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General Information

Title: Civil War: Frontline #1-11

Author: Paul Jenkins

Illustrator(s): Pencils by Ramon Bachs, Steve Lieber, Kei Kobayashi, Leandro Fernandez, Kano, Lee Weeks, David Aja, Sean Chen, Roy Allen Martinez, Jorge Lucas, Eduardo Barreto and Frazer Irving. Inks by John Lucas, Steve Lieber, Kei Kobayashi, Leandro Fernandez, Kano, Rob Campanella, David Aja, Rick Magyar, Sandu Florea, Roy Allen Martinez, Eduaro Naretto, Lee Weeks and Lelson, and Frazer Irving. Colours by Laura Martin, June Chung, Christina Strain, Dan Brown, Dean White, Sotocolor’s J. Brown, Jose Villarrubia, Sotocolor’s A. Crossley, Jorge Lucas, Frazer Irving, Studio F and Larry Molinar.

Original Publication Date: These issues cover dated from August 2006 to April 2007.

Cover Price: All issues cover dated $2.99 US. Canadian prices dropped from $4.25 each to $3.75 each with issue 5.

Past comic reviews can be found here.

Premise

This is an anthology title, with a few strands. In “Embedded,” which runs in all 11 issues, Sally Floyd and Ben Urich do the investigative reporting thing through the Civil War, and discover some of the motivations that others may not have noticed. In “The Accused,” which runs through issues 1-10, we learn that Robbie Baldwin, aka Speedball, survived the Stamford incident, and we follow his path through a pretty major transformation. The pair of stories that are “Civil War: The Program” (from issue 2) and “Sleeper Cell” (through issues 3-9) reveal the events that brought Norman Osborn on board for the Thunderbolts program. Finally, the first 9 issues each end with a short selection (often an old poem) written about real life wars juxtaposed against art blending the original material with characters from the Marvel Universe.

High Point

The last two chapters of “The Accused.”

Low Point

The poetry chapters. It’s not that I have anything against poetry, it’s just that the entries did nothing to move forward any sort of plot or story, and instead only managed to make Marvel seem somewhat arrogant comparing its fictitious war to the real thing.

The Scores

Due to the anthology nature of the title, each category will be broken down with each strand scored independently, followed by a score for the complete package. “Civil War: The Program” will be treated as a part of “Sleeper Cell,” and the backup stories (which were without titles) will be referred to as “Poetry.”

Originality: “Embedded” – This is what “The Pulse” should have been, and to the best of my knowledge, it hasn’t been done in Marveldom before. 4
“Accused” – Interesting arc and a nice antiparallel to the arc taken by Steve Ditko’s other wisecracking teenage geek. 5
“Sleeper Cell” – Sets up the new Thunderbolts, and glues the first two strands together. 5
“Poetry” – New art, primarily adapted from old words. 4
Complete Package: 4 out of 6.

Artwork: “Embedded” – Not always consistent. 4
“Accused” – Very stiff character poses much of the time. 3
“Sleeper Cell” – Very well done. 5
“Poetry” – Rotating art teams of varied quality. 4
Complete Package: 4 out of 6.

Story: “Embedded” – Great framing story that connects many aspects of the Civil War. 5
“Accused” – The pacing was off. The excellent ending should have been hinted at sooner, as it just feels rushed. 4
“Sleeper Cell” – Seems to exist only to set up other titles. It should have been integrated into “Embedded.” 3
“Poetry” – No plot or coherence at all. 2
Complete Package: 4

Characterization: “Embedded” – The leads were very well done. 5
“Accused” – The reveal of the character shift seems rushed, but that’s because of how far along the story was before we were offered a form of internal monologue. The stages are there, but editorial should have intervened in how quickly they were exposed. 6
“Sleeper Cell” – There’s none, really, apart from making Simon seem a little less heroic. 3
“Poetry” – None to speak of. 1
Complete Package: 4

Emotional Response: “Embedded” – Interesting view, giving me the story I wanted from “The Pulse.” 5
“Accused” – This convinced me more than anything to add Thunderbolts to my pull list. I’ve got to see how this plays out. 6
“Sleeper Cell” – Those more interested in Norman Osborn than Robbie Baldwin might have picked up Thunderbolts based on this instead. 4
“Poetry” – The juxtaposition seemed too arrogant to me to really work for me. 2
Complete Package: 5 out of 6.

Flow: “Embedded” – When two issues came out between the same issues of “Civil War,” the flow is very smooth. When there was an issue of “Civil War” in between, it jumps a little. That’s not really an issue, though, as I really can’t imagine why you’d pick this up without getting “Civil War” as well. 5
“Accused” – runs well from chapter to chapter. 5
“Sleeper Cell” – Very rushed in parts. 4
“Poetry” – You’d think this would work, but the rotating artists and forced similarities really don’t. 2
Complete Package: The anthology nature means you have to shift a lot of gears when reading a single issue. 4 out of 6.

Overall: “Embedded” – 4
“Accused” – 5
“Sleeper Cell” – 4
“Poetry” – 2
Complete Package: 5 out of 6.

In total, the complete package of Civil War: Frontline receives 30 out of 42. The individual strands scored as follows: “Embedded” – 32, “The Accused” – 34, “Sleeper Cell” – 28, “Poetry” – 17

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