I’m enjoying Civil War II about as much as I did the first one, which is to say not all that much. Captain Marvel and Iron Man are arguing over broken, backwards logic with the end goal being an issue or two of huge, all out battle.
But much like the original Civil War, the best thing to come out of it are side stories and sub-plots. The single issue tie-ins have led to some great stories, like Iron Man mourning War Machine. And I was surprised to find that I enjoyed the Amazing Spider-Man tie-in.
By Christos Gage and Travel Foreman, Civil War II: The Amazing Spider-Man splits from the main ongoing (as it gets ready for Dead No More). Picking up a plot established in Amazing, Ulysses, the Inhuman who has visions of the future, is spending time with Spider-Man. Spidey sees himself as someone who can help Ulysses understand the weight and importance of his powers. Pretending to be a prospective intern, Ulysses has a vision of Clayton Cole one again becoming Clash and fighting Spider-Man.
First appearing in the story “Amazing Reality” way back in 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 3) #1, Clayton was a villain with a genius level intellect and a mastery over sonic technology. As Clash, he fought Spidey and was sent to a juvenile detention center. Thirteen years later, Cole worked as a henchman and encounters Spidey again, but this time helps him. Seeing a chance to offer redemption, Spider-Man offers Cole a job at Parker Industries.
Cole’s on-going feelings of inferiority are the driving force behind his ultimate downfall here. Spider-Man, acting odd because of Ulysses’ vision, fuels Clayton’s paranoia. Frustrated over personal and professional shortcomings, Clayton and Spider-Man confront each other. Though sincerely trying to help, Spider-Man ends up setting into motion Ulysses’ prophecy.
Cole’s story is reminiscent of a classic Spider-Man conundrum. He’s not a bad person, but he’s driven by a bad situation.
We see his on-going frustration with his parents, who belittle him. His girlfriend breaks up with him just as he’s getting ready to propose. His co-workers don’t understand that he feels caged in by one mistake he made as a teenager. It’s this classic Spider-Man backstory that strikes a simple chord, resonating with the reader. In the end, Clash isn’t necessarily the villain. But as he disappears into the sunset, Clayton Cole certainly isn’t the hero, either.
Despite my annoyance with the Civil War II event, I’m glad these characters still shine in the tie-ins. But sadly, these tie-ins are wrapping up, while the main story is not. Recently delayed, Civil War II is slated to end in December, but you can pick up all four issues of Civil War II: The Amazing Spider-Man today.