Let’s get through the setup. I was not into comics during the original Civil War. I’m looking forward to the movie, but not as much as I am looking forward to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And I do not particularly care for events unless they move the continuity forward, without necessarily hitting a giant re-set button for the purpose of ret-conning an entire comic book universe. I’m looking at you, Secret Wars (III) and Battleworld. So maybe I’m a cynic. Capeesh? And away we go.
Needless to say, I had endless criticism to levy in the direction of Marvel throughout the majority of 2015. Don’t call it prejudiced, because I did the same to DC for not only Convergence, but for their endless stream of back-to-back-to-back events that started in like, 2012. Thankfully, we are through the wormhole and out on the other side. But I’m still struggling to get a grip on what exactly this new Marvel Universe is. Did everyone get memory-wiped? Did Original Sin just not happen? Or maybe it happened, and then Secret Wars ret-conned us to back to before Original Sin, but really not because the stuff in Original Sin just never really happened? And Tony Stark was adopted; is that because, before, or due to Original Sin mixed in with Secret Wars? Monkey trucker!!! How can you do an event so soon on the heels of the Secret Wars emergence when we don’t even understand the current continuity yet, and that pesky 8 months of %&%$#@! that everyone is missing???
So here’s my survival guide for Civil War II – don’t pay attention. Just read the tie-ins. That’s a bit cruel, and also a bit tongue-in-cheek. What I’m really saying is that if you choose not to get on the event core series itself, or if you’re concerned about whether it will be good. Read. The. Tie-ins.
If it’s one thing that 2015 taught me, it’s “pay attention to the tie ins”. Not because they are important to the continuity or to understand what the hell is going on in the main event, but because that is where the most surprising, refreshing stories happen. In both DC’s Convergence and Marvel’s Secret Wars / Battlezone events, the tie-ins were the best thing going. I had a blast reading things like Marvel’s 1872 and Ghost Racers, and ditto for things like DC’s Convergence: Catwoman. I discovered those by happenstance last year, but you can be damned sure that will be my primary strategm for 2016. Marvel has aligned an array of top talent to tell some of the Civil War II side-stories. Here is a quick rundown of the ones that are looming largest on my radar.
Declan Shalvey came into my view by virtue of the six-issue run he did alongside Warren Ellis and Jordie Bellaire debuting the recent re-boot of one of my favorite characters, Moon Knight. In “Civil War II: Choosing Sides”, one of two tie-in mini-series to the Civil War II event, we’ll get to see Shalvey take on writing chops (at least for one issue), as well as put on a clinic in the pencils department. Goran Sudzuka, who is over doing some superb work on the new Daredevil comic alongside Charles Soule, will also feature on art in this mini-series. Sold.
Dan Abnett, who writes anthropomorphic fiction as well as that of the gods, gets to put on the latter hat with “Civil War II: Gods of War”. I am not sure if this whole series will focus on Hercules, or if he is just first up in the debut issue, while other gods may feature in later issues. Either way, Herc does not get enough love in the Marvel Universe, and obviously deities or demi-gods should have a say in how this new power revealed in Civil War II gets utilized by earth’s heroes. And it’s Dan Abnett. Expect great things to happen.
Greg Pak will be scripting those missing eight months I complained about in “The Totally Awesome Hulk”. Pak stands out for me as the guy who did an incredible run on Action Comics along with Aaron Kuder. I am totally excited to see what he is going to pull off with the Hulk.
The New Master himself will step up to bat when Civil War II strolls through Charles Soule’s back yard in “Uncanny Inhumans #11”. Most of what Soule touches turns to gold. And when he gets his teeth into an ongoing on a long-term gig, wonderful, beautiful things can happen. I can pretty much put money down now that this Civil War II tie-in will be something special.
Arguably the most interesting thing on my radar from the tie-ins will be Nick Spencer’s “Captain America: Sam Wilson #10”. Spencer, from my perspective, is the mind behind the comedy in the 3rd Volume of “Secret Avengers”, which read very much like a Joss Whedon episode of TV. Spencer is also writing “Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha”. I felt the comedy in the first issue of Standoff was a bit much, and that Maria Hill especially was written almost as comic relief. I was not a fan of the tone. I have not checked in to see how Spencer is handling Sam Wilson in that ongoing, but that character is obviously more serious. I like Spencer’s work, I just want the chance to see him handle something that walks with a different tone than some of the more satirical content I’ve read from him.
Civil War ranks as one of the stand-out event stories ever written in comics (hence, there being a soon-to-be-released movie of the same name). Civil War II will have Brian Michael Bendis at the helm, whose past events at Marvel include Siege and House of M. Doing a Civil War II is a big legacy to live up to. Especially in the wake of an almost full year-long event that has left at least some Marvel readers dissatisfied. Both DC and Marvel seem to have found the secret sauce in creating bang-up tie-ins, though, that, at least for me, have allowed there to be some salvageable value out of an event if the core series falls short of reader expectations. Of course, the problem is how to do the tie-ins without making consumers feel like they’re being asked to buy 50+ books in order to understand the event. The entire writing staff of Geeks World Wide felt this financial pinch last year during the course of Secret Wars / Battleworld. This time I am changing up where that money goes out of the gate.
After some of the high-falutin’ chicanery of Fear Itself, Original Sin, and Secret Wars, I am hoping for an event that is a bit more grounded. This, despite the setup of Civil War II feeling a bit like Minority Report. I wish Bendis and Marvel the best of luck with Civil War II. But regardless, long live the tie-ins.