Review: CIVIL WAR II #1


Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by David Marquez, Justin Ponsor, Clayton Cowles & Victor Ochoa
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 1, 2016

***Spoilers ahoy!*** You’ve been forewarned.

The Inhumans have new company and Carol feels he could help the heroes avert crises before they happen. Tony, on the other hand, has his reservations about relying the new Inhuman, Ulysses, to see the future. Carol and Tony are able to set their gauntlets aside until they get heart shattering news that leaves them both reeling, driving a wedge between the and setting the stage for the major conflict of the event.

Remember: Spoilers ahead!

As the lead-in for this year’s Marvel event, Civil War II #1 is hit or miss. I can see where the story is going, but it felt rushed by the end of the issue. The first half of the story is great, highlighted by the friendship of many of Marvel’s top tier characters. The opening scene itself is glorious, and each of the characters is handled well. By the end of the issue though, it devolves in to justifiably emotional yet still hypocritical Tony Stark moral posturing. Tony’s stance makes less sense in the context of the story, though if you play this as him still in shock from losing his best friend, his response appears more feasible.

One bug in my craw is the apparent deaths of Rhodey and Jen. If you caught the FCBD Civil War II, you know that Rhodey got blasted and Jen got hit with an errant missile (and if not I apologize for spoiling it. Sorta). While the former hitting the dirt makes sense given that the core of his body got decimated by energy, the latter does not. For someone who can be nigh indestructible, you’d think an explosive wouldn’t do as much damage, especially since Rhodey wasn’t wearing anything Hulkbuster-y and the missile came from his suit. Using their deaths to provide a moral break between Carol and Tony doesn’t really work here. There’s also the fact that their deaths mirror the death of Goliath in the first series, an act that was problematic for many reasons, almost feeling as though they were fridged. I understand that losing two awesome characters is supposed to drive up emotions in the characters and readers, but really it felt like a hollow gimmick that could’ve been done differently.

Carol seems to teeter between assertive and being Tony’s verbal target. As with my contention with Tony’s standpoint in the coming conflict, I’m not sure if this is supposed to show as emotional complexity in a moment of grief, but that did not come across well. Carol is written as easily wavering, and when she tries to stand up for herself she’s interrupted, which is in stark contrast to her presence in the first half of the issue.

Where I feel Brian Michael Bendis excels is in the first pages of the comic. While embroiled in a fight, his sense of humor comes through the younger characters: Miles, Kamala, and Sam. This action heavy exposition also has the right amount of dialogue and banter without losing the momentum of the scene. However, I do feel that the story could have been tighter. Some threads don’t get neatly resolved within the context of the issue, while others seem more random. If this were two comics, split between both halves, I think the story would hold up better. As it stands, we will need future issues to fully resolve some of my reservations about each part of the story.

David Marquez and Justin Ponsor were assuredly the team for this comic. Marquez draws some stunning people and stunning action. The use of framing and perspectives in the panels toward the end of the issue amp up the tension Bendis portrays in the story. Ponsor’s work helps to capture the essence of the story by moving from colors and schemes that evoke a sense of calm, while creating a sense of urgency as we get to the climax of the issue. Where Ponsor and Marquez work best together are the opening pages of the story where the mass ensemble of heroes are fighting the celestial threat. The scenes which involve the magic users of the 616 are brilliant, conveying both their power and presence among a large cast of characters in these pages.

All in all, I’m interested to see what happens with Civil War II in the coming issues. Events on this scale take time to develop, so I hope that we get deeper into what drives a wedge between Carol and Tony. As it stands, the setup is slightly believable, though rather on the nose. This first issue of the event also has some of the first Civil War’s misgivings, which I’m surprised and not happy to see. Yet, things may improve as the story moves forward.

The Verdict: 6.0/10


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