TITLE: Civil War II #4
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: David Marquez. Cover by Marko Djurdjevic.
RELEASED: July 27, 2016
***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Civil War II feels like an epic, important superhero comic. It’s got major character deaths, a moral dilemma that has divided our heroes, and the future hangs in the balance.
So why does it feel like nothing has happened in this series? This story is more than halfway over. But it feels like we’ve barely started.
Last issue we saw Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, murder Bruce Banner before he could become the Hulk and cause a cataclysmic disaster. Such was the word of Ulysses, an Inhuman who can apparently see the future. Now Barton has been exonerated, and our heroes are left wondering what comes next. Tony Stark pleads his case: That Ulysses’ visions are only of a potential future, and to act on them eliminates free will from the equation. But for Carol Danvers, it’s better to be safe than sorry. By the end of the issue, battle lines are drawn. But Carol has some unexpected back up on the battlefield.
So why does it feel like nothing has happened in this series? Let’s take a brief look back at these issues and see if we can spot some trends…
Issue #0: The president tells Rhodey he should aim for the White House, Ulysses has his first vision.
Issue #1: Heroes avert disaster thanks to Ulysses’ vision, they talk to him about said visions, Rhodey dies in a mostly off-page fight.
Issue #2: Iron Man kidnaps and questions Ulysses, who has a vision about the Hulk.
Issue #3: Hawkeye kills Bruce Banner to prevent a disaster.
Issue #4: Hawkeye is exonerated, the heroes get ready to fight.
There’s so much talking. Explaining, expositing, philosophizing, arguing. Even when Banner is killed it’s an abrupt shot to the head in the middle of a big conversation. There’s tension in these issues. But in the sequel to the biggest superhero event comic of all time, we’re strangely low on actual superheroics and events. That’s why, even though much of consequence has happened in these pages, it feels like very little.
As I’ve said previously, it’s not that every superhero comics needs to have people punching planes to have a major impact. And laying the foundation for something big like this is important. But you’ve also got to hold the reader’s interest and keep them engaged. Civil War II is not as engaging as it should be. Especially at this point in the game.
On the plus side, artist David Marquez and colorist Justin Ponsor are turning in some good stuff. I love the splash page of Spider-Man overlooking Times Square as the news breaks about Hawkeye (shown above). Once again, our team makes a point to toss Miles Morales into the mix, despite him having little to do with the events unfolding. It’s as if he represents a civilian’s view of everything we’re seeing. Given how young, and relatively inexperienced Miles is, that’s a good role for him.
I do have one nitpick: Let’s be careful about the teary, doe-eyed, pouty faces. We get a bunch of them from Carol Danvers as she tells Jennifer Walters what happened to her cousin. Hawkeyes had a similar expression last issue when he surrendered. That expression is meant to convey the emotional impact of the moment. But at this rate, it’ll be comical by next issue.
And what of next issue? By the looks of things, we’re finally going to get to the fighting. The Guardians of the Galaxy will be thrown in for good measure. As is always the case with Marvel’s event comics, there are a bunch of miniseries titles that are running parallel with this one. We’ve got Civil War II: Choosing Sides, minis dedicated to characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men, and different tie-ins with ongoing books. I assume if you want more information on what heroes are on what side, you can look there. I haven’t, for no other reason than this series hasn’t inspired me to do so. And I doubt next issue will be much different…
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