Civil War II is not just happening in the core title this summer and autumn (and possibly into winter!), but also throughout the Marvel Comics line. There have been a ton of comics connected to it and talking about it, or at least pretending to. Meet me after the jump and I’ll be discussing Civil War II comics featuring Ulysses, Karnak, Doctor Doom, Nick Fury, and the Totally Awesome Hulk, among others.
Civil War II: Choosing Sides is the anthology sister series to Civil War II. There’s not only an ongoing and well-done Nick Fury tale that may or may not have anything to do with the War, there’s also individual stories of the conflict being told. In issue #2, Princeless writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Marguerite Sauvage gives us the first real story to make me feel War Machine’s death. With Brian Michael Bendis in the main series, the death of James Rhodes is a plot device, a way to get from point A to point B, but here, it’s real, and brought to life in the thoughts and words of several characters. We’re made to care here, something that hasn’t happened until now. Bravo.
That issue also introduces us to a new Goliath, more related to the first Civil War than this one. The series is an oddity at times, almost feeling like a yard sale of short inventory stories that don’t fit anywhere else. Gee, I wonder what Power Pack is up to these days? Here’s seven pages to catch you up. How about Colleen Wing, White Fox, or Man-Thing? Boom, here you go. Hey, we need to cash in on Jessica Jones, and hey, we need sales, have some Punisher. I’d really rather have a straight anthology series than this blatant crossover tie-in that’s not really a tie-in.
The Ulysses Infinite Comic is a six-issue digital comic telling of Ulysses’ time with the Inhumans before the second Civil War. I like the story told, and the visuals – props to Al Ewing, Karl Kesel, and Jefte Palo – but I gotta say it. I really dislike these Inhumans. Altering Jack Kirby creations like the Inhumans or the New Gods is simply blasphemy. I’m sorry if I’m sounding like the old man telling the kids to get off his lawn, but these designs and characters are sacred. If one were to create new Inhumans, I wouldn’t, and don’t, have a problem, but leave the Kirby stuff alone. Sidenote: please know that I do dig the new Inhumans shown here.
Karnak was always a bit of a jerk, but he was never an asshole. Pardon the language, but yes, there is a difference. I hate this guy walking around now in a hoodie calling himself Karnak, but that guy from the Kirby comics named Karnak, he was cool. I find myself wondering when the crossover event where all the superheroes join forces to kick his obnoxious butt will be scheduled. Anyway, the story has Karnak testing Ulysses in the “Tower of Wisdom,” a horror show from start to finish, in order to see what the boy can really do.
As Ulysses wanders through visions and illusion at the behest of Karnak, I can’t help but be reminded of the madness of “Heaven Sent”, a similar Doctor Who episode that was equally frustrating. In the end we get a prequel story of Karnak teaching Ulysses better use of his power, but we go the long way. The redeeming factor is the beauty of the digital comic and how it reads.
Heroes and Villains
In the Bendisverse, a place where characters are rarely in character, it is frequently difficult to tell the heroes from the villains. Sometimes villains act as heroes and heroes as villains. In the current Iron Man comic, presently titled Infamous Iron Man and written by Brian Michael Bendis, we have a situation that takes place after the events of Civil War II, mostly because of delays. In this book, which is essentially an odd duck with all the elements of a Fantastic Four comic, Victor Von Doom has taken on the mantle of Iron Man. He’s maybe doing good, but with his own priorities. Sounds like a 1970s What If? story to me, but at least it’s intriguing.
And then there’s the last few issues of The Totally Awesome Hulk. With the murder of Bruce Banner at the hands of Hawkeye, Captain Marvel and her lynch mob go hunting the current Hulk, former Mighty Avenger, Hercules’ buddy, and one of the smartest guys on Earth – Amadeus Cho. If there’s anything more dangerous than a savage rampaging Hulk, it’s a calm-thinking Hulk, especially one who has just had one of his best friends murdered for acts he has yet to perform.
It’s fun to watch Cho taunt Captain Marvel from afar, but then when he actually goes after Hawkeye, and is engaged by the Black Panther in his pantherized Hulkbuster armor… it’s ponderous. Writer Greg Pak delivers a fun story that really only gets better when it wanders away from the Civil War II narrative. I haven’t read any of the Amadeus Cho Hulk before this, but plan to go back now; it’s fun stuff.
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.