The events of Marvel’s Civil War II continue to send ripples through out the Marvel Universe with the fallout of Civil War II issue #3 (major spoilers ahead—or you can catch up here). The ramifications of these events are addressed in “Law & Order: Special Humans Unit” or, if you’d like, Civil War II: The Accused #1.
Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, has been arrested for the murder of Bruce Banner. The precognitive super-human Ulysses has foreseen Bruce hulking out and then killing innocents, though in the future. In a “Minority Report” moment, a consortium of costumed heroes confront Banner at his lab in Alpine, Utah, where Hawkeye follows through with his promise to Banner—to kill him should Clint ever suspect that Banner would transform into the Hulk again. The Accused #1 is the trial that follows Hawkeye’s arrest.
Brought in to prosecute Barton is none other than Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil. His sense of justice is immediately put to task as he suspects and then confirms that more is at stake than the life of Clint Barton.
Writer Marc Guggenheim has crafted a story that he describes as a “30-page Scott Turow novel” with the intrigue and mystery of a legal thriller. And for good reason: Guggenheim got his start as a lawyer, but then moved on to writing for television shows like “Law & Order” and “The Practice” before penning numerous comic titles. His expertise on the subject of law and comics helps to bring us an insightful glimpse at the inner workings of Hell’s Kitchen’s finest attorney/vigilante.
Between Murdock’s own investigation of a conspiracy behind the trial, Guggenheim illuminates the dark issues of guilt and responsibility that haunt Barton as he contemplates the consequences of his actions against Banner. Did he act hastily? Should he have kept his promise to Bruce? Questions arise in the reader’s mind as they ponder a world where super-humans exist. Would the law apply the same to these beings? We’d expect them to use their powers to protect us, but where does their judgement end and justice begin?
The issue was an entertaining departure from typical comic book fare, and much more thought provoking as a result. The story didn’t drag out or default into a typical court room drama, but rather used some creative ways to move the trial along. One way I really liked was using the panels in a jump-cut like manner mid-trial to show how day after day, the defense was being steam-rolled by the judge. I would have liked to see the trial in more detail but once I finished the issue I could tell that Barton’s trial was not the purpose of this new series, as he was not truly the Accused.
Surprisingly, the trial is contained completely within the issue, but the conspiracy behind the trial lends itself to a much larger story that will change the future of our favorite Marvel heroes. The follow up continues in Civil War II #5 and will no doubt expand to affect all of the supers that populate the Marvel world.