Brian Michael Bendis (W), David Marquez (A), Justin Ponsor (CA)
Cover By: Marko Djurdjevic
Publisher: Marvel Comics
You ever feel like you should like something more than you did? You like it, but it just didn’t hit that sweet spot that separates “pretty good” from “great.” Of course, my self-appointed job here is to explain why I do or don’t like something, so of course I’m going to go into detail here as to what works and doesn’t work about the first issue to Marvel’s new crossover event, Civil War II.
And, to just go ahead and get this out of the way, six dollars is way too much, especially when DC’s Rebirth was longer and half the price.
Marvel’s original Civil War was a story both character-driven and very relatable to readers in an age of Patriot Acts and governmental invasion of privacy. Captain America and Iron Man had never really seen eye-to-eye on many issues, and the Superhuman Registration Act was the bundle of straws that completely destroyed the camel’s back. Based on each character, you can see why they chose each side of the conflict and what drives them to make the decisions that they make. Captain America represents less governmental intervention, and Iron Man represents more. Steve Rogers is the face of idealism. Tony Stark is the face of pragmatism.
Here, the conflict is still very relevant and interesting, but the motivations are a vaguer. “Do you deal with a threat before it happens?” That is a pretty interesting philosophical concept, and it is one that is still prominent in this world of sudden terrorist attacks and mass shootings.
However, I don’t really understand Tony Stark’s motivation here. He is a pragmatist. Pragmatism involves using every tool at your disposal in the most efficient way possible. I’m not sure he is the best person to hang “protect the future” side of the argument upon. Steve Rogers or Sam Wilson would make far more sense, as each is more of an idealist than Tony Stark.
To get to the story at hand, it opens up with the Avengers, Ultimates, and X-Men joining up to take down a big, world-destroying, unnamed celestial being about to drop in on New York. An organized group of sorcerers led by Doctor Strange expel it before it has the opportunity to reach Earth. Tony throws a big victory party afterwards at Stark Tower. It’s revealed that the Inhumans were the ones that warned the Avengers of this impending threat, and Tony Stark and Captain Marvel inquire as to how they knew about it. They introduce them to Ulysses, a new Inhuman who can see the future with perfect clarity. Captain Marvel immediately wants to put him to work, while Tony Stark is apprehensive. The issue concludes with a casualty that sends Tony Stark into a spiral, determined to stop Captain Marvel from further “tampering” with the future through Ulysses.
The ending to this story is by far the strongest part. It’s the portion of this book that gives me a believable reason for this “civil war”. Iron Man has always been a character that plays things really close to the chest, and he has a tendency to take things very personally. The unnamed casualty sending him into a flurry of threats and anger? I can buy that very easily. Plus, it provides a really nice stare-down and character moment between Tony Stark and Carol Danvers.
The dialogue is really good throughout, and it makes the party at Stark Tower a pretty enjoyable section of the book. Brian Michael Bendis has always been really good at getting characters to play off of each other through spoken words. Marquez’s art is also very good. Everything is very detailed, and motion is depicted masterfully. The action scenes look really cool, especially the ones towards the beginning with all of the heroes uniting.
That being said, opening scene with the celestial drags on a little too long. The event itself is needed for the story, but the details are not. I didn’t need to know the exact manner and spells used by Doctor Strange and the sorcerers to expel the celestial to understand the main concepts of the story. Meanwhile, the conflict with Thanos that leads to the casualty is abbreviated (even though it was in the Free Comic Book Day tie-in).
I’m still not convinced the five-dollar standalone #0 released last month was necessary. Much of that could have been shortened and tacked on at the beginning of this comic book easily.
At the end of the day, was the story intriguing? Yes. Am I interested in seeing where it’s going? Yes. Did it work completely? That I’m not so sure of. I still feel like Tony Stark may not be the best character to represent the “don’t play with forces you can’t comprehend” side of things, especially since doing exactly that is a big part of his identity. If he must be on this side, I feel like more dialogue and explanation as to how he came to this conclusion would help the story a great deal.
That being said, I understand completely where Captain Marvel is coming from, and I can see her as the leader of this side of the “change the future” side.
I’d say give it a read. It’s a pretty cool concept drawn out with smart dialogue and gorgeous art. It still needs to prove that it can live up to its predecessor, and this start was a bit shaky. However, I would say it’s definitely worth a try.
Final Score: 7/10