Tag Archives: Civil War II #0 (2016)

A Civil War II Review – Lighting Strikes Twice?

Civil War II, coverTITLE: Civil War II
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLERS: David Marquez, Olivier Coipel, Andrea Sorrentino
COLLECTS: Civil War II #0-8
FORMAT: Hardcover
PRICE: $50
RELEASED: February 1, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

There’s a good event comic somewhere inside Civil War II. You just need to squint really hard to see it. As amazingly talented as Brian Michael Bendis is, what he turns in here doesn’t truly get going until issue #5, and by that point you regret buying in to begin with. The series is also bogged down by a certain been-there-done-that feeling. The original Civil War was one of the biggest hits Marvel has ever had. By comparison, Civil War II feels like a knock-off song played by a shoddy cover band.

In the original story, the question of whether superheroes should register their true identities with the government caused a major rift, and subsequently a war. This time the divisive issue is “predictive justice,” or in essence, profiling. When a young man named Ulysses is suddenly able to see vivid visions of the future, Captain Marvel sees a crucial opportunity to stop instances of crime, injustice, and tragedy before they ever occur. Iron Man, however, can’t live with punishing someone who hasn’t done anything wrong yet. What’s more, the exact nature of these visions are unclear. Is Ulysses truly seeing the future, or just a potential future? As they search for an answer, heroes will fall in more ways than one.

civil-war-ii #4, two-page spreadThe predictive justice idea is a sufficient divider, and reflects recent real-world events involving police brutality. The Black Lives Matter movement specifically comes to mind, especially when we see what happens to Miles Morales. But it’s when we drill down on the notion of another war amongst the heroes that Civil War II begins to fall apart.

Civil War ended when Captain America surrendered, realizing how costly and violent the conflict had become. The idea that all of these heroes, most of whom were involved in that same war, would allow things to escalate to this degree a second time makes them all look irresponsible, and even downright stupid. This is especially the case after Hawkeye straight up murders Bruce Banner with a literal crowd of heroes watching. But of course, if the heroes don’t fight, you have no story. So you have to make it work.

The way you massage that into working, for my money, is to have the heroes lament having to fight each other again. The original Civil War is barely even acknowledged in this book. It’s almost as if Civil War II is trying to hide from it. While it goes without saying that this story has to stand on its own, it’s a sequel. A sequel to one of the most renowned stories Marvel has ever done, no less. Instead of dancing around it, why not embrace it? The payoff would seemingly be a deeper story.

Civil War II #5, 2016, Spider-Man, Captain AmericaBut even with that added depth, Civil War II would face the problem that it’s simply not that interesting until issue #5. Ulysses has a vision of Spider-Man clutching a dead Captain America in front of a decimated Capitol Building. Given how young Miles is, and the obvious real-world parallels, this is where the story finally starts to gain some momentum. Hindsight being 20/20, this should have happened in issue #3. You put the Miles vision in issue #3, and Bruce’s death in issue #5. That way, Bruce’s death doesn’t feel so glossed over, and it’s fresh in our minds when we get to the final confrontation.

How about this: Captain Marvel puts Miles in prison following the vision in issue #3. (That opens up issues with Miles’ civilian identity. But we can work around that.) After Banner’s death and Hawkeye’s subsequent acquittal, Iron Man’s crew breaks Miles out of prison. We then get the confrontation in front of the Capitol Building as they were presented in issues #7 and #8. Would this little switch fix everything? No. But it would at least up the intrigue level earlier, and perhaps take us on more of a ride from start to finish. In truth, James Rhodes doesn’t even have to die in issue #1. As was the case with Banner, his death is almost glossed right over.

Our primary artist is David Marquez, with Olivier Coipel and Andea Sorrentino tagging in for specific sequences. Marquez delivers big here, particularly in issues #5 and #6. His stuff with Miles is very strong, which makes sense, as he and Bendis worked on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man together. He gives us an absolutely gorgeous two-page spread of Spidey overlooking Times Square, watching the Hawkeye trial. And of course, primary colorist Justin Ponsor gives us the Marvel Universe in all its glory.

hawkeye-civil-war II #3, David MarquezWe do, however, see a lot of what I’ve come to call the “Marquez doe-eyed pouty face.” Marquez is good with facial expressions. But we see variations of this one over and over, perhaps most notably when Hawkeye surrenders in issue #3 (shown left). We see it multiple times from Carol Danvers and Ulysses. We see it so much it becomes distracting and borderline comical.

As many problems as I have with Civil War II, I’ll credit Bendis for one thing: Not killing off Tony Stark. That was what a lot of us were expecting, given Rory Williams had essentially taken up his mantle in Invincible Iron Man. Instead Tony ends up in a coma, and we get a vague explanation about how he can’t be treated. Frustrating in its lack of specifics, but better than having to go through the usual death, funeral, and resurrection routine.

Civil War II could have worked. It would never have been what its predecessor was. But it could have at least been a compelling story. What they gave us had its moments. But by the time things finally got off the ground, it was too late. Given how all-encompassing Civil War II was in terms of its effect on other books, this story can be given partial credit for DC Comics regaining all that lost momentum last year.

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A Civil War II #4 Review – Rules of Engagement

Civil War II #4, 2016TITLE: Civil War II #4
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: David Marquez. Cover by Marko Djurdjevic.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
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…

Civil War II #4, two-page spread, Spider-Man, David MarquezIssue #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.

Carol Danvers, Civil War II #4, David MarquezOn 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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