(Civil) War, What Is It Good For?Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: David Marquez & Justin Ponsor
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: July 13, 2016
Review by: Branden Murray
As we approach the halfway point of the latest Marvel event, we can begin to expect to see the various sides of this conflict form. In the red corner, we have Iron Man and his “protect the future” posse, while over in the blue corner, we have Captain Marvel and her “change the future” crew. So, does Marvel’s yearly mandated event, which leads to their annual reboot, continue to hold water or does this book start to drag it's ass on the rug until it’s inevitably rushed to an unsatisfying conclusion like many other Marvel events that have come before it? Let's find out...
Maybe you recall that things ended last issue with a Ulysses vision of Hulk flipping his shit as heroes all around him lay fallen. However, instead of that awesome sauce, we kick things off in a courtroom which is already feeling pretty goddamn old. In the courthouse, we see cuts of Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) on the witness stand being questioned by Matt Murdock all about their interactions with Bruce Banner.
For the majority of the issue we see, in flashback sequence, how this confrontation went down as pretty much the entire Marvel U showed up on Banner’s doorstep. They arrive to get the low down on what exactly he is up to these days considering the warning they’ve just received from the Inhumans. Despite not having an incident for almost a year we see Banner being questioned and run through the ringer by this group of heroes who ultimately uncover that he is experimenting on himself in a quest to keep the Hulk at bay. Sounds resemble, right? Well...
This reveal obviously unnerves everyone, considering Gamma is involved and Banner has a history with his experiments turning out poorly. To put a cherry on top of this shit sundae, Banner also isn’t taking too kindly when asked by Maria Hill to join her in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. This leads to things getting as hairy as grandpa's back at the beach. Hawkeye sensing a Hulk type situation arising, fires an arrow from a distance and takes Banner out. R.I.P. Bruce Banner 1962 – 2016. The heroes rush to Hawkeye’s location and he immediately surrenders without a fight.
As we go back to the courtroom, we now see that the whole thing is because Hawkeye is on trial for Bruce Banner's murder. That's when Hawkeye takes the stand and delivers a twist reveal (that's #2 this issue if you are counting and you should be). He admits that this is something Banner had asked him to do and not something done of his own volition. In separate flashbacks from the original we see Banner meet Hawkeye to give him the arrow he fired. Oh Snap!
Banner even went as far as asking Hawkeye himself to do this because he was having vivid dreams of Hulking out and never wanted to deal with that again. So, if Hawkeye is telling the truth he is only guilty of carrying out what Banner asked him to do. As things wind down, we flash to Stark in his lab, mulling over the events that have happened awaiting the trial verdict when Friday (his A.I. assistant) interrupts him.
The AI reveals to Stark and Mary Jane that she has calculated exactly how Ulysses powers work from the scan Tony conducted on him. The cliffhanger reveals to Tony and M.J. a vision Tony claims is the future. However Bendis doesn't play nice and share with us anything of the sort as the issue closes.
On the bright side, I am very engrossed while reading these individual issues each month and look forward to the next one coming down the pike when I finish. The art by Marquez and colors by Ponsor really make this feel like an A+ quality title. Everybody looks great and there is not a single panel that feels neglected. However, after essentially five total issues of this event, including the FCBD issue and the zero issue, I’m admittedly still on the fence about how I feel overall.
Despite the fact that now there have been two deaths of pretty prominent figures in the Marvel Universe, I just can’t shake this weird feeling that not much else is going on here. We know Tony and Carol are on opposite sides of this fight but I really have no clue what anybody else thinks about all that’s occurred. No one but Tony and Carol say much or share opinions despite their constant background presence and that bugs me going into a fourth issue. If this is really a Civil War, I want more character moments to go around than just taking characters off the chess board with killings.
Bits and Pieces:
Overall, this book is worth a look, but I expected with a five dollar an issue price tag and the Civil War moniker a little more than the death and debate show that this has turned into at this point. I think some of the problem might be none of this has come off as a huge surprise, like it’s supposed to be, mostly because of future solicitations and rampant spoilers but I'm hoping things turn around.