly unmask himself to continue with Stark Industries, and that if he doesn't he'll be just like all the unregistered heroes, hunted down and locked up.
Okay, slow down. That was never part of the deal. When Tony showed Peter the bill, he said that all supers' identities would remain confidential and now we're being told that they'll have to publicly unmask. Either the bill is undergoing a drastic change within a very short time, the writers have forgotten what it's actually supposed to say or decided to retcon it for additional drama and conflict, or Tony Stark is lying through his teeth.
...well after talking to a few people about it, I think the general consensus is that all four of those possibilities are actually completely plausible and logical explanations and not entirely mutually exclusive.
Tony goes on. "We live in a time when everyone has had to make sacrifices of their privacy."
How very patriotic
That was... vague enough to be ominous. Which seems to be a recurring thing with Stark.
"Random searches at airports."
And don't even get me started on airline food!
Tony tells Peter to go back to Stark Tower alone because he has another meeting with the President after the Act is signed. On the way back, Peter calls the bank inquiring about his accounts. Oh, Peter, did you not hear that thing about the wiretaps? You will never
be one step ahead of Tony Stark.
End flashback. Mary Jane asks if Peter will be expected to hunt down and reveal the identities of supers who don't register. Peter references a historical event in a way that, for once in this storyline, actually seems like a natural and reasonable piece of dialogue. She then asks if he thinks Tony will turn him in if he doesn't unmask. Peter says that he doesn't think so, but he doesn't know.
Ha. They think there's really any question about it. Of course he would.
I'm skipping about a page worth of material here because the overall conversation isn't affected by the removal of it. Aunt May speaks up, saying that she's proud of Peter and now it's time for the world to be proud of Peter because I guess she hasn't been reading the news or anything lately. She says:
"Every day, prosecutors and judges and governors and senators go to work, knowing their loved ones may be jeopardized by their work. But they
don't wear masks to work. Do you know why
Hm, good question. Could it be because most of them are elected or publicly appointed, so keeping their identities secret would be as impossible as it would pointless? Because they're statistically much more likely to draw the ire of normal people who can be stopped by normal means than supervillains rather than the other way around? Because they hate their loved ones? Because it's the only way to keep our democracy honest
No, apparently it's because their loved ones want
it that way. Yeah. "Because they would rather die than see the face they love, the face that gives so much to the world, go covered in shame." Peter tells Mary Jane to talk some sense into her, but MJ says she's right.
You can just see the wisdom in those glassy, unfocused eyes.
Four days later, Peter is about to chicken out. While Mary Jane is still asleep, he's packed and ready to go. Before he can get out the door, though, Aunt May shows up to make him feel guilty in the way that only a senile old woman can. So, even though he's already dressed for life on the run, he decides to go ahead and do perhaps the single stupidest thing he's ever done in order to keep his word
. He shows up at the White House for a press conference the next day and reasserts that he'll stand by Tony.
So Tony starts his speech by talking about how he's sure Miriam Sharpe needs no introduction.
All he really says about her is that, well, everyone knows who she is and that she's the one who convinced him to support the SHRA, which is a lie, since he supported the Act during Illuminati, long before the Stamford disaster, and I don't really understand why he would tell this particular lie. He then proceeds to state that Spider-Man also needs no introduction... so what was the point of... nevermind. Peter changes into his old Spider-Man costume while Tony's talking and walks out to the podium. He tells everyone he has an announcement to make.
TO BE CONTINUED