Story- Brian Michael Bendis
Art- David Marquez
Colors- Justin Ponsor
Letters- VC’s Clayton Cowles
Review by John Burkle
The sides have been chosen, and our heroes finally throw down in the pages of Civil War II #5. The build-up to this fight has been brewing for 6 issues, with the 0 issue & Free Comic Book Day issue, and it finally culminates here. On one side we have Tony Stark and on the other we have Carol Danvers. Ironically, Tony is backed up by many of the same New Avengers and Young Avengers he was trying to arrest in the previous Civil War event. The Guardians of the Galaxy and the Inhumans join Carol. Somehow the X-Men have been split in half by Ulysses and his prophecies. I’m not sure how the sides were chosen, but it feels random, with the publishing goal at the forefront rather than the characters’ history and a traditional mindset. I know that Marvel is setting up their Marvel Now 2.0 launch, but I don’t see the new hero vs. the old hero division that we’re being promised. There are still three issues left to get to that point, so they have time to develop the storyline.
For an event comic, Civil War II has felt forced from the day it was announced. The conflict feels flimsy and the motives of the characters don’t reflect the heroes I’ve been reading about for thirty plus years. The animosity between Iron Man and Captain Marvel makes little sense; how quickly the heroes of the Marvel Universe are willing to come to blows with one another is a little frightening. This is not your classic team-up, where a simple mistaken identity leads to a fight or where both sides quickly realize their mistakes, and ultimately join forces to take down the bad guys. These heroes want to destroy each other, in some cases, kill each other.
That being said, I am conflicted. I both enjoy the hell out of this mini-series as well as feel incredibly frustrated with some of the characterization. But, this issue was a lot of fun to read. Brian Michael Bendis is not at his best in this book, for that check out Spider Man, but he’s still writing a very enjoyable story. I found myself anxious to see what was coming next and excited to open the next page. There was plenty of action and mass destruction. The Guardians take a hit and Venom seems on the verge of returning to his original form, and he has a visceral hate for the former Ultimate Spider Man. Every hero has their moment to shine. Bendis of course plays with his favorites. We get a nice Luke Cage fight scene and Miles Morales takes center stage for a time, especially as we neared the cliffhanger of an ending, which in my spoiler free reading was a doozy. Unfortunately, The Guardians of the Galaxy feel pigeonholed into team Carol. For a bunch of outlaws, they joined the side of pre-cog law pretty quickly. Either Bendis wanted to tie their series into this event or Marvel wants them front and center for their movie next summer. In fact, many of the heroes seem forced to one side and it doesn’t fit with their individual books. Marvel is selling us a huge X-Men vs. Inhuman event this fall but here they are fighting side by side. Just as in Power Man & Iron Fist, Luke Cage wants to sit this fight out, but here he is, front and center, going toe to toe with the Blue Marvel.
My biggest struggle is with Carol Danvers and how Bendis is portraying her. The good Captain seems to be unquestioning in Ulysses and favors preemptive arrests, it’s as if the book needs a foil rather than it being her actual belief. She doesn’t read like the Captain Marvel I’ve enjoyed for years. Even if she’s doing it for War Machine and She-Hulk, I cannot believe that those two characters would be in favor of suspension of Habeas Corpus and unlawful detention for a crime you may commit. That’s where this event and issue struggle, when Captain Marvel is front and center I just can’t buy her anger at Tony nor her motivation. It just doesn’t ring true to me.
Even with my issues over motivation, no one can deny that this book is absolutely beautiful. Davis Marquez is nailing it and every issue is a visual treat. We’re seeing a star being born here and I cannot wait to see what Marquez does next. Although it seems like we’ll be seeing him on Civil War II for a little longer, as the book has slipped even further on the calendar and an eighth issue has been added. I’m glad Marvel hasn’t brought in a substitute artist, which I feel can kill an event book, and although delays suck I’ll wait it out for this quality of art. Seeing Marquez draw the Marvel Universe in an epic battle is a site to behold and he is setting the bar high for whatever the next world-changing event will be.
VERDICT: Buy if you’re already buying. You’re five issues in already, you might as well see it to the end. If not, wait for the trade collection to see how the new Marvel status quo is reached.