Review: Civil War II #4

Civil_War_II_Vol_1_4Sides 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

9 comments

  • About the only thing I liked about this was the fact Hawkeye was acquitted. He’s my favorite Avenger. When I saw after last issues that Kate was leading up the new Hawkeye series, I was scared they would bench Cline for awhile. At least he’s not in jail anymore.
    That’s about all I like about this. Some of the tie ins have been good. The Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat was very emotional as Patsy mourned over She Hulk. It also showed the repercussions of what happens when a hero falls. Jennifer’s practice is suffering, because she’s not there to run it. Her building might go under if no one pays the bills. It’s a much more real take on this weak story that is Civil War II.

    • He is headlining some new series called Occupy Avengers, so his being acquitted doesn’t surprise me. I’ll have to check out Patsy Walker. I’ve been so frustrated with the main series I’ve generally been avoiding Marvel books and reading less and less of them.

  • It’s what a Micheal Bay movie would look like if it were adapted into a comic.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Sounds extremely unprofessional to rate this movie low because of your personal politics that you prefer to be put on the forefront here, as opposed to the story in in of itself. Its a metaphor. Its pretty blatant by its constant use of the word “profiling” that it is an allegory for race. Does it need to be more blatant? Thats like rating X-men comics low just because Xavier and Magneto aren’t black like MLK and Malcolm X, and many of the mutants going through this racial struggle were white. Come on man. Its symbolism.

    • Nope, it’s known as criticism actually.

      But to recap.. The issue (and series) is a poorly done metaphor that “All Lives Matters” and whitewashes an actual issue. It’s poor storytelling and a poor decision.

      • Jordan Richardson

        You didnt debate my point or acknowladge my comparative example. Which means you know that I am right. Is X-men a poorly done metaphor for racism, because there are whites mutants that are going through it as well in its comic? This is a superhero comic, going through superhero problems. Its themes are relevant but exist within the story of its universe. In fact, the fact that it shows many white threats, are even more evident that black profiling is even more B.S. Come on man. Think objectively here.

        • Actually, X-Men has been a metaphor that’s been adapted over time and can mean different things to different people. The Malcolm X vs MLK comparison many fall upon is rather simplistic and fails to acknowledge the shift of the series to reflect struggles of the LGBTQ community. There’s actually been a lot of writing that even saying the series was a civil rights metaphor back then is a misunderstanding of the issues tackled by the series when it began. In other words, it’s not about one specific issue and has been a series that has adapted over time to mean different things to different people.

          Where as, Civil War II is much more focused on “profiling” which has been an issue recently in the news that has impacted minorities and resulted in the murder of numerous individuals by overzealous police. It’s worthy topic to discuss, but Bendis instead uses it as a hook to focus on a grudge over the death of two superheroes.

          If you think “black profiling” is “B.S.,” I don’t think our site is for you. Probably want to get your reviews elsewhere.