When comparing Marvel’s first comic-book Civil War from 10 years ago to the superhero battle that takes place in the new Civil War II, writer Brian Michael Bendis said the biggest difference is diversity.
“Thor is a woman. Captain America is African American. Spider-Man is a biracial teen. There’s all these different flavors and experiences and perspectives that were not at the forefront like they were last time,” he said. “Having all these different voices and perspectives to push against was a damn good reason to tell the story.”
The first issue of the mini-series Civil War II, written by Bendis and illustrated by David Marquez, hits newsstands both real and digital today. Marvel’s first Civil War saw Iron Man and Captain America battle over an act that required all heroes in the Marvel universe to register with the government and reveal their secret identities — and was the inspiration for the recent film “Captain America: Civil War.”
Bendis and Marvel’s top editors decided the next big storyline featuring all of the Marvel’s top characters would involve the heroes dealing with personal accountability. He wanted a new character in the Marvel universe to cause a rift between heroes because of a special power that some felt too powerful. But even after deciding on major players and who would take what side, Bendis still didn’t know he was crafting Marvel’s second Civil War until Marvel’s publisher, Dan Buckley, pointed out the obvious to him.
“[Dan] said, ‘We’re going to call this Civil War,'” Bendis said. “Everyone else will. We might as well.”
Civil War II was born.
The series’s conflict involves a young man linked to the Inhumans (a race of super-powered beings) with the power to see into the future and a difference of opinion as to whether such a power should be utilized or not. Bendis enjoyed plotting the conflict, especially because each side of this new Marvel war makes a convincing argument.
“Having your characters in a world dilemma where there is no right or wrong answer is a very special and cool thing,” Bendis told The Post’s Comic Riffs. “It was such a creative challenge.”
At the center of this new conflict are two of Marvel’s heaviest hitters. Iron Man once again finds himself in a war, siding against the use of seeing into the future, telling everyone that playing with the unknown is a bad idea. On the other side of the argument is Captain Marvel, who believes that if you can stop something before it starts, do it.
Bendis starts Civil War II’s first issue with Marvel’s heroes taking down an unexpected threat and celebrating with a party afterward before lines are drawn and sides are taken.
“The things that I’m most excited for people to experience in the first issue is that we open with this gigantic win and most events open with a gigantic disaster,” Bendis said. “Having the characters relate to each other in a friendly setting first was something that I was eager to do…When it becomes a very personal stake, you know they’re being honest because it isn’t just the stress of the story talking to them. We know how they felt on a good a day.”
Marquez, Civil War II’s illustrator, previously had the difficult task of replacing Sara Pichelli as the regular illustrator on Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man/Miles Morales title. Bendis and Marquez clicked so well on Ultimate Spider-Man that they collaborated on Invincible Iron Man next. Bendis envisioned a years-long, Stan Lee/Jack Kirby like run on Iron Man with Marquez, but when he began plotting Civil War II with Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and they began wondering who could draw the event, Bendis knew Marquez’s Iron Man run was over.
“Drawing everyone in the Marvel universe flying at you is not easy,” Bendis said. “So I sat down with David and I said, good news/bad news. I don’t think we’re going to [complete] our Iron Man run. Any time a publisher offers [an event like Civil War II] it’s immensely flattering. It’s them trusting you with the whole damn thing. I knew him enough to know that if he said yes, he would roll up his sleeves and kill on this.”
Bendis is also quick to credit Civil War II’s colorist, Justin Ponsor.
“What Justin brings to the book, in cinematic terms would be the work of a world-class cinematographer,” Bendis said. “He’s a storyteller equal to us.”
Major comic-book crossover events like Civil War II are expected to bring in new readers to the Marvel universe as a whole.
“An event like this is a macro-version of what my job is supposed to be anyhow,” Bendis says of writing Civil War II. “[The goal] is to graciously introduce you to ideas new or classic that you’re going to need to know about if you want to enjoy this story, but without making you feel punished for never hearing of [so many heroes] before.”