Civil War II #7
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by David Marquez, Andrea Sorrentino, Justin Ponsor and Marcelo Maiolo
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
This is it - the final showdown between Tony Stark and Carol Danvers. With the fate of Civil War II hanging in the balance, the two leading figureheads of the Marvel Universe are going mano a mano, head-to-head, power armor to Kree energy blasts.
So why does it still feel so bloodless? So perfunctory?
Maybe it’s because we’re seven issues into an eight-issue series, and only now are things starting to get a touch more interesting. Maybe it’s because the actual build-up between Tony and Carol felt so lifeless, so lacking in the personal animus that made the Iron Man/Captain America dynamic so electric in the original Civil War series. But either way, Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s event series continues to chug along, and while a guest sequence by Old Man Logan artists Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo is always welcomed, this book feels less like an out-and-out must-read and more of a cynical ploy to mark off all the event series checkboxes.
Which is a shame, because as I said before, there are some hints of something interesting - but because of the circuitous plotting of this event, the impact feels minimal, because (with only one exception) we’re just not seeing big enough moments to justify the penultimate issue of an event book. Miles Morales and Steve Rogers eye each other warily at the steps of the U.S. Capitol, knowing that its been projected one will kill the other; meanwhile, the precognitive Inhuman Ulysses has a close encounter with Old Man Logan, a living embodiment of what’s at stake if things go wrong in the Marvel Universe. These are all fine moments… if they had taken place four issues ago. But coming this late in the game, these moments of introspection can’t help but feel like an anti-climax from Bendis, giving little emotional setup in particular for Carol and Tony as they gear up for their final battle.
It’s that final battle, without giving too much away, that feels like the most cynical bit of Civil War II. Readers of Invincible Iron Man and Infamous Iron Man already know that something has placed Tony Stark off the board, and unfortunately this comic gives us very little to latch onto for Tony’s new status quo. Calling back to Civil War II #0, Iron Man’s seeming defeat feels like the worst of both worlds, something that is easily retconned or undone even by next issue, as well as something that, if taken at face value, feels predictable and unimaginative. Ten years ago, Civil War ended with Steve Rogers getting gunned down on the way to trial. You’re telling me that after 10 years, we can’t come up with a more creative way to end Civil War II than with a quick fistfight between just two characters?
But while the politicking drains this book of its stamina, you can’t deny that the art still looks fantastic. More and more, David Marquez feels like a worthy visual successor to Steve McNiven’s work in the original Civil War, with this expressive and cleanly rendered style that portrays Bendis’s pared-down cast nicely. (It’s to Marquez’s credit that Miles Morales might be the most emotive character of the bunch, and he never takes his mask off once during this issue.) When the action ramps up, Marquez is at his best, with Carol and Tony’s quick fight still looking energetic and detailed. But while Marquez is clean and relatively calm, contrasting his work with Andrea Sorrentino helps ramp up the stakes a bit more - Sorrentino’s scenes with Old Man Logan are gritty and alien, with the desert landscape sometimes warping or even tilting into threateningly steep angles.
Yet with only one issue left to go, Civil War II remains a disappointing chapter for the House of Ideas. Even this series’ biggest moments feel calculated rather than organic, trying to goose sales with a handful of character deaths without really digging in too deeply about the underlying issues underneath. We live in a world where law and order is anything but simple, where we have to constantly interrogate ourselves about whether the ends justify the means when it comes to solving and preventing crimes. Unfortunately, Civil War II has seemed to all but abandon this difference in philosophy, with characters making extremely bad decisions just so they can all be in the same place, ready to punch one another until the page count ends. They say war is hell, but I’ve never heard of it being this uninspiring.