Review: Civil War II #3

Civil_War_II_Vol_1 #3This is the one everyone will be talking about! One of the biggest heroes in the Marvel Universe will fall! Who it is and how and why will divide fans for years to come. Will the heroes of the Marvel Universe survive the unthinkable happening? The fallout to this issue is enormous!

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Civil War II has the interesting (though borrowed) concept of using precognition to stop crime before it happens. It’s a story that we’ve seen before many times, most notably in Minority Report the film and television show which was based on a short story of the same name by Phillip K. Dick written in 1956.

Dick was prescient and well ahead of his time with his story as it was reported in 2012 that algorithms to predict crime were being embraced by police forces. In May it was revealed that these algorithms were riddled with bias, flagging black people twice as often as white people, having low accuracy, and generally being unreliable predictors of crime. This is an admirable thing to discuss and explore in a series. Sadly that isn’t what’s happened.

Instead, the series kicks off with the death of James Rhodes (much like the original Civil War, killing off an African-American character to propel the story) and in today’s issue the death of Bruce Banner by Hawkeye as a prevention so he doesn’t “Hulk Out.” I’d warn of spoilers, but Marvel spoiled this one themselves in the mainstream media. The comic is nothing more than a split over the death of two individuals, lacking much social commentary at all. It’s so far an empty shell that’s made out to be this grand thing. It’s popcorn comics, all flash, little thought. What could, and should, challenge us is thrown to the side for a “shock death.”

Civil War II had potential, but so far it’s a failure to explore real world issues that disproportionately impact people of color instead fridging a popular African-American character to kick off the story and then quickly moving on to deal with the death of a white character by a white character. It has failed at any social commentary that it has attempted.

It was clear by the second issue the noble discussion of “algorithms” to predict crime was jettisoned for the impact of using that algorithm which led to deaths, and in this third issue, it’s the death of a white man who leads to a trial over using such power. As if those killed before, or the rights violated, didn’t matter or relegate the need for anything more than some terse words. It’s the subversion of one valid movement with another that distracts from the point. Sound familiar?

And the trial is the one good thing I’ll say about the comic’s writing, how Bendis tells the actual story. Going back and forth between the current trial and the past of events he slowly builds to the moment Banner is murdered. The tension is there and there’s a sense of dread and horror as it slowly builds. It’s an excellent narrative in that aspect with fantastic pacing.

The art by David Marquez is excellent though. His art captures the tension and seriousness of the matter. The use of panels and positioning of characters really sets the tone and helps build the mood throughout the issue. His character design is top-notch and everyone looks fantastic. For as bad as the story is, the art is actually fantastic.

In the end, what’s the point of spending money to read a comic that has little more to say than what’s already been spoiled by the publisher? Things may pivot from here and be redeemed, but I need to judge this one issue at a time. This is a hard pass.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: David Marquez
Story: 4 Art: 8.7 Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass