Civil War II #2 Review

Civil War II #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: David Marquez
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel

Being a comic book reader can be difficult at times given that the majority or comic series are released monthly.  If a particularly issue doesn’t progress the story and the narrative drive is at a snail’s pace, it can become ungodly frustrating.  Marvel’s Civil War II thankfully is being released bi-weekly but that’s still no excuse for its second installment for being a fairly uneventful issue.

There’s a new Inhuman on the scene named Ulysses, who has the ability to see into the future.  His abilities are revealed to the Avengers and the other Marvel superheroes after his early warning helped them prevent a cataclysmic event.  This unsurprisingly causes a schism amongst our heroes over the battle between determinism and free-will.  With Iron Man warning that the extent of Ulysses powers are unknown, making it too high of a risk to act upon his visions.  While Captain Marvel sees the risk worth it if it means that lives will be saved.  When Ulysses predicts that Thanos is returning to Earth, Carol Danvers leads a team to engage and stop the mad Titan.  They were successful but at a terrible cost.  She-Hulk was put into a coma and James Rhodes(War Machine), Stark’s best friend, was killed in action.

Using the death of Rhodey as his motivation, Tony takes it upon himself to kidnap Ulysses from New Attilan and uncover the extent of his powers.  Taking him to a secluded location at begins to torture the young Inhuman and blames him for the death of his best friend.  Of course Medusa and the other Inhuman’s aren’t going to take this lying down and the search ensues.  Carol and the rest of the Avengers are understandably frustrated with their comrade and request the Inhumans to stand down and allow them to handle the situation.

This issues problem is that the title is called Civil War and implies that this is going to be a fight of epic proportions but the battle is coming at a slow pace making it lack a sense of urgency.  The issue also feels more like a domestic dispute rather than a war.  The stakes are too low but might be ramped up due to Ulysses vision at the end.  There’s also the problem that while the confrontation is trying to imply a three-way quarrel, it feels like it’s everyone against Iron Man.  The dispute between the Inhumans and the Avengers is distasteful as it only further encourages the theory how Marvel is trying to turn the Inhumans into the mutants.

Next we have the problem with the portrayal of Mr. Stark.  We all know that he’s impulsive and act’s on his emotions more than he should.  However to go so far as to torture Ulysses is extremely repugnant and colors the moral questions this story is asking as black and white.  Writer Brian Michael Bendis tries to create empathy for Tony by portraying him as someone who’s clearly breaking the law but believes his actions are justifiably right.  Forcing readers not only to question determinism vs free-will, but also how far one should go in order to accomplish the greater good.  You may be sympathizing with Stark and understand where his mindset is, however you’ll become frustrated with him because his actions are inadvertently starting a war and he should know this.  The comic goes out of its way to paint the struggle grey but it unfortunately falls flat.

With all those flaws out-of-the-way, you can’t overlook some powerful strengths.  Once again Bendis delivers some sharp witty dialogue and banters between multiple characters.  While Tony’s action are frustrating, it’s not out of character for him and his dialogue comes out naturally.

This issue’s greatest strength though is undoubtably the artwork and is the highlight throughout the series thus far.  David Marquez’s line work once again shine as every character, building, and object in the room is drawn with heavy detail.  The torture scene in particular allows Marquez to really show off his talent with facial expression.  You can just feel Tony’s anger and Ulysses’ torment leap off the panels.  Justin Ponsor’s work is not to be overlooked as well with his expressive colors and moody lighting create a visual buffet.  The art team superbly set the tone and atmosphere of the story.

Final Verdict

Brian Michael Bendis is nothing short of a talented writer.  No one can deny his addicting dialogue and character moments, however sometimes he digresses from the narrative drive in favor of those scenes and Civil War II #2 is no exception.  Tony Stark’s actions are genuine but by having him act on his emotions and the opposing side trying to bring sense and logic to the matter, create an inadvertently black and white conflict.  There isn’t any sense of danger or urgency within the story until the very ambiguous ending.  It fails to draw in emotional weight or investment.  The dialogue is spot on and the artwork is beyond stellar but those aren’t the most important parts of an event comic.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Review by Eric Bradach

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