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Civil War II is best summed up with this image◊. Sure, Amazing Spider-Man is supposed to be wracked with the enormity of the decision to choose a side... but come on, he's clearly facepalming.
The plot is that there's a new Inhuman named Ulysses who gets visions of the future. His visions are explicitly of the most probably future but they're not guaranteed, and so Iron Man decrees that under absolutely no circumstances must anybody listen to Ulysses or act on his visions in any way, on the off-chance that at some point in the future he might possibly have a vision about a hero going evil (because it's not like that's ever happened), and somehow convinces half of America's superpeople to support him. Opposing this, Captain Marvel, with the backing of SHIELD, immediately launches a program of arrest without corroborating evidence and imprisonment without trial to which Judge Dredd would object, and somehow gets the other half of America's superpeople to support her. Around this conflict are a group of tie-in stories in which various heroes interact with Ulysses, all of whom manage to have an experience that serves to reinforce their prior opinions and decisions; not one person actually reconsiders their position on the use of his gift. (Well, Amazing Spider-Man comes to a reasoned, nuanced conclusion, but this never comes up in the main story). Oh, and at the end the entire source of conflict is written out, rendering the entire thing a destructive shaggy dog story.
Oh, but it gets worse. The writers attempt to use Ulysses as a straight-up metaphor for profiling, but this well-intentioned effort completely fails. Ulysses' supernatural connection to the fabric of the universe itself means that his visions are more akin to a cop getting a tip-off that somebody is going to commit a crime, and the heroes repeatedly catch people red-handed based on his information. Captain Marvel even brings up this exact analogy, but when Iron Man brings up a perfectly valid question of how certain one has to be to act on a tip-off, Captain Marvel dismisses him completely and flies off, and the narrative promptly goes back to comparing magic knowledge to profiling as the 'heroes' fight big destructive battles over whether it's right to take action to avoid the chance of big destructive actions.
Just... everybody involved is an absolute moron. I get that reasoned discussion makes for a dull comic, but there are ways to have exciting adventures without making the characters special. Like, maybe they have to team up against a supervillain?
I've been getting back into comics lately, and while my cardinal rule is only buying things that have the name Gail Simone on them, I wanted to read Civil War II because... well, it was either going to be better than Civil War, which would be a pleasant surprise, or it would be worse than Civil War, in which case, wow, this is a Tommy Wiseau-level trainwreck I'm not going to miss out on.
Civil War II is written by Brian Michael Bendis, who is one of the more reliable but not spectacular writers in the industry; I enjoyed Ultimate Spider-Man and his run on Daredevil, but he hadn't written anything I cared too much about, and after Civil War II, that statement still stands. It is better than the first Civil War, but let's be honest, that barely means anything.
I'll give it this; the huge dividing factor between both sides is much better this time. There's a mutant/alien/inhuman named Ulysses, and his power is that he can predict futures, such as 'Thanos is about to attack Latveria' and 'Sales of this series are about to crash harder than a Ubisoft game launching on PC'. Captain Marvel, now head of S.H.I.E.L.D because god damn has it been a long time since I've read a Marvel comic, uses this power to predict several crimes and prevent them, but Iron Man is worried because without testing, there's no way of knowing how these predictions work, and the preventative measures they take could do harm to people who may not have ever done the thing that future-they did but they did not yet do did. Still better than Civil War.
The big problem is that instead of both sides being flawed, they just take turns acting like huge jackasses. Captain Marvel is mostly sympathetic, especially back when Ulysses has a 100% success rate, but then when it fails and they arrest an innocent woman, she says 'Well, let's just jail her anyway and pretend she was working for Hydra!' Meanwhile, Tony is an asshat who kidnaps Ulysses to perform tests on him, and for a guy who repeatedly says how much he doesn't want a repeat of Civil War (which, you know, none of us do,) he keeps showing up to discussions by punching people really hard in the face. Showing up to an otherwise peaceful climax in Hulkbuster armour screaming 'FUCK YOU, CAROL!' kind of stuff. Both Sides Have a Point doesn't have to mean Both Sides Are Idiots.
But let's not be too harsh; this is an improvement, and not just in the sarcastic 'A turd would have been an improvement on Civil War!' way. There are some surprising A/B-List casualties - they won't stay dead, obviously, but still - and the story develops in some interesting and unexpected ways. Danvers and Stark have sympathetic and understandable moments, if not all the time. It's not great, but it's not Snark Bait. It's okay.
Maybe one day they can make stuff that's actually 'good' instead of just 'okay', but I'll take what I can get.
Civil War 2 is like a distillation of Marvel Comics over the past decade. Heroes are more interested in fighting other heroes than villains. Characterizations of heroes are inconsistent even across current titles. Past and even present storylines are ignored in order to fit the plot points of a writer's series. Tie-in comics are almost required reading to make sense of the the massive plot holes introduced by this idiot ball event.
It says something when even the professional comic book review sites that are little better than sponsored content for Marvel and DC has little good to say about the series besides the artwork.
Stay clear of Civil War 2. Go look for spoilers and save $50. This was a line wide event that only serves to set up future titles and cash in on the successful movie.
In a previous review of the first Marvel Civil War, I claimed that Marvel was led into a Dork Age that it had not yet come out of. It is not only still there, it has piled crap on itself higher and deeper. Do not just stay clear of Marvel comics. Run. DC is nice this time of year.
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