Brian Michael Bendis’ Civil War II #7 is finally out, although the “summer” event still has one more month to go. On deck is Marvel’s Inhumans vs. X-Men. If you want to know what the company’s obsession with hero vs. hero tales means for our cultural mosaic, then check out my latest YouTube video below.

If you like what you see, then make sure to subscribe for future reviews. And, as always, let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

7 comments

  1. “This is racist, even for guys like us”

    Sorry, my Bendis to English translator is on the fritz today.

    Fidel’s dead, so I’m sure most of the Marvel staff is in mourning.(Is Tom Morello a tool or what?)

    Anyway the story like I said before, looks so lame that I can’t imagine thumbing through it, Hero vs Hero has been done right before, and for that reason was also rare back in the day. Of course there’s Daredevil vs. Punisher, though Punisher is hardly a comic book hero, we dont complain too much about the sniper putting bullets in ISIS executioners or dropping missiles on terrorist recruiters and networkers. Still, the discussion of what constitutes a hero, and the boundaries of that is usually a worthy discussion

    Here, like in the other recent ‘events’ the motivations look forced and overdrawn, to the point that personalities have to be stretched and past experiences ignored to make the plot work. I think a fresh imagination could do much better, and these guys are creatively stuck.

    Mentioning the juxtaposition of hero treatment vs. villains, I think your on it with me wanting to add some thoughts on it.

    In both cases the modern writer has decided to cross over a barrier, one that they feel limits what they can do with a character, but in fact makes the character both understandable and providing both enjoyment and conviction to the reader.

    For the Hero, the temptation to use power for evil is a strong one, in even rejecting any villainous attribute, there is still the temptation to break the rules to make stopping evil easier (see punisher). For a lot of young people, seeing the hero almost go there (also see spider-man after Gwen’s death) but decide not to, against all temptation is a very familiar theme in their own lives, from lying to their parents to deceiving friends to get what they want. Comic books use to treat this attribute as sacred, and whenever a hero broke it, the cost was incredible and redemption long and difficult. Now it’s an event.

    For the villain, the best villains were always those that we could relate to at some level. Not as an excuse for evil, or a way to cheer the indefensible, but because evil is not done by monsters, they are done by men. The reminder that sinful behavior and attitudes, such as vanity, greed, lust or gluttony for example, in pursuit of a goal, even a worthy or understandable one can lead to unacceptable actions and destruction was the core of villainy traditionally. It’s these traits that are missing from modern comic book portrayals, they have forgotten to how to write about bad behavior and the personality traits that lead to evil, mostly because the have the traits themselves and cannot recognize them.

    Magneto, is my favorite villain because he is a reminder of the dangers of vanity. His power fills him with a messiah complex that feeds an unshakable belief that he can save mutantkind, that he is beloved by all people like him and that he fights a righteous cause, The X-men and Prof. X are an affront to his vanity as they are the very people that should be helping him in his mind. When Mags tosses aside his vanity, he becomes good, when he re-adopts it, he is evil during the 80’s-90’s run.

    The X-men are my favorite heroes, because from the point of view of their universe, they have no selfish reason to defend humankind. The easy way is to join Magneto, or let things go. They refuse, because it is the right thing to do. Because it’s right to defend the innocent even if the opponent is one of them and their defenders may not like them (to a ridiculous degree even lol).

    Now writers blur these clear definitions

  2. If you’re wondering, the future place with old Logan and redneck Hulk is from a story called Old Man Logan. It’s actually a really excellent story from the ongoing Wolverine book at the time.

    In that story, we pick up many years in the future. Wolverine was mind-controlled or something years in the past and basically killed nearly all the heroes, and is tortured by guilt. He gave up superheroing in this post-apocalyptic environment and simply tries to live a peaceful life with his family. If you guess a lot of bad things will tempt him to return to action, you may be onto something. It’s actually very good, reminiscent of a good Western. There’s probably a Western with a premise like “old master gunfighter retires and vows never to shoot a gun again but is drawn into a conflict testing his resolve” sort of plot they’re pulling from.

    So that future environment is where Inhuman future-seer guy found himself at the beginning of this issue. The current 616 version of Wolverine that’s running around is actually the Wolverine from Old Man Logan, which is why he has gray hair and doesn’t wear a costume. Before Secret Wars they killed 616 Wolverine and then Old Man Logan ended up replacing him when it was over and they pulled in a bunch of characters from alternate Earths.

    1. “If you’re wondering, the future place with old Logan and redneck Hulk is from a story called Old Man Logan. It’s actually a really excellent story from the ongoing Wolverine book at the time.”

      Thanks, Eidolon. I wasn’t sure if it was from Old Man Logan or some other “Alternate Old Man Logan” universe. Haha! I can’t tell with Marvel these days.

    1. I didn’t read Secret Wars that closely and I only thumbed through some Civil War II. I did read Age of Ultron. They all have the same feel.

      Is it just me or is there no narrative thrust with these events they’ve been doing lately? The stories are so lackadaisical in their pacing. They present an idea, then some various, vaguely related stuff happens with a bunch of characters for a while, and then maybe they’ll check in on the premise again for a minute before having everyone argue again for a while…there’s no through-line, nothing propelling the story forward.

      On top of that it’s not even properly established. What exactly is Carol Danvers’ position in the government? I understood that Maria Hill was head of SHIELD so she could order Cap to be arrested in Civil War, but what can Carol do? I don’t think she has ordered Stark arrested, nor could she since there’s really nothing official saying she’s in the right or that she has the authority to do what she’s doing.

      In Civil War the issue was that the US government had made what most superheroes were doing illegal, so the “rebels” are trying to continue their heroing, convince people to get rid of this law, and rein in the excesses of the pro-registration side (such as using supervillains as agents). In Civil War II there’s no clarity to what’s at stake or why people are doing what they’re doing. When someone got killed in CW1 it made sense; both sides had a point and they escalated until some sort of casualty was inevitable. In this it just seems like Carol is crazy and unhinged, and I don’t even know why. She didn’t lose a close friend or anything. Why did they kill Rhodey instead of having a close friend of Carol’s die, or a family member or something to explain why she’s so hellbent on this? Oh that’s right, she’s a bland character and nobody in her books would matter to anyone. Maybe you should pick a character with actual passionate motivations for your antagonist then, Bendis.

      Ugh, the whole thing is such a sluggish, plodding, meandering mess. It’s actually better than Secret Wars was on that front as far as I can tell, that was the most unfocused event I’ve ever seen, but it’s really obnoxiously badly written.

  3. It’s little wonder Marvel comics are losing readers. I’m only buying a few Marvel titles these days. The last event I wasted money on was “AvX” and now I might just peruse through a few titles at my LCS or read them for free online.

    I used to be so against reading comics online for free, but I’ve stopped wasting my money on products lacking good quality entertainment. I’m not buying Marvel products out of nostalgic loyalty or habit anymore hoping for a compelling engaging story. Those days are long gone.

    There are better comic book companies publishing high quality stories and I tend to scrutinize which are worth buying. If I do read something for free online that I really like, then I’ll go out and buy it. No more gambling my money away.

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