Civil War II: The Oath
By Nick Spencer, Rod Reis, Jeff Dekal, Phil Noto, Raffaele Ienco, Symon Kudranski, Dono Sanchez-Almara, and Chris Eliopoulos.
Art can be commentary on real life events, and comics have their place in history for making political statements from time to time. Civil War II – The Oath is the conclusion to the Marvel event of 2016, and as we see Tony Stark, an undercover Hydra agent, take the oath to be S.H.I.E.L.D. Director it speaks volumes. Amongst the many super heroes we watched over the event tear each other apart we see them come together united to watch Steve Rogers, take on enormous power, more than any one individual has ever undertaken in order to “prove this is a world worth saving.” As tony Stark lays presumable dead, Captain Marvel disillusioned, and other opposition like Hawkeye far and away it looks like no one is going to stop Captain America, super secret Hydra agent, from turning this nation into one nation under Hydra.
This book may hit a little close to home for some, but this book is expertly done by writer Nick Spencer and artist Rod Reis. There is eloquence to this book as the story flows back and forth from past events and a conversation in the present between Steve Rogers and a dead Tony Stark. As the book progresses it becomes apparent that no one is expecting the secret agenda Captain America has in store for the nation he once stood for, and his biggest critic, the best chance for any rebellion, is seemingly dead. The book’s somber tone is deeply reflected in the art, during Cap’s induction there is rain and apprehension across the many faces of heroes in the crowd. Artist Rod Reis does a nice job to include the many faces that passed through the pages of Civil War II and give them some personal reactions to Captain America’s appointment.
The book is very wordy, with a lot of dialogue and narration from Steve Rogers, this books serves as his confessional right after he takes his new post. Reis balances the wordy nature of the story with intricate panel layouts that help to serve the story and add extra dimension to every narration. The line work and colors from Reis take care to display differences between the present and past events, with the current day marked with a dirty gritty, washed out look it helps to capture the somber, pessimistic mood and overall one of the book. Panels that show the past are marked with strong lines, bright colors, proud strong facial expression to only be washed away in current panels with un-assuredness and tones of grey.
The simplistic, effective nature of the book to hit close to home is also expressed in the cover art from Jeff Dekal. The art shows a half profile shot of both Captain Marvel and Iron Man. Both are shown post battle as battered, bleeding, bruised on both flesh and metal. Despite the war weariness of the cover, there is a determination of the head on approach of the profile, and intensity of the facial expression that gives hope and shows resolve. Perhaps, it shows a resolve for cooperation and moving beyond differences, but with on of the heroes presumed dead it is hard to be truly optimistic for a future team up.
The splash page showing Captain America, assumed man of the people, secret Hydra agent, being sworn in with a hand on the bible in front of the presidential seal will be remembered for some time to come. It will be remembered not just because it is a beautiful page, but also because it so adequately expresses the mood and tone of our nation in this very moment. The page captures the unease, trepidation, and pain of every hero as they recover from the events of Civil War II. It resonates and makes a reader feel something because it is personal and helps to communicate thoughts and feelings someone might not know they have. As Marvel moves on to the next event, Secret Empire, this issue was a nice bridge between the past events leading into the future.