Before we get any further into this week’s column, I would like to address the elephant in the room. Yes, these two Monsters Unleashed tie-in books are called (name of series) #1.MU. Silly. However, the creative line-up for each of the two comics is pretty interesting. Plus, we’ve got a Civil War II epilogue issue that might just touch on some of the lingering plot threads at the end of the series that I have been complaining about for the past few weeks.
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Color Artist: Frank D’Armata
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
I hate to sound like a broken record here, but my issues with this crossover are still intact here. I just don’t see how Avengers fighting giant monsters is going to produce a good story, but I’m open minded enough to crack open the pages of Avengers #1.MU and hope for the best.
I love a hokey-jokey Spider-Man as much as the next guy, but some of the dialogue from the wall-crawler in this issue is a little too on-the-nose with Spider-Man literally narrating what he is doing to the audience in page one. I miss the days of old where he was at least thinking about what he was going to do with a caption box and realize that he missed a date with MJ or forgot to visit Aunt May. Either way, characters literally saying what they are going to do is one of the most unfortunate trends of the past few years since the downfall of the caption box. I wish I could say that after the opening sequence Zub’s writing picked up, but Spider-Man’s language doesn’t improve as scenes open with characters explaining EXACTLY what’s going on in their dialogue choices.
Zub’s structure is also a bit odd here as the writer takes time assembling the Avengers team instead of throwing them at the Monsters Unleashed premise. Consistent Zub collaborator but relative Marvel newcomer Sean Izaakse is an impressive addition to Marvel’s roster of artists. Izaakse’s detailed pencils and awe-inspiring, dynamic figure work look great here in the issue. The artist draws each Avengers with tons of detail on their complicated new costumes. His strange poses for Spider-Man and excellent fight choreography make this issue a wonderful visual feast. The slick visuals fall nicely in line with lots of other Marvel artists which just seems to be a happy accident with the publisher right now. The full art team should be commended here including Frank D’ Armata and VC’s Cory Petit who are both adapting nicely Izaakse’s line art in the issue.
This issue’s ties to Monsters Unleashed is incredibly forced. The comic tries to have some semblance of charm and does, but aside from the great art I just have a hard time wondering if the comic is just made to fill a quota. I understand that is hard to tell a good story with big Kaiju monsters, but if anyone should be up to the task, it’s Marvel’s set of writers.
Verdict: Browse. You should take a look at this issue on Marvel Unlimited or at your shop for the wonderful talent of Sean Izaakse.
Spider-Man Deadpool #1.MU
Writer: Joshua Corin
Artist: Tigh Walker
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Once again, Joshua Corin jumps into this comic at a really odd place, taking his time getting into the Monsters Unleashed premise. Surprisingly, the comic has a bit of continuity in how it takes Spider-Man from the Avengers comic. However, the introduction of the premise and Spider-Man goes a hell of a lot more smoothly here. Deadpool’s intro is actually funny and the reason why Spider-Man is here in the first place is actually quite humorous as well and something that touches on the recent events of Deadpool’s life quite nicely.
I like how Marvel arranged artist Tigh Walker to be drawing this book. Walker’s more stylized pencils fit the irreverent tone of a Deadpool comic quite nicely. Marvel has wisely been using some new talent on these brand new series as Walker and Corin are really able to use this as a proving ground for their talents with with publisher. Walker’s art carries a nice portion of this issue that is just simply reserved for monster fighting and not much else.
Like Zub as mentioned above, Corin does take his time getting to the Monsters Unleashed part of the issue. Thankfully, the affair feels a little more organic here especially with the references of the event at the beginning of the issue. The introduction is what glides this issue past mediocre into the good territory with Spider-Man and Deadpool’s interactions with normal people during the huge battle. These interactions have a ton of heart and show the overall potential of this comic.
This is a nice story even if it wears a little thin by the end outstaying its welcome.
Civil War II: The Oath
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist Rod Reis, Phil Noto, Raffaele Ienco, Szymon Kudranski, Dono Sanchez-Almara
Letters: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos
Let’s face it, Civil War II hasn’t done the best job of remixing the best elements of continuity to tell a compelling story. But Civil War II: The Oath almost makes the whole thing worth it. There’s something sinister afoot in the Marvel Universe right now, something interesting to be mined out of this bizarre event and author Nick Spencer and artist Rod Reis dive right into the most compelling aspect of this series all along. Saying anything more about the plot would be spoiling this issue that you are going to have to read for yourself.
Watching just how this story inverts such an incredible and iconic moment from the first Civil War is astonishing. It doesn’t hurt that Reis is making his making his Marvel debut with this issue either. There’s always been something a little bit dark and sinister about his faux ‘60s-retro, painterly style. This issue captures his strength like no other comic I have seen before. Spencer continues a style I think first saw the writer tap into with Morning Glories, with his dark, storytelling making a great narrative. This comic is a really nice throwback to some groundbreaking Marvel storytelling of the ‘60s and ‘70s with Reis really tapping into those layers of Spencer’s narrative with all of the paranoia and irony seething out of this story.
Perhaps the most unexpected part of the comic is where Spencer takes a jab at Civil War II, acknowledging the fact that there was something ill-conceived about the story in the first place. Another aspect that Spencer really nicely touches is the direct Civil War II fallout with Captain Marvel. Carol Danvers is on the road to redemption and ither ongoing series barely seems to have any interest in addressing those concerns. Maybe stories like these are where we can expect some payoff for what happened.
The fact that this issue has really poignant character moments and a deadly surprise baked into the narrative really makes this issue sing. Spencer digs into the leftover Civil War II status quo and finds the best character interaction and actually manages to tell a compelling story from the fallout of a giant event storyline.
This comic is not without flaw. There are too many pages and too many ambiguous, grandiose speeches talking about the future peppered throughout the massive page count. While this comic will leave you excited about what is next for the Marvel Universe, the issue didn’t need such a massive page count to do so. Reis’ work does look a bit strange in some places and there are lots of artists towards the end of the book. Trying to figure out where one ends and another begins is nearly impossible.
I have no doubt that anyone who reads this story is going to end up comparing and contrasting with American politics, I’m going to steer clear of that and tell you that this lives up to the promise of Civil War: The Confession.
And then there’s the last page! Whatever you do, don’t get this book spoiled for you!
Verdict: Do. Not. Miss. The Marvel Universe is paying off a HUGE storyline in this issue!
Next week we’re back with All-New X-Men #1.MU, Bullseye #1 and Star Wars: Darth Maul #1! See you then!
Fruit snack aficionado. @AlexandComics