Marvel have finally released their debut issue for the not at all suspiciously timed, ‘Civil War 2’. The prevailing opinion seems to be one of apathy towards this event but does it deserve a little more attention from fans?
Let’s get the obvious out the way immediately, this is a cash in. There’s no way around that fact as this has been released at almost exactly the same time as ‘Captain America: Civil War’ storms into cinemas around the world. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is doomed to be a failure, sometimes cash ins are able to stand on their own merit and make for some very enjoyable viewing. All that’s needed here is for Brian Michael Bendis to up the originality on this title and treat fans to a slice of unexpected brilliance.
So, what happens in this book? Essentially it serves as an introduction to the Marvel Universe as Bendis envisions it ahead of this massive event. It sets the stage and places all of the characters into the necessary boxes before they come head to head, except for Iron-Man who is bafflingly absent from this book. The reason that is baffling is, as you will undoubtedly know, he is to be the figurehead of one of the two teams at war throughout these comics and so to leave him on the sidelines as the story is birthed is something of a headscratcher.
The characters that are present however get a perfectly good introduction as each of their raison d’être are revealed. The success of the writing here hinges largely on the fact that anyone can pick up this comic and read it without getting lost along the way. You don’t really need to be overly familiar with any of the characters being presented to you as each of them is explained in such a way that even a newcomer to the comic world can understand their motives with ease. Some background knowledge of the Terrigen Mist and other such factors at play in the current universe are useful and serve only to enhance the reading experience but not being aware of them is far from a deal breaker.
As She-Hulk opens the book in her Lawyer persona you immediately realise that this is taking a closer look at the real struggles of these beings rather than basking in the brilliance of some cosmic level battle. You get a stripped down look at her as she defends the one time costumed villain, The Jester. It is a moderate length scene that will play a huge part in the future decision she is to make, although admittedly it seems as though her arc is to be steered in the opposite direction than logic dictates it should go.
Alongside this you have a major decision being faced by the recently-remembered-by-writers, James Rhodes, as well as a highly stressed Carol Danvers. Both are to be central figures in the upcoming series and this book does an admirable job of setting both of them up for an exciting story. Although the reintroduction of a previously deceased character is given no explanation and feels like more of Bendis writing for himself ahead of anyone else. He has never been the most consistent of wordsmiths and this is yet more proof of his occasional ineptitude.
The biggest thing to happen in this title is undoubtedly the birth of a new Inhuman. Without going into any details it looks like this character should be a troubled, reluctant, and above all relatable one which is exactly what such a grand tale needs to bring it back down to Earth when necessary.
The art is, predictably, excellent as Olivier Coipel and Justin Ponsor have teamed up to bring a book the leaks realism. A book such as this with a scale so large was in desperate need of artists who could covey that tone and those potential costs with breathtaking style and precision. That is exactly what you have here with these two talents.
Despite the disappointing lack of Iron-Man and a few writing weak spots this is a rather good book. The jury is still out on whether such an obvious cash in can actually be as exciting as the original but it is certainly off to a good start.
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