Marvel Comics saga Civil War II issue number three begins in a courtroom. This was not what I expected but it was interesting to see who was in the courtroom and why. Matt Murdock, Daredevil, is no longer a defender of the little guy, he is the representative for the state and he has called for Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, to come to the stand.
We quickly learn that Danvers led a mission with other super heroes to Alpine, Utah, to arrest Bruce Banner. Danvers and Tony Stark confront Banner and explain to him that he is under arrest. Banner the meek and hermetic scientist doesn’t look like a threat, but he is. Though he hasn’t had a Hulk incident in almost a year, a full force of superheroes has come to bring him in. Danvers and Stark explain to Banner that a young INHUMAN named Ulysses experiences visions of the future. He shared this experience of the next Hulk incident with everyone, and the superhero community has come to stop it before it happens.
Though everyone is here to stop Banner from another Hulk incident, not everyone agrees on what to do with the new found knowledge provided by Ulysses. Stark argued that they couldn’t just rely on the vision alone, they needed more proof. In comes Hank McCoy, Beast of X-men fame, who hacks into Banner’s computer and learns that Banner has been injecting himself with treated dead gamma cells. Shock permeates the crowd and Maria Hill, Director of SHIELD, moves to arrest Banner. Now things get worse and we learn why we have a trial at the beginning of this issue.
Banner gets angry and though we don’t see him transform into Hulk, his face looks contorted like he is one second away from switching to his much stronger and dangerous alter ego. Artists David Marquez, Oliver Coipel, and color artist Justin Ponsor did an outstanding job in their depiction of Banner as he is progressing in his anger in the face of betrayal.
Spoiler Alert (Do not read ahead if you don’t want to know who dies.)
Bruce Banner, Hulk, is killed in this moment of anger by an arrow shot from the forest. Clint Barton, Hawkeye, is the assassin. The trial is about determining Barton’s guilt. Banner had come to visit him with a request. Kill him before he could have another Hulk incident. It had been almost a year, and Banner knew that Barton was one of the few people that could live with what he would need to do. Superheroes like Daredevil are prosecuting Hawkeye for killing the Hulk. That seems to be a definition of Civil War to me.
Beast testifies that the arrow used to kill Hulk was custom built by Banner and plays a video diary of Banner explaining his plan to have Barton kill him before another incident. The divide is obvious with Stark’s testimony. He didn’t see Banner changing and he was right in front of him. Barton contradicts this with his own testimony saying with his acute eyesight he saw Banner’s eyes flicker green; while Stark just saw a man being betrayed by his friends.
Danvers concludes her testimony by saying that what happened with Banner saved lives. The INHUMAN Ulysses’ visions had proven to be true and he has consistently shared his visions with SHIELD and the superhero’s to stop cataclysmic events. As Danvers says, Banner got what he wanted. Even though she didn’t know Barton was going to do what he did, Danvers believes in her heart that lives were saved. There have been no fatalities since the Banner incident.
Two sides have been drawn in the story, Tony Stark vs Carol Danvers. Tony is upset and despondent over the death of Bruce Banner. He blames Danvers for the murder and pointedly asks her who is next on her hit list. Danvers regrets the death of Banner, but since so many have been saved it seems like a fair trade off.
In true cliffhanger fashion, as the verdict is about to be announced we are taken to Tony Stark’s lab where he sits in the shadows. MJ Watson comes to tell him that the verdict for Barton is about to be announced and doesn’t he want to know what it is. They are interrupted by Tony’s computer Friday who asks if he would like to know how the INHUMAN’S power to the see the future works. Our last panel ends with Tony Stark and MJ Watson staring in shock at the report by Friday. With a look of shock on his face Tony states, “It’s our future.” Cue the dramatic music and the to be continued tagline.
I liked this comic a lot. In reality, Issue 3 of Civil War II is another link in the chain for a long story. But it is an important link. It sets up a lot of conflict that will divide the community of superheroes. The Hulk is murdered by Hawkeye, another Avenger, at the request of the Hulk. Iron Man and Captain Marvel are at odds over the use of the visions from the INHUMAN Ulysses and you can see throughout the panels different heroes starting to take sides. We also get that Stark skepticism and see that perhaps what Captain Marvel and many others believe to be such a good thing, the visions from Ulysses, might be a destructive thing.
What could simply be a filler book to a long series is action packed with quick twist and turns that establish the motivations of some characters while using a major act like the murder of the Hulk to propel the story.
Brian Michael Bendis kept the dialogue short and snappy, which helped the story move fast while David Marquez, Oliver Coipel, and Justin Ponsor brought depth and feeling to the charters with their artwork. You as the reader are left wondering what you would do if you had knowledge of the future. Is it a gift, or does this knowledge force you to create a different future with worse consequences? I loved the allusion to Phillip K. Dick’s Minority Report and I was left wondering what side I would be on.