The cast of Marvel’s latest major event thins in “Civil War II” #7, the now-penultimate issue of Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’ story that’s poised to reshape the Marvel Universe. The Inhuman Ulysses’ powers continue to evolve, taking him to a surprising place — and time — unknown to him, while a showdown takes place near issue’s end, although not necessarily the one readers would have expected just yet. The smaller cast allows Bendis to elevate the tension on a more personal level, and in doing so he and Marquez put together a stronger issue than those seen in the crowded and uneven early half of the series, building on the game-changing moment revealed in Ulysses’ most shocking premonition of all.
Just in case readers forgot the horrific mental image that Ulysses broadcast into many of Marvel’s heroes’ minds two issues ago, Marquez and Ponsor’s double-page spread of Miles Morales standing over a murdered Captain America in front of the Capitol Building is once again shown, as it has been in this series and others. As effective as the composition is, its repetitive use here – at least the fourth time it’s been seen – evokes more of an eyeroll than a jaw drop at this point; readers would have been better served with a pullout poster that they could just tape to the wall for ongoing reference.
That’s about as bad as the issue gets, though, as Bendis kicks off the story with yet another unseen aspect of Ulysses’ changing powers, transporting the character’s consciousness to a locale last seen during “Secret Wars,” in an encounter where he finds himself a participant, rather than solely a witness. Artist Andrea Sorrentino steps in to illustrate the sequence, an appropriate creative move that should give readers who noted his name in the credits above a clue as to exactly where, and when, Ulysses finds himself. The artistic switch gives the installment a different flavor from past issues, and the scene itself opens a whole new set of possibilities regarding just how the series might impact the future of the Marvel Universe, bringing greater relevance to a series that had previously seemed manufactured.
Bendis himself seems to be taking sides in the conflict, painting Carol Danvers as more of the villain here, and not solely by way of her seemingly fatal blow to a one-time ally at the end of the issue. Carol has seemingly and successfully swayed both the Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D. to her side, regarding taking Ulysses and Miles into custody, respectively. Her eventual actions leave her place in the Marvel Universe forever altered, and makes for another game changing moment that unpredictably sets the stage for the final issue. The nature of Ulysses’ latest vision combined with two highly-anticipated showdowns give Bendis’ story a sudden must-read vibe that unhesitatingly heightens the anticipation for the next and final installment.
By paring down the contents of the story down to its essentials in “Civil War II” #7, Bendis creates a tremendous and compelling set-up for the event’s conclusion, turning what had been a contrived and shoehorned storyline into a genuine must-read.