Although real life civil war of the 19th century may have been a period of much tragedy for America, the fictional “Civil War” for Marvel Comics circa 2006 was a period of spectacular sales growth. Ever since the start of the year, Marvel Comics have announced a sequel to this crossover event since the start of the year, and have utilized the first major convention of the year (the annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, or C2E2) to make a slew of official announcements. To this end, ICv2 reported today (March 21) on a series of mini series intended to spin off from the official crossover series in addition to releasing the official rosters of the opposing superhero teams over the weekend.
Set to hit this summer (right after the smaller crossover, “Avengers : Standoff”), it will be written by longtime exclusive writer Brian M. Bendis (writer or co-writer of previous crossover events such as “House of M”, “Secret Invasion”, “Siege”, “Age of Ultron”, and “Avengers vs. X-Men”) and drawn by his longtime collaborator, David Marquez. Details remain fuzzy, but the catalyst involves a young girl who can predict the future (who, according to “Avengers: Standoff” may have been the result of a SHIELD experiment) and the community of superheroes violently disagreeing on how to respond. According to this weekend’s announcements, the two factions will be led by Captain Marvel (who wants to use this power to “change the future” before tragedies have happened) and Iron Man (who wants to “protect the future” and infringe on liberty for security). Carol Danvers’ team will include her “A-Force” allies She-Hulk and Medusa alongside Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Monica Rambeau, Captain America (Steve Rogers), War Machine (James Rhodes), Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Vision, Winter Soldier, and Blue Marvel (Adam Brashear). Iron Man’s team will include his “Avengers” allies Captain America (Sam Wilson), Thor (Jane Foster), Black Widow, Black Panther, and Hercules alongside Daredevil, Star-Lord, Luke Cage, Miss America (Chavez), Hulk (Amadeus Cho), and Deadpool. Naturally, these rosters are chock full of odd choices, especially since in the original “Civil War”, it was Iron Man on the side of staunch overreach of authority in the name of security, and Steve Rogers was against it (to say nothing of Peter Parker learning the hard way what a slippery slope it was). Baron Zemo and the “Masters of Evil” are involved in “Avengers: Standoff” (which is seen as a prelude to “Civil War II”), and this conflict is said to also involve the Inhumans (who Marvel Comics are seeking to make a film about in the near future). But as with previous events, apparently superheroes resort to pummeling each other rather than engage in debate regardless of previous characterization so long as it suits editorial needs. One wonders if it is wise to shift Captain Marvel in a role which borders on her overreaching her authority when she’s less than two years from a film and the country is this close to having a woman run for President for the first time. Then again, Marvel inadvertently titled a crossover event “Dark Reign” during the election and first term of President Barack Obama.
Much as with the original “Civil War”, there will be a series of spare mini series running alongside the central mini series and the regular issues of ongoing series. Clearly, Marvel Comics believes that absolutely nothing about the market has changed within a decade. As with the first go around, there will be “road to Civil War II” tie-ins leading up to the event in series such as “All-New Wolverine”, “Ms. Marvel”, “Deadpool”, and “Invincible Iron Man”. The current international corporate tycoon Spider-Man will get his own mini series tie in with “Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man” written by Christos Gage and drawn by Travel Foreman, in which he consults with his longtime friend Human Torch (who is currently teamed up with the Inhumans) before choosing his side. “Civil War II: Gods of War” will be written by current “Hercules” writer Dan Abnett and artist Emilio Laiso in which Hercules and other gods (such as Gilgamesh, Theseus, Sigurd, Beowulf, and Lorelei) sort out what their role will be. Cullen Bunn and Andrea Broccardo will also be producing a “Civil War II: X-Men” mini series in which the X-Men and the Inhumans (whose Terrigen Mists are literally killing mutants) duel. All of these series will be four issues long and debut in June.
There will also be a six issue anthology series called “Civil War II: Choosing Side” which will include a serialized tale about Nick Fury throughout the series and shorter stories featuring Night-Thrasher and Damage Control. Creators involved include Declan Shalvey; Brandon Easton, Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Goran Sudzuka, and Leonardo Romero. Many of Marvel’s crossover events have had similar anthologies included in their library of tie-in titles, and historically their sales have bordered on mediocre to terrible. There will also be a promotional newspaper created for “Civil War II”, much as their was for “Secret Wars”.
Sales for 2006’s “Civil War” was high, with issues selling in the 200k to 300k range and even many of the spare mini series seeing spikes in sales. However, it was only the second major crossover after a long period of stability from 2000-2004 and it was Marvel’s most expansive since the 90’s. Because it was a rarity, it was an “event”. A decade later, Marvel Comics is a company which promotes anywhere from two to four crossover events a year which last anywhere from six to nine months (or longer if there are late issues) while also relaunching virtually every ongoing series they sell once every six to twenty issues with a fresh number on the cover and (usually) a hike in cover price. On paper, “Civil War” was a massive sales hit, even if in reality, virtually every retailer still in business (and many who may not be any longer) over ordered many comics involved in that crossover which have long since become fodder for the “dollar bins”. So while Marvel may expect another massive hit, it will remain to be seen how conservative both readers and retailers may be on a second go around of one of their biggest crossover which is conveniently released around the same time that “Captain America: Civil War” hits theaters.