Brian Michael Bendis (W), David Marquez (A), Justin Ponsor (CA)
Cover by: Marco Djurdjevic
Publisher: Marvel Comics
You ever just wish you could completely love or hate something? It would just be easier if your feelings would just sort themselves out, or the thing in question would just pick a consistent level of quality and stay there? Especially when you’re consistently having to purchase increments of that thing at five dollars a pop?
That’s where I’m at with this story right now. It has pieces that are kind of brilliant. A lot of the premise is actually really clever, but it keeps building itself upon characters acting completely out of their character or just doing things that most rational human beings would not do.
To better express this point, let’s go ahead and move onto the plot of this second installment (technically third, even more technically the fourth).
It opens up with Tony Stark breaking into New Attilan to kidnap Ulysses. He is intercepted by some of the Inhumans. He manages to keep them busy long enough to escape. The Inhumans then go to Stark Tower with the intent of tracking down Iron Man. Captain Marvel and a contingent of Avengers go there to meet them, promising to bring in Stark. Meanwhile, Tony is performing experiments on Ulysses to figure out how exactly his powers work. He begins to make some progress when the Avengers and Inhumans come through a wall. Ulysses then has another vision in which the Hulk kills all of the Avengers, which is also shown to everyone in the vicinity. The issue concludes with Captain Marvel paying a visit to Bruce Banner.
The death of James Rhodes is the glue that holds this whole story together, and even that is starting to lose its adhesiveness, or, to be more accurate, its cohesiveness.
I can see Tony Stark and Carol Danvers both acting very rashly in the face of his death, him being Tony’s best friend and Carol’s boyfriend. That being said, breaking into New Attilan and potentially causing a war between the Avengers and the Inhumans is pushing my suspension of disbelief a bit.
That’s still moving past how quickly Iron Man became avidly against taking advantage of Ulysses’ powers in the previous issue. His anger over trying to intercept Thanos is a baffling as well. What were they to do, just let Thanos kill a facility full of scientists and steal pieces of a Cosmic Cube?
His aggression towards Ulysses in this issue pushes him towards irredeemable in the context of this story. Ulysses is just a scared, confused twenty-something with frightening powers he does not understand, and Tony Stark just snatches him, straps him to a chair in a dirty basement, and plugs electrodes to his head.
The rising tension between Medusa and the Avengers was a pretty cool moment. I’d like to see where that aspect of the story yet goes.
On the subject of the Inhumans, why was Karnak the gung-ho, “bring down Stark Tower” one?” I thought he was the intelligent, Zen Inhuman.
The Hulk vision probably should have come sooner in the story. This is a better foundation for the imminent civil war than simply the existence of Ulysses, which has felt like half the driving force of the story thus far (the other half being Rhodey’s death). Banner being an old friend and colleague of theirs, this I could see fracturing the community.
Again that’s not to say that War Machine’s death was a bad catalyst, but the order of events might have needed a change. Maybe Hulk should have been the one to kill him. I can’t say for sure.
The pacing feels all wrong too. I feel like we should still be in issue one, or something. It’s still building itself up when it feels like it should be moving forward. It seems unfair to continue to compare it to the original Civil War, because this series has made it clear that it is a completely different kind of story. That being said, the first Civil War was really ramping up by issue two and not just continuing setup.
I still feel like maybe the actions Iron Man is taking in this story would make more sense if it were being done by a character like Steve Rogers or Sam Wilson going through similar events.
This is story feels like a bizarre game of chess. The pieces are being moved to good places, but the rules of the game are being neglected and movements are being made out of order.
Bendis has a really cool idea here that I desperately want to see come to fruition, but it’s being plagued with logical missteps and character dissonance.
Marquez’s artwork along with Ponsor’s color work is gorgeous. This comic is great to just look at. Marquez is good with faces, and Ponsor gives everything a very realistic texture.
This book is kind of frustrating, really. It brushes up against greatness many times, but the missteps still keep it at arms-length for the most part. Now that the “Hulk kills everyone” gauntlet has been thrown down, maybe the story will pick up from here. I sure hope so. I want this story to work.
Final Score: 6/10