Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Civil War II Review (Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez)

Marvel does Minority Report in Civil War II as a new Inhuman called Ulysses appears with the ability to see the future! The battle-lines are drawn between Captain Marvel, who wants to use Ulysses to stop future crimes before they happen, and Iron Man, who doesn’t want anyone arrested for crimes they haven’t committed yet – or might not commit at all! But after a disturbing vision of an iconic hero’s murder of another iconic hero, how accurate are Ulysses’ visions and is Tony Stark willing to risk his friends’ lives to find out?

Are you sitting down? This was a Marvel event book scripted by Brian Michael Bendis that was… actually ok?! I’m just as surprised, especially as I heard nothing but dogshit about this comic, but I would honestly rate the first half of Civil War II a solid four, maybe even five, stars! While clearly owing a lot to Minority Report, it’s an engagingly-written, fast-paced story with a couple of big-name characters getting killed off, upping the stakes and making you wonder who else is gonna get Ned Starked! 

Then the story starts going south about halfway through as Bendis/Marvel Editorial decide to go the usual retarded event route of having tons of brainless, uninteresting superhero fights break out suddenly. BOO! Why do the Guardians of the Galaxy, Venom, Magik, Black Panther, and Storm favour Carol’s reasoning for arresting innocents? We don’t know because it’s never established, but I guess it was time for a big dumb superhero fight and they needed to make up the numbers. Throughout that fight I kept wondering which side of the fence characters were on as we never saw them make the decision one way or the other, they just seem to be fighting for the sake of it. Awful!

Like the first Civil War, Civil War II’s biggest flaw is in having an obviously “right” and “wrong” side. Arresting people for crimes that haven’t happened is of course wrong, especially given that Ulysses’ visions aren’t always bang on, so there’s really no conundrum over which side the reader is going to take (unless that reader is into totalitarianism)!

Also like Mark Millar’s Civil War, Bendis demonises the “wrong” side’s leader, Captain Marvel, to the point where Carol read like a completely different character. That’s a really weird move for Marvel to make at this point. Carol’s gonna get a LOT of attention very soon once the Avengers Infinity War movies and the Captain Marvel movie come out so why is Bendis depicting her as a fascist in one of Marvel’s most high profile books?? Among the many twists to this tale, his character assassination of Carol Danvers was probably the most shocking, particularly that scene when she brings in an ordinary person, who did nothing, and begins barking at them that she’ll make up evidence to convict them if she has to like some punk cop! How else is anyone meant to view Carol in that moment other than as a crazed villain drunk on power? And she does nothing to redeem herself later either!

Once the fighting starts the story never really recovers, especially that final battle which was contrived at best – I mean, what was Tony hoping to accomplish? There’s also the obligatory sizzle reel of forthcoming Marvel storylines, none of which looked appealing. But there is another surprise reveal thrown in that was intriguing, drawn by Andrea Sorrentino. I won’t say anything more than that but if you know what title Sorrentino’s been drawing for the last year, you’ll get a hint of what I’m talking about. And Ulysses’ fate was pretty cool too.

The art was really the most impressive aspect of Civil War II. David Marquez’s enormous talent lends the book a dazzling, slick look so that it always looks incredible and the few pages Andrea Sorrentino drew also looked amazing in that breathtakingly melancholic, photo-realistic style he has with landscapes.

The moral argument at the heart of Civil War II is a no-brainer but Bendis crafted a pretty compelling story that was good for at least half the book and David Marquez made it shine with his first class art. It’s not a great book but it’s also not bad either and it’s definitely better than its predecessor. Compared to most Marvel events, Civil War II is an outlier in being readable and not completely horrible – I’d say it’s worth a look for that alone!

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