Originally posted by Stuart Kirkman
The follow-up to Marvel’s biggest comic event ever is upon us; we’ve already been given two prelude chapters in the form of a zero issue and Free Comic Book Day Special, but now the release of issue 1 is imminent. Marvel have a spotty record when it comes to summer events; some of the main stories just don’t live up to the premise, and others spread the plot too thinly across a deluge of tie-in stories. A few days ago we looked back the first Civil War event to see whether it stood the time, and now it’s time to face forward and decide whether Civil War II deserves your attention.
The original Civil War was written by Mark Millar, and at the time he wasn’t that well known. He’d mainly written a handful of books for DC, and was handling two ongoing series in the Ultimate Marvel universe. This was his only event story, and first big shot in the main Marvel continuity, which arguably made him the star he is today. This time the writer is Brian Michael Bendis, who is much more experienced in event stories, and arguably the most prolific writer in modern comics.
The problem with Mr Bendis is that he’s not exactly consistent; he handles a massive workload, and most of his five or six monthly books are strong reads, but there’s normally one disappointment for every triumph. Of his current books International Iron Man with frequent collaborator Alex Maleev has been fantastic, and his Miles Morales book Spider-Man has been getting back to its roots with Sara Pichelli back on art. But Guardians of the Galaxy has been something of a let down, and Powers seems to be stuck in a loop of recurring plot points.
The question is whether we’re going to be dealing with a sunglasses smiley face or a poop emoticon, and the best crystal ball to use is probably the first volume of Invincible Iron Man. This was the flagship book of the recent All-New Marvel initiative, with art by rising star David Marquez. The first few issues of this title looked astounding, and delivered a great action romp with some genuinely hilarious moments. After the first arc, Marquez went off to get a head start on Civil War II (which will hopefully prevent any scheduling delays), so if this duo can maintain the quality and momentum they started in Invincible Iron Man, this could be something special.
The Central Conflict
In order to create a conflict between good people, you need a debate for which there’s no right answer. Civil War achieved this by exploring the argument of Freedom vs. Security, which has real-world parallels that everybody can get their heads around. Just like in real life, some people find themselves strongly aligned with one camp, whereas others see both sides of the argument and struggle to decide where their allegiance lies.
This time the heart of the conflict is a bit more abstract, and takes the form of a newly emerged Inhuman that has the power to see into the future. The question becomes whether this ability should be harnessed and used to prevent bad things from happening, or whether fate should be allowed to unfold uninterrupted. As anyone who has seen any time-travel story will know, the Butterfly Effect can be a harsh mistress, and good intentions often backfire with terrible unforeseen consequences.
Captain Marvel is currently a member of The Ultimates, who are a team devoted to solving the biggest problems in the universe. They’re ‘big idea’ heroes, whose first mission was to turn Galactus from planet-eater into life-bringer. They’re quite happy to meddle with forces they don’t really understand, and so far they’ve yielded some positive results. Carol Danvers sees this Inhuman as another tool that can be used to help people on a massive scale, but to do that people will be punished for things they haven’t yet done.
On the other side of the line is Tony Stark, a ‘futurist’ who has some experience in planning for possible futures. He’s made a lot of mistakes over the years, but seems to have learned that people need to make them in order to learn from them and grow. He believes that punishment should only come after the crime, and he is joined by some notable allies like the current Thor, Sam Wilson’s Captain America, and Starlord. Once again, Tony finds himself on the opposing side to Steve Rogers, but based on the promotional material, their relationship doesn’t seem to be the focus of this story.
According to Christos Gage at C2E2 this year, the Inhuman will make a prediction that could well mean the end of one character’s world. The decision of whether to make a course-correction for the future will inevitably divide the superhero population down the middle.
Keeping up with monthly comics is an expensive game, especially when you’re told you need to pick up an additional five titles to get the full story.According to the solicitations for the next few months of Marvel comics, Civil War II is going to impact almost every book in some way or another. The degree by which each story is affected will vary from very little to drastically, but as a rule of thumb in these situations, the best titles to read are the ones you were reading already. The better writers will seamlessly incorporate the theme of the story into their own ongoing plot, and find a way for it to add to what they were already doing.
On top of the ongoing series that will be pulled in to the plot, there will be a handful of mini-series dedicated to telling related stories. To decide whether these are worth your time, either check who’s writing/drawing it, or wait for the reviews before you put your money down. If the writer of the main event is also writing a tie-in, it’s a safe bet that it will be significant to the plot. Completionist’s will always be tempted to buy as many books as possible in case they’re missing out on any plot points, this element often frustrates people and leads to a backlash against event stories, but you should just read what you’re interested in and trust the writers to tell you what you need to know as the story evolves.
Here’s a summary of the Civil War II titles announced so far:
Road to Civil War II Series
These titles start before the main event, and some of them continue to tie-in for the duration. At the time of writing this, the solicitations haven’t been released for September and beyond.
Invincible Iron Man #6-12 by Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Deodato
All-New Wolverine #8-101 by Tom Taylor & Takara/Guara
Ms. Marvel #7-10 by G. Willow Wilson & Nico Leon
The Ultimates #7 -10 by Al Ewing & Christian Ward/Kenneth Rocafort
These are the books that tell the main story, as well as some significant one-shots which are being kept a secret at the moment.
Free Comic Book Day Civil War II Prelude by Brian Michael Bendis. & Jim Cheung
Civil War II #0 by Brian Michael Bendis & Olivier Coipel
Civil War II #1-7 by Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez
Civil War II: The Fallen #1 by CLASSIFIED
Civil War II: The Accused#1 by CLASSIFIED
Ongoing Tie-In Series
There are a ridiculous amount of tie-in series, and there may be more that haven’t been announced. Don’t use this as a checklist, but a reference to see where a series you’re already reading is going to be tied-in.
New Avengers #12-15 by Al Ewing. Art by Gerardo Sandoval
Uncanny Avengers #13 by Gerry Duggan & Ryan Stegman
Uncanny Inhumans #11 by Charles Soule & Carlos Pacheco
Squadron Supreme #9-10 by James Robinson & Leonard Kirk
A-Force #8 by Kelly Thompson & Paulo Siqueira
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #8 by Marc Guggenheim & German Peralta
Captain Marvel #6-8 by Tara Butters & by Kris Anka
Captain America: Steve Rogers #4-5 by Nick Spencer & Javier Pina
Captain America: Sam Wilson #10-12 by Nick Spencer & Angel Unzueta
Spider-Woman #9 by Dennis Hopeless & Robbi Rodriguez
Spider-Man 2099 #13-14 by Peter David & Will Sliney
Spider-Man #6-7 by Brian Michael Bendis & Nico Leon
Scarlet Witch #9 by James Robinson & Joëlle Jones
Mockingbird #6 by Chelsea Cain & Kate Niemczyk
Power Man and Iron First #6-7 by David Walker & Flaviano Armentaro
Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #8 by Kate Leth & Brittney Williams
Totally Awesome Hulk #7 -10 by Greg Pak & Alan Davis
Deadpool #14-17 by Gerry Duggan & Mike Hawthorn
Guardians of the Galaxy #11 by Brian Michael Bendis & Valerio Schiti
Nova #8 by Sean Ryan & R.B. Silva
Rocket Raccoon & Groot #8 by Nick Kocher & Michael Walsh
Venom: Space Knight #11 by Robbie Thompson & Gerardo Sandoval
Standalone Tie-In Series
These series are specifically written to be part of this event. Most of them focus on someone specific, but Choosing Sides is an anthology series involving various characters.
Civil War II: Ulysses #1-3 by Al Ewing & Jefte Paolo/Karl Kesel
Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #1-4 by Christos Gage & Travel Foreman
Civil War II: Gods of War #1-4 by Dan Abnett & Emilio Laiso
Civil War II: X-Men #1-4 by Cullen Bunn & Andrea Broccardo
Civil War II: Kingpin #1-4 by Matthew Rosenberg & Ricardo Lopez Ortiz
Civil War II: Choosing Sides #1-6 by Various Writers & Artists
Those are the books we know about so far, but that’s not to say that more won’t be revealed. August looks like it will be an interesting month, as Civil War II #5 is being touted as an internet-breaker, and the two one-shots that accompany it are being kept under a tight, heavy lid. It’s too soon to tell whether this will be a worthwhile venture or a frustrating diversion, but the concept and the creative team certainly have promise, so we’ll just have to see how things shake out in the coming weeks.
Header image: Civil War #0 by Olivier Coipel