Bendis's pen is not mightier than the sword.
BY RYAN PATRICK
In my opinion, the only thing worse than the Suicide Squad movie has been Civil War II. I’d rather have the Grandmaster resurrect Prince and David Bowie and then watch them die again than have a bad Suicide Squad movie. However this article is about Civil War II so let me talk about that.
I pretty much don’t like most of what this series has to offer at all. In comparison to the original Civil War specifically, written by the almighty Mark Millar, this series is a giant piece of dog shit, a giant waste of time, and a giant waste of my money.
I came into this run with very high hopes. I absolutely loved the original Civil War and I loved the Captain America: Civil War film. So I had nothing but positive expectations for what I was going to read. At the time of writing this, I've read issues #0-3 of Civil War II and the Amazing Spiderman, Gods of War, X-Men and Choosing Sides Civil War II tie-ins.
So my first complaint about Civil War II by Brian Michael Bendis is that each issue is too expensive. Issue #1 was $5.99, each subsequent issue is $4.99. Now Marvel could easily combat this criticism with saying, “Well, you’re paying more because you’re getting more pages in your comic and issue #1 is over 50 pages long”. However, after ads and tables of contents and what not, you’re getting 39 pages of actual story content in issue #1. So to me, it’s a little misleading to advertise that your comic is over 50 pages long.
On the bright side, the presentation is very nice. The cover is thicker and glossy like a graphic novel. So from a collecting standpoint this is a cool book to own and I am glad I own it. On the other hand, for the casual or new fan, the $5.99 price tag might scare them away. In my opinion, if you’re starting a brand new event and trying to entice a lot of new readers to pick it up... why not offer a normal print version for $3.99? Or even cheaper and then offer the glossy version as a special limited variant? How many potential new readers were scared away by that $5.99 price tag?
Now on to the story. This is a basic outline of the story and shouldn’t be much of spoiler. It's definitely not spoiling as much as I think Marvel does for its own books online. I actually do like the basic storyline. I’m interested in the Terrigan mist and the threat that it poses to the mutants and the X-Men. I like that it’s dividing the Inhumans and the mutants.
Ulysses is especially interesting to me because he’s new to having abilities, so it’s easy to grow along with him and take his side. He’s very vulnerable and is kind of lost and confused(like I think most newer readers probably will be while they read Civil War II). I like that he can foretell potential catastrophes before they happen. It’s kind of a Minority Report type of story just with super heroes, which is cool. Bendis does a decent job at letting you understand both sides. Tony Stark’s side of why you shouldn’t interfere with the future and Captain Marvel’s side of wanting to use Ulysses’s power to prevent death and potentially save the world from being completely destroyed.
What else does this story have to offer me though? Not much. The story is very character driven so far which I normally love. However, all of the drama seems to be very forced and hollow. If you’re a newer reader or haven’t followed Marvel for a while, you don’t know these characters yet. You don’t have any reason to give a shit about them. So every time a character gets mad at another, or somebody dies, or someone gets seriously injured... I just didn’t give a shit.
You might be thinking, “Ryan, I know these characters and I’ve been reading them for a few years. Of course I give a shit about them”. No. This is a launch of a new event and is meant to draw in as many readers as possible. It features a lot of C and D-tier characters that I think new readers, and maybe even regular comic book readers, might not know. Now keep in mind this story is very Inhumans heavy. C-tier characters at best, in my opinion. Also keep in mind that I'm a fairly new reader myself. However, I challenge you to go to the biggest comic book geek you know and show him the above page from Civil War II #1. Ask your friend to name all of the characters on that page and give you their basic backstory of them. Didn't think so. Seriously, get out a camera or your phone and record your friend trying to do this. I’d love to see it. I’ll eat my words if more than 20 people upload videos proving me wrong.
Also, Marvel has gone through a lot of changes over the past few years. You have a lot of new faces wearing old masks right now. So the character behind the mask that the reader has gone on to love, connect with, and grow with throughout decades is a completely different person now. I don’t love Spider Man, I think Spider-Man is cool and badass. I love Peter Parker.
I don’t think the story spends much time letting you get to know, explore, and grow with these characters. Which I understand, because this is such a giant story and cast. It would be next to impossible to do so. I think they would have had to use characters that readers had spent decades with in order for this story to work.
Hitting me with all of this drama between characters right off the bat had no real effect on me as a reader. It felt like empty reality show drama to me. Also, what I’m about to say is a MAJOR SPOILER. Stop reading this if you care about spoilers. Ok you’ve been warned. I’m giving you until the end of this sentence to stop reading.
So by the time they got to the reveal that James Rhodes (War Machine) died, I didn’t give a shit. They spent a little bit of time setting up the character but not enough in for you to care about him dying. This is a C-tier character. I think he’s cool and badass, but I’ve always just known him as Tony Stark’s friend. I’ve never really connected with him on a personal level in a comic. Same thing with She Hulk being brutally injured. If you’re going to kill off lesser known characters, then I think you have to spend time establishing them in that current book so you give a shit.
Now if you pick up the original Civil War trade, Mark Millar uses tons of characters in that story. Ones that even a hardcore reader might not be familiar with. However, at the core of the story, the main characters are all SUPER recognizable. Even non comic book readers could pick out and tell you a little bit of a backstory about them. So that’s why I think the original Civil War worked so well. It’s characters, both in costume and out, that you’ve known and loved for years and years.
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a Civil War II. I’m just saying that I think it should have come out 10-20 years from now. That way it would have given readers time to grow and love these lesser known characters. I think a story like Civil War is too big to be told with characters that people only "kinda sorta" know and like.
In fact, the only issue I really really enjoyed was #3 of the main run. This issue heavily featured several characters that I know and love. Bruce Banner, Hawkeye, Tony Stark, Matt Murdock, and so on. It is pretty fucking tragic when you find out that Bruce Banner was murdered by his long time friend Hawkeye. It was very cool watching Clint Barton on trial with Matt Murdock as a lawyer. All of these characters were familiar to me and it was a great read. Thus proving to me that a giant epic like this can only work if it’s with A-list characters that you’ve spent years with.
Again, if all of the Marvel titles are on your pull, I’m sure you are way more invested in these characters and are affected by what happens to them more than me. Civil War II drew me in. It got me interested. I thought since they were all issue number ones that I could start fresh. I was wrong. However, I would like to hear from avid Marvel readers. Someone who’s got Marvel all over their pull list. What do you think of Civil War II so far?
To me, Civil War II just seems like a desperate cash grab from Marvel trying to cash in on the Civil War name while it’s between the theatrical release and DVD release of the Captain America Civil War movie.
So all in all, I would not recommend this book to new readers. I think you’ll will find yourself on Wikipedia for hours. For current Marvel readers, I think you’ll like this a lot more since you’re more familiar with all of these characters. However, if you’ve been out of the loop from Marvel for the last few years I think you’ll have a hard time really appreciating this run.
I give Civil War II: 2 ZEROES OUT OF 5.
The dialogue falls flat for me, the drama seems forced and hollow, and there’s just too many unfamiliar characters that aren’t fleshed out enough for me to give a shit about. I do like the idea of the overall story with the Mist and the split between the Inhumans and mutants, though. I am interested to see what happens and it is starting to pick up after issue 3. So we'll see where that goes.
Thanks for reading. Make sure you check out and subscribe to our weekly podcast. Below, check out the episode where we reviewed the original Marvel Civil War as well as Captain America: Civil War.