Civil War Journal – Prelude


Welcome to the Civil War Journal, Bam Smack Pow’s weekly recap of every title in Marvel’s summer crossover event!

Like we did for last year’s Secret Wars and this spring’s Avengers Standoff, Bam Smack Pow is gearing up to bring recap coverage of the entire Marvel summer blockbuster, Civil War II, helping readers on a budget figure out what they need to keep up with the story or pull a few worthwhile gems from tie-ins they’d otherwise pass over. This is going to be huge, but it starts with an eleven-page taste available for free today at your local comic stores or on

What we know so far: The series and tie-ins are going to follow the battle between superheroes. We know Iron Man will lead one side and Captain Marvel the other, but promotional materials have kept alignments pretty close to the vest when it comes to most of the heroes involved. Marvel has teased that a major character will die in the first issue, and solicitations seem to suggest that’s going to be the Hulk. As for the ideological clash, it will be about the validity of using an Inhuman’s precognitive powers to prosecute crimes that haven’t happened yet. Beyond that, Marvel has done a great job keeping spoilers to a minimum.

Spoilers ahead!

Free Comic Book Day 2016 (Civil War II) #1

Captain Marvel and the Ultimates prepare for a visit from Inhumans Medusa, Crystal, the Human Torch (as Medusa’s plus-one), and new guy Ulysses on the same day Captain Marvel’s boyfriend, War Machine, pops in for a kiss. The groups prepare to test Ulysses’s precognitive powers to estimate credibility for actions they’d take based on that intel. His first observed vision is that Thanos is going to hit Project Pegasus to steal a cosmic cube, so Captain Marvel calls her friends from A-Force (but not Alpha Flight? Poor Sasquatch) and sets up a trap. Thanos arrives right on time, and the team launches a pretty successful attack, but in the skirmish, She-Hulk and War Machine are gravely injured.

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As an event, Civil War II has a lot stacked against it. The title seems constructed to pull in fans of the new Captain America movie, but none of those characters play a large role in this preview. The title also harkens back to Mark Millar’s crossover, Civil War, which seemed like a good idea at the time but now reads… less so. Crossovers built around hero fighting hero (Civil War, Avengers Vs. X-Men) all start by saying you can choose whichever side you want but quickly get to a point where the winning team puts all the other good guys in a Hell dimension, so readers have learned not to choose a side at all. The premise seems to be Minority Report, a great movie that answered the question of precognitive crime in about two hours instead of making us wait all summer. Brian Michael Bendis is writing the main series, and though his dialogue is usually wonderful, his team books have suffered from an abundance of characters relegated to cameo roles. Also, his last crossover, Secret Invasion, spent three issues doing nothing in the Savage Land while all the characters kept telling each other how cool this crossover was, like the desperate party host trying to convince you that you’re having a great time instead of just refilling your glass and passing you an appetizer. And for a company that promises they aren’t trying to kill off the X-Men because of thorny intellectual property discussion with Fox, this big crossover is supposed to only include the mutants in a tiny tie-in miniseries while the bulk of it is based on the Inhumans, a property that Marvel tries so hard to make happen. Stop trying to make Inhumans happen. The movie is off the calendar, the comics aren’t very good, and the pushy attitude just makes us want to read less.

But for what it is, this is a good preview. The characters get clear and early definition, and they come from some of the more recognizable corners of the Marvel Universe even if A-Force, The Ultimates, Captain Marvel, and the Inhumans books aren’t especially high sellers. Thanos has credibility as a villain, both from Marvel movie cameos and a recent war against the Inhumans. The cliffhanger of two major casualties feels earned by the intensity of the battle, and I certainly want to know if either of them makes it through. If Civil War II can keep this up, this could mean a lot of redemption across the board.

Keep up with the Civil War Journal by following this link!