While DC is busy with their Rebirth launch, which has been pretty solid on the whole, Marvel has been burying their books in a massive crossover event meant to piggyback on the success of the Civil War movie in theaters now (which is awesome). That movie is based on the original Civil War arc, which they can’t really do again, so instead we have a new justification for a split in the Marvel hero community, which is happening over in the main Civil War II comic. I read the first two issues of it (#0 & #1) and decided to drop it in favor of keeping my brain cells intact. But, as is often the case with massive crossovers like this there are mini-series tie-ins that transcend their source material and end up being rather good. In the hopes of finding a few of those I’ll be checking out a few each week. Unlike Rebirth I am not going to read all of them (partly because Marvel has them at a higher price point and partly because I only have so much free time), but I will be checking out several that I might otherwise have skipped over. For this week I am looking at Civil War II: Gods of War and New Avengers. What these two have in common is that they have virtually nothing to do with Civil War II, and that’s for the better. Also out this week, but which I did not pick up, was Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man.
Civil War II – Gods of War #1
“Gods and Monsters”
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Emilio Laiso
This is essentially a continuation of the Hercules series that just concluded due to low sales, and should be read as such rather than as a Civil War tie-in. Its connection to Civil War is minimal, but actually clever. Over the years Hercules has been seen as a damaged hero, and not one other heroes want to associate with. When the rest of the hero community is called in to fight the celestial threat at the beginning of Civil War II #1 no one bothers to call Hercules, and he is justifiably upset by that, although he does at least understand why. Since the threat is hard to ignore once it does appear Hercules ventures out to help anyway, but ends up getting waylaid by the Modern Gods that were introduced in his recent comic series. Since no one else can see them it looks like he is fighting thin air, and that just makes him look even crazier than most of the heroes already picture him. And the connection to Civil War II ends there.
Since the creative team is presumably expecting some new readers to be joining what is otherwise a story-in-progress they do a decent job of filling in the details of what is going on, but honestly if you didn’t read Hercules (and it seems most people didn’t, which is a shame) you’d be better off waiting for this series to end and just reading both Hercules and Gods of War in one go. Since writer Dan Abnett will be under exclusive contract with DC following this series’ completion it seems unlikely we will see more of this story after this mini-series ends. Hopefully they have planned ahead so that this series will round-up all the subplots, or they have already put some plans in motion for the plot to continue elsewhere (maybe Mighty Thor?).
As for the story itself this is an enjoyable issue with Herc being pushed aside by the other heroes, and him turning to other washed up gods as a result. The fight against the Modern Gods will presumably take center stage for the rest of the series, and that should prove entertaining. The motivation of the Modern Gods could do with some more specific detailing, but on the whole they are an interesting group and I like how they come across. I especially like how good they are at pushing Hercules’ buttons, and how effective they are at isolating him from the other heroes.
In the end this is a solid issue of Hercules, and it is one I can definitely recommend… assuming you have already been reading Hercules before now. If you have not the tradepaperback of the first series will be out on June 21st, and I recommend giving it a look. It is a shame we won’t be able to see more after this series is done (most likely, anyway), but I am hopeful that knowing that in advance will let the creative team wrap things up in a satisfying way by the end of this series.
Pickup Civil War II: Gods of War at Amazon.com or your local comic shop.
New Avengers #12
“A.I.M. vs S.H.I.E.L.D. Part 1: What’s Coming Next”
Writer: Al Ewing
Penciller: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Velasco
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Like Civil War II: Gods of War this book has virtually nothing to do with the actual Civil War plot, and instead is using it as window-dressing to further its own story, which I am 100% okay with. In this case the connection is a little stronger as it opens with the same celestial fight that Gods of War does, but since Wiccan is a fairly important part of that fight we get to see a bit more of it. Since his mother, Scarlet Witch, is also part of the team of sorcerers that he is on we get a few good mother/son moments here, which plays to the book’s strengths. In addition to that we get to see some of the other team members fighting on the ground alongside the other heroes, which leads to an undeniably cute scene with Squirrel Girl giving a motivational speech to her squirrel troops. It is a good opening that makes solid use of the crossover material available to it, and then chucks it aside once the fight is over.
Moving forward from the crossover material we get Sunspot trying to repair his team after breaking it apart during Avengers Standoff, and this book’s overarching villain, the Maker, putting together a team of anti-Avengers, the New Revengers. And on top of that we have what appears to be a mutiny within SHIELD with Dum Dum Dugan getting brainwashed by John Garrett into betraying his loyalties. There are a lot of balls spinning at the moment, but since this may also act as an introduction to the book for new readers it mostly works.
The real draw of this title, and the reason I keep coming back to it month after month, is its tendency to lean towards the absurd. The aforementioned pep talk by Squirrel Girl to her companions is only one such example, and is tame by comparison to some of the others thrown in here. This is a book that wears its craziness on its sleeve, and is all the better for it. Some people aren’t going to like its approach to storytelling, and that is fine, but for me this is one of the books I look forward to each month. I just have to love a book where Sunspot, the leader of A.I.M. and the New Avengers, uses “no backsies” as an excuse for why his former teammates have to agree to meet him. It is a book worth checking out to see if you like it, even if the Avengers titles are not generally your thing.
Pickup New Avengers #12 at Amazon.com or your local comic shop.
Next week the Civil War tie-in books I’ll be looking at will be Civil War II: X-Men #1, Deadpool #14, and Nova #8. I will be ignoring Civil War II #2, which will also be out next week. Surprisingly, both of the Inhumans books are out next week, and neither of them are tying into Civil War II yet, despite the Inhumans being an integral part of the crossover.