Written by: Brian Micheal Bendis
Art by: David Marquez
When we published our review of Civil War II #1 I didn’t think it could be as bad as was made out. In my opinion, it really wasn’t. It’s phoned in and lazy sure, but not really offensive by any means. The second comic rectifies this by buying one of the most poorly written, lazy and downright poor marvel titles in a long time.
So after the death of Rhodey last issue, Tony decides to take his anger out on the Inhumans by kidnapping new Inhuman Ulysses in an attempt to figure out his powers work. From here, everyone overreacts and acts out of character until the issue ends on a poorly earned cliffhanger and nothing is accomplished. I would like to begin by pointing out Tony’s course of action: after loosing his best friend (which we’re constantly reminded about) due to Captain Marvel attempting to preemptively stop a threat, Tony kidnaps Ulysses so in a preemptive strike to stop something of this magnitude happening again. So… exactly what Carol was attempting to do… but wait dear readers! This is merely the start of the hypocrisy!
Throughout the issue, Tony offers no alternative to what actions Carol should’ve taken to avoid Rhodey’s death (seriously, they took down Thanos with only two casualties, what would the alternative have been if they hadn’t known about his attack? He still would’ve came) and instead loudly yells “BUT HE WAS MY FWIEND” to a woman who has just lost the man she’s been in a relationship with. I guess Bendis is going by the “bros before hoes” logic as Carol shows no emotion about the deaths of her loved ones and instead just goes along with Tony’s madness. At one point she even calls Tony out on his irresponsible actions for Tony to respond with “well of course I’m having a nervous breakdown!!”. Tony generates absolutely no sympathy as he’s acting so irrational, making the very nature of the whole “choose a side” conflict laughable as he’s got absolutely no defense to stand on. The conflict feels incredibly forced and extremely out of character even by Civil War standards. It’s simply lazy writing with Bendis not at all caring what he writes and essentially being on auto pilot. At one point, Tony even cracks a joke about torturing the young Ulysses which is brushed off with typical speak of:
“I didn’t do the thing!
“Yes you did”
“HA LOL AREN’T I SUCH A CHARACTER??”
It feels totally out of character given the nature of the situation and, again, makes Bendis feels like he’s writing on autopilot. It’s the same sort of dialogue I’ve seen in tons of his books, but not fitting the scene in the slightest.
What makes this anger me so much is there’s actually potential for a really cool story in here if SOMEONE actually gave a damn about putting out a quality book rather than just pumping out a phoned in series to capitalize on a popular name. Firstly, the conflict and the characters representing it make no sense. I understand Carol’s stance given that the Ultimates has been about averting disasters before they happen (almost as if their conflict has emerged organically) but Tony has no other stake other than “MY FRIEND DIED” which, again, is utterly weak since Carol is in the exact same position, except she acts like a rational adult. If they’d wanted this conflict to work, it’D have made much more sense to make Sam Wilson champion of the “protect the future” side. Given how much his own series and the crossover Standoff was about S.H.I.E.L.D. toying with reality warping measures, it makes total sense for him to be against something like this. Plus given how Steve would also be on this side (his entire character is about freedom to make decisions) it could’ve worked towards naturally reconciling the two characters to fighting on the same side again. Like The Ultimates, it would’ve featured naturally building tensions bubbling over into a conflict. You know, like how most events work. Since Tony is the big movie star though, Marvel just HAVE to use him so as to not alienate movie fans, so instead of finding a genuine reason for Tony to care, they just throw their hands up and assign him a side, because really who cares? This event will sell well regardless of what we write.
If there’s one shinning light in this mess, it’s that David Marquez’s art is as gorgeous as ever. He really gives 100% to everything he draws and really captures the feeling of the Marvel universe for me. His art captures the dramatic and cinematic style I expect from a large scale event, while also paying incredible attention to detail with things like emotions and movement. This however doesn’t make the issue worth the high price tag. With another $5 issue, it’s really hard to justify paying a high price for such little actual substance. Other than Marquez’s art, nothing about this series feel inspired or worth purchasing. Bendis doesn’t care and Marvel don’t care. They know this will sell well regardless of critical reception and that they don’t even need to try at this point.
Civil War II is disappointing because it’s every bit the soulless cash grab fans have expected it to be. I really wanted to like this, I’m a Marvel fan at heart and love the event spectacle as huge dumb popcorn entertainment. Compared to an event like Secret Wars though, which featured so much planning, huge moments and genuine emotion, something like this is just a real punch in the gut and symbolizes everything Marvel are doing wrong right now. There’s little to no build up, a ridiculous price of entry and a lack of any distinct character voices other than Bendis’. It’s his writing at his worst and that’s incredibly disappointing to write. Everyone behind this book is capable of producing much better work, but when this will sell regardless, why even bother? Save your money on this one folks, there are far better comics more worth your time.