REVIEW: Civil War II #8

We finally made it to the end.

The over-hyped summer crossover has finally stumbled its way over the finish line, and here at the finale we are left to look back over the event that didn’t deliver and wonder where Marvel made their mistakes.

Civil War 2; the name alone was a mistake. This wasn’t a storyline that pitted the entire Marvel universe against each other. It wasn’t family against family. It wasn’t brother against brother. It didn’t even create strange bedfellows. It was a contrived and overwrought storyline that went in circles. This was a four issue arc that somehow got spun out into a companywide event.

The original Civil War had stakes to it. Register or face imprisonment in an alternate universe super jail. It had weight to it. Heroes and villains alike questioned their own motives and made choices that had a lasting impact on their character moving forward. Families and teams each were split down the middle; pitting old friends against one another. The tension of any character’s choice was justified. It was a question that had to be answer by each character in turn, in their own title, and was worthy of a company crossover.

In Civil War 2 the question each character has to answer is a philosophical one. “Do you believe that we should tamper with the future if we know what the future holds?”  This isn’t even really a debate. If death and danger are imminent then isn’t it a heroes responsibility to react to that threat to save lives? What if the danger involved your own family? Would you still say that “fixing” the future is wrong?

The moral debate has no weight to it, because there is no right or wrong. The consequences are null and void, because there is no way to tell if the universe has changed or if your involvement was the ultimate outcome. If you were fated to mess with destiny then isn’t your tampering destined to happen; therefore fate has been fulfilled … and now my head hurts.

Questions like this are fun to think about, but there is not enough meat on the bone to warrant an entire summer event. This is akin to arguing over the effects of time travel and paradoxes. Sure there can be interesting situations that arise from the concept, but the final result often ends up in confusion and complex stories that turn readers off.

By the time we make our way through issue #8 of this series you have forgotten why you even began the journey. All we remember is that the unnecessary conflict has cost the lives of multiple heroes that deserved better deaths than getting caught in between a philosophical debate with Iron Man against Captain Marvel. The surprise deaths of Hulk, War Machine, etc. was the only reason to keep coming back; and when your summer event is built around the concept of a hit list then you know you have failed the fan base.

The final battle between Stark and Danvers takes up most of the issue. The two exchange blows and by the end of the battle Marvel takes a cop-out and leaves Stark in a coma. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Captain Marvel won; she is the upcoming centerpiece of the next Avengers/Guardians films that will be wheeled out over the next year. It only benefits Marvel to make her look as strong as possible going into this next summer.

The plotting of this series has been the weak spot since its beginning. Bendis was the one who had to put his name on this floater, but I really wonder how much of the end results were his, and how much came from input through editorial. The entire series has the stink of too many cooks in the kitchen on it. Either some doctoring of the scripts had to have been done to fit the final editorial desires, or Bendis was at the mercy of changing the story to navigate around other writers who were trying to tie into the main summer series and ultimately threw the scribe off his game. In the end the story came off as weak sauce.

The saving grace of this entire debacle is the art. David Marquez has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has the talent and the genius to be the superstar on any title that Marvel can give him. He navigated this rough plot with expert skills and made each and every character look amazing. There were often points during the series that the visuals deserved a better story. The only other reason to hang around and read this was to see what this virtuoso was going to offer up next.

In the end the character that started all of this mess, Ulysses, just up and disappeared in the middle of the final battle. The not-so-big reveal was that Ulysses is the newest Celestial. (I am not even going to attempt to explain the Celestials; I don’t have the energy to dive into that quagmire) So in the end all of this fighting and death was for nothing, because the character that was the root of all this debate just left the Earth. (Considering that Ulysses power was to see the future … shouldn’t he have seen this coming?)

Marvel is using the fallout of this summer event to launch a handful of new titles. (UGH!) As if the continuity of Marvel wasn’t convoluted enough, we are getting two new Iron Man books, a new Hulk title, an Avengers Spin-off, and … well, who really cares at this point? It’s Marvel milking the audience to buy into a handful of new number ones that probably won’t last past issue 12, before it’s time to re-launch them again.

I sincerely hope that the next summer event is the one that rights this wavering ship. Marvel has muddied the waters of their own comic line so much that I don’t think that even their own editors know what is going on at this point. Fixing this need to launch and re-launch every six months to a year is something that starts at the top. Editors need to step in and cancel titles that don’t work, consolidate characters and line ups into fewer titles and tighten up the entire line of the universe. At this point the cinematic universe is less complex and contrived than the comics. Marvel needs to make Civil War 2 a living reminder to the staff and the fans of what NOT to do when it comes to summer events.

Final Thoughts: For all the money, talent, and energy that Marvel poured into this event; they sure didn’t get back their investment.

Final Score: (The Issue) 3 Stars (The Series) 2 stars

Civil War 2 #8 (of 8)
Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: David Marquez
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Publisher:  Marvel

 

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