Marvel Comics’ big crossover event of the summer, Civil War II continues. The emergence of an Inhuman named Ulysses who seems to be able to predict the future has divided the heroes of the Marvel Universe into two factions, those that want to protect the future led by Iron Man, and those who want to change it under the leadership of Captain Marvel. The actions of the latter faction have led indirectly to the deaths of War Machine and Bruce Banner, formerly the Incredible Hulk. Who’s next? Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Civil War II #4, and beware of spoilers.
The Fate of She-Hulk
Once again, the roll call page has stories of its own to tell. She-Hulk, looking battered but very much alive, is pictured and named. So the mystery is over; she’s alive, even after she was shown flatlining at least twice. I guess this is a new spin on death meaning nothing in comic books. The explanation is that she’s been in a coma, and she’s just woken up. Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) in her infinite wisdom as a leader, has decided that the best time to give bad news is just after a coma patient has woken. Let’s just take gamma-irradiated rage out of the equation – are there no doctors in this hospital at the Triskelion with common sense?
At first we only see the back of She-Hulk’s head facing Captain Marvel, so I suspected there might be some scarring, perhaps permanent damage to her face, but then the view turns and we see her. She-Hulk is cut, perhaps there will be scars, but perhaps they will heal; Hulks are good at healing, like almost Wolverine good. But she doesn’t seem to take the news of her cousin’s death at the hands of a friend and fellow Avenger very well. As what her next reaction was, we are left hanging, as if it just doesn’t matter.
I don’t trust writer Brian Michael Bendis when it comes to Hawkeye. His past actions with the character are very telling. When he first started writing Avengers stories, BMB killed Hawkeye within three issues, brought him back to sleep with the quite mad Scarlet Witch, and in the last issue of Civil War II had him murder Bruce Banner. When I see the news footage depicting Hawkeye in his traditional costume, I’m a bit worried. Are we getting one last look at the Clint we know and love before Bendis does something worse to him?
This Civil War is a slow burn, as we’re told quite a bit of time has passed. It must have. How long would it take for Hawkeye to go on trial, and be considered such a media blitz? We see of course that Hawkeye is acquitted of the murder of Banner, and that this case has riveted the entire world. I have to once again wonder if Ulysses’ vision of the Hulk killing them all is the Hulk, or a Hulk. We have yet to see the reactions of Jennifer Walters and Amadeus Cho, and any other Hulks that may still be floating around.
The State of Iron Man
The rest of the comic is a well-constructed dual story featuring a monologue by Tony Stark’s Iron Man and visuals of what Captain Marvel is up to. This is some special story-crafting here. I know I can be hard on Bendis when it comes to characterization, but I have to give him props when he makes stuff like this happen. Bravo. As Captain Marvel and her crew arrest a woman for a crime she has yet to commit, Stark sits on the floor of what looks like an abandoned warehouse and empties his heart to an unseen listener about the Ulysses situation.
This Civil War II event is breaking Tony. He’s lost his best friend to an incident that in his mind should not have happened. We have seen his possible return to drinking in this mini-series. Tony Stark, in either superhero or super-villain mode, has never been one to not be able to take care of himself and face crises on his own, but this is different. He is at a loss as to what to do, so he has turned to what I assume is the current iteration of the Illuminati, and among them, Captain America (Steve Rogers) who was once his friend, until the first superhero Civil War separated them. Tony has become that weakened, that desperate.
Some of you out there are going to say I’m beating a dead horse again with the Captain-America-is-a-Nazi mess, but I assure you, here it is relevant. Tony has turned to Steve Rogers for support, for advice, for leadership. And over in Captain America: Steve Rogers #3, the tale of his double agent status continues unchanged. The body count is rising, and we have a scene of Steve Rogers painting the Hydra symbol on his bare chest and kneeling before the Red Skull. The reality has not changed, and Captain America still serves Hydra.
The crime-that-has-not-yet-been-committed that Captain Marvel has arrested the woman Allison Green for was engineered – at least in Ulysses’ prophetic vision – by Hydra. So are you going to tell me that Captain America doesn’t have a stake in rescuing this young woman from Captain Marvel’s people? If Ulysses’ vision is true and Green was going to throw the financial world into chaos, wouldn’t it behoove Hydra to have her free and walking around? And who is Hydra’s most efficient and dangerous double agent at the moment? Yeah, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America.
One of my favorite Prince songs is from the much underestimated Batman soundtrack, “Electric Chair,” one of several about the Joker, but I think it fits here. A line in the refrain goes, “If a man is considered guilty for what goes on in his mind then give me the electric chair for all my future crimes.” Much like the movie Minority Report, that’s what Captain Marvel is doing here. She interrogating a civilian, treating Allison Green like a criminal.
Luckily, like Tony Stark’s torture of Ulysses himself, this is stopped by outside forces. Iron Man, Captain America, and their forces, including Nightcrawler who spirits Green away, are there to make a stand. Miraculously, as if Captain Marvel was expecting this, her forces are there as well. And when Iron Man intimates that she may be outpowered, she summons the Guardians of the Galaxy seemingly from nowhere. Is the dramatic effect worth the outlandish coincidence?
The big deal about the first superhero Civil War was whose side you were on, and the Marvel Universe divided up sensibly according to each character’s beliefs and motivations, and some even switched sides after that. I wonder how the sides were chosen here. I can see how the All-New All-Different Avengers are with Iron Man, it’s his team after all, but the X-Men? And might the Guardians also be swayed to former member Stark’s side as well?
On Captain Marvel’s side, there are obviously the Ultimates, the aforementioned Guardians, S.H.I.E.L.D., Alpha Flight, and the Inhumans. I also see a few X-Men in there too. That’s an awful lot of folks on her side. Like Tony, Carol is also hurting from Rhodey’s death, and we’ve already seen Doc Samson worried about her mental state; might there be issues here? Might we see both leaders break before this goes too far?
This has been Bendis’ strongest issue so far despite my objections and suspicions, and quite frankly the best writing by him I’ve seen in a bit, perhaps since his All-New X-Men. It did not have the bang that previous issues have had however, and I hope the next issue lives up to this cliffhanger. You can’t have a superhero war without superheroes fighting, right?
Artist David Marquez continues to impress, and does a fantastic job here. He’s a fabulous storyteller, and look forward to seeing more. He is one of those artists where you wonder what his take on certain characters will be, and he hasn’t disappointed yet. 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.