Marvel Comics scheduled a midnight release to reveal what big character dies in Civil War II #3, and then spoiled it in the NY Daily News at 9pm.
This week’s Civil War II #3 promised several big moments for the crossover, including at least one major death – and was marketed as so important to the future of the Marvel Universe, that Marvel orchestrated a midnight release to get the issue into the hands of readers early.
Civil War II #3 may not have been the fireworks spectacular some were hypothesizing, but it did deliver on a big moment, with a death maybe less shocking in terms of who died than how, that could have far reaching ramifications for several major Marvel heroes.
“Only two things are for certain: it will take a long, long time for our heroes to come to terms with his loss, and the circumstance surrounding his death will leave a huge scar on the superhero community," Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso told the Daily News.
SPOILERS for Civil War II #3 ahead.
Civil War II #3 picks up right where the previous issue left off, with Carol Danvers and Tony Stark confronting Bruce Banner about Ulysses’ vision in which Banner, as Hulk, decimated his fellow heroes and killed several Avengers. Predictably, Banner becomes agitated at their accusations, which are based on something that is predicted to happen, not something that has happened.
Venturing out of the confines of Banner’s secret lab, Stark and Danvers bring Banner before a gathered assembly of numerous heroes. Beast reveals he’s hacked Banner’s files, and that the good doctor is experimenting on himself with Gamma radiation. Banner, Stark, and Danvers argue, with Banner fruitlessly trying to explain that his experiments actually keep the Hulk at bay, trapped between Stark and Danvers’s opposing viewpoints on how to handle the situation.
Banner becomes agitated, and just as it looks like he’s about to Hulk out, he’s felled by a purple arrow between the eyes.
With heroes rushing to the tree line where the arrow originated, Clint Barton surrenders himself, having killed Banner to prevent him from becoming the Hulk. Barton is put on trial, where he explains that he killed Banner at per his own wishes, with a special anti-Hulk arrow which Banner provided. This assertion is corroborated by a video from Banner explaining that he asked Hawkeye to kill him should he go on another rampage. Hawkeye insists he saw Banner’s eyes changing, signaling an impending transformation.
Before Hawkeye’s verdict is read, determining whether it was a justified killing or not, attention focuses to Tony Stark, whose A.I. has discovered a pattern in Ulysses’ brainwaves that may reveal a secret about how his powers work. The issue ends without Hawkeye’s verdict or the secret of Ulysses’ powers being revealed.
"Fans may be outraged, and there are probably Hawkeye writers who I'm very good friends with who will also be offended," said series writer Brian Bendis. "But the point is that everything that happens in this issue is in character when you discover the hows and whys and wheres."
"We'll let people argue about it."
As to the question Marvel has now made ubiquitous - is he really dead, Bendis answered, "Right now I can tell you this is the real deal. I can't speak for the future, I honestly can't, who knows what will happen? But I already have plans for the body (in upcoming issues.)"