“He’s A Friend From Work!”: The Joys Of Marvel’s Shared Universe

Asgardians Of The Galaxy!

Thor: “We’re the same, you and I. We’re just a couple of hotheaded fools.”

Hulk: “Yes, same. Hulk like fire, Thor like water.”

Thor: “We’re both like fire.”

Hulk: “Hulk like raging fire. Thor like smouldering fire.”

So much has happened since Brad last saw you!

Firstly, last week proved exceedingly exhausting – both physically and mentally. Writing has been so-so: reasonably good stuff, but not to my “usual” mind-blowing standards – been writing my wrongs, so to speak – ha! 

Actually, my creative output in the meantime has concentrated on my artwork – some extraordinary prelims and portraits produced; need to find the most effective means to publish them online! 

The most obvious reason keeping me away from you, my lovelies, involves Marvel comic books. Had two more successful shopping trips – rare interludes of bliss amidst the draining monotony of 21st century “life.” 

And typical! Stay offline for just one day last weekendreturn to technology to find a veritable stream of sensational stuff from San Diego Comic Con. By far the most amazing reveal came in the form of the second trailer for Thor: Ragnarok: 

Okay, so fart and furious fanboy here is a HUGE Thor fan – thus, naturally he believes this IS going to be one of the best Marvel Studios blockbusters ever. Looking at it calmly from a neutral perspective… BY THE BRISTLING BEARD OF ODIN!! ‘Tis STILL going to be a Winner!!

It will see the God of Thunder team-up with the Green Goliath. Incidentally, this is a pipping pairing that one could never have envisaged back in the day, nor has it emerged this past year during my valiant pursuit of Bronze Age comics. And yet this couple of hotheaded fools look like they could be a winning combination. Also, we are assured of a cameo from Bennybatch as Doctor Strange! Never has the old saying: “The more the merrier” been so apt! But this is in keeping with the spirit of sharing and co-operation that abounds in the original comics.

Embarking on this research to find out what history this Odd Couple had enjoyed together turned up some intriguing results well worth… sharing! 😉

This Post offers just a mere fraction of the degrees of collaboration to be discovered around the Marvel Comics Universe. 

Come and enjoy the ride, fellow Marvelites!

“Yes, Hulk was Avenger once… Didn’t like it…” – Hulk. 

In Defenders #10 (November 1973) The Avengers Vs. The Defenders Chapter 9: Breakthrough! The Incredible Hulk Vs. The Mighty Thor, both Hulk and Thor have arrived in Los Angeles, determined to find the Evil Eye. This signals the arrival of Dormammu: one of Dr. Strange’s demon foes.

Only the intervention of both afore-mentioned combined super-ensembles could break them apart!

Just before these details could be frantically jotted onto my shopping list, so it didn’t come as any surprise to learn that this ish is ultra-rare – going for ridiculous three-figure prices on e-bay.  

So, as you can see, once Hulk starts talking in the comics, he don’t ‘alf rabbit! Brad may look stoopid but even he is not daft enough to try and tell the big green fella to shut his cakehole…

 

We couldn’t finish this particular segment without a mighty THROOM!

Puny god…?

 

Spider-Man: “Iron Man!! I should have guessed! You’re Tony Stark’s bodyguard, aren’t you?” 

Iron Man: “That’s right, Spider-Man! What was all that ruckus I heard? What’s going on here??”

Earlier this month, in the surprisingly very entertaining Spider-Man: Homecoming, we were treated to the goofy Queens teen getting the mentor-treatment from Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Undeniably, Spidey is Marvel Comics’ most iconic figure, albeit one that admittedly never chewed up my pocket money. Deluged by sequels and reboots in recent times, it is now hard to imagine that the eternally youthful webslinger had to begin somewhere. And so it was, the very first ish of Spider-Man (March 1963), the young webhead received supporting turns from the well-established Fantastic Four. 

A great way to get acquainted with as many Marvel characters as poss – particularly upholding that Marvel spirit of collaboration –involves Spidey‘s second regular series: Marvel Team-Up (commencing in 1969), in which he was accompanied by a different Special Guest Star in each ish.

Marvel Team-Up #9 (May 1973) The Tomorrow War! features Spidey’s first and most memorable collaboration with the Armored Avenger. 

Never a dull moment at Avengers Mansion! When the awesome abode is enveloped in a mysterious energy barrier, both Iron Man and Spider-Man go to investigate. After unsuccessful attempts to breach the barrier, a portal appears and the two heroes travel into it. Finding themselves transported to the 23rd Century, the two battle all manner of futuristic weapons. With the aid of Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man, they have to fight off Kang the Conquerer: a regular Silver Age Avengers foe.

However, following intense analysis, your correspondent still cannot fathom why Spider-Man is hyphenated, but Iron Man isn’t…

Nick Fury: “Stark – what about that little item I asked ya ta whip up fer S.H.I.E.L.D.?”

Tony Stark: “It wasn’t easy, Colonel, but I think I’ve got it! Do you want me to have it sent to your weaponry section?” 

Nick Fury: “Naw – just put it under yer pillow’n maybe the good fairy’ll letcha make a wish over it. What in blue blazes do ya think I want, Mister? Git it over ta me on the double, hear?” 

Isn’t it marvellous 😉 how some of Marvel’s best ishs could emerge from the most unlikely sources?

Even when Brad was, oh, about that high, The Silver Surfer held zero appeal: no groovy costume. And: zooming through the cosmos on a surfboard? Even when you’re SIX,  that concept sounds/looks bloomin’ bonkers.  

However!

Put that concept to the indomitable creative duo of Stan Lee and John Buscema = the thrill-power intensifies!

In #17 (November 1973), willed by Mephisto to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D., the Surfer has to confront Nick Fury, but along the way there are enjoyable cameos from Tony Stark and the Fantastic Four. Having vowed never to harm humans, the Surfer’s reluctance to engage in combat convinces the Earthbound heroes that a higher force is at work; thus, a truce is established which thoroughly dischuffs Mephisto no end!

Again, this classic tale could only have reached my collection via much cheaper, more accessible means: a reprint in a Marvel UK Weekly (working on a full study of these obscure titles for a forthcoming Post!)

J. Jonah Jameson: “I was afraid of this – the story about an alien on the loose has created a panic! But I felt it was my journalistic duty to print it! It didn’t hurt sales any, either! No one can dampen my mood tonight! …Except him!” 

Spider-Man: “The ol’ Spider-senses are tinglng a bit… but nothing like a deadly creature from outer space!”

Daredevil: “My hypersenses cannot pinpoint it!”

Captain America: “Is there really an alien wreaking death and destruction throughout the city or are the media acting irresponsibly?” 

Edwin Jarvis: “Are you not going to join the hunt for the alleged alien, sir?”

Iron Man: “No, Jarvis, the sight of a man encased in armor might be mistaken for the “robot-alien.” I don’t want to add to the panic.”

A random rummage through my own Bronze Age comic collection soon presents an example where multifarious members of Marveldom united to see off an alien threat (in, you know, that hub of extraterrestrial entanglements: downtown Manhattan).

ROM #23 (October 1981), sees the Galadorian Spaceknight himself regarded as the threat(!) Having convinced two local enhanced individuals that the real menace exists in the malevolent, shapeshifting forms of the Dire Wraiths, (in Power Man and Iron Fist #73 – reviewed here) the terrific trio have to convince Reed Richards, the security system @ Baxter Building (the F4’s HQ) – not to mention the National Guard! – that this plandanium dude is actually an honourable ally. 

In a staggering feat of generosity and goodwill (the likes of which yours truly can only dream of during working hours), Richards lends the Spaceknight a captured Skrull spacecraft so he can return to his home planet: Galador. As he departs, he utters the same line that Brad would say unto you, dear Follower:

“You have all shown me a side to humanity I have seen too seldom in my time on Earth. I cannot find the words to express my gratitude.”

“Soundlessly, the Skrull saucer bearing Rom lifts off from the Baxter Building.

“Farewell, my friends.”

“Soon, it passes beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

“Farewell, Earth.”

“Then there are only…

“The stars!” 

“…And beyond.”

 

By The Great Nebula!: My Bronze Age Comics Collection Has Outgrown Its Own Containment Vessel!!

Stop! Zap-Hammer Time! 

“You scoff, man of the Kree. What would you say if I told you that an Earthling had knowledge of the Omni-Wave?! A weapon capable of obliterating entire solar systems. And that woman knows how to build one!” – Ronan The Accuser. 

“And as the giant ship leaves the Earth’s atmosphere, the port through which she entered seals with a crackle of alien energy. 

“While deep within the awesome vessel: 

“Well, Johnny, I’ve always wanted to be on your show, but where are Doc And The Band?”

Yes!

We return, True Believers, to the bulging batch of bloomin’ bountiful Bronze beauties that constitute my ever-expanding Bronze Age comics collection!

And lo!

‘Tis a day upon which to rejoice! It is a year ago to the day since this collection began! So many excellent ishs have graced the substantial box recruited to stock them, but, in truth, some now lie scattered around the Drawing Room, straight through my Inner Sanctum (not surprisingly), and here, sprawled across my desk within my Control Centre as these words were frantically typed.    

Please don’t worry about that loud scraping you can hear in the background – have set me minions to work rearranging these gargantuan piles of Bronze Age awesomeness! 

So, where to begin?!

Ah, what the hey, this survey’s too good t’miss!

“I want an education. A chance to be all I could be – huh?!? Air force-? Well, why the heck not?!” – Carol Danvers. 

“The Millennia Bloom flares to life within the Crystal Cell, its gentle coruscating light painting Ms Marvel in rainbow colours…”

Welcome to the Bronze Age, man!

As previously mentioned on these Posts, Ms Marvel has proved too much of a hit-and-miss title for me. Fortunately, however, upon learning that the art for #19 (Aug 1978) was done by Carmine Infantino, before you can say: “Love me, love my zap-hammer,” it had taken a coveted place in the Bradscribe Prestige Collection i.e. top of the pile.  

The cover teases a cameo by Captain Marvel, but a dramatic intervention by Ronan (“You called me boy!”) the Accuser ups the thrill-power quite considerably. When wicked villain: Supremor subjects our heroine to a mind-probe, we are treated to a sensational biography of Carol Danvers: from her father letting only her brother go to college; her rebellion by joining the USAF; becoming NASA’s Chief of Security where she meets Captain Marvel; and being genetically reconstructed inside the Psyche-Magnitron by accident (in that inimitable Marvel way?).

And – oh yesstay one step ahead of Ronan’s zap-hammer… 

The Vision: “Even I, since Wanda, my wife, departed on extended leave, have felt an uncharacteristic emptiness, a gnawing. Almost… almost as though I were a bridge without a shore.” 

Jocasta: “Why, Vision, that’s lovely! It’s almost poetic!”

The Vision: “What? No! It’s not! Poetry is a human folly! And I… AM NOT…

…HUMAN!”

Well, bless my zap-hammer!

One of the indisputable joys of Bronze Age comics just has to be The Avengers. 

Constant changes of artists may have condemned Ms Marvel to a premature cancellation, but the ploy actually benefitted Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

Ish #194 (April 1980) offers a superb script by David Michelnie and ace art by George (Man-Wolf!) Perez, the condition of my ish is immaculate – surely, no other mitts have touched its pages these past 37 years! (Wake up – smell the mint). 

As a big fan of The Vision, his extraordinary character is developed very well here. And truly, one of the inestimable delights of this era is catching up with that forever-entertaining double act of Wonder Man and The Beast:

“These refreshments should be sufficient for the Avengers’ Conference. Though I do hope Master Beast will let some of the others try the banana cake this time” – Jarvis.

Drone R-II: “Is Galactus not awe-inspiring? Wil it not be an honor for you to serve him, even as I serve him?” 

Dazzler: “No! It will not be an honor! The only honor I want is a gold record – but then, that‘s not cosmic enough for you to understand.”

Ships computers have homed in on the being you seek, Master. Subject is located on the third planet of the Sol system: Earth. She is called Alison Blaire. Also… the Dazzler.”

Having dismissed the Dazzler – and she was a sensibly-dressed lass too! – ’twas not long before she made a triumphant return to the shopping list of Brad The Merciful. 

You only have to slip in the name of GALACTUS and yours truly will be guaranteed to snap it up!

In Dazzler #10 (December 1981) the genetic mutate who can convert sound energy into light is commanded by that colossal Devourer Of Worlds to venture inside a black hole and return his estranged treacherous herald: Terrax The Tamer to face the wrath of Galactus!

It impressed me so much that we are now on the lookout for Dazzler #11!

“And now, I know ye all would know how ’tis that a mere mortal became a new, more powerful incarnation of Thor himself!” – Loki. 

Since being overawed by that Thor: Ragnarok trailer a couple of months back, Hera – the Goddess of Death from Niffleheim – has been on my mind.

As the incomparable John Buscema’s penultimate ish as awesome artist, The Mighty Thor #277 (November 1978). “Time of the Trolls” sees the God of Thunder bereft of Mjolnir – nay! naught e’en a zap-hammer doth he hath!! – as he confronts the hordes of Hela.

In addition to some ultracool scenes with Hela, there is a suitably sinister turn by that ne’er-do-well God of Mischief: Loki. 

It won’t startle you to learn that Thor #278 has also swiftly swung into my possession! 

“Not bad, folks. I’ve seen some heavy stompin’ in my time… but this takes the cake. Hey, One-Eye, we got what we came for, right? That princess chick? How ’bout we head on home while we got the chance?” – Wolverine. 

Can’t complete this Post without including my fave team: the X-Men.

The now-legendary Claremont/Byrne run can go for up to TWENTY POUNDS EACH; the Classic X-Men series commenced in 1986 to reprint the earliest stories also featuring sterling artwork by Dave Cockrum – but even those ishs are now difficult to find. 

#14 (October 1987, but reproducing work first published in 1978): “Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!” sees our beloved mutants cast through an alien stargate to the other side of the galaxy where they must combat Gladiator and his gang of praetorian guards (i.e. more “costumed creeps”). Cyclops et al are aided in their struggle to free Princess Lilandra by – oh yes!the Starjammers. 

This series excelled because, in addition, each ish included a bonus story pencilled by John Bolton. The extra tale presented here: “What Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of…” is one of the best, with a lone Lilandra making a perilous spaceflight to reach Xavier…

Professor Xavier’s students have long held a special place in my heart (as well as my archives!) It has been an absolute blast catching up with this particular series – one of the main reasons why this belated Bronze Age quest set out in the first place.

And lo, they did NOT NEED zap-hammers to become legends… 

Phantastisch! Eat your heart out, George Lucas. This is a real Star Wars!” – Nightcrawler.

“Incredible! The body of one is so powerful, so dense that even the rays of the Analyzer cannot penetrate it, and the other one pulses with strange power… a force that is somehow concentrated in the brand on his chest” – ROM. 

Still actively seeking back ishs of Power Man and Iron Fist! 

Incidentally, the (mis)adventures of Marvel’s most boisterous boys were handled brilliantly by one of the few women writing comics at that time: Mary Jo Duffy.

Aha! When you can get three Marvel legends for the price of two – especially in the amazing classic that is #73 (September 1981) – you don’t hang around! “Wraith, Colour And Creed” begins with ROM: Galador’s Greatest Spaceknight rampaging through the terrified throng of Times Square, zapping (with his Neutralizer, NOT a hammer!) a select few, while sparing others. Just doing his noble duty, banishing DIRE Wraiths to limbo, of course, but as far as Luke and Danny are concerned, this is a “murderin’ tin man” and they’ve “gotta score t’settle.” The way in which Rom ultimately convinces them that he is indeed one of the good guys is superb.  

The guest pencils by Greg La Rocque are fab, while – as usual – Mary Jo crafts a splendid yarn. 

Ah, some great times were had back in the Bronze Age – still the BEST era for comics imo. 

Tell me: in the glossy Marvel mags of today, do Steve “Hydra” Rogers, Kamala Khan – or even the female Thor for that matter – wield a mighty zap-hammer?

Nah, thought not. Brad rests his case… 

“Birds… They turned into flippin’ birds an’ flew away. I saw it. If what Rom’s sellin’ us is straight, anyone I know could be one’a them things… anyone… Birds. Jeez…” – Luke Cage. 

 

From All-Star To Dawnstar: Recent Vintage Acquisitions Read And Reviewed

The Quest For Classic Comics Continues…

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“Silence, please, everyone! I’ve been a little worried about how to tell you this … but, in my identity as Carter Hall, I’m going to enlist in the US Army!” – Hawkman.

And with this bombshell, so begins “Never Step On A Feathered Serpent!” the fifth issue of All-Star Squadron, a title whose debut ish (in September 1981) – with its mix of of superheroes and World War II history developed into an unputdownable phenomenon in the Bradhouse. 

My only regret is that (apart from #10, ten years later), no further ishs could be found.

Staying in the UK on extended leave, belaboured over the bonce by the Mace of Nostalgia, yours truly set aside this Summer to finally track down those comic classics from the so-called “Bronze Age” that eluded me all those moons ago, as well as checking out previously unseen titles. 

Three months ago, perusing the back ish departments of some handy awemongers’ emporiums in London, the ball started rolling with the purchases of All-Star Squadron, #s 5 & 7.

Was it a good start?

  • Squadron scrambled, or brain scrambled?

Amazingly imagineered by the invincible creative team of Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler, its reserved status in my collection is well-assured! But equally astounded at how this ish could have slipped past my Radar of Ninth Metal back in the day…

#7 is equally compelling, with the introduction of the Nazi costumed super-villain: Baron Blitzkrieg! 

Already looking forward to snapping up further ishs of this great title!

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“I’ll have to hit-and-run – use my speed and Kree-training to counter his brute strength – and try to wear him down!” –  Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel #15 (March 1978)

“Carol Danvers a woman who had it made – until the day radiation from an exploding alien machine gave her the skills and powers of a Kree Warrior, plus an uncanny Seventh Sense – transforming a human woman into… a heroine!”

With a proposed Ms. Marvel movie in the works, now would be a good time to catch up and get to know her – if anything, isn’t everyone curious to find out what radiation from an exploding alien machine does to you? Moreover, this Seventh Sense – it sounds groovy! – could we have some?

The woman with the Kree powers must battle Tiger Shark. This villain looks supercool on that dynamic cover (see above) and makes for a mighty antagonist inside.

The script is provided by Chris Claremont – always a big plus in my book! 

But when you consider the premise: woman in leotard is punched and has cars hurled at her by lunatic dressed as a shark… 

  • Marvelous, or Ms. Fire? 

Despite this dodgy premise, this ish is fab; the art by Mooney & DeZuniga is great, and there is a craving for more of this title.

Please note: his captive (who turns out to be the cousin of Namor – y’know: The Sub-Mariner!) is actually fully-clothed during the few panels in which she appears, so no fish-scale bikinis or strategically-placed hubcaps herein…

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“The thing is: that’s my Mom up there! What’s come over her since she won the Earth election?” – Colossal Boy. 

Legion of Super-Heroes was a title hugely enjoyed as a nipper. Now, an irresistible curiosity to find out what other ishs looked like spurred me on. #273 was the ish selected. 

Such characters as Wildfire and Tyroc were as cool as fudge, while others such as Bouncing Boy and Matter-Eater Lad(!) made the title unintentionally hilarious. 

One member of the Legion of Super-Heroes stood apart from the others: a graceful figure with a stunning pair of wings, her name was Dawnstar – or as her co-Legionnaire: the blond, green-skinned Brainiac 5 called her “Dawny.”

Hey, just be thankful this Post was not entitled Finding Dawny jeez, that sounds as corny as heck…!

  • So, Legend, or just leggo…?

What a swiz – she’s not in it! 

Undoubtedly, this is a compelling epic, bristling with drama!; intrigue!; the craziest super-cozzies you will ever see! And the story-line involving a revered Legionnaire framed for murder, wasn’t bad, but considering the immensity of the issue, and a high turn-out, where was the yellow, tassled one?

By the Black Nebula! It feels like your correspondent has been stood up…  

That other strong fave, Wildfire, barely got a look-in either.

Its been great to look at art not seen for 35 years – one or two other ishs will certainly be tracked down…

Even if it is just to see her again…

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“I am Gaius Tiberius Augustus Agrippa! I am power! – What kind of beings are you? Is all the world now the domain of monsters?” – 

During online research for comic art a few years back, my trail led to pages for an ish of Fantastic Four. Although not a fan of this so-called “World’s Greatest Comic,” both pen an’ pencilling duties for #241 (April 1982) belonged to the legendary John Byrne.

In “Render Unto Caesar,” S.H.I.E.L.D. has detected a mysterious power source emanating from the interior of Africa. With the aid of the Black Panther, the Fantastic Four go to investigate and discover – “Jupiter!” – a being, once a soldier in a distant outpost of Emperor Caligula. Almost two millennia ago, he stumbled upon alien technology to create a fabulous city, more splendid than the Roman Empire at its height.

He even neutralises the Fantastic Four’s superpowers. Irate at being selected to be his “Empress,” Sue Storm removes his golden helmet, only to find that- ha! Well, don’t let me spoil it for you! 

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  • Really Fantastic, or just a 4-letter word?

When this Summer of nostalgic comic-collecting set forth, a mental note was taken to look out especially for this one.

That priority was well-rewarded. 

Yes! Fantastic by name – undeniably fantastic by nature. With terrific guest-star appearances by Nick Fury and the Black Panther – two characters high on my Wanted list, this story: “Render Unto Caesar” is an absolute classic.  

Particularly enjoyed the amusing nod to Raiders (above), a light moment that presents its creator perfectly at the height of his enchanting powers.  

Feel the Byrne!

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“The X-Men would have trained me to use my mutant abilities more efficiently… If only I had joined them when I had the chance!” –  Dazzler.

Dr. Doom happened to be one of those characters sought after 30+ years ego, but never got him – could not find the relevant ish of the Fantastic Four that featured him.

Dazzler was a cult figure – “gifted” with the ability to convert sound into dazzling light – who got her own solo series.

The Monarch of Latveria guest-stars in #s 3 & 4. Ended up picking up the latter (it has a slightly more thrilling cover).

  • So, truly dazzling, or just dazzled off? 

Nah, this is not one of my better purchases.

The art by Frank Springer is good enough, but the prospect of a cutie mutie (…on frickin’ roller skates, fer cryin’ aht lowd!) never excited me even way back when yours truly was cute an’ supple enough to arse about with frickin’ roller skates. 

White flares are no match for a yellow, tassled cozzie. Any day… 

Good Grud, this is precisely the sort of infantile mag a chap of my age should not be bothering with – so will sell this on asap!

Hang on… 

If a character as lame as this could get her own series… and a popular fave such as Dr. Doom – or Dawnstar, for that matter! -couldn’t, well… 

Undeterred, my quest – delving further into the dense jungle of back issues – continues… 

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“This is one time… all the words in the Universe aren’t enough…” – Dazzler.

Captain America: Civil War: The Bradscribe Review

Hey, You Wanna See Something Cool?  

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“Wow, it’s so weird how you run into people at the airport. Don’t you think that’s weird?” – Iron Man.

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“Sometimes I wanna punch you in your perfect teeth” – Tony Stark.

Ever since Tony insisted that everything special about the Cap “came out of a bottle” (during that infamous spat in the first Avengers movie), it seemed inevitable that these two really would put on their suits and go a few rounds. 

It takes the pressing matter of the Sokovia Accords – a UN-agreed charter devised to hold all enhanced individuals accountable for their actions, especially in heavily built-up areas anywhere around the world – to finally open up their differences, question their objectives and split their team allegiances.

The first two Captain America movies were extremely enjoyable, a couple of the MCU’s finest, IMO, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier as runaway contender for the most sleek and sophisticated comic book movie EVER produced. So expectations for this outing seemed too dangerous to run up too high.

Never fear. 

Captain America: Civil War, happily, almost miraculously, delivers on all accounts.

It’s amazing to see Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr): the resident rogue become a dour conformist, and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans): the soldier expected to do things by the book decide to defy this hefty tome.   

It has to be said that right from the beginning – that thrilling action set-piece in Lagos – to its dramatic denouement, there is hardly a dull moment in this movie. Evans and Downey Jr are exceptional as the main characters. Aww, what the heck, in such a bulging ensemble pic, nobody puts a foot (or a fist!) wrong.  

Special mention must go to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely who have once again crafted an amazing screenplay. And, of course, Joe and Anthony Russo have succeeded – almost effortlessly – in directing another gripping instalment in the saga of Steve Rogers: America’s first Avenger. 

“They’re not stopping!”

“Neither are we.”

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“A pinch of paprika… a pinch?” – The Vision. 

The Vision in a V-neck. 

Of all Civil War’s pre-release promotional images, that is the one that grabbed my attention the most. (It harks back to his dapper moments in the original Avengers comics). Vision has always been my fave Avenger (as you can see here) so, not surprisingly, news of his participation in this movie was closely – if a tad apprehensively – followed.

What a relief: Paul Bettany’s performance and the portrayal of this synthozoid here, is faithful to how this extraordinary character was depicted in the comics.

One question though: just how deep into the Earth’s core does Wanda actually fire him?!  

Naturally, everyone is gushing over that MAIN EVENT at the airport. When you all compile your Top 10 Best MCU fights, will the fact that it is practically ALL digitally animated affect its eventual place? There are one or two moments that give the artificiality away, but the sequence contains some of the most enjoyable – onscreen comic book action you are ever likely to see.

And it even got this ol’ CGI-phobe to marvel (geddit?!) at its technical wizardry. 

Equally stunning is Tony’s introductory scene: with his parents in 1991 via Binarily Augmented Retro-Framing (BARF – yeah, Tony, you’re really gonna have to work on that acronym, fella). The FX department really put the Jr into Robert Downey Jr! 

“Be nice, dear, he’s been studying abroad.” 

Really? Which broad? What’s her name?” 

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“Can you move your seat up?” – Bucky Barnes.  

Having ignored the intense (like, INTENSE!) brouhaha over the over-used Spider-Man and prepared to tolerate it when it came, Tom Holland’s contribution is actually kinda cool, and not nearly as annoying as it might have seemed.

If our (packed) audience reaction is a reliable indicator, then the scene with Tony Stark spouting about retro-tech and onesies in Peter Parker’s bedroom is easily the movie’s most hilarious. Interestingly, this is Tony at his traditionally wise-cracking best – how we would usually expect to see him.

Holland plays the awkward-teen-cliche rather well, but he still hasn’t engaged my enthusiasm for yet another Spider-Man movie. 

But please, spare us the Empire Strikes Back nod. The MCU is a fabulous arena in itself, so doesn’t need to borrow from other great franchises, thanks.

“Really old” movie, huh? Cheeky youngling…  

STAY DOWN, kid, or Brad will call your Aunt May!

Hey! It’s Marisa Tomei! So gonna call her anyway…

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“…And now, because your friend murdered my father, I also wear the mantle of king. So I ask you, as both warrior and king, how long do you think you can save your friend from me?” – T’Challa.  

“So you like cats?” 

Well, we sure do in this neck of the MCU. Chadwick Boseman puts in a sterling debut as Wakanda’s own superhero. As both charismatic T’Challa, and suited up as the mysterious Black Panther, he is a welcome addition to the MCU. This bodes well for the Black Panther movie (due in early 2018); if the producers can find writers of Civil War’s calibre, then we should be in for an awesome treat.

Such a shame that a certain juvenile arachnid gets all the attention…

Hey, let’s not forget the GIANT contribution that Ant-Man – another of my all-time faves – puts in. From his startled appearance (in the back of a van) to his toppled finale (on his back!) the Tiniest Avenger won the crowd. Having had reservations concerning the casting of Paul Rudd last year, here his comedic input provides welcome relief amidst the politics and heavy clash of ideologies dominating these proceedings.

“Way to go, Tic-Tac!”

Perhaps the one major gripe about this movie concerns the catalyst for all this infighting himself. Daniel Bruhl as Zemo should have been a threatening – maybe even creepy – villain, but ultimately comes across as quite lacklustre. Where is Mads Mikkelsen when you need him?!

For those hankering for a genuine comic book villain, Crossbones proved to be supercool as well as superbad, but then of course his all-too-early demise (and its inadvertent consequences) is what triggered the Accords in the first place.

Yes! This is a superior Marvel package with some great ingredients: the Falcon, Bucky and the Cap all squeezed into a battered old Volkswagen Beetle (“low profile” – ha!); an amusing Stan Lee cameo; even cooking with Vision and Wanda!

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“You remember that time we had to ride back from Rockaway Beach in the back of that freezer truck?”

“Was that the time you used our train money to buy hotdogs?”

“You blew three bucks trying to win that stuffed bear for a redhead.”

“What was her name again?”

“Dolores. You called her Dot.”

“She’s gotta be a hundred years old right now…”

“So are we, pal.”

With so many familiar – and new – character appearances, this feels like an Avengers movie, but in my book, you just can’t have an Avengers movie devoid of Thor! 

No, the attention centres on the Cap, and his ol’ buddy from Brooklyn: James “Bucky” Barnes. It’s the interaction between these two pals thrown out of time – especially this touching, personal moment (above) – which, for me, makes this extravaganza soar into Instant Classic status.

This superior mass enhanced individual assault on the senses marks a fantastic introduction to Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

And has got me super-psyched for MORE!

Praising Captain America: Civil War: Brad could do this all day. 

Hey, heads up, DC/Warner: THIS is how you make an AWESOME and ENJOYABLE blockbuster!

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BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

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ATTABOY, CAP!

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You have a metal arm? That is awesome, dude!” – Spider-Man.