The last reviews of 2016 bring us the finales of Civil War II and the first story arc of All-Star Batman! How do they stack up? Find out now!
Civil War II #8 (of 8) (Marvel Comics)
After a long and very delayed road, Civil War II has come to an end. I wish I could tell you that the Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez event bucks the trend of lame final issues for Marvel events, but unfortunately that is not the case. In fact, Civil War II’s final issue ranks as not only one of the worst final issues of a Marvel event, but also one of the worst comics of the year.
Nearly everything about this issue is a stunt by Marvel. There’s the overlong introductory pages showing the title of the book and the roster of characters that pads out the issue. There are at least five splash pages that do little to forward the plot, other than to show you that Captain Marvel and Iron Man are fighting. There’s even more splash pages showing different “visions” from Ulyssess by different artists. All of this amounts to little value in the $5 cover price. But none of this is as bad as the way Bendis removes Ulysses from the plot, or his resolution for Carol Danvers.
I’ll start with Carol first. This entire event has done little to justify her actions or showcase her side of the Ulysses debate. Sure, there was the death of War Machine in the first issue, but ever since then, she’s been cast in the villain role, much like Iron Man was in the original Civil War event. However, after the end of the battle, where (Marvel has already spoiled it, but SPOILERS if you really don’t want to know) Captain Marvel punches Tony Stark so hard that he explodes out of his armor and is essentially put in a coma, there are no repercussions for Carol’s actions. No reprimanding from the President about the destruction at Washington, D.C.. No resolutions for the other heroes that were on Tony’s side. Worst of all, all of the other heroes seemingly are fine with Carol’s use of EXTREMELY excessive force against Iron Man. The final pages of the book try to put Carol Danvers in a positive light, but none of it is earned.
But this pales in comparison to the resolution Ulysses has. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Civil War Il was Brian Michael Bendis’ homage to the classic Simpsons episode “Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie”. After all the hubbub around this new character, Eternity arrives after Ulysses has a bunch of visions, and tells him that he is now a member of the Marvel Cosmic beings. It is literally the Marvel version of Poochie’s “I have to go now, my planet needs me” joke. I am honestly baffled that it got further than the planning stages of this event.
At the very least, the art in Civil War II #8 is great, but then again, when you assemble the talent Marvel has for this issue, anything would look good. But even with all of these artists, it can’t help Civil War II buck the Marvel final event issue trend. Civil War II is the epitome of everything that Marvel is doing wrong as a publisher: it’s tone deaf, thinks it’s a bigger deal than it is, and worst of all, it’s uninteresting. You don’t end the issue being excited for the future of the Marvel Universe at all. In fact, it makes you worry about what the “House of Ideas” will scrape up next. Waiting for the trade? Skip it. For those of us who got suckered into this event? Think long and hard about shelling out the cash for Monsters Unleashed.
All-Star Batman #5 (DC Comics)
The finale of the opening storyline of Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr’s All-Star Batman comes roaring into shops today, and it’s one hell of a wild ride. Chock to the brim with gripping action, fantastic reveals, and Snyder’s penchant for great, fresh takes on classic Batman villains, All-Star Batman #5 is well worth the price of admission.
One of the strongest aspects of All-Star Batman #5 is, you guessed it, Scott Snyder’s script. His new take on Two-Face is phenomenal, and really helps give another tragic angle to the character. Too often the character is used just for his gimmick of being a split personality, but here Snyder depicts Harvey Dent’s condition as more of a mental illness than a gimmick. It’s an incredible take on the character that adds volumes to his relationship with the Batman. Not only that, but Snyder makes for some truly fun and action packed moments in this issue, especially when it comes to the underrated KGBeast.
All-Star Batman has done wonders to remind me that John Romita Jr was once a great artist. While I’ve made fun of his recent output in the past, in every issue of this series he brought his A game. However, this issue stands out as the best. There’s a fantastic sense of kinetic energy to Romita’s pencils, and he keeps Snyder’s script moving at a frantic pace. Romita’s action scenes are truly something to see in this issue.
While All-Star Batman #5 does move a little TOO quickly at times, there’s still plenty to like here. Snyder took some pretty big risks with this storyline, and they all pay off, even though some of the resolutions are a little too convenient. However, he’s proven that once again, he has a deep understanding of the Batman and his enemies, and has solidified his status as one of the best creators to work on the character. Next up he’ll be teaming up with Jock to tackle Mr. Freeze, and I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us.