It was one month ago that this blog asked if Marvel’s Civil War II would avoid the kind of mistakes made during 2006’s first Civil War event. Mark Millar and others turned Tony Stark into a Dick Cheney-esque villain to forward an embarrassing Bush administration allegory, and as a result the story tanked. Brian Michael Bendis has seemingly learned nothing in ten years. His Tony Stark jokes about torturing others “a little bit” in scenes that are unnecessary in terms of moving the plot forward.
Here is what you need to know for Civil War II #2:
- Tony Stark goes to New Attilan and kidnaps Ulysses. An Iron Man decoy defeats Medussa and Karnak while the real Tony escapes to a secret location.
- The Inhumans head to Stark Tower. Karnak vows to tear it down when S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain Marvel and the rest of The Ultimates appear.
- Captain Marvel wants “one chance” to get Tony under control.
- Tony hooks Ulysses up to a brain scanner and threatens to beat him to see how the young man’s brain waves affect his precognition.
- Friday downloads a “copy” of Ulysses’ brain just before the other heroes locate Tony Stark and confront him.
- Ulysses says Tony tortured him, and the billionaire’s response with a smile is, “a little bit,” (because torture is supposed to be funny?).
- Ulysses has a vision that the Hulk kills all the heroes, but this time the episode is seen by everyone in the room.
- Captain Marvel arrives at Bruce Banner’s lab in Alpine, Utah.
While one can debate the definition of torture all day, it is much harder to deny that the scene in question was unnecessary. It only serves to make Mr. Stark look unhinged.
Ulysses even says, “You could have asked me to do these tests,” to which Tony says nothing. There is no response because Tony Stark, even while grieving for his friend, would have demanded an opportunity to study the kid’s brain.
Given that Ulysses has said he is (or was) a huge fan of Tony Stark, and given that the Inhumans let him web-sling around New York City with Spider-Man, it’s a safe bet that they would have allowed him to wear a few brain scanners. There is no reason to engage in character assassination in order to tell a good story, but for some strange reason Marvel likes turning Tony Stark into something from CIA leaker Edward Snowden’s worst nightmares.
Stark’s CIA black site tactics are then juxtaposed with the measured diplomacy of female heroes. Bendis writes a scene that screams, “Imagine if the world were run by women — there would be no more wars! They would look into each other’s eyes, connect with universal sisterhood of things, and come to an agreement. Darn those…those…men!”
The problem with hero versus hero events is that it is obvious that Marvel’s current staff does not know how to write a legitimately balanced story. The Russo brothers proved that it can be done with Captain America: Civil War, but for some unknown reason the comic book scribes are incapable of such a feat.
The result, sadly, is that readers think, “These guys are dysfunctional losers. The world would be better off without them. Why should I buy this?”
Civil War II could have been an intriguing tale, but turning Tony Stark into “Torture” Stark does not bode well for future issues. Perhaps Bendis will right the ship, but as of now it looks like it’s the captain who is trying to sink his own vessel.