When Marvel Comics began teasing a sequel to their Civil War comic book event last year I had mixed feeling that it could be done again and succeed as a major crossover story arc again. Are they tryng to capitalize on the fact that it is the 10th anniversary of the original series written by Mark Millar and art by Steve McNiven or the fact that the Cinematic Universe experienced a Civil War of its own in the third Captain America movie. Some would say that if done well it is bound to succeed.
To that assumption I say not so fast. A look at Diamond Comics sales figures for Civil War II tells a different story. Issue #1 sold 381,737 copies, very good for a new series you say. Well it is well below Secret Wars #1, which sold 527,678 copies a year previous. Plus the later issues drop off in sales significantly showing disinterest in the series as a whole when compared to sales of all issues of 2015 Secret Wars and the original Civil War series which never sold less than 250,000 copies per issue back in 2006 and 2007. Civil War II #4 sold 126,865 copies in July less than a third of #1 in sales.
While 100,000 in sales is good normally for any comic book title, it is not when you look at successful major series of the past as we previously stated. The many tie-ins accompanying the main series have been a failure in reviving interest in the story arc. Only a few have sales in the top 50 for Civil War II. The tie-in factor has not helped sales with this series blockbuster. There just is not the same excitement of the original Civil War series or depth of story as Secret Wars last year. Why is Civil War II not equal to the hype of a superhero smash down?
While Civil War II’s shipping delays have contributed to the dis-satisfaction of readers the same thing happened last year with Secret War but a great story made it worth the wait, so what is the heart of the problem and the reason for general apathy in readers? The story itself while well written is slow to demand a reason for one hero to come to blows with another. The readers are confused why these visions of a future-predicting Inhuman drive some to act on a possible future event. This is the ultimate dangers of profiling before anyone has done anything wrong. While it is an interesting premise “Change the future or protect the future?” is not a clear motivation to act as “Whose side are you on?” did a decade ago about the Superhero Registration Act.
With many characters, they don’t even have a firm grasp of why they’re invested enough in this conflict to come to blows with their fellow heroes. Friends become foes for the hope of a possible better future and the vision of one man. Tony Stark makes a compelling argument that Ulysses’ power is based on probability calculations, not absolute truth. That factor is not enough to stop Captain Marvel from attempting to arrest Miles Morales for something he has not done yet. Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) has a military back ground and a logical, level head and for her to accept these visions and not to question there validity seems out of character for her.
Plus the original series was a fresh idea by Millar and it was interesting to see how different heroes would react to the edict by the government. The conflict was real in the minds of the readers and not vague like in Civil War II. People want there heroes to fight the bad guys not each other unless it is warranted through a cause that makes sense. The story while interesting does not compel me to read further. Should I invest 3.99 to see what happens? Civil War II hasn’t justified heroes battling heroes in yet another massive conflict.
I would not call Civil War II a complete failure I am sure it serves a useful service to future crossover series possibly “Divided We Stand”. This is the direction that the creators and editors want to go to set up the Marvel universe Marvel NOW relaunch. I am sure the enthusiasm to read Marvel comics has not died and we still have 3 issues left to read in Civil War II. Just maybe Brian Michael Bendis: writer and David Marquez: artist will finish strong. There may be a “Wow what a good comic” left in Civil War II yet. Stay tuned to Comics Talk for more. 🙂 Walt