Marvel’s summer event continues this week and the actual war hasn’t quite started yet. Considering the vision that showed Hulk killing all the Avengers though…maybe it will start this week. Question is, is it good?
Civil War II #3 (Marvel Comics)
So what’s it about? The official Marvel summary reads:
This is the one everyone will be talking about! One of the biggest heroes in the Marvel Universe will fall! Who it is and how and why will divide fans for years to come. Will the heroes of the Marvel Universe survive the unthinkable happening? The fallout to this issue is enormous!
Why does this book matter?
The question of why Marvel continually pumps out event series isn’t a hard one to answer: they makes money. That said, things are seemingly always changing and always in flux meaning it’s hard to get your bearings. Regardless we must try! If you don’t read this series you’ll be lost when you read tie-ins and your favorite character’s book.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Writer Brian Michael Bendis opens this issue in a courtroom – taking place in the future – as we witness Carol Danvers, Tony Stark, and others take to the witness stand. It’s not immediately clear why they are in a courtroom, but once it cuts to the past and we see that Bruce Banner is being questioned and your mind starts to spin with the possibilities. This is a clever setup as it enhances the dramatic tension (of course this only works if you didn’t spoil it for yourself on the internet!) and makes this a very addictive, page turning read.
The dialogue is quite strong too, particularly in a flashback with Bruce Banner. You can tell Bendis was born to write courtroom dialogue from this issue as he’s quite good at narrowly showing the emotion the characters are holding back. Civil War II #3 is also very effective at making the reader feel for Bruce as he’s being accused of a crime he may or may not commit; Bruce’s frustration is easily read in his words and it translates to your own frustration with the situation.
The scene is set.
Which is a funny aspect of this issue as it’s hard to root for anyone. In a sense, everyone is the bad guy as they stand outside Bruce Banner’s door asking for answers. They are effectively taking away his rights (Beast does so directly) and passing judgement. Really the only character that comes off as a good guy is Hawkeye and – if you’ve read this issue – you know how insane that statement is! That said, I would say Bendis is effectively building up Tony’s reason to fight Carol directly and I think the reason to fight is much more clear than in the original Civil War series.
The art by David Marquez continues to be a highlight. One of the best elements of the issue is seeing the reaction of other heroes who are watching the courtroom drama unfold on TV. It’s a great mechanism to open up the stuffy courtroom to the other characters, but also allow for cutaways from the dialogue. One such image has Danvers talking on a jumbo screen in Times Square with Miles swinging by that does well to remind us the gravity of these moments, but also that the greater universe still carries on. It’s obvious Marquez was chosen for this project due to the dialogue heavy moments and even with lots of characters on the page at once Marquez manages to infuse each with passionate facial expressions and emotion.
Do I look agitated!?
Olivier Coipel is the artist for the Bruce Banner conversation scenes and while his style is a little bit different, it does well to capture the sullen nature and importance of the moment. It’s a darker scene and Coipel’s art enhances the drama of this key scene.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I wasn’t clear on why Tony seemed to be siding with Carol Danvers in this issue which seemed to be a bit off from where we left off last. Bendis jumps ahead in time and there’s a gap that doesn’t explain how they’re on speaking terms, or even cool with standing around one another. Does everyone forget that Tony kidnapped an Inhuman?! There’s a bit of dialogue a few pages into this issue that reasserts Tony is against Carol’s idea of seeing into the future and using it, but it comes a little late and makes you question where the characters heads are at in the opening pages.
Obviously a lot of folks are going to disagree with the big reveal of who dies in this issue and how, but I didn’t mind it. Marvel is always changing, characters seem to die every other month, and this isn’t anything that new. They’re moving pieces around and attempting to change dynamics – albeit they do it way too much and way too quickly – which can be interesting. That said, it’s a short attention span sort of problem and it’s too bad readers can’t catch their breath with anything in their universe anymore.
Is It Good?
With a strong narrative hook utilizing a courtroom Bendis and Marquez manage to heighten the tensions that lead to the shocking turn of events. Strong dialogue is pervasive in this issue too and while you might not agree with how Marvel does things these days you can’t argue this one will get you talking around the water cooler.