With two prequel-type comics already on the stands and in readers’ hands, Civil War II seems to have more preamble to it than true action, given that the series is projected to run seven issues and has nearly a dozen or more “Road to Civil War II” tie-ins. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Olivier Coipel, colored by Justin Ponsor, and lettered by Clayton Cowles, Civil War II #0 is part of the preamble.This issue actually takes place prior to the Free Comic Book Day tale from a couple weeks back.
It is only appropriate that Doc Samson appears in Civil War II #0, as this issue’s whole purpose seems to be to provide psychoanalysis for the primary players identified as the actual Civil War draws near: She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, and War Machine. The trio doesn’t cross paths, they don’t team-up, and they don’t even pass each other on the way to or from a timeclock, like Sam and Ralph from the Warner Brothers cartoons. Aside from the shared staples of the book and the Inhuman subplot between check-ins with the trio, this comic could even be considered an anthology, giving readers separate, perhaps parallel adventures featuring a select group of characters.
Bendis and Coipel hit their collective high note early in this issue, as Jennifer Walters (a.k.a. She-Hulk) provides closing arguments and rests her case in the opening scene of Civil War II #0. The art is exquisite, the dialog sharp, and Ponsor’s colors are cinematic and effective. If the issue stayed in that courtroom, with that scene, I would have been pleased.
But Bendis expands the tale, following War Machine to Latveria, the Terrigen Cloud to Columbus where it wafts across campus of the Ohio State University, and Captain Marvel to the Triskelion. Each scene delivers an encounter to reveal a bit about the personal activities of the characters. The biggest development is the result of the mist – which crosses campus in about the same amount of time as a brief spring shower. Two students, Ulysses and Michelle, are the only two affected by the Terrigen, and one of those two becomes the center point of the Civil War II‘s plot, gaining abilities to see future timelines, one of which is filled with death and destruction.
In the twenty-three pages of new story, the notions behind Civil War II are teased, but not fully revealed. Bendis gives readers a central cast to meet, but doesn’t give them a conflict to fight. After all, this is still preamble.
As noted, the artwork starts out strong. Unfortunately, it’s uneven over the course of this comic book. By the end of the story, Coipel’s work appears unfinished. When She-Hulk arrives on the helicarrier, she doesn’t land on a surface, she lands on a color and that color is gray and the shading is minimal. Coipel’s storytelling is strong in bringing Jennifer Walters to the helicarrier, Ponsor’s colors are good, filled with effects to add shape, shade, and depth, but the unfinished look to the imagery falls short of the price of admission.
His figures are always one of his strengths, but Coipel’s She-Hulk, while visually stunning, has more of a fitness or swimsuit model appearance about her than I would expect. It’s fine that she’s tall and has gorgeous hair and a pretty face, but she’s a bit too glamorous and quick to hit model poses in the helicarrier deck scene. Coipel does a great job in the opposite direction with Carol Danvers, giving her moments of exasperation and exhaustion. Overall, Civil War II #0 is still a good-looking comic book, just a little lackluster in spots.
As I did with Secret Wars, in each review of Civil War II, I’ll provide a summary of Spider-Man’s (or –Woman’s) contribution to the tale. Quite simply, in Civil War II #0, there is no Spidey of any kind. Not even in a flashback panel. So if you’re buying it for webslinging, spend your money elswhere.