Civil War II #3 Review
(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!)
If Civil War II is indeed the dark and emotional Empire Strikes Back to the original Civil War‘s swashbuckling A New Hope, then issue #3 may very well be this comic’s “I am your father” scene.
Issue #2 ended with the clairvoyant Inhuman Ulysses having a vision of Bruce Banner transforming into the Incredible Hulk and killing… everyone.
The final image of issue #2 depicted a roaring Hulk looming over the bloodied bodies of an entire army of Earth’s mightiest heroes.
Issue #3 picks up where that ending would naturally lead, with Carol Danvers AKA Captain Marvel confronting Dr. Banner in his laboratory, with an army of just about all of Earth’s superheros behind her.
The problem presents itself pretty quickly: though Banner hasn’t transformed into the Hulk in nearly a year, he’s been running experiments on his own DNA. He says that the experiments are the reason he’s been Hulk-free. Captain Marvel and Iron Man aren’t so sure.
The argument slowly starts to heat up, and the accusations are making Banner angrier and angrier. Things reach a boiling point right as Banner starts shouting; Banner is reaching the point of his temper that, in the past, always resulted in him transforming into the Hulk.
Then an arrow is fired from the nearby trees, which pierces Banner’s heart, killing him instantly.
The assailant is easily identified and caught; Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye surrenders himself as the man who killed Bruce Banner.
The story of this issue is told with two separate but complimentary narratives: one seeing all the heroes present during the killing testifying in a courtroom for/against Clint Barton, with the other narrative being a recollection of Banner’s death.
Things take an interesting twist when Barton takes the stand. Hawkeye tells the story of how Banner met with him months beforehand with a simple request: if he ever showed signs on becoming the Hulk again, Hawkeye is to use an arrow of Banner’s own design to put him down for good.
Though Tony Stark is devastated by his friend’s death and the role his fellow heroes played in it (especially Captain Marvel and Ulysses), Barton is on his way towards getting off with a non-guilty verdict. The issue ends with Stark running further tests on Ulysses’ powers, when he (but not the reader) makes a startling discovery.
Special kudos go to the artist David Marquez, especially the panel where Hawkeye chooses to shoot Banner. Clint Barton will later testify that he fired as soon as he saw a telltale glint of green flash across Banner’s eyes, and the way Marquez presents that moment is impressive. From a reader’s perspective, the color used for Banner’s eyes looks white at first glance, but there are just enough inklings of what might be turquoise to make it ambiguous as to whether-or-not a Hulk-out was imminent, just as it was ambiguous for all the heroes present.
In my review of the first issue, I made the point that Civil War II‘s central premise lacked the solid real-life political foundation that Civil War‘s Superhero Registration had. This issue changed that opinion.
As smarter men than I have pointed out, Civil War II‘s plot is shaping up to be one big analogy to the controversial #BlackLivesMatter movement. In the climax of this issue, Hawkeye basically plays the role of an overzealous police officer, using deadly force to take down an ambiguously threatening Bruce Banner, a scenario that anybody watching the news nowadays will be all-to familiar with.
Civil War II’s plot and politics have taken a sharp and dark turn that gives this story the potential to truly be something great instead of an obligatory sequel. The Marvel Universe is about to get a lot more interesting in the coming months.
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