Secret Wars only ended a couple months ago and we’re already starting Marvel’s next event comic, Civil War II. Those who are tired of event comics are probably even more annoyed that this is the fourth main event in 10 years where superheroes are fighting each other, if you include Axis. Even so, I’m willing to at least give this event a chance, but at $6, this had better impress me. Writer Brian Michael Bendis has a bit of a mixed track record with events. He’s usually really good at build-up, but his execution isn’t always that great. That said, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this ends up much better than the first Civil War comic event.
This comic starts off not long after Civil War II 0, with a new Inhuman running through the woods after witnessing a terrifying vision of the future. It leads to a giant superhero fight that pits pretty much everyone against a Celestial in a visual spectacle that I’ll talk more about later. It’s a quick yet epic fight scene that all the heroes of Earth planned for thanks to the Inhuman’s vision. Later on, there’s a hot debate between Iron Man and Captain Marvel over whether they should rely on the Inhuman or not. Although their dialogue is written decent enough, I’m not sure why Iron Man is arguing against a potential early warning system so adamantly. Also there isn’t enough time to get into any details with the debate, making it feel vague and kind of pointless.
After the debate, time moves forward to a second vision, which leads to the Free Comic Book Day issue’s fight scene. The aftermath is rough, and it’s my main complaints about this. Without saying who, there’s one confirmed death that we don’t actually see in this comic, and the comic ends with another potential death … of one of my favourite characters. It feels like they’re here just for the shock value, although it does give substance to the debate between Captain Marvel and Iron Man.
Another complaint I have is that I’m not sure exactly where She Hulk stands. The 0 issue pointed out that she’s against criminally charging anyone who hasn’t committed a crime yet, but she’s all for Captain Marvel’s side when it comes to preventing disasters. When did her opinion change? Also I should mention that the Inhumans are in the center of this event, but at the same time, they don’t seem the least bit interesting here. I get that Marvel wants to promote the Inhumans right now, and that’s fine, but they need to be interesting in this event for that to work. That’s not happening yet, but there’s a chance they’ll improve in the issues to come.
The art by David Marquez is undeniably fantastic. Right from the very first page, every panel is full of details, whether it’s in a character’s wrinkled shirt or the trees in the background. There’s a huge variety of character appearances in the opening fight scene, each with detailed costumes and appropriate body proportions. The X-Men show up, several Avengers teams help out, both Spider-Men and Spider-Woman help civilians and both Wolverines. The after party scene is complete with little details in the background, like Squirrel Girl cheering on an arm wrestling match between Thor and She-Hulk. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying a wide variety of emotions throughout the issue. Justin Ponsor’s colouring is also fantastic. Everything is bright and colourful, there’s great use of monitor glows and reflections and shadows look very realistic.
My thoughts on this issue are mixed. On the one hand, the opening is very strong in both writing and art, and the emotional reaction to the casualties is well handled. On the other hand, the debate between Stark and Danvers could have been a lot better, and two potential deaths in one issue is too much. If you’re excited about Civil War II you will probably enjoy this, but if you’re really not, this issue won’t change your mind. If you’re on the fence like me, read it before you buy it. That’s most likely what I’ll do with issue 2.