And so we reach the finale of this year’s main Marvel event, Civil War II, whose solicit promises us that things will “go out with a seismic bang as fists fly over Washington D.C.! … It all gets decided here!”
Is it good?
Civil War II #8 (Marvel Comics)
Having gone through the final issue twice, I’m going to surprise really no one by saying the final issue of this event was not very good. It’s an issue that is very reflective of the entire event: a comic that’s really only interested in setting up other new series or existing series’ plotlines, not addressing real problems or its own plot points, and letting the art do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to emotional weight and power. It’s a comic that wants to be deep, have grand moments, and provide commentary on current events, but Brain Michael Bendis’ writing was not thorough enough to do any of that.
Civil War II shouldn’t have taken eight issues in the slightest. There’s just not enough story within the actual comic to justify it. The majority of the comic is one long fight scene as Carol and Tony wail on each other and then what essentially is an eight-page preview of upcoming events and storylines from Marvel (some of which have actually started or that we already know about due to this comic’s deals). Then we find out what happened to Tony in 3 pages, and wrap up with a hint about Carol’s future and a double-page spread of things to come in other books. There’s honestly not enough story to justify paying five dollars for things that can be explained in three sentences and by telling people to go read the recent solicitations for upcoming comics from Marvel.
Hopefully your car insurance covers that.
And what of the emotional elements of the story? Sadly, they’re not very strong either. The biggest issue is just how hollow this whole experience is; Carol and Tony never learned a single thing nor did they ever try to reach a good middle ground, just sticking to their guns until the bitter end. The comic even went on to imply that Carol was right in the end, though admitting she messed up at a few points, which is terrible. If you’re trying to tell a story with both sides having equal and valid points, why try making one side more right (same issue the first Civil War had too). No other character in the comic mattered at all besides Carol and Tony in the final issue, despite everything that happened to them. Miles Morales? Jennifer Walters? Guardians of the Galaxy? The Inhumans? Nothing. They are all forgotten and discarded, outside of a small one-panel montage at the end. Same goes to Ulysses as well, who is removed from the universe at the end. It’s a moment that should be shocking or amazing, but considering Ulysses was nothing more than a plot device with no semblance of personality, what happens to him has no weight to it.
There’s little to no characterization to anyone who isn’t Carol or Tony, everyone else just being a blank slate or an exposition dump to the audience (Beast in particular stands out). The dialogue is awkward, with lots of repetitive exchanges and stilted moments where a character tries to be grand (the last scene where Carol talks over a montage is awful). The pacing isn’t great, with three fourths of the comic going by in a flash due to it being a fight scene and a bunch of single to double page spreads. The resolution of the concept and idea of profiling within the story is a complete cop out, with the creator shuffling off Ulysses off in the end and basically implying that profiling is good, but only if the right, responsible people do it. Plot points throughout the event are never resolved in the actual comic, like Carol’s grief over losing Rhodes (he’s not even mentioned here outside of a passing exchange at the end) and the woman with the briefcase and where she went (though that plot point was dropped off in the Jessica Jones comic to deal with). Also, for a comic called Civil War, there was barely any war in the actual series, the event boiling down to what is primarily a petty spat between the two protagonists.
We then turn to David Marquez, who remains the comic’s saving grace with his gorgeous artwork. He draws great characters that are easily recognizable and extrude emotion and drama from every pore (though I can’t help but feel that Carol’s hair is constantly changing). Scenes that are trying to be emotional, but are having difficulty due to the writing, end up carrying weight because of Marquez’s incredible skill at presenting each character. The action is energetic and exciting looking, though things get a bit egregious with the amount of splash pages that are used throughout the comic and come across as padding. The layouts are put together well and Justin Ponsor’s colors are gorgeous looking. The artists used to draw the preview scenes/splash pages are all good too. If anyone else was drawing this event, Civil War II would have absolutely nothing because no other artist could have made so much out of so little. David Marquez is, in the end, the true, shining star of this comic and I hope he gets a new series soon.
Is It Good?
Civil War II #8 and the entire Civil War II event were a disappointment. This isn’t the worst event ever with ones like Axis and the original Civil War out there, but overall it felt lacking and was mostly just a vehicle to setup other Marvel series. There was potential here with the overall premise and the backing of a powerhouse artist but it was squandered with bad characterization, tacked on messages that weren’t explored all that well, unlikable protagonists, and very awkward writing and pacing.