After the (necessary?) murder of Bruce Banner by Hawkeye in Civil War II #3, the stakes in Marvel’s big summer event have gotten next-level serious. Tensions are rising, especially between friends and comrades. Things are about to blow, but the question is: Is it good?
WARNING: There will be spoilers!
Civil War II #4 (Marvel Comics)
So Hawkeye is acquitted for killing Banner, but that’s not what’s important in this issue. What is important is that Tony Stark has figured out how Ulysses’ powers work and what this could mean for everyone if he keeps using them. Strap on in for a big dose of exposition, kids!
The Initial Impression
I won’t lie: I haven’t been satisfied with Civil War II thus far. The idea is interesting to me (having not seen Minority Report or anything similar) but the trouble has been the execution and a lot of the writing. The fourth issue is essentially the turning point for the event when everything finally goes to crap; I guessed that things would go wrong here and I was naturally curious to see how things would get out of hand. The trouble unfortunately, yet again, lies directly in the writing and its execution.
The best way to sum up Civil War II #4 is that it is one part exposition, one part teasing, and one part heroes not being heroes. Essentially we learn how Ulysses has his portentous visions; Tony making a plea not to take them as gospel and Carol, of course, disagreeing, setting up for the big conflict and fight between everyone next time. That’s essentially it for the issue and it leaves us asking a big, important question in the end: Why should we side with Carol?
Ah… well… can you promise not to She-Hulk Smash Clint?
The original Civil War event had a lot of problems, but you could see the pros and cons of both sides. After finishing Civil War II #4, I see no such balance. Carol Danvers wants to use Ulysses’ powers to stop future crimes and disasters, while Tony thinks it is too dangerous to arrest people for things they haven’t done yet and that Ulysses’ powers may not be reliable. Tony explains how the visions worked and why everyone should take them with a grain of salt, while also providing his research to the other heroes to check his data. His research in turn holds up to certain degree and shows how concerning this situation is. While all of this is delivered in a big exposition dump that grinds the story to a halt, it does provide credibility to Tony’s side more and you can really understand his concerns, especially after everything that’s happened.
However, Carol completely dismisses him. She sticks to her guns about what she is doing, just repeating what she has said in the past, and seems to refuse to acknowledge how bad things may be getting. It also almost seems like she isn’t fully convinced of what she is doing either at times, like how broken up she looks when talking to She-Hulk or in the brief moments after an interrogation scene when she has no evidence against the latest person she arrested. It doesn’t make her look good at all if she: 1. Refuses to consider that she may be wrong; 2. Doesn’t bring any good counterpoints to Tony’s argument; and 3. Has any doubts about what she is doing and is still willing to go to war with Tony and other heroes over the whole thing. There’s just no way I can see anyone siding with Carol on this and this is bad when the comic should be trying to have things be equal between the two sides.
“What about Blindfold from the X-Men?” “SHUT UP!”
But besides that, the story suffers from other small problems. The situation involving Hawkeye killing the Hulk? We get the trial results, but not the fallout. This is a huge death and should have huge repercussions throughout, but it’s been swept aside and glanced over for a tie-in apparently. We don’t get any reactions from Hawkeye or any of the other Marvel superheroes outside of She-Hulk for three pages… sort of. Then there is the fact that the story feels very contrived on getting the two sides to fight each other. Carol refuses to discuss and argue her point with Tony like a grownup and is willing to fight him or her fellow friends without a second thought. Tony decides to completely escalate the conflict by whisking away someone Carol was detaining and then confronted her with a bunch of superheroes head on, even though he doesn’t need to at all. Then finally, even if you ignore how overdone the whole hero vs. hero conflict is in Marvel, it felt like it took way too long to get to this point. We’re over halfway through the event and now the big war is going to happen?
Bendis’ pacing has been pretty subpar, making the story too decompressed and slow going at points. His dialogue is alright and though occasional lines sound right, characters just go on and on at points when just letting the art tell the story would have been just as efficient. Although I did like how Bendis combined both Tony’s exposition dump with a flashback of Carol arresting someone, the characterization is iffy with almost everyone but Tony and Carol; the rest are blank slates or people with no thoughts on the situation.
Ugh! You and your logic! It’s like so annoying!
The only thing that turned out great was David Marquez on art duties. The man does a fantastic job, plain and simple; he has an incredible ability to draw emotion out of each and every scene and has an eye for detail and striking images. His characters look great and really help add to the drama, like the opening bit with She-Hulk and Carol. Just the looks on their faces says everything that needs to be said about the pain and anger these characters are feeling. The layouts are excellently constructed, making the comic flow so well from panel to panel. The detail, the double page spreads, how panels are angled, and all of that… wonderful. I really want to see what Marquez can do with a big action scene, because I’m feeling he could knock it out of the park there as well. There’s just nothing to really complain or nitpick here (though I wonder if She-Hulk looking grey is on purpose or not).
Is It Good?
Civil War II #4 is a very average read. The story suffers from a lot of problems in its execution, pacing, and how it portrays Carol Danvers in the book. It doesn’t feel like an equal argument at all, which makes the narrative one-sided and not as compelling as it could or should be. In the end, it’s just really hard to recommend this comic enough though it engulfs most of Marvel series right now. It’s visually gorgeous, but that’s really it in the end.