After capturing lightning in a bottle with Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s original Civil War event in 2006, it wasn’t surprising to learn that the powers that be at Marvel were going to create a sequel that would coincide with the release of Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War. While some may see this as a simple cash grab, it certainly makes sense from an editorial standpoint to use a buzzword like “Civil War” to attract new readers.
The original Civil War was well-received by readers, posing intriguing ethical questions regarding the conflicting desires for both security and freedom. This time around, Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez sought to explore a different, yet equally intriguing moral dilemma regarding the concept of precognitive justice.
It’s a concept that was originally explored in the 1956 short story by Philip K. Dick, titled The Minority Report. In 2002, Steven Spielberg directed a loose adaptation, simply titled Minority Report. Regardless of which iteration you’re familiar with, the premise remains the same. A being (or beings) have the ability to foresee a crime before it takes place. This information is then shared with the authorities, who apprehend the suspect and prevent said crime.
In Civil War II, the role of “precog” is fulfilled by a new Inhuman named Ulysses, with the ability to foresee potential crimes and travesties that have yet to occur in the Marvel Universe. This creates a divide amongst the superheroes, with Captain Marvel feeling it’s necessary to use Ulysses’ visions to strike preemptively. The opposition, on the other hand, is led by Iron Man, who believes that no one should be persecuted based on predictions of possible occurrences because the future is indeterminate.
So there you have it – a compelling concept that should result in a successful event, right? Well, not so much. Unfortunately, despite sounding good on paper, Civil War II ultimately missed its mark when all was said and done, so here are 5 reasons why Civil War II disappointed Marvel fans. Do you agree, or did Civil War II work for you? Let us know in the comments section!
The Casualties Felt Forced
No matter what, any time there’s war, there’s going to be casualties – even in comic books. In fact, the events of the original Civil War kicked off after a battle between Namorita and Nitro resulted in the deaths of a number of school children. Furthermore, Goliath lost his life in a melee between the pro-registration and anti-registration factions after he was attacked by a cloned version of Thor.
What I’m trying to say is, when the word “war” is in the title of a comic book, readers expect the stakes to be high, and the easiest way to raise those stakes is to introduce casualties. However, in Civil War II, it was too easy to see through the fourth wall at times, making it difficult to suspend disbelief and accept that certain characters’ fates were determined by anything other than shock value.
When James Rhodes, AKA War Machine, was killed by Thanos, that definitely felt warranted, raising the stakes appropriately and creating sympathy for Tony Stark that felt earned. When She-Hulk was critically injured in the same battle, it didn’t quite have the same effect. Jump forward to issue #3, where the former Hulk, Bruce Banner, was shot by Hawkeye, and you’re left with a death that felt completely out of left field that did little to elevate the overall story.
Bruce Banner has essentially been MIA since the end of Secret Wars, so to have him meet his demise didn’t have nearly the same impact as the death or Tony’s best friend (who was also dating Captain Marvel) or the near-death of Carol Danvers’ close friend. Like I said before, it felt like it was placed there for shock value, alone.Advertisement
It Did Massive Damage To Captain Marvel’s Character
The former Ms. Marvel and current Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, has a long and storied history in the Marvel Universe dating all the way back to March of 1968. Since then, the character has progressed by leaps and bounds, but in a mere 8 months, Civil War II has effectively destroyed much of her reputation.
From early on in the story, it was made clear that Ulysses’ visions are not always 100%, and that they can actually be influenced by his own personal traits. On top of that, it was also suggested that acting on Ulysses’ visions is instrumental to them coming to fruition. Still, despite having all this knowledge, Captain Marvel refuses to change her stance, opting to police the future, fallacies be damned. She even went as far as to say that even if the visions only had a 10% probability of being accurate, that would be more than enough cause for her to act on them.
It’s understandable that in an event pitting two opposing groups of superheroes against one another, someone has to be the bad guy. After all, Civil War proper made Tony Stark out to be damn near impossible to agree with at times. However, he still maintained some semblance of reasoning. Captain Marvel, on the other hand, has been made out to feel almost like a fascist, indiscriminately detaining individuals based on precognitive visions that she knows have a high potential of inaccuracy.
Ulysses Was Nothing More Than A Plot Device
Despite many readers’ apathy regarding the increasing push on the Inhumans in Marvel Comics, Ulysses Cain was an intriguing character with a power set that seemed to evolve at a rapid rate. Initially, only he was able to witness his precognitive visions. Eventually, though, he became able to utilize visionary thought projection and remote projection tendrils, allowing those both near and far to experience what he was seeing. On top of this, Ulysses underwent training that allowed him to “pause” his visions to gather information.
What is perhaps most interesting about Ulysses’ abilities, though, is that he possesses psychic shields. When Jean Grey attempted to ready Ulysses’ mind, she was surprised to learn that it operates on a closed system. This means Ulysses’ mind cannot be read by any telepath, something that could make him a valuable asset to teams like the X-Men or the Uncanny Avengers.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that we’ll get to see this play out, at least for the time being. At the conclusion of Civil War II, Ulysses was approached by Eternity, the living embodiment of the entire universe. After an invitation to join the Universal Order as a Cosmic Force, Ulysses disappears alongside other major cosmic entities, such as Master Order, Lord Chaos, and The Living Tribunal.
Does this mean we’ve seen the last of Ulysses? Not necessarily. However, one can’t help but feel like his character was nothing more than a plot device to drive the story forward, and that he’s simply being dumped somewhere off the grid until another writer has a need for him.
It Failed To Live Up To The Original
Unless you’re talking about The Empire Strikes Back or The Dark Knight, you’d be hard-pressed to find many sequels that live up to their predecessors. In comics, the task is even more daunting. Secret Wars II was nothing in comparison to Secret Wars; Crisis on Infinite Earths was far more earth-shattering than Infinite Crisis. And, unfortunately, Civil War II doesn’t hold a candle to the original Civil War.
As I alluded to earlier, Civil War posed ethical questions regarding the conflicting desires for both security and freedom. At the time this was published, we were a mere five years removed from the introduction of the USA PATRIOT Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. In addition to this, a reauthorization bill passed through Congress and was signed into law, again by George W. Bush, in March of 2006, the same year that Civil War began.
At a time where questions regarding security versus freedom were so relevant in the United States, leave it to Scottish writer Mark Millar to create a story that so perfectly matched the current geopolitical climate. Some may criticize Civil War for simply posing profound questions, but never actually answering them. The point, though, is that Civil War really made you think about the ethical responsibilities of masked vigilantes operating under their own jurisdiction.
Again, as I mentioned before, Civil War II does a tremendous job posing an equally consequential question, but it doesn’t ring quite as true as the original because, quite frankly, the question seemingly came out of nowhere. Sure, the idea of precognitive justice is fascinating, and it works in all sorts of formats (ie. Minority Report). However, Civil War managed to capitalize on the timing of real-world events, while Civil War II simply capitalized on the timing of the latest Marvel Studios film.
The Aftermath Preceded The Conclusion
For the second time in as many years, delays have resulted in the fallout of a major Marvel Comics event trickling out into the public before said event has even had a chance to conclude. Last year, delays with Secret Wars meant that the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe titles began to be released before the final issue of Secret Wars ever hit the stands. Therefore, the fate of characters such as Doctor Doom, who was the main protagonist of the aforementioned event, became public knowledge and potentially spoiled the Secret Wars finale, depending on how often you visit your local comic book shop or peruse comic book news sites.
This time around, another set of delays, as well as a surprise eighth issue, resulted in the same outcome as last year. Although Civil War II #8 was just released on December 28, 2016, the fate of Iron Man became known nearly two months prior. Because of solicitations and press releases, it was clear from the summertime that Tony Stark would be out as Iron Man, with Riri Williams donning the suit in Invincible Iron Man, and Victor Von Doom switching up his traditional armor in the pages of Infamous Iron Man.
Even with this knowledge, though, the post-Civil War II whereabouts of Tony Stark weren’t entirely known at this point. Fast forward to October 19 and November 9, 2016, with the releases of the respective aforementioned titles. From here, it became clear that Tony Stark had met some sort of demise, backing up his consciousness in case his body failed him, essentially living on as an artificial intelligence.
While this was the biggest thing to be spoiled due to the delays, it wasn’t exclusive. Other things, like the fate of Miles Morales and Captain America (Steve Rogers), were also brought to light before things truly got a chance to wrap up.
It’s hard to summarize an entire comic book event as a disappointment for this reason alone. However, with all things considered, Civil War II will live on in many readers’ eyes as an unfortunate disappointment.