SPOILER WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers for the Civil War II series.
Since all the readers have been on the edge of their seats about Hawkeye’s verdict, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez open Civil War II #4 with the big reveal. Acquitted of murder, Hawkeye is free to walk, but nowhere to be found in this issue.
This should be the pivotal moment of the series, with characters rallying around and against Hawkeye, but Bendis continues to hammer the predictability of Ulysses’ powers and Tony Stark’s complete resistance to bend.
A drawn-out verdict reveal (three pages) that includes a check-in with She-Hulk Jennifer Walters, followed by a gorgeously-drawn and colored two-page spread featuring Miles Morales as Spider-Man peppered with voiceovers from a newscast adds depth to the verdict before a ten-page back-and-forth about the particulars of Ulysses’ power. Bendis follows that up with four more pages of talking heads before allowing Marquez four magnificent pages of the rank and file lining up on the battlelines.
As with all of the previous issues, David Marquez and color artist Justin Ponsor absolutely pack this comic with stunning visuals. Every featured character leaves me wanting to see Marquez draw a full story featuring She-Hulk, Miles Morales, Sasquatch, Beast, Hawkeye in his classic purple togs, or Black Panther, among dozens of others. The last two pages promise a bit more action in the issues to come, which seems about right, since this series is closer to finished than started.
Clayton Cowles continues to lend his lettering mastery to this series, and nowhere is that more evident than in the quiet conversation between Carol Danvers and Jennifer Walters as Carol tries to bring her fried up to date on the developments surrounding Walters’ cousin, Bruce Banner. Some of that dialog is a bit clunky, sure, as Bendis holds the readers’ hands through some exposition, but Cowles packs in building (but suppressed) rage with each revelation Danvers shares.
The Spider-folk are less prevalent in Civil War II #4‘s story. Miles Morales has the wonderful shot mentioned earlier, but he doesn’t contribute any meaningful dialog. Peter Parker doesn’t even check in despite his cover appearance, and none of the other webslingers are anywhere to be seen.
Civil War II #4 continues to be a visual spectacle of a summer event, but the story itself continues to inch along. The same beats are hit once more in this issue, some more timely than others in this issue, some fall completely flat. By the end of Civil War II #4, Bendis, Marquez, Ponsor, and Cowles promise bigger things, resounding conflicts, and even more spectacle. The story itself is still thin, but at least it looks pretty.