Despite delays from both Marvel Comics itself, and this reviewer as well, the next installment of 2016’s biggest crossover comics event, Civil War II, is finally here. Two groups of superheroes, led by Iron Man and Captain Marvel, are ready to go to war with each other over an Inhuman with the power to predict possible futures, a conflict that promises to make the first Civil War look like a picnic. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Civil War II #5!
What Has Gone Before
A brief recap is in order, because as I said, it’s been a long time since we had an issue of Civil War II. Let’s catch up, beyond Marvel Comics raking in more of our money. As a result of the global terrigenesis in Infinity, a new Inhuman emerges named Ulysses who can supposedly see the future. I say supposedly because the powers that be at Marvel keep adding similar emphasis. They are very careful about it, using words like possibly and seems when describing his prophetic power.
After some of Ulysses’ visions come true, he is taken under the wings of several heroes to monitor the advancement of his powers. Tragedy strikes when Captain Marvel uses his vision to attack Thanos, resulting in the death of War Machine. When he envisions the Hulk killing everyone, Captain Marvel and her forces attempt to apprehend Bruce Banner, and in the end, Hawkeye takes his life. Iron Man and his forces stand up to Marvel who intends to use Ulysses as an early warning system, preventing disaster before it happens a la Minority Report. Eventually this leads to a confrontation between these two powerhouses and their supporters.
The battle lines were drawn and impact was about to take place as Civil War II #4 ended, with the Guardians of the Galaxy arriving on Earth to help Captain Marvel. The real fight began in between these issues as it’s already in progress as this issue opens. We see a helicopter tour, much like the ones that fly over my new home, taking passengers to see the Statue of Liberty – and some superheroes.
And oh boy, do they see superheroes as they fly through the combat zone of the Triskelion, just before S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to ground aircraft in the area – much like Damage Control, more insight as to how the antics of the super-people affects the regular folk. I dug the helicopter thing because it reminded me of human observers of monster battles in such kaiju eiga films as Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster, Destroy All Monsters, and King Kong vs. Godzilla. Coolness.
Talking About It And Doing It
Again, we are just watching and talking about the fight. Others are watching and talking too. The top of page nine gives us a beautiful cityscape showing the New York of the current Marvel Universe, with structures like the Triskelion and New Attilan. Artist David Marquez continues to impress. If we’re going to live in a fantasy universe, prove it, and this panel does. I liked it a lot.
Again, like the helicopter tour, we are shown folks (the Inhumans in this case) watching the fight, rather than the fight itself. Perhaps this is the reason we keep seeing superhero wars in these comics events, because we never actually see the fight. If you’re going to do it – do it. Wisely, they do it here, and we get several pages of battles within battles. Disturbingly, there doesn’t appear to be much teamwork apparent in the fight between six to seven superhero teams.
Guardians, Friends, and Foes
As the battle ensues, I had a few questions, mostly because I’ve been away from the Marvel Universe for a bit. Wasn’t Iron Man a Guardian of the Galaxy? Did things end badly between them? Why would they choose Captain Marvel over Iron Man? Contrary to the insistence of some folks, even Wikipedia didn’t have those answers. I still say I shouldn’t have to Google anything to enjoy a comic book. It used to be a thing in this industry that every comic is someone’s first – make it accessible. Furthermore and off this particular subject, why is Maria Hill the only S.H.I.E.L.D. agent on the premises? She’s had an army at her disposal at other times in this series.
I also liked that Iron Man was not a deranged maniac in this issue, perhaps a bit over the top in his attack on Captain Marvel, but not the unhinged menace we’ve seen throughout the rest of this crossover. I praise his reasonability in contacting Star-Lord in hopes of ending this conflict. That’s the Iron Man I know, who I much prefer to the villain we’ve seen for far too many years now. And what happens to Steve Rogers Captain America after he confronts Quill? He vanishes. Maybe Cap went off to serve Hydra? Or perhaps writer Brian Michael Bendis just forgot about him.
One on One
The individual battles of the heroes are quite good, and spotlighting characters I was surprised to see in what is basically an Avengers-based event. Doctor Strange against the X-Men and Luke Cage against the Blue Marvel were cool but far too brief, I wanted more. Neither was there enough of Iron Man vs. Captain Marvel but I suppose we have time for more of that. The Miles Morales Spider-Man/Venom bout did little for me but I liked the Sam Wilson Captain America/Magik match-up.
I quite disliked the Vision just standing around like he did in Captain America: Civil War. His match with Kitty Pryde is inspired, have they clashed before? And why have folks forgotten what a heavy hitter the Vision was/is? He was initially built/rebuilt/redesigned (the continuity has been mucked with so much I no longer know which is right) to defeat the Avengers – and could do so, easily. At least it’s shown he can destroy a starship here. Maybe that will remind folks of just how truly powerful he is.
All Together Now
I loved the four-panel vignettes of page fourteen with Matt Murdock, Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, and Hawkeye. It reminded me of Avengers #118, the comic that introduced me to the wider Marvel Universe by showing reactions of everyone else, while the Avengers and Defenders fought the minions of Dormammu and Loki to save the world. This was at the end of one of the earliest and coolest crossovers and superhero wars, which notably had the heroes unite to battle a common foe later. Somehow I doubt a common foe will emerge with this war. Although, has that Celestial Destructor ever been explained? Could he be the true big bad?
There is a welcome vibe here reminiscent of the movie Captain America: Civil War in that many characters in a cast of dozens are getting a momentary spotlight. Perhaps this fight could have been more extensive if done in chapters like the above-mentioned Avengers/Defenders war, or the less than well done more modern AvX. More props to Marquez as battles rage behind the main fights panel to panel. I liked that the Vision/Kitty Pryde conflict occurs completely in the background of the Iron Man/Quill conversation.
Just as Iron Man and Captain Marvel are about to dance and really get down, and as the Inhumans enter the fray, everyone is hit by one of Ulysses’ prophetic visions. I don’t know about his accuracy, but his range is growing. Everyone gets to see what he is seeing. I had asked where Steve Rogers Captain America went, well, there he is on the end of a pointed stick, and there’s Miles Morales with blood on his gloves. Yep, it’s another two-page spread with a future event that hasn’t happened yet, if it ever does as a cliffhanger. My prophecy? This won’t be the last either.
When I had heard the entire issue was going to be one long fight, I just groaned and was not looking forward to it, but I have to admit that for the most part, this wasn’t bad. As a matter of fact, Civil War II #5 was pretty good, for a fight issue. There weren’t too many Bendis-isms and David Marquez was on target throughout. Of course, the cover of issue #6 has Miles Morales about to decapitate Steve Rogers… but we’ll get there when we get there…
I’ll be back with more reviews of Marvel’s Civil War II event, and if you’d like to read my thoughts so far, click here.