Civil War Correspondence: Casualties Of War [Recapping ‘Civil War II’ #2-3]
We're three issues into Civil War II now and the stakes have raised dramatically. There have been major deaths and lines crossed as the heroes contend with the predictive information provided by the Inhuman named Ulysses. With Civil War Correspondence, I'm recapping the story so far and providing offering a personal assessment of where I stand in the conflict. I reserve the right to flip-flop at will. This time around we're looking at the second and third issues of Civil War II, and the death of an Avenger --- at the hands of another Avenger.
This article contains full and extensive spoilers for the issues discussed.
Civil War II #2
The second issue of the event begins with Tony Stark creating an international incident by breaking into Attilan and abducting Ulysses to take him away and do all sorts of tests on him. Sometimes you can tell when an event writer is also the writer of a solo series, because here Iron Man is proven to by literally flawless when he goes up against Karnak, whose powers are solely to find and exploit flaws. I did, however, like the acknowledgement of Beast's time as a member of The Illuminati alongside Iron Man with his line about how he doesn't fight Tony Stark.
The Inhumans head straight to Stark Tower and Karnak doesn't understand how artificial intelligence works, which doesn't seem quite right, but also if you grew up in Attilan around all that weirdness and you see a pink translucent lady capable of holding a conversation, that might not seem super strange to you.
Stark, still seething from the loss of his best friend, does what Tony Stark does when presented with a problem; he tries to understand it. I don't super love the implied torture aspect of it, but I do appreciate that Tony is looking into the unconscious bias angle and is trying to understand how Ulysses' powers work. Captain Marvel is way too gung-ho at the moment, whereas Tony wants the facts, and I'm likely to side with the person asking to see the facts.
The Avengers arrive to rescue Ulysses, and Tony Stark speaks for the reader by pointing out how weird it is that Beast is hanging out with The Inhumans now. I'd like more confirmation in what's going on with She-Hulk, or at least some fallout to her death. Tony implies that he doesn't know she's dead, and everyone is reacting to the death of War Machine, but I've yet to see anyone shed a tear for She-Hulk.
As the assembled heroes argue, Ulysses has another vision --- this time of The Hulk bigger than ever before, stood balls naked over the dead bodies of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, with Iron Man in one hand and Captain Marvel in the other. Only this time, Ulysses has broadcast his vision to everyone in the room, so they've witnessed it all first hand.
Later, Carol Danvers visits Bruce Banner --- who has been Hulkless for nearly a year --- for what I'm sure is a nice, friendly one-on-one chat.
Whose Side Am I On?
Right now, I'm on Iron Man's side, mostly. Carol is too headstrong and too confident in the infallibility of Ulysses' power, whereas Tony wants to figure out how it works. He's not even necessarily against the power itself, but he's cautious enough to not trust it without figuring out if its safe first.
Civil War II #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Color Artist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
You know that things have gone to pot when a comic book starts with a flash-forward to a courtroom scene, and that goes doubly so if Matt Murdock is one of the lawyers present. Carol Danvers takes the stand and explains how she visited Bruce Banner's secret lab along with Tony Stark to tell him about Ulysses' vision.
I'm no expert in de-escalation, but I don't think having the combined might of The X-Men, The Inhumans, and two different teams of Avengers on hand is going to do anything to keep Bruce Banner feeling calm and safe.
As Tony continues the story, there's some dialogue that really sticks out as very recognizably Bendis. He has the characters basically deliver exposition to Banner about who Ulysses is and what he can do, but every sentence is split between different characters. The panel with Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Nova and Karnak is downright creepy if you imagine it being said aloud.
The Beast reveals that Banner has been experimenting on himself with treated dead gamma cells, which causes an argument as Bruce tries to explain himself. He begins to raise his voice, and an arrow flies through the air and strikes him in the back, killing him. The heroes rush to the trees, and it's revealed that the person responsible for killing Banner with a well placed arrow fired from a considerable distance was none other than... Hawkeye, the master archer. Somehow people are surprised.
As the heroes scramble for an answer, Clint reveals why he fired the arrow: because Bruce Banner asked him to. A flashback to a bar shows that Bruce gave Clint the specially designed arrowhead capable of killing him, and this scene is the standout in the book, if only for Marquez's excellent art. I love how he's trying out new styles for different scenes and moods, it's very J.H. Williams III, and something I wouldn't necessarily expect from him in a Marvel event book, but I'm happy to see him experiment in a big event like this.
The court sees a video from Banner confirming his request to Hawkeye, and Clint states that he saw Banner's eyes flicker green. He took that to mean the vision was about to come true. This issue doesn't dig into it too much, but I believe it presents that idea that the heroes were only in danger from The Hulk because of Ulysses' vision that sent them there in the first place. The future has a way of righting itself in stories like this, and I do wonder if we'll start see events occur due to the efforts made to stop them.
Carol Danvers testifies to the effectiveness of working with the Inhumans to exploit Ulysses' visions, and there's a montage of several examples of this. There's two points I want to raise here: 1) MODOK hasn't looked like that for over five years or so and 2) the panel of the SHIELD agents in what looks to be Capekiller armor from Civil War hovering ominously next the American flag gives off a heavy "These are the bad guys" vibe, which doesn't help Captain Marvel's case much.
Flashing back to the Murder Of Bruce Banner By The Coward Clint Barton, the cracks between Tony and Carol begin to show in a very real way as he asks her who is next on her hitlist, and we see the first signs of a divide among the heroes as Nova mentions that he sides more with Iron Man.
The issue ends with the jury delivering the verdict in the trial of Clint Barton, and --- although we don't see the result --- the implication is that he is found not guilty. Mary Jane Watson attempts to share the verdict with Stark, but they're interrupted by Tony's AI companion FRIDAY, who has run enough of an analysis on Ulysses' power to understand how it works, and shows the pair a vision of the future that seems very shocking indeed.
Whose Side Am I On?
At this point, Captain Marvel has done nothing to sway me to her side at all. So you caught MODOK? That don't impress me much. Three iconic Avengers are dead as a direct result of Ulysses' powers, and Iron Man is the one saying we need to stop and think for a second.
I do, however, have a problem with how easily I find myself siding with Iron Man, because of the creative promise that this series wouldn't slip as easily into goodies v baddies as its predecessor did. Right now, it seems clear that Captain Marvel's side are the baddies, and I don't imagine anything in coming issues is going to sway me to her side.