Dan Abnett and Emilio Laiso’s “Civil War II: Gods of War” #1 should really just be renamed “Hercules” #7. Aside from the four pages where Hercules sees the opening events of “Civil War II” #1, there’s no connection to the larger event at all.
Regular issues that are billed as a tie-in to a big event comic that end up having little actual connection to it are nothing new, of course. In the mid-’80s, many fans called it “red sky syndrome” based on the number of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” tie-ins where characters casually noted how strange the red skies were before going about their business. “Civil War II: Gods of War” #1 is the same kind of deal; Abnett’s script feels like it wasn’t intended to be a tie-in comic in its original form, as “Civil War II” makes zero difference to the issue.
With that in mind, it’s a perfectly average story that finds Hercules being taunted by his enemies from “Hercules” #1-6, and he decides to form his own team with the members still to be revealed. There’s nothing bad about the script, but it also fails to stand out. Even an opening sequence guest starring the Amadeus Cho Hulk fails to have an impact, and that’s frustrating because the Hercules/Amadeus stories from a few years ago were hysterically fun. This is really little more than some exposition to catch up anyone who didn’t read the previous issues. Then again, considering the villains of this comic also speak in exposition (even down to one introducing herself so that we know her name), that’s not too surprising.
Laiso’s art is pleasant; it’s in the style of artists like Ed McGuinness, with big, bold and muscular figure work, especially in the early pages of the comic. The action is easy to follwow from one panel to the next, and Laiso handles the backgrounds in a way that make them full but never distracting. It’s easily the best thing about “Civil War II: Gods of War” #1, but there’s also nothing so special that this art stands out and carries the rest of the comic.
Ultimately, “Civil War II: Gods of War” #1 is a bit of bait-and-switch. There’s no real reason for this comic to have such a prominent “Civil War II” title, and it’s also not such an amazing comic to deserve the extra boost. This is ultimately a comic that looks nice but has a script that feels a little clunky and just below average thanks to the sheer amount of exposition. Hopefully, other “Civil War II” miniseries will have a stronger reason to be bundled into the event. This issue is for serious “Hercules” fans only.