The 2005-06 Civil War crossover was one of the most important Marvel Comics events of the 21st Century. While critics and fans were split on its quality, no one can deny the impact it had on the Marvel Universe as a whole, as it redefined the status quo for numerous characters and set the stage for five years worth of future storylines and inspired the plot for the latest MCU blockbuster; Captain America: Civil War. To tie into the film’s release, Marvel is launching a sequel entitled Civil War II from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez in June. As a prelude to the series, Marvel released a Zero issue this past week from Bendis and artist Oliver Coipel.
Civil War II #0 begins with attorney Jennifer Walters aka She-Hulk making closing arguments to a packed courtroom. She’s defending Jonathan Powers, a former super-villain who went by Jester. According to Walters, Powers did nothing wrong and was entrapped by federal authorities for simply discussing his past as a costumed criminal. She ends her argument with an impassioned plea to the jury that if we begin punishing those who have committed no crime, but thought, we’re not truly free. The story then shifts to Colonel James Rhodes aka War Machine, whose in a meeting with the President. Rhodes is shocked when the Commander-in-Chief offers him the job of Secretary of Defense and tells him that the party wants him as their next presidential candidate.
The issue then shifts to Ohio State University, where a college student attempts to build the courage to ask a girl out. Before he can do so the campus is overwhelmed by the Tettrigan Mist and several students, including the boy whose name is Ulysses, are encased in cocoons. The story next journeys to the headquarters of The Ultimates and finds Captain Marvel in conversation with Doc Samson, with the former telling the latter that she’s cracking under the pressure and wishes their was someway heroes could stop threats before they happen. The issue then ends with a one-two punch of Walters learning that Powers was killed in prison while Ulysses awakens from his cocoon only to experience a painful vision of the future.
Civil War II #0 does a mostly admirable job as a prelude to the upcoming crossover. It’s short-vignette structure allows us to check in with each of the event’s major players except, oddly enough, Tony Stark, whom marketing materials for the series show is the co-lead against Captain Marvel. As far as the vignettes go, the She-Hulk segments were the strongest. Bendis crafting a great speech for Jennifer Walters to deliver as her closing argument which really cut to the heart of the ideological divide that will drive the conflict. The Ulysses segments were the weakest, as the character came off cliché and one-note, though obviously that could change as the series moves forward.
The Captain Marvel and War Machine sequences fell somewhere in the middle, as both set up interesting directions for the characters to go in, though neither add any sense of emotional payoff. I did think Captain Marvel seemed just a shade out of character, however, that may be because I haven’t read the character since Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run ended. Overall, the issue focused more on the ideological issue of free thought versus preventative action than it did the actual specific plot of the upcoming series.
Coipel and colorist Justin Ponser provide solid art for the book, as one would expect given their extensive resumes. I particularly enjoyed the courtroom scene, as their She-Hulk looked like a dignified, strong character which can sometimes be tricky to do with the visual of a musclebound 7 foot green woman in a business suit.
I would absolutely recommend Civil War #0 to anyone who intends to read the event. However, I would warn them not to expect much in the way of plot development, as it’s more about the feelings that will lead the heroes into conflict than it is the hows and whys.