Civil War II: Choosing Sides, written, drawn, and colored by miscellaneous individuals, was published in 2016 by Marvel.
Civil War II: Choosing Sides is a collection of one-shots (actually, most of them are half-shots, since each issue has two stories) featuring miscellaneous Marvel characters and how they relate to the Civil War II.
Most of these stories are really, really bad. I read a lot of comics and am fairly caught up on modern Marvel stories and characters, and still more than half of these stories were completely nonsensical. How in the world did Marvel expect to sell these for $4 a pop?!
Half of issue #2 revolves around a *construction company*. You may be thinking, “that sounds like a cool concept, if they do it right”. Well they didn’t do it right. The writing is bad. The artwork is embarrassing. The ending is so stupid. If I had spent $4 on this issue to find out that half of it is about some random construction dudes being sexist I would have been upset with Marvel. I’m upset with Marvel and I got this book from the library.
…And 2/3 of the stories were like this!
BUT. Then there were two gems – comics I actually want floppies of just so I can own them without them having to be associated with the rest of this crap.
So – mini reviews of all of the stories in this book:
Issue #1: “Post Prologue” (Nick Fury)
I have no idea what happened in this issue. Nick Fury pretends to be dead for a stupid reason, gets a suit upgrade (from somewhere??) which gives him some superpowers. Whole lot of monologue, not a lot of story, absolutely nothing interesting.
Issue #2: Night Thrasher
Night Thrasher is new to me, and he seems like a cool dude. The artwork is pretty and dramatic. Night Thrasher is conscious of how ridiculous this whole situation is, which is refreshing. I’d like to read more of his story.
Issue #2: Damage Control
The aforementioned construction company story. Why is it here. Why is the artwork in 70s style. Why is the story so stupid.
Issue #3: War Machine
THIS IS THE GEM. I LOVE this little story and it is the sole reason why I gave this book 2 stars instead of 1. It is actually split into 4 very mini stories – one each for America Chavez, Monica Rambeau, Misty Knight, and Storm – which examine how each of them are dealing with the death that kicked off the Civil War II. What struck me in these 8 pages is just how real the stories are. Each of the women reaches out with her grief differently but realistically. The artwork is stylish and highly emotive in a way that adds to the story’s themes of grief and hope.
It’s silly, but the panel that struck me most in this story is one where Misty Knight is standing in a locker room changing her clothes. She has her shirt off but is wearing a bra and is tying a pair of karate pants on. This panel shocked me, and I spent a good 30 seconds admiring it. Misty is wearing a cute bra that looks like it fits well and is practical. She’s not spilling out of it. She’s not leaning forward so we can see down it. Misty is changing her clothes as part of the story, and neither her undies nor her body are sexualized in this panel at all. IT IS SO GOOD.
Anyway, I love this story and I’ll be following both the author and the artist. I highly recommend checking it out.
Issue #3: The Goliath
I skimmed this one. It’s pretty, but absolutely impossible to understand. Who is this for?!
Issue #4: Kate Bishop
I am a huge fan of both Clint and Kate, so I know I’m biased going into this one – but it’s really the second shining star of this book. The artwork is reminiscent of Fraction’s run but has its own style. The colors in particular are really striking.
The story is light, but is a nice characterization of Kate and her relationships. Her situation with Clint has never been easy, and it’s nice to see her struggling to deal with what Clint has done.
So the story is good, but the artwork (and in particular the colors) are really the standout here.
Issue #4: J. Jonah Jameson
I actually really like the artwork in this one. The “story”, though, was just J. Jonah ranting about “what makes a hero” and talking down to Silk. LAME.
Issue #5: The Punisher
The art style is different, but ugly. I’m sure other people like it. The story was stupid and only had 4 panels of Punisher.
Issue #5: Power Pack
Who is this comic for?! The story and artwork and both YA style, and the heroes seem like YA heroes, but the team hasn’t existed since 2000 (SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO) and there is zero backstory provided to explain who these people are. Marvel’s decisions just baffle me sometimes.
Issue #6: Alpha Flight
The Trudeau cameo (more than a cameo, by the way – he’s in this issue way more than Alpha Flight is) is way cringy. I was embarrassed reading it. Again – who is this story for, Marvel?
Issue #6: Colleen Wing
This book was fine I guess. Generic artwork, boring story.
Issue #7: Jessica Jones
This was another one with nice artwork and beautiful colors. The story was pretty much a throwaway, but at least we got some nice backstory about Ulysses. I enjoyed learning why he named himself that, and meeting his parents and seeing his room was fun.
Issue #7: White Fox
Gorgeous, moody artwork really is the only thing going for it. The story makes no sense. Again – random background hero who has only shown up in 1 comic in the past 20 years – why didn’t we get a short blurb about who she is?! That would have made the whole comic so much better.
After writing all of these mini reviews, my overall thought is just – what the heck, Marvel. Whom did you create this book for. Who knows all of these characters off the top of their head and is excited to pay $4 for a half issue story about them.
I feel like if these stories had been about more popular characters or if they had been an issue long instead of half an issue…maybe that would have saved it. Maybe if each story had had a small blurb at the beginning explaining the context it would have worked better.
As it is, this book is bad.
tl;dr: This book has a lot of shit, but two shining stars and one with some potential. Pick this one up for “War Machine”, “Kate Bishop”, and possibly “Night Thrasher” and “Jessica Jones”, but the rest are unequivocally bad.