Review: Civil War II #4
Sides are harshly divided as the Marvel Universe’s trial of the century reaches its shocking verdict! Now, the abstract issues are very real for the heroes of the Marvel Universe and battle lines must be drawn. Captain Marvel or Iron Man, who will each hero stand behind?
We’re starting on the back half of Marvel’s summer event in an issue that gives us the truth about Ulysses’ power. Civil War II #4‘s entire purpose is to set up the final three issues, the actual conflict, and the battle that’s been brewing. The issue also continues to fail at giving us anything more than just what will be yet another fight between heroes. It uses a real-world issue as a prop making this issue, like those before it, thin in its execution.
At its core, Civil War II was set up to be about an Inhuman with precognitive ability and whether it’s right to use that power to prevent crime/wrongdoing. It’s a similar plot to Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report written in 1956.
It’s also a real issue that’s worthy of discussion. As I wrote in my review of the last issue 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. In an age of Black Lives Matter and police murdering individuals, this could have been a comic event with something to say. The series began with the death of an African-American character (a “fridging” to move the story along, much like what happened in the previous Civil War event). That death was a short focus as the event pivoted to the death of Bruce Banner, a white character. Now in this fourth issue, we see this algorithm at play as it’s used to arrest a white banker who may be a Hydra sleeper agent.
Instead of focusing on the real issue of bias towards minorities that real world issue is co-opted and applied to white individuals. The victims of the pre-cog algorithm are white here. The African-American character is a casualty of the action, not a victim of its use to prevent a “crime” which may or may not happen. That’s saved for two white characters. Writer Brian Michael Bendis fails to challenge the reader or properly explore the issue at hand.
The art by David Marquez continues to be solid though. So, there’s that. A lot of the issue involves characters standing around giving soliloquies, but it’s beautiful to look at. 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.
Much like the previous issue, this issue thinks it’s smart, but is paper thin when it comes to its deeper themes. This is a box office event blockbuster on the printed page, when it’s over you wonder what the point was other than to watch folks beat each other up. With three issues to go, I don’t see things improving based on the final few pages.
Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: David Marquez
Story: 4 Art: 8.45 Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass