Civil War II #1 - Let the Character Derailment Begin

I’ll be completely honest – I was not looking forward to Civil War II. I’m not fond of the original crossover event, but at least you could argue that some thought went into it. Say what you will about Mark Millar (and you can say plenty), but at least he came up with what might’ve been an interesting concept for a comic – an allegory for then-recent Patriot Act with superheroes. It failed miserably and sucked horribly – but at least there was some genuine thought process behind it.

This sequel event that even the fans of the original didn’t ask for exists solely as a cash-in to the recent Marvel Studios blockbuster movie. There's no recent event the comic is reacting toinstead it's just looking for any excuse to have two groups of heroes fight it out. But let's give it the benefit of the doubt and see if Brian Michael Bendis can make a better Civil War than Mark Millar.

(Spoilers from this point on)

We begin with Ulysses (the mysterious new clairvoyant Inhuman character that we never met before except for two May preludes and this month’s Ms Marvel issue) running through the woods and being picked by Medusa’s team of Inhumans along with Beast and Johnny Storm. Then we cut to some weeks later and goddammit Marvel.

Seriously? Do you have to tease a much more interesting idea this soon into your crossover event? Yeah, obviously we don’t care about every existing superhero team joining forces to stop a Jack Kirby-like Great Old One. Everyone knows this is less interesting than yet another "heroes fight heroes’ story. Why, you've gone a whole year without one.

The heroes defeat the Kirby Cthulhu and meet the following evening for a party (the ones legally allowed to drink anyway). After a short scene between Tony and Rhodey with the latter complaining about his obsolete armor and the former brushing him off (foreshadowing), a few of the heroes decide to ask the Inhumans how the heck did they know about the coming of the Dreamer of R’lyeh (okay, I promise that’s the last reference). Medusa introduces Ulysses in the most Jesus manner possible in Stark’s crummy kitchen.

Bendis decides enough time has been wasted with fun superhero stuff and jumps right into Carol’s character derailment, with her asking Ulysses if he’d like to join the Ultimates. A guy she just met and learned X-Men’s premiere psychic Jean Grey (still for some reason not back to the past) is completely unable to read his mind. I know she’s been anxious about a potential world-ending event they won’t see coming (from Ewing’s Ultimates #7 and Civil War II #0), but come on. Carol’s not stupid. And if anything, it’s Tony who should be rushing into something like that. Instead here he is, making logical arguments about a guy whose eyes turn scary red when he predicts the future.

$100 for Ulysses turning out to be evil, by the way.

Who we cut to some time later when he wakes up at the Inhumans’ home with a premonition of a coming danger...

And then we cut to Tony Stark a while after said danger.

You see, exactly a month ago, on Free Comic Book Day, Marvel released a special free mini-issue about Ultimates, A-Force, Inhumans and Rhodey fighting a newly arrived Thanos looking for the Cosmic Cube (for more on where he came from – see my review of Ultimates #7). I, as probably most of us did, expected it to be an excerpt from this very issue to tease the new event. Nope – it’s nowhere to be seen. A crucial plot moment has been released a month ahead the comic proper, was available for a single day and still isn’t available for digital release. Yet Marvel demands six dollars for a comic with what is effectively several missing pages.

Oh, and to add insult to injury? The scene with Tony apparently spoils the ending to the current Invincible Iron Man story arc. Classy, Marvel.

Thus we get to the main meal of the comic: the fridging. Not content with filling just one fridge, Civil War II #1 decided it needed two, and starts doing so with Carol present and unable to prevent it. First Rhodey – the poor, unappreciated Rhodey, is slaughtered by Thanos and dead in Carol’s arms. And to make matters worse, as soon as Tony hears the news, he arrives and chews her out as if this is all her fault. Which, admittedly, is in-character for him – but I think there are better ways to do it than yelling at her while she's wounded, still distraught over the loss of her boyfriend and sitting at the bedside of her critically wounded friend.

And now fridge number 2: She-Hulk, who was hit by Thanos’s missile and is in critical condition. As the issue ends, she flatlines with Carol watching and helplessly crying.

Civil War II is already off to a terrible start – and there’s still six more issues until it ends. I’ll see you at the end of this mess, when we can see if all this was worth it.

Dominik Zine is a nerdy lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.