There are major spoilers ahead for Marvel’s Civil War II #2! Don’t say that you weren’t warned!
Brian Michael Bendis may have found his “get out of jail free card” in Civil War II. Bendis has been one of Marvel’s top writers for over a decade, but he has a reputation among fans for giving some of the iconic heroes wildly out-of-character moments to suit the needs of his story. There was a lot of that in the first issue of Civil War II, and that trend continues in the second issue as well.
After the death of Rhodey, Iron Man broke into the Inhumans’ stronghold and kidnapped Ulysses (the young man whose visions predict the future), sparking a standoff with Medusa and the royal family. For the most part, Stark does not come off well in this issue, acting like a borderline lunatic. This time, Bendis is actually offering an explanation: Stark is having a nervous breakdown, which he even seemed to acknowledge outright. Bendis pulled the same trick during his Daredevil run when Matt Murdock displayed some very self-destructive behavior, but we can almost believe it this time. In the process, Bendis is really screwing the regular writer of the two Iron Man comics… who just happens to be himself.
Bendis has really given this story over to Iron Man’s perspective, as the issue largely stays with his point-of-view, while Captain Marvel is stuck reacting to his moves rather than sharing the stage as a co-protagonist. Considering that she was supposedly in love with Rhodey, who died in the first issue, it’s surprising that Civil War II is almost completely glossing over that relationship. And frankly, that cheapens the death and makes it seem all the more like the stunt that it is.
Once again, artist David Marquez demonstrated why he’s a rising star in the comic industry. His storytelling is very clear and everything he puts on the page looks amazing. There was good tension during Iron Man’s opening mission to abduct Ulysses, and Marquez even managed to make the Inhumans seem impressive despite Stark easily outwitting them. The story itself may have several shortcomings, but the artwork is almost beyond reproach. Colorist Justin Ponsor also deserves a shout out for his strong work in this issue, especially when Iron Man was in stealth, and for a double page splash that can best be described as “Angry Naked Hulk Smash!”
At this point, we’re heading into even bigger spoilers, so this is your last chance to stop reading. If you’re still with us, the big twist in the issue was Ulysses broadcasting his latest vision in which the Hulk (Bruce Banner, and not Amadeus Cho) murdered the Avengers. That may be telegraphing who will die in issue three. It seems likely that Captain Marvel or one of her allies will preemptively act against Banner and possibly kill him to ensure their own survival. Never mind that Banner wasn’t even supposed to be the Hulk anymore. For the purposes of this story, he may be expendable.
Of course, this may simply be a swerve on Bendis’ part. He’s shown us the Hulk, but it could be a distraction for another character to meet their fate. But the way that the vision was portrayed in this issue suggested that the Hulk was not in control of his own body. Could there be someone else in play using Ulysses’ visions to set the heroes against each other? That seems like a possible way out of this story that Bendis has constructed.
Civil War II #2 was stronger than the first issue, although the story itself remains the central weakness of the book. Stark may be having a mental breakdown, but what’s everyone else’s excuse for acting out of character?
RATING: 3 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
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Images: Marvel Comics