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Comics! Civil War II!

By (May 19, 2016) No Comment

civilwarIIIt would surely have dumbfounded the Steve from 10 years ago, but nevertheless: I’ve largely succeeded in weening myself from buying weekly comics. It’s not quite the impressive act of will that it might sound, mainly because my two age-old superhero comic book companies, Marvel and DC, have done their part recently by putting out such sloping piles of putrescent garbage that actually buying the issues every week would have required the act of will.

There’ve been glimmers of hope, of course – issues and runs on titles from both companies in recent years that were quite good. But these glimmers were never alluring enough to bring me entirely back to buying small piles of overpriced single-issue comics ever Wednesday at Comicopia here in Boston. The one thing that’s tended to be an exception over the years has been the big “event” miniseries both companies roll out once a year – not because the general work tends to be any better, but because they plots tend to be so much fun.

10 years ago, one of the most entertaining of those “event” miniseries was Marvel’s “Civil War,” in which a deadly explosion and the death of innocents during a superhero/supervillain fight in Connecticut prompts the US government to impose legal controls on the super-beings in their midst: register with the authorities, undergo training and indoctrination, draw a stipend – or face prosecution and imprisonment. It cw2was a nice big idea, written by Mark Millar, and it was fun to watch it unfold, even though it had two major problems: first, there was no conceivable reason why all of the good guys – and, hell, plenty of the bad guys – would have objected to the plan, and second, no matter who joined which side and no matter how it all ended, there was no realistic way Marvel continuity would ever be able to go back to the way it had been before.

And yet, blithely, both those things happened. Sides formed, there were lots of nifty battles, Captain America was briefly inconvenienced by being assassinated, and eventually everybody ended up being friends – and free, unregistered agents – again. It was all utterly impossible – friends who turn against each other and imprison each other in gulags don’t forgive each other and go back to fighting agents of Hydra like nothing cw3had happened. A civil war in the ranks of Marvel’s superheroes is a humdinger of an idea … but it’s the last Marvel story, not just one in a duck-row of stories.

And if it that story was implausible the first time, how much more implausible is it a second time? This summer, the Marvel Comics “event” miniseries is “Civil War II,” written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by David Marquez, in which battle lines are drawn again. This week Marvel came out with “Civil War II” #0, a kind of prequel issue tracing some of the tensions that presumably will lead to the outbreak of the Civil War next month. It’s written by Bendis and drawn exquisitely by Olivier Coipel (such a shame that he won’t be doing the mini-series himself), and it’s a busy issue – many little plot-snippets, from two college students being abruptly mutated to a second-string superhero named War Machine being groomed by the US President to enter high politics. There’s a wonderful bit with the She-Hulk, a gamma-irradiated cousin of the Hulk and also a lawyer, is in court defending a C-grade villain who’s on trial basically because his kind can’t be trusted. His subsequent death in prison is clearly a moving moment for She-Hulk, but we’ll have to wait to see how it plays out.

But the central plot-snippet involves long-time Marvel military character Carol Danvers, a vaguely super-powered Captain Marvel, who’s on the leading edge of response-teams tasked with handling sudden eruptions of super-violence. In her scene, she’s visited by Doc Samson, a kind of super-psychologist, who gently questions her about the massive responsibilities of her job.

She talks emphatically about how she feels like she’s “fighting the weather” in constantly cw4fire-spotting trouble as soon as it happens. She gropingly wants something better:

Captain Marvel: “I just … with all that we know … with all that we have seen and experienced … I just wish there was that thing, that one thing, that would …”

Doc Samson: “Protect us from all comers?”

Captain Marvel: “ Yes.”

Doc Samson: “But maybe we’re it. Maybe that’s why we are … the way we are … and why we are who we are.”

Captain Marvel: “And what if one day we’re just not enough?”

Doc Samson: “So far, so good.”

It seems clear to me that this conversation will end up being crucial to “Civil War II,” although I’m not sure how. I’m also not sure how this will be much of a war; one of Marvel’s in-house ads shows a rough summary of the two sides, one led by Captain Marvel and the other by Iron Man, and even in the ad it’s glaringly obvious how lopsided those sides are. Captain Marvel has Captain America, Spider-Man, the Vision … and Iron Man’s has the Hulk, Man-Bun Hercules, and Thor.

That should be no contest. Maybe I’ll buy just the first issue.

Home » stevereads

Comics! Civil War II!

By (May 19, 2016) No Comment