By Scott Tibbs, November 7, 2017
I have often been disappointed in Marvel's mega-crossover event comics. While Civil War II was not as much of a letdown as Age of Ultron, it was not nearly as good as it could have been. The resolution was cheap and made the entire series a waste of time. The first Civil War a decade earlier changed the landscape of the Marvel Universe for years, while Civil War II was one big pointless circle.
The events of this non-event begin when we find out that there is an Inhuman with the ability to predict the future - usually correctly but sometimes not. Iron Man (Tony Stark) does not think the heroes of Earth should use this power, while Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) thinks it is a good idea. Both are right and both are wrong, and had they met in the middle the entire mess could have been avoided.
First: Iron Man is wrong that the heroes should not predict world-ending cataclysmic events. Iron Man was grumpy and emo over the fact that his best friend died trying to stop evil cosmic despot Thanos from getting a Cosmic Cube - a MacGuffin that contains energy so powerful that it can rewrite reality. Given that Thanos murdered half of the universe when he got a different all-powerful MacGuffin, it is obviously prudent to stop him. Stark blames Danvers for War Machine's death, because she used the prophet to ambush Thanos.
This is stupid. Had Thanos gotten the Cosmic Cube, he would have done incredible damage in the blink of an eye. He probably would have obliterated planet Earth and the super-heroes who constantly get in his way and foil his plans. So if Danvers had not ambushed Thanos, War Machine would have been killed by Thanos anyway - along with six billion other people. So what is your plan, Stark? Let the future take its course and let the planet be annihilated? Gee, that plan really stinks.
Danvers, on the other hand, wants to use the prophet to not just predict the next time Galactus shows up to eat the planet, but to predict street-level crime. (Sort of like the movie Minority Report.) One problem is that the visions are merely mathematical probabilities. They are usually right, but not always. So the government may well be arresting and imprisoning innocent people, without due process, for crimes they never had any intent of committing and never would have committed. This is exactly what happens, and while Captain Marvel is fine with it, Iron Man is rightly horrified by this tyrannical regime.
The solution is obvious. Use the prophet to predict world-ending events, and only that. Otherwise, you do not act on it. But both Stark and Danvers are so unrealistically and obstinately devoted to their own world views that they cannot compromise even an inch. At no point does any other character in the series bring this up and point out the obvious middle ground solution. This was poor writing, and was merely a plot device to get to a big superhero vs. superhero fight.
Now, on to two big consequences of this story. War Machine is already temporarily dead. When the heroes show up to confront Bruce Banner to make sure he will not turn unto the Hulk, Hawkeye shoots him in the head with an arrow and murders him. This sets the heroes even more against each other, as Stark mourns a colleague and friend who has temporarily died.
Anyone who knows anything about comics knows the problem with Stark's anger, and I telegraphed it in the previous paragraph. Hulk and War Machine are temporarily dead. In comics, death is a major annoyance, but it is not all that difficult to come back from it. In fact, when War Machine was killed, the heroes had possession of a reality-altering MacGuffin of nearly infinite power right there on the premises.
So you pick it up, heal his catastrophic injuries and he is as healthy as ever. While you're at it, give him superpowers so he does not have to rely on the armor. This is a universe where the Punisher was killed by dismemberment, turned into a Frankenstein monster, and then fully restored. Yes, comics are weird.
The grief over the Hulk's temporary death is even more nonsensical. The Hulk has a healing factor slightly below that of Wolverine. He can regenerate lost tissue and heal wounds almost instantly. Does anyone really believe that anything short of obliterating the Hulk down to the molecular level will kill him permanently? In comics, even that is not permanent, because you have the Cosmic Cube in your possession.
The end of the story seemed like an intentional insult to the audience. The prophet who has been seeing these probabilities of future events (who has not had a lot of agency in controlling his own life) gains immense cosmic power at the end and takes off to hang out with Eternity - Marvel's physical manifestation of all reality. Now, the entire nine issue series has been completely meaningless because the prophet is cosmically spirited off somewhere, giving the heroes nothing to fight about. Meanwhile, War Machine is temporarily dead, the Hulk is temporarily dead, Iron Man is gravely injured and in a coma, and the She-Hulk has suffers terrible injuries. Thanks for wasting my time, Marvel.
One more thing: At the end, we see Captain Marvel overseeing the construction of a border wall to Make America Great Again. Oh, wait. No, it's not a border wall, it is a planetary shield to keep aliens from arriving here without being detected. Make Earth Great Again! Hashtag MEGA. I am sure this was not at all meant to take a shot at President Donald Trump. Not! That was completely unnecessary, did not serve the story, and was there only to ridicule the President. This was a bad, poorly written story before this, but putting two middle fingers in the faces of Trump voters (of which I was not one) was ridiculous.
Final Grade: F