Civil War II #1
reviewed by Chris Hayden
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: David Marquez Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: Clayton Cowles Assistant Editor: Alanna Smith Editors: Tom Brevoort with Wil Moss
This review is spoiler-free. Proceed at will!
Following in the footsteps of Mark Millar’s and Steve McNiven’s Civil War, in Civil War II #1, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez set Tony Stark and Carol Danvers on a collision course that begins with the discovery of an inhuman who can see the future. First issues are always tough, having to find a balance between world building, establishing characters, creating conflicts and giving readers a reason to come back for more. Fortunately for Marvel fans, the always prolific Bendis delivers a stellar first issue that steps out of the shadow of the original and strikes off on a path of its own.
Where Millar’s Civil War kicked off with a bang (literally), Bendis’ story begins relatively quietly, at least after the obligatory issue 1 action set piece. The wedge between Iron Man and Captain Marvel follows a small and personal tragedy that is sure to surprise new readers and longtime fans alike, rather than some apocalyptic event. Speaking of new readers, Civil War II does a remarkable job of keeping what could be a convoluted introduction straightforward enough that readers with little to no knowledge of the Marvel Universe will still find plenty to enjoy and be able to follow along. Characters are introduced with dialogue that swiftly establishes their personalities and the dynamics between them.
The art also deserves a mention. David Marquez delivers incredible panels that capture both the dynamic movements of battle and the subtle facial cues of conversation. It’s a rare thing when you can confidently say that the reader would have no trouble following some of the tenser moments of the issue based solely on the art. Although it was the quieter moments that stood out to me, rest assured that there’s no shortage of dramatic poses and action shots. Your favorite heroes have never looked better.
All this isn’t to say that Civil War II #1 is perfect. There are some familiar pacing issues that befall many first issues as a consequence of having to begin a story from scratch. While Bendis manages to strike a balance between action and story, it isn’t until the last few pages that we get a sense of where the story is truly headed. The middle of the issue has the oft derided duty of playing host to a large dose of exposition, something that I personally enjoy but can see as being something of a drag for others. Nevertheless, the exposition is both warranted and welcome, as it helps to build the foundation of the divide between our two warring heroes, and when the inciting incident is revealed, it’s well worth the wait.
While it’s still too early to say for sure, so far Civil War II looks to be a worthy addition to the Marvel mythology and seems to be in both loving and capable hands. If the first issue is any indication, the series will more than live up to the name of its predecessor. Civil War II #1 isn’t quite perfect, but it is a great start to what is sure to be a memorable series for die hard fans and newcomers alike.