SPOILER WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers for the Civil War II series.
Nobody dies. Nobody fights anyone else. Not a single punch. It’s little more than playground clubs hurling insults at one another. Come to think of it, Red Rover is more action-packed than Civil War II #6. This series might best be titled Cerebral War or Civil Posturing, as writer Brian Michael Bendis gives readers twenty-two pages of philosophical debate, alliance-swapping, and emotional turmoil.
The vision of Spider-Man (Miles Morales) clutching a mortally wounded and presumably deceased Captain America (Steve Rogers) has elevated Miles to become the lynchpin or the poster child for Civil War II, depending on your point of view. This latest vision is the last straw in the six-plus-issue argument of whether or not preemptive justice is justice at all.
And it’s also the type of thing that Bendis excels at writing, albeit twenty-two pages is pretty excessive for the developments of this comic. I won’t argue that it is important for comic book crossover events to have resonance with the cast in the events, but the key to an event is the event itself. Comic book events should be the loud, bombastic summer movies that make us “oooh!” and “ahhh!” That doesn’t mean they can’t make us think, but they really shouldn’t come to a screeching halt just to deliver the concepts for consideration.
Granted, the slower, drawn-out pace of the story empowers artist David Marquez to absolutely pack Civil War II #6 with gorgeous art, even if some pieces are less polished than others. The Thing in particular seems to be eluding Marquez’s comfort zone, but that doesn’t keep the artist from shifting the camera around the character, looking for the best presentation to click with his style. Colorist Justin Ponsor helps transmit the mood, telegraphing nauseating gray-green smoke and ash in the vision Ulysses projects. Ponsor also controls the dimmer switch as the heroes agonize through the night until sunrise over the developments of Civil War II #6, ending the issue with pink skies. Any readers that have naval personnel in their families know full well that, “Red skies at morning, sailors take warning,” as Marquez and Ponsor present a stunning image to end the issue.
It does not seem as though there are two more issues to go. The final page of Civil War II #6 sets up a decisive confrontation (seems like we’ve seen this, or maybe I’ve just typed this before) that attacks Ulysses precognitive projection head-on, but the story itself still doesn’t have the gravitas of Infinity, Secret Wars, or even Civil War.
Civil War II #6 misses the mark of being a notable issue in a memorable crossover, and the pacing of the series itself threatens the impactfulness of this tale. This very easily could have been half as long, but the way this issue goes, Bendis throws out plenty of rope for readers to grab onto to relate to the characters in the trenches. It’s not going to be the most memorable issue of the series, nor does it supply readers with anything of great significance, save for a monolog from T’Challa (Black Panther) that will undoubtedly be lifted and re-applied elsewhere. Panther says what all of us readers know, which only further undermines the legitimacy of the central plot in Civil War II.
If I weren’t already three-quarters invested in this series, Civil War II #6 might be the final straw to break the spine of this crossover. I’m hopeful there will be a satisfactory resolution, and anticipate some interesting moments before this series is done, but I’m wary. I’ve seen other events fail to close. I’ve also seen events that promised to change things forever never take root. So far, nothing (save for the two deaths that occurred early in this series) has happened in this series that can’t be undone, and, honestly, even those deaths could find a way to revert. Civil War II lacks permanence, and Civil War II #6 in particular lacks consequence.
In Civil War II #6, writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist David Marquez, colorist Justin Ponsor, and letterer Clayton Cowles follow up on the vision the Inhuman Ulysses projected last issue. The results are a lot of angst, some disappointment, and lots of great, emotional artwork.