If you’re only counting the main issues of the series, we’re half-way done Marvel’s second major event called Civil War. This is also the issue where the first major fight begins, on the very last page. That’s fairly typical of Brian Michael Bendis’s writing. Despite the slow pace though, there is a lot to like about this comic, and I’m not just talking about the fantastic art this time.
The last issue ended with a several major teasers, one implying that Hawkeye’s trial came to a verdict, and the other showing that Iron Man’s scan of Ulysses’s brain completed. Ulysses is the new inhuman who sees potential disasters in the form of visions, and so far, most of his visions are turning out very accurately. However, Iron Man’s scan of his brain shows that these visions are just based on mathematics, and as his power grows, they’ll become much more likely to become inaccurate, or worse, misused.
Most of this issue takes place during a debate between Iron Man and Captain Marvel, with a bunch of other heroes chiming in to keep everyone focused. It’s a very well written scene that shows a lot of balance between the two sides, while leaving room for readers to decide which side they agree with more. It also shows that both Iron Man and Captain Marvel have already gone too far, Iron Man by invading a sovereign nation, and Captain Marvel by needlessly interrogating someone who appears to be innocent. They’re both clearly emotional over losing War Machine, and even though they acknowledge that, it’s driving them further apart.
There are several major reveals in this comic besides how Ulysses’s brain works. I’ll only spoil one of them – She-Hulk wakes up in this issue (yay). The world’s reactions to Hawkeye’s court verdict is discussed through a radio show written onto one page, which helps ground this story a little. And last but not least, the battle lines are drawn and most people pick their side. What’s interesting is that the Extraordinary X-Men show up on Captain Marvel’s side, while the All-New X-Men join Iron Man. Additionally, both All-New Wolverine and Old Man Logan are missing. Laura being absent makes total sense since she tends to avoid hero on hero fights, but unless it has something to do with the All-New Wolverine tie-ins, Logan’s absence is curious.
The art by David Marquez is brilliant as usual. From start to finish, every panel has some sort of deep detail, whether it’s Carol’s hair flying back through the wind, the clouds in the background, or the variety of buildings seen outside the window from the Ultimates’ headquarters. She-Hulk’s body is mostly greyed out, with traces of her green skin showing through and her eyes glowing. What that means remains to be seen, but it’s an interesting look. Facial expressions do a wonderful job at conveying emotion, some subtle and some not so subtle. When the heroes gather to fight, every single one has fully detailed uniforms.
The best page however is easily the two page spread of Ultimate Spider-Man hanging on the side of a building at Times Square, looking at the large screens that announce Hawkeye’s verdict. There’s a great variety of cars on the streets, pedestrians hanging around, shadows from the nearby buildings and even the loose web hanging in the air. And of course the colouring by Justin Ponsor enhances the art by making it bright and coloruful during the day scenes and just before the next issue’s big fight. He also makes great use of shadows, glows and contrasts in the darker scenes so that it’s still easy to see everything that’s going on.
I’m still not sure how I feel about paying $5 for every issue, but so far, the writing is just good enough to keep me interested and the art is utterly fantastic. Bendis’s pace might be a bit slow for a major event like this, but he knows how to write a compelling debate, much more so than anything in the first Civil War event. I’m not sure if I’d recommend paying $5 for each issue, but this series is at least worth a read if you’re at all interested. If you’re not interested, then this issue won’t change your mind. And of course, the second there’s a bad issue, I’m dropping it because of the price.