Warning: Minor Spoilers of both Civil War and Civil War II
For those of us who aren’t long term comic book fans with thousand dollar collections from years and years of reading comics, here is a little rundown on what Civil War II is. To begin this, you first need to understand the context of the first Civil War is. So let’s run down some similarities and differences of both series to give you an idea of what Civil War II is about and you can decide whether or not it’s worth the read.
A spinoff to the 2006 crossover story arc, Civil War, the original series was about a group of young, poorly trained heroes trying to take down a mega-ultra-super-villain on power-boosting drugs, resulting in the death of an entire town, angering many government officials and, well, you know the rest. The first Civil War was very reminiscent of WWII: with registration acts, the government turning heroes into super-powered attack dogs, and everyone that disagrees with this getting thrown into a prison camp in another dimension. In Civil War II, on the other hand, the story is very comparable with the American’s vantage of the Cold War. The arc starts with some of the biggest names in Marvel coming together yet again to avert a world-ending disaster. After saving the day once more, a question arises after the fight: who gave them the heads up? The answer is Ulysses, a new inhuman who can predict catastrophic events, which is where this story begins.
A major difference between the the original and the ongoing Civil War is the Chief Protagonist & Antagonist. In Civil War II, Iron Man has become the champion of the people leading the fight for those that believe guilty until proven innocent is not Justice. This threw many long term marvel fans in a loop, since he was the chief proponent of the registration act in the Civil War. Captain Marvel is the series chief aggressor and the government’s top cop. Her view? If we have a surefire method to keep dangerous people from hurting everyone else we have a responsibility to use it. The risk of one innocent person in jail is better than the risk of a hundred people dying.
What are some similarities between the two story arcs? Well, the obvious first is a nation divided: hero against hero, family against family, the ties that bind are coming apart at the seams, old enemies turn into allies, friends into strangers. Another one of the main comparisons between the two series is the death of black heroes to move the story forward. The original arc didn’t become a major conflict until a hero by the name of Black Goliath was murdered by a clone of Thor. His death polarized the marvel universe and took the registration act from a disagreement between friends into a war zone. This time around, the Black Hero is mainstream and someone that has close ties to both sides of the conflict: War Machine. His death actually directly causes the conflict between the two factions to begin.
There are also some important drawbacks to this series. The person writing the series and all of the Iron Man tie-ins is Brian Michael Bendis, a Marvel veteran and one of their senior writers. Bendis does not write what fans want to see, instead he writes what he believes should happen, never taking account possible backlash. He also doesn’t collaborate well with other writers, which leads to major difficulties when you have ten main characters who have their own series with panels of writers. What does this mean for you as new fans or someone just branching into comics? You are probably better off buying your favorite heroes personal comic and learning about the event from their perspective that way. And while Civil War II also boast artwork that is seven different types of beautiful and it’s visually stunning, the story comes across as very two dimensional, for various reasons listed above.. You miss out on a lot of the moments that make you understand that people on both sides of the fight really have issues with everything going on. If you can’t afford to buy tie-ins and the main Civil War story, go for the tie-ins. But if you have a bit of cash to spare and would like to compare and contrast for yourself, by all means.
At the end of day, no matter how we as fans feel about major story arcs like Civil War II, they exist to facilitate change. Comic book fans are deeply passionate people and I’ve never seen a major story arc that wasn’t responded to without rage. While I may not personally enjoy BMB’s work or how the story is turning out, I have to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt. The last major story arc, Secret Wars, enriched the quality of life for POC comic readers of all ages. The Marvel Universe is more diverse than it’s ever been. As someone who appreciates that when I have little girls someday, they can read about a black superheroine in grade school with her own pet dinosaur, I have to give them the benefit of the doubt. They have earned me taking the time to say while I don’t like this story, I hope they may use it to make the Marvel Universe a better place.
Written by: @HOH_LLC
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.