Review: CIVIL WAR II #3


Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by David Marquez, Justin Ponsor, Clayton Cowles, Olivier Coipel, & Victor Ochoa
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: July 13, 2016

A courtroom, a retrospective, and a loss.

We start in a courtroom, Carol and Tony standing as witnesses in a trial. In the past, what looks like most of the earthbound Marvel Universe confronts Bruce Banner, hoping to quell the threat from Ulysses’ latest vision. Lines are crossed and the heroes discover the clandestine research of the gamma-radiated hero before the unthinkable happens. Someone stands trial, and Tony has a couple of surprises coming his way.

This was a story. Also? Spoiler warning.

The entire premise of this issue seems to be one that does not fit how comics, especially superhero comics, especially Marvel Comics, work. Why was there a trial? Why did Clint kill Bruce? Why did Bruce suddenly now have a secret assisted suicide plan? Why does Tony still blame Carol, even though neither of them predicted what Clint would do, and he assisted her? There are so many questions that do not fit canon, continuity, or character, that arise from this issue.

Tony’s continued centering as the “good guy” opposite Carol does not fit this story’s narrative. He continues to posture and be represented as the one averting a serious ethical issue while still participating and doing his own misdeeds. How he gets to blame Carol is beyond me, considering that she wanted to avoid any sort of major altercation and, again, she had no idea what Banner and Clint had planned. This dynamic continues to confound me, especially considering we don’t have the major split that was promised prior to the event. Everyone is reeling, there’s no true division.

Kamala, Miles, and Sam opting to side with Tony is another weird moment. Sure, this could be to amp up tension before the start of the newly announced Champions, but this attempt to drive a wedge between them and their heroes, especially Kamala and Carol, is hamfisted at best. Their one panel is not convincing and I’m not sure it fits who each of these characters are.

Brian Michael Bendis offers emotional reactions and responses that fit within the context of the story. The framing, between the trial and the eventual death of Bruce, is interesting in that it provides a unique interplay of dialogue and characterization. However, the developments of the issue are insular to the point that they don’t fit with prior events or character personality. So, while Bendis has crafted a tale that can possibly fit within its own universe, when held up to the rest of the Marvel line this story does not work and is a vast departure from nearly every one of the characters involved and the world they live in.

If nothing else, the art is pretty. David Marquez and Justin Ponsor continue to dazzle with art that conveys the innocence and the emotion in a rather tragic circumstance. Marquez’s ability to convey emotion is vitally important to this issue, and each of the characters’ feelings are visceral as a result. Ponsor’s fresh colors oppose the gravity of the situation within the issue, the bright sheen and varied pallet adding to the emotional clarity of Marquez’s work.

Oliver Coipel contributes a gritty and dark moment between Bruce and Clint. They’re somewhere dark and mysterious, matching the finality of Bruce’s plan. While this part of the story seems incongruous with both characters, it at least has an artistic tone, grounded in dark and earthy neutrals, that matches the seriousness of Bruce’s request.

Civil War II is a story I’m not sure about. Even without referencing the first storyline ten years ago, it does not deliver the signature themes of such a title and has continued to levy bodies in an attempt to garner interest and intrigue in a world where we know they’ll come back.

Despite the storytelling, the art continues to excel and there are spectacular visuals. I don’t know what this story will turn into, and I’m not sure if the ramifications will actually matter. This event so far has been confusing and incongruence in many dimensions, but I’m at least resolved to see it out.

The Verdict: 5.0/10


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