Civil War II is just around the corner, with its Free Comic Book Day issue hitting stands May 7. Following up from Marvel's biggest event crossover ever, 2015's Secret Wars, Civil War II is leveraging itself with the buzz surrounding the Captain America: Civil War movie, as well as the benchmark the original Civil War comic book event set as the company's most successful event to date.
Including the #0 issue and the Free Comic Book Day special, Civil War II will be comprised of 9 main issues, along with numerous tie-ins in individual titles and several tie-in mini-series. Civil War II reunites the Ultimate Spider-Man/Invincible Iron Man team of Brian Bendis and David Marquez. While it is considered a spiritual sequel to the original Civil War, it involves a new conflict between heroes centered on an Inhuman with the ability to tell the future.
Civil War II looks to be on a scale similar to, if not larger than the original event, with battle lines being drawn among Marvel’s biggest heroes, including Iron Man and Captain Marvel, who are the two leaders of the opposing sides.
But the (big) question remains – will Civil War II live up to its own hype, let alone the impact of its predecessor? The original Civil War was a massive success both critically and financially. Civil War II marks Marvel going two-for-two with reviving its biggest events after Secret Wars.
Marvel has a long history of major events. Since the original Civil War, Marvel has published a company-wide crossover nearly every year. And while they all make big promises, how many of them have lived up to expectations, or had a lasting effect on the company’s line?
While we can’t answer those questions yet – we don’t have the new Inhuman’s precognitive abilities – we can look back at Marvel’s previous events and try to gauge where Civil War II lies in relation to what’s come before.
Creative Team: Nick Spencer (writer), Daniel Acuna (artist)
How Many Issues: 2, including various tie-ins.
Hype: Standoff came about as an Avengers event designed to celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary, and promised the return not just of Steve Rogers as Cap, but of a new version of the Thunderbolts.
Marvel Universe Impact: It’s tough to say exactly what the impact of Standoff will be, as its finale isn’t out untiltil later this month and sales figures undetermined. However, it has already returned Steve Rogers to his former Super Soldier glory, allowing him to operate alongside fellow Captain America Sam Wilson. It will also lead to a new Thunderbolts team, led by Cap’s former sidekick, Bucky Barnes. There’s also the matter of the trial of Maria Hill, an event that will play into Civil War II.
Real World Impact: Standoff brought back the man many consider the “one true Captain America,” Steve Rogers. Media attention for the return was heavy, with the announcement being made on a ABC television special celebrating Cap’s 75th anniversary.
Creative Team: Jonathan Hickman (writer), Esad Ribic (artist)
How Many Issues: 7
Hype: Secret Wars was marketed as the biggest Marvel event of all time. It drew on the legacy of its namesake, the original Marvel crossover, to build up its importance to the future of Marvel’s line.
Marvel Universe Impact: Secret Wars had an impact on the Marvel Universe that could best be described as “massive.” By collapsing all of Marvel’s extant universes and timelines into one reality, Secret Wars added elements of other continuities, such as Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man, to the main Marvel U, while also taking Marvel mainstays the Fantastic Four off the board. There’s also the little matter of Secret Wars leading to a relaunch of Marvel’s entire publishing line.
Real World Impact: Secret Wars wasn’t quite the massive media sensation Civil War was, but nonetheless it enjoyed big sales numbers, and drew many readers back to Marvel by promising a new world in its wake. Its long delays led to some scrutiny from fans, but did not affect the event’s overall performance in a major, measurable way.
Creative Team: Rick Remender (writer), Adam Kubert, Leinil Yu, Terry Dodson, Jim Cheung (artists)
How Many Issues: 9
Hype: AXIS “inverted” numerous heroes and villains, making them swap sides. It was also the culmination of a story that began in Avengers vs. X-Men, revolving around the death of Charles Xavier.
Marvel Universe Impact: AXIS led to numerous heroes and villains switching sides, including Tony Stark, who became the “Superior Iron Man,” a.k.a.an even bigger jerk to everyone. Though he eventually switched back, some characters, such as villain-turned-hero Sabretooth, did not. AXIS also ended with Red Skull still in possession of Professor X’s brain, much to the chagrin of basically everyone in the Marvel Universe.
Real World Impact: AXIS didn’t have many lasting effects – most of them were undone when Marvel relaunched its titles after Secret Wars. But for a time, many of Marvel’s top heroes, including Iron Man and Captain America, were outright villains, even in their own solo titles.
Creative Team: Jason Aaron (writer), Mike Deodato Jr. (artist)
How Many Issues: 9
Hype: Original Sin said it would fundamentally impact numerous heroes across the Marvel Universe, and it delivered. Not only was it predicated on the death of Uatu, the Watcher, it also took Nick Fury, Sr. off the board and saw Thor become unworthy of his hammer, which Jane Foster now wields as his successor.
Marvel Universe Impact: Original Sin made some sweeping changes for many characters which are still in place to this day. Not only did Uatu die, Nick Fury, Sr. took his place on the moon, leading Bucky Barnes to become “the man on the wall” for a time – the hero who protects Earth from massive extra-terrestrial threats. It also led Thor to become unworthy of wielding Mjolnir, leading to Jane Foster becoming the new Thor – a title she still retains.
Real World Impact: Original Sin’s biggest real world impact is changing Thor to a woman, something that continues to garner significant attention in light of the character’s popularity as a member of the cinematic Avengers. In other terms, it took a few characters who had been a part of Marvel Comics since the ‘60’s out of commission, where they remain.
Creative Team: Jonathan Hickman (writer); Jim Cheung, Jerome Opena & Dustin Weaver (artists)
How many issues: 6
Hype: Infinity was built on the idea of Thanos returning conquer the universe, but for the world at large he was already here thanks to his cameo in Marvel’s The Avengers. Marvel used that, and the character’s track record with previous events like Infinity Gauntlet, to usher in a swath of new villains, both for his army, and the secondary villains of the piece, the Builders.
Marvel Universe Impact: Infinity was intended to be the first major event in the post-Brian Michael Bendis era of the publisher’s flagship Avengers franchise, and it cemented Jonathan Hickman’s role as Marvel primary Avengers storyteller. Story-wise, no major hero deaths came out of Infinity but it did serve to transform its long-suffering “cosmic” line of titles into the wheelhouse of the core Marvel Universe. It also seeded the forced evolution of the Inhuman race into the just-released Inhuman series.
Real World Impact: Infinity didn’t dominate comic shelves the way Avengers vs. X-Men did a year prior, but it didn’t have to for it to be considered a success. It was all about forging what it had done so far and building new characters, and it achieved both those goals. Infinity #1 ruled the roost in August 2013, and all five of its subsequent issues sold above 100,000, even at $3.99 a pop. But its effects are still coming, as it connected the cosmic to the core Marvel U as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova and Captain Marvel, and that continues to pay off, while also influencing Marvel’s film slate.
AGE OF ULTRON
Creative Team: Brian Michael Bendis (writer); Bryan Hitch, Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco, Butch Guice, Alex Maleev, David Marquez, Joe Quesada (artists)
How many issues: 10
Hype: Effectively the swan song of Bendis on the Avengers titles, Age of Ultron promised an unbridled look at what would happen if Ultron – the robotic despot created by the Avengers – beat Marvel’s heroes and ruled the world. The series itself was teased for several years before it was formally released, due in part to the extra time needed for Hitch to illustrate the first five issues.
Marvel Universe Impact: Much in the same way Uncanny X-Men’s “Days of Future Past” and the later Age of Apocalypse event series provided an apocalyptic alternate view of what the Marvel universe could be, the first half of Age of Ultron showed Marvel heroes cut down and on the run while the second half showed the consequences of time travel and changing past events to prevent the earlier scenario of Age of Ultron. Heroes died in the opening issues of Age of Ultron, but their deaths were rendered mute as it was an alternate universe by the end of the series. As far as its effects on the Marvel Universe moving forward, the most immediate was providing an avenue for Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane’s creator-owned character Angela from Spawn to jump to the Marvel Universe. Her travel was made possible by cracks in the space-time continuum as a result of the heroes meddling with their past, which led to other time-spanning and universe-crossing debuts in modern Marvel U such as Spider-Man 2099 and Galactus jumping to the Ultimate Universe – presaging the inclusion of many elements of alternate universes into the mainstream Marvel Universe in Secret Wars.
Real-World Impact: The most lasting effect of Age Of Ultron is perhaps that Marvel Studios co-opted the name as the subtitle for second Avengers movie – though it did not adapt the story at all. As far as the comics work goes, it spun off the series Avengers A.I. featuring a somewhat-rejuvenated Hank Pym, as well as kickstarting a subsequent event, Cataclysm, in the Ultimate comics line. Pym later bonded with Ultron, and became stranded in space, having only recently returned to Earth still attached to the killer robot.
AVENGERS VS. X-MEN
Creative Team: Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman (writers); John Romita Jr., Olivier Coipel, Adam Kubert (artists)
How many issues: 12
Hype: Avengers vs. X-Men was positioned as Marvel’s biggest event in decades – both in a cast featuring its two largest hero franchises at odds, as well as the number of issues and the massive rotating cast of writers and artists who made the book. It sold itself on the same conflict as Civil War, which earned it millions – hero versus hero – and reaped similar rewards.
Marvel Universe Impact: The X-Men books were already at a breaking point with Schism, but Avengers vs. X-Men saw those cracks turn into fault lines with mutantkind’s resident leader Cyclops on the run as a fugitive, terrorist, and murderer – something that came to a head when he tried to declare war on the Inhumans and was apparently killed. On the Avengers, not much changed for the winners, but it did subsequently lead Captain America to establish a joint mutant/hero squad in Uncanny Avengers, which has now incorporated Inhumans as well. Another profound ripple of Avengers vs. X-Men in the long-run is Beast’s decision to bring the founding X-Men back to the future from the past. They’ve now fully integrated into the modern day Marvel Universe, with the young Jean Grey and Cyclops being the only versions of those characters running around.
Real World Impact: Avengers vs. X-Men coincided with the release of Marvel’s The Avengers film, and was an ideal pairing to see Marvel’s two major franchise at odds. Six of the Top 10 selling comic books of that year were Avengers Vs. X-Men, with 2 of the remaining for being post-AvX spin-offs. Created in the wake of DC’s “New 52” revamp, Marvel dominated the conversation in comic stores with Avengers Vs. X-Men and set the stage for the “Marvel NOW!” publishing initiative (which continues to inspire new Marvel launches) with great success.
Creative Team: Matt Fraction (writer) and Stuart Immonen (artist)
How many issues: 7
Hype: Like many an event series before it, Fear Itself was teased with a series of cryptic images, some reflecting events as they literally happened within the story (like Cap's shield breaking) and some much more metaphorical (like Spider-Man looking at depressing TV news outside a store window).
Marvel Universe Impact: Fear Itself appeared to claim the lives of both Bucky — at that point, Captain America — and Thor, but things aren't always what they seem; Bucky returned shortly after as Winter Soldier, as did Thor – seemingly moments after Fear Itself’s last gasp.
Real-World Impact: Bucky's (apparent) death led to the return of Steve Rogers as Captain America on a permanent basis, for the first time since his (apparent) demise post-Civil War — and as things turn out, this all happened right before the release of the Captain America: The First Avenger live-action film.
How many issues: 4
Hype: A reunion of the House of M creative team, Marvel promoted Siege with several teaser images that pointed quite directly to the story's plot: The fall of Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers.
Marvel Universe Impact: Though only four issues, Siege packed in plenty of destruction, with a death toll including Sentry, Ares and Loki. The latter was resurrected, but in childish, "Kid Loki" form, and parlayed that into a string of solo series from Journey Into Mystery, a stint leading Young Avengers, and his own self-titled series back again as an adult. He’ll next run for President in the upcoming Vote Loki.
Real-World Impact: Siege begat a new initiative from Marvel, "The Heroic Age," which included an across-the-board relaunch of the Avengers franchise. Among the new series introduced was Secret Avengers, which continued for years – albeit through several relaunches. It also proved to be the last call (for now) of Loki as a villain, as post-Siege both in comic books and film we’ve seen Loki lean into a more heroic (or anti-heroic) stance.
Creative Team: Brian Michael Bendis (writer) and Leinil Francis Yu (artist)
How many issues: 8
Hype: Tons. Foreshadowed for years by Bendis, Secret Invasion inspired everything from Marvel house ads encouraging fans to "embrace change" to paper Skrull masks being handed out at conventions.
Marvel Universe Impact: Like many of these types of events, Secret Invasion took players off the board (Wasp), but the shape-shifting, body-switching nature of the plot allowed them to bring one back (Mockingbird). The end of the story set the stage for the next year of Marvel stories, with Norman Osborn — the criminally insane Green Goblin — rising to power as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. successor, H.A.M.M.E.R. Although his appearance in Secret Invasion is brief, it successfully transitioned Osborn from being a Spider-Man villain to being one of Marvel’s overall Big Bads.
Real-World Impact: The ensuing "Dark Reign" dominated Marvel titles for most of 2009, birthing the ultra-successful Dark Avengers and many more new series and one-shots, plus making Norman Osborn a nearly ubiquitous figure within the Marvel Universe.
Creative Team: Mark Millar (writer) and Steve McNiven (artist)
How many issues: 7
Hype: If you don't remember the "I'm with…" banners that dominated the internet during Civil War, there's a good chance you never went online in 2006.
Marvel Universe Impact: Civil War promised lasting change to the Marvel Universe and it delivered, dividing the Avengers between the pro-registration Mighty Avengers and the considerably more rebellious New Avengers. Civil War also led to the temporary death of the most famous Captain America, Steve Rogers, the seemingly permanent death of Dr. Bill Foster (Goliath), and prompted Spider-Man to unmask himself to the world — an unfortunate decision which led to a series events ultimately culminating in the magical dissolution of his marriage with Spider-Man: One More Day.
Real-World Impact: Commercially, Civil War is one of the biggest industry hits of the past decades, with four of its issues in the Top 10 bestselling comic books of the 21st century.. It also the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War, and the comic book’s spiritual sequel, Civil War II, which launches this summer.