*cues the sad tinkling piano music*
Your Major Spoilers review of Civil War II: The Fallen #1 awaits!
CIVIL WAR II: THE FALLEN #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Scott Hanna & Mike Deering
Colorist: Ian Herring & Rob Schwager
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Katie Kubrick
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously in Civil War II: “Bruce Banner, AKA The Incredible Hulk, is dead.
Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye, the man who killed him, has been acquitted.
Now, the Hulk’s friends and family grapple with their grief… and their ANGER.”
REQUIEM FOR A HULK
The last decade or so have been a decade of utter lunacy for the Incredible Hulk, even by the standards of a man who turns into a giant rag-monster and shatters worlds in his spare time, so I wasn’t sure that this issue would really give me the focus on Bruce and his emerald alter-ego that I wanted…
I was wrong, folks. We open in a cemetery in Cleveland, where Bruce Banner is being laid to rest. It’s a funeral with a painfully small attendance: The Thing, Doctor Strange, Rick Jones, Betty Banner, a handful of Avengers and his alien allies, The Warbound. A crowd of protestors turns ugly, but we quickly find that another old friend has made the scene, allowing The Silver Surfer to use his Power Cosmic non-violently to disperse the crowds. When all is done, Rick, Betty and the Warbound trio realize that none of the OTHER Hulks were present for the service, and set off to find Skaar, She-Hulk, Red Hulk and Amadeus Cho.
A FAMILY IN MOURNING
Greg Pak really nails every note of this issue: Skaar’s grief, General Ross’s callous snarl of “Good” upon hearing of Bruce Banner’s demise, even Rick Jones’ swelling anger. The reading of the will (or, to be more specific, Bruce reading his own video will) doubles down on the emotion of the funeral, including touching on plot points that I thought that editorial had long since forgotten. Mark Bagley’s pencils are perfectly suited for these quiet sequences, especially the wry smile that Bruce gives as he tells his makeshift family how much he loves them, but it’s easy to read the anger, grief and confusion in the faces of even the aliens present. Given the speed with which Hawkeye’s trial proceeded, I was worried that this story would likewise brush over Banner’s death, since we’re all pretty sure that he’ll be back eventually, but the creators really gave us a realistic portrayal of loss, which was something I didn’t ever expect.
THE BOTTOM LINE: EMOTIONAL AND POWERFUL
I won’t say that this lovely celebration makes the Hulk’s death worth it, but it goes a long way towards proving that Marvel really understands what they’re doing when they kill off their big names in the massive company crossover messes. The quiet moments of friendship and family (the surviving founding Defenders come to pay their regards to their old compatriot, as does frequent sparring partner Hercules) are well-done and the final page leads me to think that there are more serious consequences coming, leaving Civil War II: The Fallen #1 with a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall. Once again, there’s a question of why this material isn’t part of the core storyline of the Civil War II book, but the execution of this story is so well-done, I can’t particularly complain…