Civil War II #4 Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: David Marques Colors: Justin Ponsor Letters: Clayton Cowles Publisher: Marvel
Disregarding the Free Comic Book Day and #0 issue, Marvel’s summer blockbuster Civil War II has come to the half way point with chapter number 4. In the last issue, Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), Tony Stark (Iron Man), and a slew of other Marvel superheroes confronted Bruce Banner about a vision that the new Inhuman, Ulysses had. In where the Hulk laid waste and killed numerous of his former friends. When they question him, Bruce, who hasn’t had a Hulk incident in a year, understandably becomes frustrated and the heroes become shaky. Then an arrow strikes Banner and it’s fatal, the culprit, Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye. In a courtroom hearing he explains how Bruce had come to him days ago and asked him to kill him had he ever turn into the Hulk again. Giving him the ingredient designed to deliver the lethal blow.
The issue was less than stellar as neither side comes out looking good and it became hard to get behind either opposition. There was also the added bonus of Bendis subsuming to his normal trope of ignoring continuity to fit his story. This issue unfortunately introduces another problem with Bendis’ writing, particularly whenever he’s at the helm of an event comic. Which is fast tracking the narrative to a rapid pace as he’s spent too much time in the beginning with redundant character moments.
Issue 3 left readers with the implications that the force behind Ulysses abilities to foresee the future have been discovered by Stark, and they are. However when they’re revealed its somewhat weak. The cliffhanger ending indicated a much larger reasoning that’ll truly cause a disjointed moral line. I won’t spoil it but when it comes to fruition, it makes you really question Carol’s morals when even she decides to continue her actions. When she does express her desire to follow through with her tactics, it reflects the controversy over the “stop and frisk” laws. The moment in this issue that genially degrades her characters appeal is the interrogation scene. Where she seamlessly holds an innocent woman against her will, a point where she’s even crossed a line that the hard-nosed Maria Hill feels is a stretch too far.
This issue is heavy on the exposition and it’s clear why this happened. Bendis has taken too long to get to the point of the story and the narrative drive suffers for the attention to character moments. Disappointingly, those don’t come off as compelling either, as no character appeals as if they’re in the right here. It’s an all in deal in their minds as none of them are interested in discussing nuances or gradations. So when the lines are drawn, sides are chosen, and the physical confrontation finally builds up, you aren’t invested and can’t empathize with any of them.
With all the faults that the writing in the series has delivered, it’s refreshing to have at least one stunning element in this issue. David Marquez’s art in this series has been some of his finest work and issue 3 continues that trend. Once again he shows his talent for facial expressions within the first pages. When Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk, wakes up from her coma, Danvers visits to deliver her the news of both Bruce’s fate and the verdict of Hawkeyes trial. Every panel is oozing with emotion and the expression on Carol’s face alone tells a story within itself. Another spotlight would be the scene where Tony informs the other heroes the source behind Ulysses powers. Here you can get the sense of a different mindset from every character. Not just Carol and Tony, but Steve Rogers, Doctor Strange, Medusa, and Black Bolt.
The quality of Marquez’s visuals make the writing all the more frustrating as you wish the art was attached to a story more compelling. It isn’t All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder bad. Where the 10 levels of awesome that is Jim Lee accomplishes arguably his best work, then is attached to the painfulness that is later Frank Miller dialogue, but it’s still undoubtably frustrating.
Bendis’ fairly promising set up issues to begin this event, created a sense of optimism for the future. Yet that was all detracted once the ball started to roll, and it became another meaningless Marvel event where the heroes fight each other rather than a super-villain. The whole editorial mandate that demanded this sequel to Mark Millar’s 2006 story was off-putting itself. There has been nearly zero characterization to Ulysses, the one who started the conflict. Those who do get development, come off as obnoxious with their disregard of compromises and nuances. Not even the stellar artwork brought in by David Marquez can save this issue and the mini-series itself empathize everything wrong with Marvel.
Score: 1.5 out of 5
Review by Eric Bradach
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