Span­dex! Punch­ing! Cor­po­rate syn­ergy!

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! Pub­lisher Marvel Comics

Writer Brian Michael Bendis Artists david Mar­quez, Justin Pon­sor

Big, over-the-top “event” crossovers are a fact of life in main­stream su­per­hero comics, and the saga that ce­mented this ap­proach for Marvel was Civil War. A 2006/7 smash hit with an af­ter­math that af­fected the Marvel uni­verse for years to come, Civil War is the yard­stick that most sub­se­quent event comics have been mea­sured by – some­thing that’s even harder to re­sist now that Marvel have fi­nally hit the but­ton marked “se­quel”.

Civil War II is only a the­matic fol­low-up, how­ever – there are no real nar­ra­tive con­nec­tions, be­yond a thorny moral ques­tion that splits the su­per­hero ranks and Iron Man’s pres­ence as one of the main pro­tag­o­nists. We’re three is­sues in (in­clud­ing the “is­sue zero” pro­logue) and so far, Civil War II cen­tres on the dis­cov­ery of a new In­hu­man named Ulysses, who seems to have the abil­ity to pre­dict dis­as­ters and su­pervil­lain crimes be­fore they hap­pen.

As far as Tony Stark is con­cerned, Ulysses has an untested power with po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous con­se­quences, but Carol Dan­vers (aka Cap­tain Marvel) sees him as a way to save lives, and uses his abil­i­ties to foil an attack from in­ter­ga­lac­tic tyrant Thanos. Un­for­tu­nately, this bat­tle also re­sults in the death of James “War Ma­chine” Rhodes, Tony’s best friend, and what was pre­vi­ously a dis­agree­ment spi­rals into a full-blown con­flict where heroes have to pick sides.

The dilemma at the heart of Civil War II is a po­ten­tially in­ter­est­ing one – does knowl­edge of the fu­ture give you the right to change it? – but it also pushes the story into ter­ri­tory we’ve seen many times be­fore. While vet­eran scripter Brian Michael Bendis tries hard to amp up the ten­sion, as­sisted by gor­geous block­buster­style vi­su­als from artists David Mar­quez and Oliver Coipel, the cen­tral con­flict plays as forced, con­trived and over-fa­mil­iar.

It doesn’t help that the orig­i­nal Civil War’s fo­cus on su­per­hero re­spon­si­bil­ity and se­cret iden­ti­ties gave it a strong, eas­ily-grasped plot

Lacks any real sense of fresh­ness or gen­uine ex­cite­ment

hook. There were few sim­ple an­swers to the moral ques­tions that se­ries raised, while this se­quel seems to pri­mar­ily ex­ist thanks to cor­po­rate syn­ergy – cash­ing in on the re­lease of Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War.

The con­flict here just isn’t as com­pelling, lack­ing any real sense of fresh­ness or gen­uine ex­cite­ment. It’s also easy to pre­dict that Ulysses’ pow­ers will ul­ti­mately have a dark side and that Tony Stark will be proven right in the end. Civil War II is a slickly pro­duced su­per­hero spec­ta­cle and might re­deem it­self in later is­sues, but right now it’s a lack­lus­tre se­quel that’s fail­ing to es­cape the shadow of its pre­de­ces­sor. Saxon Bul­lock

US ca­ble chan­nel Cine­max is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing a TV adap­ta­tion of Brian Michael Bendis’s gritty thriller comic Scar­let.

The “Srabam” makes it ex­tra painful.

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