Civil War II wrapped up recently with its final issue and we wanted to give our thoughts on Marvel’s latest big event. Before we proceed, let’s make one point clear: I’m not a Brian Michael Bendis Basher. (Go to everywhere else on the internet for that.) I generally like his work.
Everybody likes to bash him when he shifts the status quo, and when it doesn’t align with certain fans’ desires, his previous, beloved work goes largely ignored. But you can’t dismiss cool stories like House of M, Dark Reign and Siege. This is how I feel about Civil War II–it’s a cool story. And yes, it’s Bendis, so it’s changing the status quo, but it’s comics, just enjoy the ride. It will all go back to normal eventually, if its ending is any indication.
Major spoilers ahead.
When a new Inhuman named Ulysses emerges with the ability to seemingly predict future events, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) begins using this to prepare for and stop cataclysms before they even occur. Tony Stark, however, disagrees. He believes that Ulysses’ visions could be influenced by his own experiences and biases. This, according to Tony, is no different than profiling, and the heads begin to butt, establishing the conflict within.
Carol ignores Tony’s concerns and heeds one of Ulysses’ warnings: an attack by Thanos. She assembles the Ultimates along with She-Hulk, War Machine (James “Rhodey” Rhodes), and the Inhumans for assistance. Things don’t go as planned, as Thanos seriously injures She-Hulk and kills Rhodey.
Unsurprisingly, the loss of his best friend infuriates Tony, who kidnaps Ulysses right out of Attilan. This leads the Inhumans and various other hero teams to track Tony down. When they find them, Ulysses has another vision of a giant-sized Hulk killing everybody. Different from past visions this one is projected into the minds of everyone in his local vicinity. The group of heroes then converge on Bruce Banner, to see how it all plays out. Hawkeye (Clint Barton) sees a glimmer of green in Bruce’s eyes and assassinates him with an arrow of Bruce’s own design.
The “murder?” of Bruce Banner leads to a huge public outcry, but Clint is found not guilty. The verdict convinces Tony that Captain Marvel has lost control of the situation and he gathers a team of heroes to attack the Triskelion. The battle causes the Inhumans and Guardians of the Galaxy to become involved on Carol’s side, until Ulysses’ projects yet another vision, this time with the younger Spider-Man (Miles Morales) having killed Captain America (Steve Rogers) on Capitol Hill. After the vision, Carol orders the arrest of Miles, but Captain America intervenes and asks that Thor fly him away. Miles gets Thor to drop him off and in a bid to test fate heads to the Capitol Building.
There’s kind of this eerie feeling about this event. A lot has happened, but at the same time, it seems like nothing’s really happened. They kill off Rhodey, and okay, don’t get me wrong, I like Rhodey. But he’s kind of a B-List hero and they kind of skim over his death to begin with. Then they kill the Hulk (Bruce Banner), but Bruce hasn’t been our Hulk lately. We’ve had the “Totally Awesome Hulk” (Amadeus Cho). So, they’ve killed some important characters, but important characters they weren’t really using lately.
It all leads to the culmination of Tony Stark’s death, an event captured on live television. Ulysses, the character who set this whole thing off, also kind of dies, by evolving into a higher plane of consciousness. Though, almost as a callback to the original Civil War, Bendis leaves readers on another cliffhanger that Tony Stark might not be really dead.
Regardless, I still enjoyed it, it’s been a fun ride, but it’ll be nice to put Civil War II in the rearview mirror and look ahead to some cool stuff that Marvel has planned next. Truly my favorite part of this event is every time I read the name Ulysses, I think about that sweet 80’s cartoon theme song.