Civil War II #1 Review
No matter what you ultimately think of it, you can’t deny that Mark Millar’s 2007 miniseries Civil War isn’t one of the truly “classic” comics to come out of this generation. And like most “classics” nowadays, the powers-that-be have found a way to make a sequel.
The first changes to be made for Marvel’s second foray into civil warfare is the addition of a completely new creative team. Mark Millar is gone in favor of best-selling comic book scribe Brian Michael Bendis, and Steven McNiven’s art has been replaced with the work of David Marquez. In both cases, believe-it-or-not, this turns out to be a good thing. Millar has been one of the biggest names in comics for most of the 21st Century, but even his loyal fans will eventually admit that his talent for pacing and plotting often covers up his shortcomings with dialogue and characterization. Say what you will of Bendis’ recent work (and many have), but the man’s unique ear for natural dialogue can bring a lot of humanity to the larger-than-life characters in his stories. And fans who bemoaned the absence of McNiven’s legendary, movie-like art style will be pleasantly surprised by what Marquez brings to the page. The art in Civil War II is crisp, precise and clean in a way that doesn’t feel sterile, and cinematic in a way that fits perfectly inside a comic-panel.
But a good creative team only counts if they can pen a good story, and the first issue kicks the story off with a BANG as intense as anything else in comics right now.
New York City is under-siege from a Celestial Destructor: an enormous, God-like being from another dimension, and it takes the combined, synchronized effort of every Avenger, X-Man and Inhuman who can fight to save the city from certain disaster. They succeed, but the leaders of the defensive assault, Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man) and Carol Danvers (AKA Captain Marvel), find out afterwards that the life-saving warning they received before the attack came from a newly-turned Inhuman by the name of Ulysses, who has the ability to experience events before they happen.
The foundation for Civil War II is set up by the conflict of interests that starts to form between Iron Man and Captain Marvel. Though a self-proclaimed “futurist,” Tony Stark takes issue with the thought of monitoring and changing the course of future events, where Captain Marvel believes that using Ulysses’ powers could let them save more lives than they ever could before.
Ulysses’ powers of clairvoyance are immediately called on once again when the power-hungry Thanos launches a “surprise” attack on Earth that the Avengers are fortunately able to foresee and launch an ambush, though the Mad Titan doesn’t go down without taking two Avengers with him.
Both Tony and Carol are devastated by the death of their two close friends, though in different ways. Tony is enraged that Captain Marvel used the Inhuman’s unproven powers once again, this time with tragic results, and blames her for his friend’s death. Carol is also shaken, but the dying words of her friend convinces her to stand her ground against Stark. The issue ends with an enormous emotional rift forming between the Earth’s two greatest heroes.
Probably the biggest difference between Civil War and Civil War II is the issue that cause the conflict in the first place. Conceived in midst of a paranoid era in American history, the Superhuman Registration Act that ignited the first Civil War was a pretty clear allegory to real-life issues the country faced near the end of Bush’s presidency. It covered the identity and privacy controversies that surrounded the Patriot Act, and the issues of individual responsibility that still form the crux of the gun-control debate. The context was superheroes, but the real-world implications were real in a palpable way.
Though some fans and critics have started to draw comparisons between Civil War II‘s Minority Report-style future-policing and current issues like police profiling, the conflict and its implications are rooted firmly in the realm of science-fiction. The debate that forms around whether-or-not the powers of a clairvoyant can be trusted just doesn’t have the basis in every-day reality that the original Civil War had with the Superhuman Registration Act.
However, Civil War II‘s disconnect with reality arguably works to the story’s advantage. Without the pressure to deliver any deep social commentary, Bendis and Co. are able to keep the spotlight on the emotional struggles of the characters and develop a tighter plot. All the years that Bendis and Marquez worked together on Ultimate Spider-Man show up on the page: Marquez’s simple-but-effective art works together beautifully with Bendis’ writing to present a tight and cohesive book that feels like the comic book equivalent of a blockbuster movie.
It might not change the comic world as we know it like it’s predecessor did, but Civil War II‘s first issue kicks off Marvel’s next big event with a promising start.
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