This week brings us the third issue of the Civil War II main series from Marvel Comics. In the last issue the precognitive Inhuman Ulysses predicted the future deaths of all the heroes at the hands of the Hulk. Now, the assembled so-called heroes confront Dr. Bruce Banner about the horrific havoc he has yet to wreck. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Civil War II #3… as always, spoiler warnings are in effect.
What bothers me most about Civil War II is not the death of a major Marvel character, nor the mischaracterization of so many involved in this story. What bugs me is how far writer Brian Michael Bendis has fallen. Those who remember my reviews of his early Avengers stories at the old Avengers Forever website can attest that I was not a fan of Mr. Bendis, I was probably one of his biggest anti-fans when it came to “Disassembled” and later New Avengers, but I never (or hardly ever) disparaged his talent.
Bendis is an amazing writer, with a sense of storytelling (deconstructed or not) that is second to none. I might not have liked what was happening, but it was always well done. My question here is what happened? Civil War II represents one of the laziest things a writer can do – telling rather than showing. The story is framed by a trial or hearing where Matt Murdock has Carol Danvers on the stand about the death/murder of Bruce Banner. Sure we see some of the story, but the framework is like 1980s Chris Claremont exploded on the page – talk talk talk. The worst sin of all however is that it’s a superhero event comic featuring the death of a classic Marvel superhero, where almost nothing happens but talking, and one arrow shot. Is that how the Hulk should go out?
Hulks and Friends
There are a lot of things that just don’t make sense here. First, I don’t believe Banner would be dumb enough to experiment on himself, let alone keep notes somewhere that could be hacked and obtained. Neither do I believe that no one, absolutely no one in the Inhumans, the X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D., and several teams of Avengers ever considered that the Hulk that supposedly kills them all might not be Bruce Banner. And neither do I believe this whole Hawkeye/Banner nonsense.
Unless I’m missing something, has Hawkeye ever had any sort of relationship with Bruce Banner? Unless it’s occurred in the short time in the last year or so when I haven’t been reading comics, they are not friends. Oh yes, Hawkeye has teamed with the Hulk on multiple occasions, they even served together on the Defenders and teamed up once or twice before that, but as any good Marvel fan knows, the Hulk is not Banner. They may share a body most of the time, but like Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in Fight Club, they’re two distinctly differently people. I just don’t see Banner asking Hawkeye for this kind of favor, or Hawkeye for that matter, granting it.
Beating a Dead Hulk
So here we have the death of another major Marvel superhero, but with the revolving door death has become in comics, why should I even care? And if death doesn’t stick, I simply have no emotional investment. This was something that was hammered into my thoughts by people who disagreed with me on my revulsion and opinions about Captain America saying “Hail Hydra” (a phrase designed to mimic Heil Hitler it should be noted, and never forgotten) after murdering another human being (I wonder if that death is permanent?). The thing I was told over and over again was that Captain America was just a fictional character, and things will be back to normal in six months to a year.
Isn’t caring about fictional characters the goal of the creators of these comic books? So that a death can have an impact? If we shouldn’t care, why should I even bother any more? I’ve got better things to do than read comic books. Do the folks at Marvel Comics care that this is the way they’re making some of us feel? If I don’t care when a She-Hulk or a War Machine or a Hulk dies – if the creators don’t care – really, why bother? They’re just fictional characters, folks, tools for marketing and merchandising. I think the storytelling and entertaining and especially heroic aspects are long gone.
Hawkeye and Predictions
So we have a premise that’s not believable, the Bendis trademark of characters acting out of character, another death that does nothing to readers who will yawn and say, “he’ll be back, no worries,” and a lot of telling. We’ve also got a Hawkeye who has apparently been replaced by his cinematic or Ultimate version. Is this a result of Secret Wars? I don’t ever remember my 616 Hawkeye killing, or crying for that matter. Let’s face it, this is so out of character that Clint just might as well have said “Hail Hydra.”
And really, does no one know that Amadeus Cho is the Hulk? A braintrust of three to four dozen superheroes, and no one considered this? My guess is that the cliffhanger image that Tony Stark sees is Amadeus Cho as the ‘Totally Awesome Hulk’ on the rampage. Or perhaps it’s some clue that says Ulysses’ power is not quite what it seems to be. I think he may be causing things to happen as opposed to predicting them. I also predict that Stark is not going to make it out of this Civil War II event intact. Definitely a breakdown, maybe some booze (nice of Secret Wars to cure that for him), and possibly a death. Bring on Riri Williams, for at least six months to a year, when they change it up again… because comics…
I want to praise the art of David Marquez, and yeah, I’ll even give it to Olivier Coipel too, but I just wish that Bendis had given them something to draw other than brightly costumed (sometimes) characters standing around talking. Marquez is an action artist, play to his strengths and give him some action! Thumbs up on the art, these guys did the best they could with what the writer gave them.
I have a few other nits like Carol saying the Beast is with the X-Men. Wouldn’t she know him from the Avengers first? A member of a team that allowed an enemy to mind control you and rape you is hard to forget – or has Avengers #200 been erased from continuity? And isn’t Hank now with the Inhumans anyway? An entire page of this comic is wasted on roll call, so shouldn’t it at least be right? And as long as we’re talking old Avengers comics, I don’t recall Iron Man being too sad when the Hulk left after two issues, but here, Banner is a founding member – didn’t he lose that status long ago?
This was not a pleasant reading experience for multiple reasons. Perhaps it will get better, but at this point, I have my doubts. I’ll be back with more reviews of Marvel’s Civil War II event, and if you’d like to read my thoughts so far, click here.